Packing 102
September 24th, 2010

I’m here at my first gate (Syracuse), waiting for the puddle jumper to bring me to Chicago. Fortunately, this puddle jumper is a CRJ 700, which is about as nice a commuter plane gets. So what did I pack?

ThinkTank StreetWalker Pro
First of all, I’ve removed all the dividers. They’re great, and I’m sure that most people find them to be incredibly useful. I don’t (because I don’t photograph out of the bag). Instead I pack each piece of equipment in an appropriate ThinkTank Skin. I can fit more gear in the bag this way (and it’s really packed tightly). When I get to my destination I can just attach the Skins to whatever ThinkTank belt system I’ve brought with me. So this is what I’ve managed to (just) cram into the bag for this trip:

2 DSLR bodies (one with grip and L-bracket and one with just a bottom plate)
5 lenses (including the large and heavy 70-200/2.8)
1 audio recorder
2 external hard drives
1 DSLR battery charger
1 CF card reader
1 spare DSLR battery
1 laptop power supply
1 phone charger (didn’t need to be carried on, but it just ended up here)

I think that’s it.

ThinkTank Retrospective 30
This will be my first international trip with this bag. I have mixed feelings about it. It’s well-made, and it’s a fairly decent size (could be a tad larger, considering it’s the largest for this model). What I don’t like is that it doesn’t fully close. There is just a flap over the top, and when laying on its side it’s easy for items to just slip out. ThinkTank’s other bags usually have a zipper closure, and I definitely prefer that option. Nonetheless, I like this bag as a sling for photographing out of once I arrive at my destination. So it is making the trip as my second carry-on… my “personal item”, which in this case is indeed also be my computer case. It contains:

1 13″ MacBook Pro (which just replaced my 15″ MBP)
1 point-and-shoot (G-11)
1 CF card wallet full of cards
2 pairs of eyeglasses
1 noise-isolating earbuds (Shure something)
1 blow up neck cushion
1 book (“Arresting God in Kathmandu”)
1 moleskin
2 pens
1 sandwich (thanks to my beautiful wife!)
1 wallet
1 phone
1 toothbrush and toothpaste
passport, money, travel documents and visa photos

This bag is also fairly packed, but I could stuff a few more things in if I absolutely had to.

Rimowa Salsa Trolley
This one was checked in; so I’ll have to rely on my memory to remember what I packed.

3 long-sleeve shirts (that’s 1 too many)
2 short-sleeve shirts
2 pairs of trousers (probably 1 too many)
7 pairs of socks (I like clean socks!)
1 pair of flip-flops
1 hat
5 pairs of underwear (these should be clean too!)
1 rain jacket
1 pair of rain trousers (just in case somebody is diehard)
3 t-shirts
1 board shorts (yep, I’m going swimming!)
1 rash guard (mostly for sun protection)
2 pairs of prescription swim goggles (one pair is tinted, but I prefer the non-tinted pair)
1 ThinkTank belt system (the one with suspenders; can’t think of the name)
2 ThinkTank Cable Management 10 with various cables, power adapter, Leatherman, etc.
1 ThinkTank Cable Management 10 with emergency medications
1 ThinkTank CableManagement 20 with gear cleaning supplies
1 first-aid kit
1 ThinkTank Hydrophobia
1 strobe (SB-800)
1 pair of glasses (yes, that makes three; two of one prescription and one of another)
1 4-outlet powerstrip
1 Gitzo carbon fiber tripod with ballhead (I know; I should probably carry the ballhead)
1 ThinkTank ChangeUp with spare batteries, other battery chargers, various filters, light
modifiers, etc. (I can be more specific if there are enquiring minds)
1 toiletries kit (with shaving gear, suntan lotion, deodorant, etc.)
1 trekking umbrella
all the other stuff that I’m forgetting!

On me:

Blundstone boots
black t-shirt
Patagonia fleece
wedding ring
glasses (which means one of the above is just an empty case!)

Update: Sometimes airlines play switch-the-plane (or get it wrong on the booking information). I walked onto a CRJ 200 (and not a CRJ 700). It’s smaller and tighter. Good thing I opted for the StreetWalker as it fits under the seat in front. I had to put the Retro up above. Also, I forgot to mention the PacSafe 85 in my checked bag. That’ll be used to secure the gear in the StreetWalker while in hotels, etc.

10 Responses to “Packing 102”

  1. Jack Kurtz says:


    My list is pretty similar for luggage. I use the Airport UltraLight vers1 (I got a smoking deal on it – less than $100 new when vers2 came out), the Retrospective 30 (which I love) and Blundstones. A special word about Blundstones. Best Boots Ever.

    Everyone raves about rollers for gear, and they are nice, but they don’t fit in the overheads of the little puddle jumpers. I picked the UltraLight cause it goes anywhere.


  2. Jeffrey Chapman says:

    I’d love a roller, but with trips that start on puddle jumpers they’re just not ideal.

  3. Lisa O says:

    Thanks for the lists Jeffrey. Very interesting. I’m a ThinkTank fan too. While I have a MacBook Pro 15 I use a MacBook Pro 13 for plane travel. I’m starting to work on my packing list for Venice next spring and will practice on several other short trips I have upcoming. Care to share what lenses you carry?

  4. Jeffrey Chapman says:

    Lisa, the lenses I bring change with virtually every trip. What I have with me now might be different from what I’ll have in Italy. I like to use different lenses, but I can’t bring them all. So I mix them up. However, some are almost always a part of the mix. Those are the 24-70/2.8, the 70-200/2.8 and the 50/1.4. Then I decide between the 14-24/2.8 and the 17-35/2.8. I like both a lot, but the latter is far more filter-friendly; so if I plan on using filters, then the 17-35/2.8 will be the choice. Sometimes I’ll just bring those four. In fact, I think that’s what I had in Italy this year. I probably used the 17-35/2.8 more than any other in Italy. So there’s a very good chance that you’ll see it with me in Venice!

  5. Lisa O says:

    So you are a Nikon guy and David is a Canon guy. Keeps things well rounded.
    Between the 14-24 and the 70-200 you’ve got some big glass just with those. I primarily use wide angles but often like to keep a tele on the 2nd body. I’m already working on my gear list for Venice. Yes, I’m a nerd.

  6. Jeffrey Chapman says:

    I’m a whatever-works guy. Nikon doesn’t sponsor me; so I’ll switch to Canon if they’re willing to send me gear. :-)

  7. Lisa O says:

    I’ve switched Nikon/Canon/Nikon/Canon I was sort of waiting to see what Nikon was doing with the fast primes but they are $2200 each for the 24 1.4 and 35 1.4 and after a year the 24 is still nearly impossible to get and likely so will the 35 so I went back to Canon.

    I’m interested in how the TT Retrospective works out for you. I am thinking of that as a shooting bag but I would pack it empty (or stuffed with clothes and my gitzo traveler tripod) while traveling. Do you think it will pack well? I’ll look at it a photo plus next month.

  8. Lisa O says:

    One more thing I would like to know about your cell phone and internet strategy while abroad. When you are in Italy for 4 weeks do you get a phone or sim card for that country?

    I will probably buy a italian data plan/sim card when I arrive for my android phone. I”ll probably add so international calling for my iphone but with the android I can tether from and get a sim card more easily.

    I know it doesn’t directly relate to this topic so if you don’t want to reply here maybe you could let me know at a later date.


  9. Geir says:

    Great idea with the dividers and the skins, I’ll pick that one up. But here’s one suggestion after doing this mistake when visiting Ethiopia. Instead of only bringing one DSLR battery charger, pack two, and always keep one in the bag. I left mine at home, and found out too late only to discover that there’s nowhere in Ethiopia where they sell battery chargers for the Olympus E3. I ran out of steam so to speak long before the trip was over, and cursed myself the whole flight back to home.

  10. Jeffrey Chapman says:

    Hi Geir, I always pack two chargers (one as carry-on). Redundancy is a must for everything that is vital. Batteries and their chargers are vital.

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