Keeping It Simple - Back To Africa: Getting the Gear There

chris martin photography - TTRetrospective20

Previously I declared that I once I got to Africa I would be shooting out of the Domke F-2.  Well, um, maybe.  I had completely forgotten about having to carry a laptop on this trip since I will be there so long.  So now, add a Dell XPS M1330 laptop to the gear needing to be transported.

One option is to carry the laptop in the backpack I will also be carrying in addition to my camera bag.  The problem here is that I hate wearing a laptop, in a backpack, directly against my back or placing the backpack down on the laptop.  Not only is it very uncomfortable, but in my mind I hear the screen snapping in half with each step.

So now the battle begins for what camera bag as a carry-on.  This whole thing is about keeping the gear for this trip as simple as possible.  That would mean just the backpack and the camera bag so I’ll just put the laptop in the Domke.

chris martin photography - TTRetrospective20chris martin photography - TTRetrospective20

Apparently, I won’t put the laptop in the Domke.  Coming back into the picture now is the Think Tank Retrospective 20.  Where I live, every flight into and out of home is on a small regional jet.  For the last few years I only travel with bags that I know will fit both under the seat and in the overhead and that includes the Domke F-2, the Retrospective 20, (the Tenba Camera Messenger), and the North Face Surge.

chris martin photography - TTRetrospective20After reading some great stuff on Flying-With-Fish I have adopted a similar approach and the plan for getting gear there is to split the gear in either two Mountainsmith Cube Kits or one Cube and one Think Tank Chimp Cage, placing one in the backpack and one in the camera bag.  

chris martin photography - TTRetrospective20This disperses the weight, gets my travel essentials next to me in the camera bag and leaves room for extra clothes and toiletries in the backpack.  When on a trip like this, you need to be able to carry the stuff you have to have, plus some backup stuff in case you and your checked bag never see each other again.

Not only does the Retrospective 20 easily handle the laptop, but it will also swallow a Mountainsmith Cube Kit, or better yet the Think Tank Chimp Cage, portable hard drive, audio recorder, G12, iPod, glasses, etc.

chris martin photography - TTRetrospective20

Now I am re-thinking the shooting bag.  It really doesn't follow my “Keeping It Simple” plan to take one camera bag to get gear there and then another camera bag once there.  As long as I was testing the Retrospective 20 for what is could carry on the plane, I thought why not see what it could handle for shooting out of.

chris martin photography - TTRetrospective20

To my surprise, it will hold everything I plan to be carrying each day: 40D w/ 24-105mm f/4 attached (on the left), 7D with 70-200mm f/2.8 IS attached (in the middle), 580 EX II and 10-22mm on the right, PWs and other small accessories in the front.  It even has straps on each side in case I feel I need to take other small modulars for a little more capacity.

I guess it just got simple again, but bad news for the new Domke – it will be staying home.

There is also all of the Think Tank “little stuff” - they go nearly everywhere with me:

chris martin photography - TTRetrospective20

Chimp Cage (top left) – This has seen hundreds of different items inside based on the trip
Modular Pouch (bottom left) – where my G12 or PWs live
DSLR battery holder (top middle)
Battery holder (middle)
Camera strap (right) – different colors on different bodies.