Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Gadget Bag: Big Bags For Travel And Storage
Find the perfect case or bag for taking your gear on a summer road trip or for airline travel
Let's face it, traveling has become an athletic event of Olympic proportions. It's difficult enough to get from point A to point B with your clothes, shoes and sanity, but when you're packing an assortment of camera gear, travel can be an absolute nightmare for the uninitiated.
Whether driving or flying, be prepared. As many a seasoned traveler will tell you, that carry-on bag you so carefully packed may be taken from you and chucked into the cargo hold if the flight is overbooked, international or otherwise star-crossed. Automobile journeys can be abbreviated by flat tires, fender-benders and other unforeseen mishaps that force you to hand-carry your cargo until you reach your destination.
The lesson here is simple: Travel with rugged camera luggage that will withstand the worst-case scenario. A soft-sided bag full of lenses fits comfortably in the overhead storage bin, but could be turned into a bag of sand if checked with regular suitcases. Also, pack cameras and lenses securely and diligently as if they were precision optical instruments—because they are.
Savvy air travelers stay abreast of airline regulations. The maximum size of carry-on bags on U.S. carriers is generally 45 lineal inches, typically 14x22x9, but overseas the rules can differ. And, if you connect on a regional prop job, anything could happen—to your luggage, that is. Be sure the bags you fly with meet size requirements. Even so, on smaller planes expect the bag to be taken from you and gate-checked until you land.
Automobile travel is more predictable, but has its own perils. Equipment in plain view invites theft, and at the very least, can be warped and roasted by the sun on a warm summer day. Large, thickly padded bags that fit snugly in the car trunk or in a covered storage compartment of an SUV work well for several reasons. They can be packed before the journey and can serve as secure storage lockers on-site, in motels and at home. If you want to keep one camera within arm's reach, consider an inexpensive insulated six-pack cooler. It usually will fit neatly on the floor in front of the center console, is nicely padded and as inconspicuous as can be—and the insulation will help prevent your camera from cooking.
The Tamrac Model 614 Super Pro 14 is large—make no mistake about it. At 24x14x11.5 inches (WxDxH), it pushes the limit for airplanes, but is ideal for autos, and it's surprisingly comfortable to carry as a shoulder bag. It's a great pack to work out of when you're on location. Built with professional photographers in mind, the Super Pro 14 is designed to keep frequently used items within reach while those used less often are nestled beneath. Conservatively, it will hold two DSLR cameras, nine to 10 lenses, a couple of strobes, a 17-inch MacBook Pro, and lashed to the outside, a tripod. The exterior fabric is a three-ply woven grid of Cordura fiber that's super-strong and abrasion-resistant, and comes in your choice of black or gray. Inside there's a double coating of waterproof urethane and thick, high-density, closed-cell foam that provides outstanding protection. It's stuffed with well-conceived details—like the real leather grip on the haul handle—and it's made in the USA. Contact: www.tamrac.com
The Lowepro Magnum 650 AW allows you to store DSLRs vertically and provides space for a 15-inch notebook computer on top in a separate lift-out case that features a clever integrated sunshade. The fit and finish of Lowepro bags are consistently so good that the bags always look like they're all dressed up for a formal night at the opera. Inside it's all business, however, and efficiently stows a pair of DSLRs with zoom lenses attached, plus nine to 10 lenses, flash and other accessories. Camera LCDs are protected by built-in microfiber cloths. At 19.3x14.2x13.2 inches, it fits in the car trunk or cargo area and slips discreetly beneath a desk or workbench at home. And like all Lowepro AW bags, it includes a slip-over, all-weather cover that surrounds the bag and provides additional protection from the elements. Contact: www.lowepro.com
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