The Little Things: Don’t Leave Home Without Them

I’m loading up my Think Tank Airport Acceleration for a photo safari.

I’m currently packing my gear for my annual photo safari in Rocky Mountain National Park. I’ve talked about packing before, but it’s never a bad idea to revisit the topic. As with any trip, you should start setting out your gear at least a few days early. Make sure your lenses and sensor(s) are clean, and figure out everything you’ll need. For me, that means figuring out just which Think Tank Photo bag I’m going to use…

The best packing tip I can offer is to make a checklist. That way, you’ll know that you haven’t forgotten that special accessory as you board the plane to your destination. Speaking of accessories, there are a lot of little, inexpensive items that are easy to forget and a pain to forget. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Micro-fiber cloths: You can never have too many! Make sure you have clean ones before your trip, as they can accumulate dust and skin oil.
  • Filter Wrenches: These are super-inexpensive and can really save your butt if you use rotating filters, like polarizers, or the Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo.
  • Blower Bulb: Never leave home without a good one, like the Giottos Rocket Blower. This bulb has a unidirectional air-flow system so it doesn’t suck in the dust you just dislodged.
  • Smartphone Apps: There are SO MANY great apps for photographers, but some of my favorites are The Photographer’s Ephemeris, DOFMaster, and Focalware. Load these into your phone and have tools handy in the field.
  • Allen (hex) wrenches: If you use Arca-Swiss style camera/lens plates, make sure there’s an extra hex wrench in your bag in case you need to remove or tighten your bracket.
  • Tripod wrenches: My Gitzo tripods include small wrenches for adjusting leg tension. I once had a tripod leg loosen up on me during travel, and fortunately my colleague had a wrench. I’ve kept a set in my bag ever since.
  • Sensor Cleaning Tools: I try to avoid wet-cleaning my sensor in the field, but sometimes it’s necessary. Grab a kit from Copperhill Images and be prepared out there!
  • Rain Gear: You know the old saying… if you forget your umbrella it will most likely rain. I put a Shutterhat in my bag in case of light rain/moisture. If you are planning to shoot an event in a downpour, check out the ThinkTank hydrophobia series.
  • Gaffer Tape: Somehow I overlooked this one in my first revision! Thanks to those who suggested it. You never know when this strong, opaque tape will come in handy. I have used it to secure backdrops and even to shade the IR receiver windows on my SB-900 speedlights in bright sun.

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