Pro Photo

Safely traveling with your camera

Years ago photographers would pick a camera bag that would immediately scream “photographer” to everyone around. These days, bags that look like any other luggage are the preferred and logical choice.

Safely traveling with your camera

Choosing a camera bag for air travel is not an easy task, whether you want to carry your gear with you all the time or send some items as checked luggage. Here are some ideas to keep in mind if you’re after a new bag for 2018, and some suggestions from Mike Sturm on “stealth” bags.

Everyone knows one ot two stories of photographers or videographers who had their gear stolen at an airport or missing after even a short flight. There is a simple solution for that: always try to pack your gear in a bag small enough to carry onto the plane. It’s not an easy task, also because the rules about the size and type of bags that can be carried onto a plane are not only different from country to country, but are also changing a lot. Maybe the bag you used last here is a little larger than allowed this year. So, before traveling, always make sure you get the latest and most detailed information about the rules.

If you’ve to check bags packed with gear, it’s important to keep in mind that the less they “scream” what the contents is, the safer your equipment will be. Very important, too, is to make sure the equipment is protected – an exterior hardshell and/or padded bag with safety locks is essential – and to try to distribute your equipment so the most delicate and expensive gear is carried by you all the time.

The market does offer multiple solutions in terms of camera bags, from shoulder models to backpacks, but if you travel regularly by air, even in short flights, then a roller bag may be your best bet, not only because it is easier to carry, but because it looks like every other roller bag at the airport. That’s an important point to consider, when buying your next camera bag.

A backpack may be your preferred way to carry your gear, so you may consider that the wheels of a roller bag are something you can live without, but some roller bags are, in fact,  “a backpack on wheels”. One example is the Think Tank Photo Airport TakeOff V2.0, designed because “you can only take a rolling bag so far.” The Airport TakeOff V2.0 has integrated backpack straps with comfortable shoulder harness and back panel padding so, when the terrain becomes uneven, simply convert the Airport TakeOff V2.0 to a backpack and carry your gear to the location.

Sized to meet the needs of a traveling professional, the Airport TakeOff V2.0 fits most U.S. domestic and international airline carry-on requirements. Another viable solution is the StreetWalker Rolling Backpack V2.0, which can be carried inside the aircraft cabin. Think Tank Photo has many other rolling cases adapted to different needs, from the huge cases used to carry video gear – Video Rig Roller – and heavy equipment to the Airport and Video Transport series.

Safely traveling with your camera

Traveling photographers know that getting gear to their assignment is no vacation. Whether transiting through the airport or shooting an exotic location, you don’t want to look like you’re carrying $10,000 in camera gear. Think Tank Photo specializes in creating highly protective carrying solutions with an emphasis on security. The company leads the market in lightweight camera rollers that make it easier to carry your gear safely and discreetly — no matter where you go. Think Tank Photo recently published some notes professionals – and enthusiasts – should consider when buying camera bags.

Mike Sturm is a co-founder of Think Tank Photo and behind the development of all of their rollers. In a recent note about their products, Sturm mentions the word “stealth” when speaking about the design of Think Tank’s rolling camera bags. The “stealth” choices he’s made in designing them are deliberate.

“The top stealth features are the color (black) and the logo (small). There are no bright colors like red or orange. Nor is there a brazen logo that brags about you being a photographer,” says Mike. “We want your roller to look like every other bag being towed through the airport. No eyeballs gazing at it are good eyeballs.”

“Safe laptop carry is also essential. All Airport Version 3.0 rollers feature a new improved front computer pocket that fits your computer and tablet without bulging. This is significant because regular rolling luggage would only make this front pocket 6” deep. Ours pocket appears innocuous but in fact is designed to hold full-sized laptops.”

“There is one other big stealth feature: quiet wheels,” notes Mike. “Our rollers are stealthier than any other because they are designed to roll quietly.”

“Our wheels are made of a super soft yet durable polyurethane that makes rolling quieter and  easier on your equipment. We also use sealed bearings which produce a quieter ride. There’s nothing worst than rolling into your shoot and sounding like you’re riding a skateboard.”

Whether you explore Think Tank Photo collection of bags looking for a solution that fits you or look elsewhere, the suggestions above are something to keep in mind, if 2018 is the year for you to purchase a camera roller. It is never too late to invest in a bag designed to keep your gear as safe as possible.

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Journalist, writer and photographer since 1979, both print and online, with a vast experience in the fields of photography, software, hardware, web, aviation, History, video games, technology, having published content in almost all Portuguese newspapers…

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There was a similar story many years ago in the Photo District News. A lot of photographers in New York City with shiny, beautiful Halliburton cases, found that no sooner did they put them on the sidewalk than they disappeared. The remedy: find a beat-up but strong piece of luggage at Goodwill, and modify it with foam inserts to serve as a camera case.