Careful and creative packing is the secret to having the best possible time on your adventure. It is an art-form and although it does tend to get easier every successive time you pack, here are some tips we would like to share with you as you prepare for this adventure tour!
The KISS Method – Keep It Smart & Simple
Pack the items that are necessary for your photography and your safety and comfort. Don’t pack too much. Traveling with less makes getting around easier. Remember that adventure often equates to smaller planes with weight limits and smaller compartments for your gear.
We have put a list of products together that are described below here on Amazon. The products are suggestions and you may find that you already have similar items or that products from other companies provide a better fit.
CARRYING YOUR STUFF: Having as stress free a trip as possible depends in part on your bags. A bag with wheels and a pull up handle is great for your clothing and personal care items – they are maneuverable in most places. Pack an empty extra duffel bag in your bag in case you want to use it for laundry or you need to check an extra bag later. If possible, always carry on your camera gear. Make sure your camera/computer bag fits under an airplane seat or in overhead compartments. When flying on small airplanes to more remote regions, as in Greenland, check weight limits and take them seriously. If you’re ever forced to check your camera gear, carry on a camera and lens over your shoulder, and wrap/protect the rest of your gear as best as you can, use whatever you have handy for padding if you have to. We travel with one larger camera bag (like the LowePro ProRunner bags) and one smaller camera backpack. We carry on the full camera bag and pack the empty backpack into our checked baggage. Once in the field, we hike with the smaller backpack carrying only the things needed for that part of the journey – camera, tripod if needed, cards, extra battery, two lenses, water and snacks.
CAMERA, LENSES AND IMAGE STORAGE: If at all possible carry a second camera body with you. That way, if one is stolen or damaged, you’ll still be able to shoot with the other. The best of the best situation would be to have a second camera body similar enough to be able to interchange your lenses, cards, chargers and cords. If that is not an option, perhaps you can bring a point and shoot or a phone camera as a back up. It is no fun to have your only camera fail on you in the middle of an exciting trip to a glacier!
Lenses help you make the most of whatever situation you find yourself in, so it is important to choose carefully. We travel with lenses for four ranges – macro, wide, medium, and long. It all depends on the situation we are going to be in that determines which lenses get to be the ones in the bag. In Kangerlussuaq, for example, because there will be a truck to take us to the ice sheet, it will be ok to bring all of your gear and downsize as needed into the smaller backpack. If we know there will be a hiking adventure, like in Disko, pack smaller to begin with. We generally pack two lenses for a hiking trip. If there will be beautiful wild flowers the macro 100mm goes in the bag….If there is any chance of wildlife be sure to have a telephoto lens, we have a 100-400mm…. many of our lenses are zooms, providing extra versatility. (Canon 16-35mm or 17-40mm, 28-135mm or 24-70mm, and 100-400mm) Lens hoods are important. Polarizing filters are the most useful filters.
Protecting your equipment from dust and dampness is something to pay serious attention to. Before knowing better we had a camera die in the field due to the motherboard reacting to moisture. Boom – no camera for two weeks of the trip, that was terrible. Pack all of your lenses and cameras in sealable plastic bags, Ziplocs are great, and store your equipment in those bags when not in use. Don’t ever put your gear away wet. Pack a small microfiber cloth to wipe down equipment that does get wet. If you’re likely to shoot in dampness, rain or snow use a rain cover for your camera, Aquatech’s are awesome. If you can’t get one of their raincoats at least have good plastic bags to use. Bring an air blower for your sensor and a sensor cleaning system. Dust happens. It’s a lot more efficient to remove it in the field than in post-processing.
Bring several large (SanDisk is what we use) 64 gig CF media cards so you don’t run out of storage to shoot with in the field. At the end of each day download onto one portable hard drive and backup to a second. We use 1TB drives. When flying pack one in your suitcase and carry one with you in your gear bag at all times. You might also consider carrying a large capacity thumb (64GB) drive with you at all times. Put your best images on it. You can replace equipment, but you’ll never be able to replace your images.
CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR: Resist the temptation to pack too much clothing! Only bring essentials. You should look for clothing that you can wear in layers – find lightweight, washable, quick-drying clothing you can go to a casual restaurant in or wear to go hiking. These items will depend on your destination, please choose:
PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS: Make sure you bring an adequate supply for the trip.
ONE-QUART WATER BOTTLE OR HYDRATION PACK: One-quart water bottle or hydration pack for each person. Clean, potable water is available at all lodge locations on our trips. We are a plastic water bottle-free company; please help us reduce plastic waste by bringing your own water bottle.
SMALL FLASHLIGHT OR HEADLAMP: Needed for a night photography or northern lights viewing for getting around in the dark. LED headlamps are great because they don’t use a lot of battery.
INSECT REPELLENT: Creams and pumps are more environmentally friendly than aerosols.
SUNGLASSES & SUNSCREEN: We are optimists, and sunshine even in the Arctic can be strong at times.
TRAVEL ALARM CLOCK: Battery operated.
BINOCULARS: Highly recommended and some guests feel that these are mandatory!
CAMERA/BATTERIES/TRIPODS: Don’t forget extra batteries for your camera. Some types of camera batteries can be difficult to find in remote areas. Use of drones is prohibited on our trips. Night and northern lights photography requires a tripod – find one that fits your camera and get familiar with using it during the day prior to leaving on your adventure. If all you have is a smart phone, there are some fantastic little tripods and apps that can be used for imaging the Aurora.
HIKING POLES: If you prefer to explore the backcountry with hiking poles, please bring ones that pack easily (telescoping).