Recently, I met the superb underwater photographer Bill Curtsinger for breakfast (his book Extreme Nature is stunning). He wanted to meet at a place where his car would be in plain view because of his expensive gear inside.
This is a constant challenge for all photographers—protecting pricey equipment while traveling, whether to a local park or around the world. Digital just ramps up the problem. Digital cameras can be expensive, but even more significant, they're in demand. Thieves want digital cameras and the often accompanying laptops because this is stuff that can be readily sold.
In my position at Outdoor Photographer, I hear a lot of stories about photographers losing equipment to theft. I hope you haven't experienced getting gear stolen, but given the statistics, I suspect a lot of you have.
As a photographer who also carries a lot of gear, I could totally understand Curtsinger's request and, indeed, we met at a location that gave a clear view of the parking lot. I'll often bring in whole packs of gear into a restaurant just so I know it's safe. Of course, you don't want to do what a couple of photographers I know did—leave the gear in the restaurant! I loop bag straps around my legs when seated in public areas so I remember my bags, plus no one can grab them and run.
I've taken some other, sometimes extreme measures to keep my gear safe. When traveling by car, I often carry an extra ice chest. I put my camera bag into it to keep the gear from getting hot in the summer and so that it no longer looks like I have camera gear in the car.
When my kids were young, we had an extra diaper bag. I'd put my camera bag into the diaper bag, even to the point of (don't laugh too hard) having a diaper"stuck" in the zipper. That certainly camouflaged the gear. I actually had someone break into the car and steal the radio but not the"diaper" bag!
With concerns for camera security always present, I was quite surprised and pleased to see some new gear from Pacsafe when I was at the big Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City last winter. This trade show, known as the OR Show, showcases new gear from every sort of outdoor clothing, pack and equipment manufacturer. You may know Pacsafe from the wire-mesh security"cages" you can wrap around gear and lock to a solid, heavy object. We've covered them in our new products section, In Focus, in the past.