Packing Light

-hh

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jul 17, 2001
2,528
323
NJ Highlands, Earth
We're working up for a first cut "test pack" to see how far over budget we are for a forthcoming 2 week long Safari to southern Tanzania later this summer. The key restriction is that we have a 15kg/person (33lbs) weight limit for our TOTAL baggage for the small aircraft for two fly-in camps.

For the two of us, that weight budget is 66lbs. Currently, we're at 70lbs, of which roughly 20lbs is my camera gear. This is after we've done some slight-of-hand with a "drop bag" we're going to be putting into storage & retrieving on our return.

I've already gotten rid of the camera backpack bag, which weighed 5lbs empty, and gone to a different carry-on system. Saved 2lbs this way.

We can probably get by with being a few pounds over...if they get fussy, I can put a lens into a jacket pocket, etc.

My problem is that I'm leaving too much stuff at home :) and I really want to add in an external strobe with a Better Beamer...question is what gear then has to come out?

Current gear is as follows:

Wife's optics stuff:
Canon A80 (4MP point&shoot)
8x25 IS binoculars

My optics stuff:
Canon 20D body
- EF L 70-200 f/2.8 IS
- 1.4x teleconverter

Canon Elan IIe 35mm body (backup body)
- Tamrack 19-35mm f/3.5-4.5

FWIW, my basic plans here are to not swap lenses too much: shoot telephoto with digital and wide angle/landscape with film, which then also serves as a backup body. I am going very light on film at only 18 rolls (36exp = 650 frames), roughly split between ISO 400 and ISO 50&25.

Relevant photo support equipment includes:
- 11GB in CF Media for the 20D, plus 1GB for the A80 (also CF)
- Two (2) 60GB digital wallets
- Batteries, adaptor plugs & chargers
- cleaning supplies

To try to add the Strobe & Beamer, it looks like none of my options are all that wonderful. Here's what I think the simple options list is:

a) to go with only one digital wallet instead of two (redundency)
b) to delete my backup SRL body (35mm) and its film
c) to try to reduce clothing articles from 3 changes to just 2.


Comments, Suggestions?

FWIW, the 20D and Elan IIe both have pop-up strobes.


-hh
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,612
424
Redondo Beach, California
What other then camera gear are you taking? How long (how many days/nights) will this trip last? I'd say the extra weight is all in that non-photo gear. If I were planning a backpacking trip where I'd be gone for a week. I'd be carting soe camera stuff AND a week's worth the food and a tent and sleeping bag, cook pots, stove, fuel, first aid get and so on and still not be much over your weight limit. But then I started learning how to pack light before I can remember (My dad has photos of me pre-kindtergarden) The trick is bring only things that are "dual use".

I don't know what you are bringing but (so no offebnce intended) I've seen people bring such silly items as a pillow for sleeping and a jacket. Silly because you are unlikely to sleep in the jacket and can roll it up to make a pillow. Other silly things are: Plastic case for a tooth brush, leaving full lenght handle on same. The whole group can share one 2 oz. botle of liquid soap for all purpuses. If you take 10% of the weight off each item then you have reduced the total by 10% So think about the weight of one pair of shorts vs. another and if you really need a _full_ tube of toothpast for each of you. Continers are useless too. zip lock bags make lighter organizers. 33 lbs is a large weight limit and you camera gear is not what is filling up the limit. It's the other junk.

About that weight limit. Yes it's real. I've got a pilot license and one thing they teach you is that improberly weighting an aircraft is fatal. It is not just the total weight but how it is distributed. A smart pilot wil not fudge the limits. Let's hope you have a smart pilot.
 

Earendil

macrumors 68000
Oct 27, 2003
1,549
0
Washington
-hh said:
We can probably get by with being a few pounds over...if they get fussy, I can put a lens into a jacket pocket, etc.
As a pilot in training I have to stress something here. If you are going in a little puddle hopper plane than weight and weight location is EXTREMELY important. Weight not only makes it hard to get off the ground, but more importantly can cause a plane to more easily go into unrecoverable spins.

Now most pilots give them self some grace so that if they make a miscalculation, no one gets hurt. However I don't know how much "grace" a bush pilot in Africa will give you. If he says 66lbs, he might very well mean exactly that and no more. And if he does, I wouldn't try to sneak an extra 5lbs on board.

That said, I'm talking about 2-6 massenger planes. The grace and ability of the plane starts to really climb after a 6 passenger plane. At that point you can sneak 5-10lbs on board :D

~Tyler
 

cgratti

macrumors 6502a
Dec 28, 2004
782
0
Central Pennsylvania, USA
Dont forget the basics like battery chargers, lens cleaning kit (dusty), and sensor cleaning kit (again DUST).

Also, I would pack a good FAST prime lens for low light situations. Especially the 50mm 1.8, for the price and size you need it in your bag for indoor shots whare you dont want to lug around the 70-200.
 

-hh

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jul 17, 2001
2,528
323
NJ Highlands, Earth
ChrisA said:
What other then camera gear are you taking? How long (how many days/nights) will this trip last? I'd say the extra weight is all in that non-photo gear.
The trip's 18 days. In the 'other than camera' department, its one compact hiking pole, one daypack, clothing and an extended ditty bag/first aid kit.

If I were planning a backpacking trip where I'd be gone for a week. I'd be carting soe camera stuff AND a week's worth the food and a tent and sleeping bag, cook pots, stove, fuel, first aid get and so on and still not be much over your weight limit.
Same here. Difference is that we're not going to be on the AT, so we're packing 3 changes of clothes each to be a bit more sociable around other people :) It will require ~6 uses each (5 washings) to get us through 2.5 weeks, which pragmatically means one to wear, one to dry and one item in rotation float in case of a rainy (slow drying) day. Stuff like swimsuits have already been dropped...its pretty much just 3 sock, 3 underwear, 3 T's, 3 shirts, 3 pants, 2 hats, 1 rain jacket, & 1 polartech (due to cooler temperatures at one higher altitude camp) per person, and most of this is in alternative (fast dry) fabrics which are lightweight, unlike cotton, canvas, denim, etc.

I don't know what you are bringing but (so no offebnce intended) I've seen people bring such silly items as a pillow for sleeping and a jacket.
No offense taken. We're both already light packers and have repeatedly done up to 2 weeks in Europe out of just a carry-on each, etc. We're already in lightweight duffles and ziplocks and have trimmed the usual suspects. You're not going to find any pillows here.

I do know that there's a lot of weight in the ditty bags, but since we're going off the grid, there won't be stores nearby. I was painfully aware of the weight of two 10oz tubes of suntan lotion, but for 2 white folk spending 2 weeks outdoors in near-Equatorial sun, it is probably cutting it close.


About that weight limit. Yes it's real. I've got a pilot license and one thing they teach you is that improberly weighting an aircraft is fatal. It is not just the total weight but how it is distributed...
Exactly why I don't want to incur a significant overage. In reading various peoples' trip reports, it sounds pretty common for visitors to try to hide their excess weight by wearing it and I don't want to do that.


-hh
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,612
424
Redondo Beach, California
cgratti said:
Dont forget the basics like battery chargers,

Also, I would pack a good FAST prime lens for low light situations. Especially the 50mm 1.8
Battery charger?? Like there is going to be an AC outlet nearby? No he'll need extra battery enough to power the camera to fill up all those CF cards. One battery should fill 3 or 4 cards. Three batteries are lighter and smaller than one charger.

The prime lens is good. I'd go for a wider one. 50mm is a medium tele on a DSLR. But good for people shots
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,612
424
Redondo Beach, California
-hh said:
The trip's 18 days. In the 'other than camera' department, its one compact hiking pole, one daypack, clothing and an extended ditty bag/first aid kit.
-hh
20 oz. of sunscreen? Look for a more effective brand. I can burn in when it's raining. I found "head hunter" in a local surf shop. The smallest amount stays on all day. One 4 oz tube would do both of you for a month. This stuff really IS waterproof and I've tried a lot of them. But it's abut $15 for what looks like a sample size. Worth it.

Also I'll bet you a six pack that you will be bringing more cloths with you then half the people who live in the area own. What you are wearing plus one more should do it three of everything is kind of overkill
 

javabear90

macrumors 6502a
Dec 7, 2003
512
0
Houston, TX
For the A80, consider the use of Lithium AA batteries. They are MUCH lighter than both alkaline and NiMh. They should last much longer (up to 7x than alkaline) and you can leave the charger behind. You might also look into investing in an 8gb CF card and leave one of the hdd's behind. 120+ gigs of photos is alot!
-Ted
 

-hh

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jul 17, 2001
2,528
323
NJ Highlands, Earth
ChrisA said:
20 oz. of sunscreen? Look for a more effective brand. I can burn in when it's raining. I found "head hunter" in a local surf shop. The smallest amount stays on all day. One 4 oz tube would do both of you for a month. This stuff really IS waterproof and I've tried a lot of them. But it's abut $15 for what looks like a sample size. Worth it.
The 'Head Hunter' stuff sounds like a derivative of standard zinc oxide; causes bad reactions on my wife. In any event, the sunscreen budget is based on a decade+ of Carribean dive trips, where we normally go through around 32oz in a 2 week period. This trip is 20% longer, and has ~33% more time exposure per day which would normally suggest even more, but since we're not in bathing suits, only ~40% of the skin exposed.


Also I'll bet you a six pack that you will be bringing more cloths with you then half the people who live in the area own. What you are wearing plus one more should do it three of everything is kind of overkill
Actually, what I realized last night is that the "3" includes what we'll be wearing, so its actually 2 packed + 1 on, and we've been weighing the bag with all 3 in it. That will probably shave enough.


-hh
 

-hh

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jul 17, 2001
2,528
323
NJ Highlands, Earth
ChrisA said:
Battery charger?? Like there is going to be an AC outlet nearby? No he'll need extra battery enough to power the camera to fill up all those CF cards. One battery should fill 3 or 4 cards. Three batteries are lighter and smaller than one charger.
I'm currently planning on having reliable access to power every other day, but with the possibility that an individual camp is having problems and no power for 3 days. I have thought about deleting 20D's battery charger, but not for a 2 week long trip which is going to be photo-intensive by design.

Similarly, NiMH AA's for the A80 also run the dWallets, which are power hungry. I am planning on run the wallets as redundant backup for the CF cards, but then watch my consumption rates - if I exceed 4GB/day (300 shots), then my consumption rate will force me to skip redundency on the dWallets, reformat one of them en route and use the two of them in serial to double my total storage capacity from ~70GB to ~128GB, more or less. The alternative is to drop shooting RAW when the wallets hit capacity and in doing so, stretch out the CF cards. There's not going to be any realistic opportunity to burn a backup to CD/DVD, as we've not taking a laptop.


The prime lens is good. I'd go for a wider one. 50mm is a medium tele on a DSLR. But good for people shots
I'm not much of a people-portrait person, plus one would normally be able to use strobe if its that dark, so I don't yet see the value.

Since I was trying to add a strobe w/Beamer (for telephoto flash fill), why would you consider a fast short prime to be more valuable?


BTW, do keep in mind that a 70mm f/2.8 with IS comes fairly close to a 50mm f/1.8 without IS.



-hh
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,415
124
Location Location Location
Ditch the extra camera body.

Don't bother bringing a 50 mm prime.

And I don't know what "3" shirts + 3 Ts means, but do you need 3 long sleeve shirts and 3 t-shirts (i'm assuming these are short sleeve)?
 

-hh

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jul 17, 2001
2,528
323
NJ Highlands, Earth
Abstract said:
Ditch the extra camera body.
Its hard to let go, as my 19mm would then be only 30mm wide.

Don't bother bringing a 50 mm prime.
Agreed.

And I don't know what "3" shirts + 3 Ts means, but do you need 3 long sleeve shirts and 3 t-shirts (i'm assuming these are short sleeve)?
Basically, 3 long sleeved, plus 3 colored (performance fabric) T-shirts that get worn underneath. Layering provides morning warmth, but can unlayer (if the bugs aren't too bad) because they're not white. These would typically get washed daily and unless it rains, they'll dry overnight.


-hh
 

pooky

macrumors 6502
Jun 2, 2003
356
1
-hh said:
its pretty much just 3 sock, 3 underwear, 3 T's, 3 shirts, 3 pants, 2 hats, 1 rain jacket, & 1 polartech (due to cooler temperatures at one higher altitude camp) per person, and most of this is in alternative (fast dry) fabrics which are lightweight, unlike cotton, canvas, denim, etc.
I suggest dropping 1 pair of socks, 1 pants, 1 hat. If it were me, I'd leave all the underwear at home. Maybe one pair for women.