Packing Your Camera Bag for an Extended Wildlife Trip

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What would it be like to pack your camera gear for an extended, photography excursion away from home? In this free video, professional outdoor photographer, Ian Plant, will take you through his own preparations as he plans for a month in Africa.

Ian’s assignments include wildlife and landscape work. He packs light but smart. In his camera bag, he carries two telephoto lenses, an ultra wide-angle zoom lens, a mid-range zoom lens, a handheld flash with extender, and two DSLR camera bodies including the full frame. Ian also includes his lightweight tripod with ball head.

Join world traveler, Ian Plant, as he gives you tips on how to pack your photo gear for a long trip.

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13 Responses to “Packing Your Camera Bag for an Extended Wildlife Trip”

  1. Christine Carlos

    Because of weight and size limits-rather than packing all that gear would you be able to recommend an appropriate bridge camera with fast enough shutter speed and zoom to photograph birds at distance?


    I too attempt to pack a lot of gear into my carry-on luggage but recently I’ve been stopped at the gate because its overweight. The result is that they put my gear in the hold as checked baggage
    How do you get past the 7kg (15lb) limit with all of that gear?

    • Customer Service

      Hello Mark,

      Thanks for your question, Ian is unavailable to answer directly. You bring up a valid issue and unfortunately there are no great answers.
      First option for carry-on… If possible research your flights and carriers. Not all airlines have rules about the weight of carry-on luggage, most
      all have restrictions about size but many carriers in many countries are not as concerned about the weight. Also it will depend on the flight
      and the aircraft. With a full size jet your options for size will be pretty good for size, with a small computer jet or turbo prop, not so much.
      However, on domestic flights some international flights I have found that the overhead bins fill up quickly and on occasion the the flight
      attendants with make everyone check their roll ons, so your camera bags can/will get bumped to the cargo hold.
      With with that reality hitting me often, this is is what I do now when I shoot either domestically or internationally, so far it has always worked,
      but your experiences may be different.
      I have a VERY small well made roll-on it is about 8x12x18 inches, it is not a “camera-bag” it looks like a very small typical roll on. I’d give you
      the brand and model except the company does not make this model anymore but you should be able to find something similar. I use rolling bags
      because after years of carrying shoulder bags my shoulders can’t carry the weight for long periods of time, which is a word to the wise….
      Anyhow I’ve stripped out the interior of this small roller, no straps or padding. Then I put in a camera body, a 24-70, a 70-200, and a 11-24
      each in an appropriately sized Think Tank lens pouch, and I put batteries, cards, and minor gadgets, until the little roller is full. Not much padding
      you say and you are right but since this one is in my control I don’t need extra padding. If I know there is going to be weight issues I’ll
      fill the bag until I reach the limit.
      This bag is so small that so far it has fit in the overhead of even the smallest commuter flight and also under the seats. I also bring a VERY small
      shoulder bag for misc items and an iPad. When I get in line to board I collapse the roller and hand carry it on board. What it looks like is
      a typical traveler carrying two small bags for a quick overnight stay.
      And then here comes the part you might not like, I then pack my other gear carefully and securely with my checked luggage. So I travel with the
      minimum I can to be able to shoot with when I land and check the rest. Again, no “camera bags” just beat up old well made Samsonite rollers.
      With all the security issues I’ve found that I simply cannot talk my way onto flights with carryon’s that are oversized or overweight. I’ve lost that
      argument a few times and the results are often not good. I don’t like this checked luggage solution but until you charter your own airplane
      I do not see a way around it.
      There is another option that I have heard about and have not had to resort to so I can’t recommend it but it’s out there. Remember the photo
      vest? There are still places you can buy light weight vests with big pockets. Anecdotally I’ve heard that photographers have put their
      extra or overweight gear in the vests and worn them on the plane. You’ll have to decide on that one….
      If you are shooting commercially I’ve found I can also spread the gear around with other members of the crew, or traveling companions.
      One of the most successful international shooters I know ships their gear to the destination hotel via a courier like FEDEX etc.
      Happy Shooting!
      Steve OPG Video Membership

      Think Tank Len Pouches: <>
      Want to save your shoulders? I love the speed belts! <>
      My mini carry-on shoulder bag: <>
      Here’s the link for small roller that might work for your carry on, I HAVE NOT tried it! <>
      Big Pocket Vests: <>
      Camera vests are also available at the usual internet merchants

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first year membership.

  3. Bill

    What tripod did you show in this video? It seemed relatively small. I’m 6’2″ and would like something tall enough without having to raise the center column, yet compact enough for travel and hiking. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  4. Robert Dockrell

    How do you get around the cabin luggage bag size and more so the weight restrictions?
    Some airlines only allow 7kg’s

    • Customer Service

      Hi, Robin. I’ve got two answers, if you are a digital person and Photoshop or Lightroom savvy I’d say pass on the filters and reserve anything
      you’d like to do in the filtration modification area for your post production work. You’ll be able to accomplish any work along those lines
      quicker and better digitally. And better yet you will not “bake” the effect into the file. The most common filter options past polarizers are graduated filters for darkening skies, the glass filters are expensive and great for serious shooters if you are just getting going, go for the plastic ones. Cokin and other plastic filter makers have kits of various sizes and options. If you are interested in going deeper into this go to the Tiffen site: <> and browse around, you may find some options you’d like to explore further. Lee is also a good resource: Lots of folks like UV filters to protect the front element, but don’t cheap out on this one, it is counter productive to spend good money on a camera and a lens and top it all off with a filter that fuzzes up the whole package.

  5. Juanjo

    Hello Ian, that such mark II goes the canon 7d, with the topic of area and brightness. And another question you have proved the Tamron 15-30 mm f2.8 I gave VC USD? A greeting and to say to you that I am charmed with as photographies.

  6. Patricia

    I have been looking for the perfect bag and the Gura Gear bag Ian is showing looks like it just might be the right one for me. What model is the bag?

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