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Gadget Bag: Big Bags For Travel And Storage
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.
Tamrac Model 614 Super Pro 14
Some Options For Travel On Land
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
Tenba Roadie II
The Tenba Roadie II will hold two DSLRs and six to eight lenses, plus a 15-inch notebook computer in a separate, secure sleeve. It’s perfectly suited for an HD video camera and gear. Constructed of water-repellent 1680 denier ballistic nylon and featuring YKK zippers, the Roadie II has a wide-mouth opening that affords easy access to gear, removable audio tray, large side storage pocket with dividers, collapsible water bottle holder, plus rain cover and 10-pocket media wallet. Weighing in at a trim 5.5 pounds, the Roadie II features a trolley sleeve that allows you to safely attach the Roadie to a wheeled bag or luggage cart. At 20x13x13 inches, it flirts with maximum carry-on baggage size limits. Contact: www.tenba.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 19.3×14.2×13.2 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
Pelican 1510 Carry-On
For Safe, Worry-Free Air Travel
The Pelican 1510 Carry-On is a hard-shell, suitcase-like carrier that stows comfortably in most planes, trains and automobiles, and at 22×13.8×9 inches meets the current carry-on restrictions of U.S. commercial airlines. But even if you’re forced to check it as luggage, worry not, because this baby is unbreakable, watertight, airtight, dustproof, chemical-resistant and corrosion-proof—and remains watertight to a depth of 30 feet. Made of ultra-high-impact copolymer, the 1510 features ABS double-throw latches, a large folding haul handle, a retractable extension handle and polyurethane wheels with stainless-steel bearings. It comes complete with a three-piece foam set that consists of one rippled upper section, one Pick ‘N’ Pluck foam section and one one-inch blank bottom foam section. A neoprene O-ring keeps dust and water out, and an automatic purge valve allows quick equalization after changes in atmospheric pressure. Contact: www.pelican.com
Plasticase, Inc., offers the Nanuk line of ultraprotective cases. All are available in six colors (black, graphite, silver, olive, orange and yellow) and a variety of sizes. The Nanuk 935 is ideally suited for traveling photographers, and is airline-legal for carry-on at precisely 22x14x9 inches. It features wheels and a pull-out handle, plus a comfortable foldable handle, and their proprietary PowerClaw latching system clamps the waterproof cases tightly closed using compressive force. All hardware components are tough 100% stainless steel. Made of impact-resistant NK-7 resin, all Nanuk cases have a lifetime guarantee. All are available without interior foam, or with multilayer, easily customized polyurethane foam, including a prescored removable layer. Contact: www.nanukcase.com
Flashpoint SealTite 1514
he Flashpoint SealTite series, available from Adorama, is available in seven sizes. All are very attractively priced and offer top-notch protection for sensitive gear. The SealTite 1514 is equipped with wheels and an extending handle. It comes with three layers of foam (wave foam for the top lid, two pieces of precut foam and one wave foam for the bottom). O-ring seals protect against dust and water, and a built-in purge valve corrects internal pressure. Made of structural copolymer, with ABS-plastic latches with stainless-steel pins, the SealTite 1514 even will float when loaded appropriately. A handy traveling companion for any SealTite case is the Flashpoint SealTite 1060. Measuring just 9.4×5.7×2.8 inches, it’s ideal protection for light meters, memory cards or other smaller items—and it costs less than $16. Contact: www.adorama.com
Think Tank Photo Airport TakeOff Rolling Camera Bag
Think Tank Photo offers a full assortment of camera luggage for traveling pro photographers. The Airport TakeOff Rolling Camera Bag is unique in that in addition to meeting size requirements (it’s 14x21x8 inches), it easily converts into a backpack. That makes this bag highly suitable for air as well as auto travel. And the backpack system was designed in from the get-go, so it’s comfortable to tote, even for long periods, too. It will hold two pro-sized DSLRs with lenses attached, a 400mm ƒ/2.8 and other lenses, and a 17-inch MacBook Pro (or thicker 15-inch notebook). It features a front cable and lock to secure laptops, with lockable sliders on the main YKK RC Fuse (abrasion-resistant) zipper, replaceable in-line skate wheels, rubberized laminate reinforcement, SpanKodra ultra-stretch side pockets and a seam-sealed taffeta rain cover. Inside are a silver-toned nylon, polyurethane-backed velex liner, dividers and closed-cell foam padding. Contact: www.thinktankphoto.com
The Petrol Rolling DigiSuite DSLR Camera Case is an airline carry-on-size (21×15.2×11.2 inches) unit that can hold two DSLRs with lenses attached, with a padded pocket in the lid for a laptop computer with up to a 17-inch screen. Detachable, soft padded polyester interior dividers allow for easy configuration and can be removed so the unit can be used as a carry-on suitcase. An internal one-piece ABS honeycomb frame provides additional protection. A telescoping square-frame tote bar and inline skate wheels make for jiggle-free rolling, and there are top and side handles for easy carrying. The exterior is made of black 900D and ballistic nylon fabrics. Contact: www.petrolbags.com
Gura Gear’s Kiboko 22L+ all-in-one backpack for the traveling photographer is designed to meet airline carry-on restrictions (exterior dimensions are 14x18x9 inches), and is very light at just five pounds. Its popular “butterfly-“style opening provides easy access even in tight spaces, while helping to protect gear from the elements. The configurable interior has room for two DSLR bodies and four lenses, and there’s a separate space for a laptop computer with a screen of up to 17 inches. Memory-foam shoulder straps provide comfortable carrying; the waist belt is removable. Contact: www.guragear.com