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How We Safely Travel with Our DSLR Camera & Photography Gear

Posted in: Our Travels, Product Reviews, Resources & Gear

camera travel bagsHow do you keep your camera gear safe while traveling?

Since moving to Ecuador more than five years ago, we’ve traveled quite a bit. Both around the country and to other countries.

And because blogging is our business, we tend to take a lot of photos and travel with a fair amount of gear.

In this post, I share the gear we use to travel safely with our cameras.

The Camera Gear We Travel With

  • GoPro Hero3+ Silver: This is my favorite camera. We’ve shot underwater video, great panoramic photos, and created stunning sunset time-lapse videos.
  • Canon Point and Shoot (SX280 HS): We have two of these and love them. This has since been replaced by Canon with the PowerShot SX600 HS.
  • Canon Rebel DSLR (XSi and T1i): Both of these are kind of old. The XSi is almost 7 years old and the T1i is more than 3 years old. They have traveled the whole country with us and we’ve shot tens of thousands of images. They continue to perform – we don’t have any plans on replacing them. Of all our gear, we worry most about their safety – both from damage and theft.
  • Miscellaneous Accessories: GorillaPod, Wasabi batteries and charger, extend poles, full size tripod.

our camera gear

How We Keep it all Safe

I like Lowepro. We have three different Lowepro bags. One for each of our DSLR cameras and another for one of our point and shoot cameras. Dena uses a CaseLogic for her point and shoot camera.

camera safety travel

 

Here are the specific bags we use while traveling:

  • Toploader Zoom Pro with Chest Harness: This was my first camera bag. Dena bought it for me almost 7 years ago and it’s still going strong. This bag comes with a shoulder strap but you can add a chest harness. The harness is handy for hiking, biking and climbing. It stabilizes the bag and keeps it easily accessible. The bag has a large front zippered pouch that can hold keys, wallet, battery charger, etc. There is a small internal pocket that holds memory cards.
  • DSLR Shoulder bag (Lowepro): This is useful for a basic DLSR camera with kit lens. There is an internal divider that allows space for a flash or battery charger. This bag also has a large front pouch and a small internal pouch for memory cards.
  • Point and Shoot Case (Lowepro): This is the case I use for my Canon Powershot (SX280) and I love it. It has a shoulder strap and a belt loop but I don’t use either. I use the case to protect the camera when it’s tossed in my backpack. It has a front pouch that holds an extra battery and memory card. Hard to go wrong with this type of case.
  • Point and Shoot Case (CaseLogic): Dena uses this case for her Powershot camera. It is significantly smaller than mine – and while it has room for a memory card and battery it isn’t padded quite as well.

camera travel bags

When we hike, we always take a large backpack each. I usually take my High Sierra Swerve Pack and Dena uses the High Sierra Loop Pack. Both have room for one of the DSLR camera bags, a jacket, umbrella, GPS, snacks, and more.

On flights, we usually attach the camera bags to the outside of the backpack with a carabiner clip. I really like the Camp Photon carabiner (we have three). They work great for connecting loose ends while traveling.

Rainy days: While there are some waterproof backpacks, none of ours are. We always travel with an umbrella and a few garbage bags – to wrap our camera bags in, in case of a torrential downpour. After countless hikes in the rain, we haven’t had any damage or loss. When we replace our bags, I’m planning on getting waterproof ones – one less thing to worry about.

Staying safe in South America. There are some risky places in Ecuador. You need to be careful about having camera equipment visible in certain parts of the country and at certain times of day. Because of the risks, we bought the two Powershot cameras. They attract almost no attention because of their size and we use them when we aren’t comfortable to use our larger cameras. We still shoot with the DSLR cameras but only when we aren’t alone. We are careful not to attract attention with other technology and don’t spend the day with the camera around our neck. We take them out, get the shot, and then pack them away. To reduce attention from educated thieves, I’ve removed the Lowepro logo from my primary camera bag. No need to advertise that we have a premium camera bag. 🙂

Ready to improve your photography? Here our our eight favorite photography books. Want to finally learn how to use your point and shoot camera? Check out our book review: Getting Out of Auto (How to Make Better Photos with your Current Camera).

Your Turn

How do you keep your gear safe while traveling? What gear do you use?

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is editor of GringosAbroad - one of the largest English language sites about Ecuador. Work with GringosAbroad. He is a travel blogger, photographer and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands).

9 comments… add one
  • Ian Hutton Jan 5, 2015, 3:07 pm

    Bryan . . . Just switched to the new Canon T5i and am greatly impressed. The moveable 3″ touch screen is very handy, plus it now has 30 minute HD video with stereo mics built in to the camera. Just thought I’d mention that. Ian

    • Bryan Haines Jan 5, 2015, 4:29 pm

      Sounds great – I’ll check it out when it’s time to upgrade!

  • Moorthy Jan 5, 2015, 7:11 am

    Hi Bryan,

    Happy New Year To You & Your Family

    The comment about your Home Page is correct, it does not work (neither on Windows nor Mac based browsers). Just the URL bloggerabroad.com, perhaps your Home Page, does not work.

    The Other Links work i.e. Gringosabroad.com and such.

    Your test may work on your computer possibly being served from the cache, just a thought.

    Dena’s photograph of the flower Dracula Simia is beautiful and thank you for sharing that. I have put this up on my FB site and acknowledged Dena and the URL, for the beautiful image.

    I have just seen your site and am browsing through. Have enjoyed what I have seen thus far, thank you.

    Wish you guys well.
    Moorthy

    • Bryan Haines Jan 5, 2015, 12:50 pm

      I’m checking into it. It seems to be sporadic as some readers who couldn’t see it now can. It’s bizarre because everything is working except the homepage.

      Thanks for the heads-up – and your kind words.

  • Beth Delthony Jan 2, 2015, 9:43 am

    I travel a lot in South America with my DSLR. First thing I recommend is getting a new strap! I got a pacsafe camera strap because it’s padded to be a lot more comfortable, slashproof and has no big logo. No need for potential thieves to know what kind of camera you’re carrying from down the street. Also the camera company isn’t paying you for all that advertising!
    I generally do not carry a camera bag, but rather have a small bag that I keep my camera in to keep it clean and the straps from getting tangled up, and carry that in my purse or a normal backpack. I also do what you do which is only have it out when I’m using it and otherwise keeping it hidden in my bag, might add a few minutes to our explorations but overall it’s just smart! If you’re set on a special camera carrying case, I would suggest buying a specialized camera insert and then put that in a different backpack or bag, thieves are smart enough to know the typical camera backpack brands these days!

  • Jery Anderson Jan 1, 2015, 3:51 pm

    Bryan,

    Thank you for your efforts in writing your very informative and helpful articles. We have an offer in on a condo in Cuenca which we hope to close in 2015.

    I am a semiprofessional photographer who did a lot of medicolegal photography during my career as a biomedical engineering consultant, and now am retired and can use some of my equipment for travel. This consists of a Nikon D7100, Nikon DX VR 18-300 zoom and Nikon 60 mm macro lens. I also carry a Nikon SB-400 flash to augment the on-camera flash, which has limited usefulness. The rest of the equipment stays home. We also use my wife’s point-and-shoot camera when we don’t want to be obvious. When on the street or hiking, this gear goes into a Swiss Gear CP-156 “Dash Pack” which is a glorified day pack. It has several large pockets which help to separate things. The main point is that it is an innocuous looking day pack with no indications of what is in it, and is large enough so there are no bulges to indicate any equipment is inside. So far, no attempts to open it or “hijack” it on multiple trips to Ecuador as well as many other countries. We have great photos of many areas of EC that we use to explain to friends why we are investing to live there part time now, and probably full time in the future. On behalf of all of us who benefit from learning your family’s adventures – Thank You!!

    • Bryan Haines Jan 1, 2015, 3:59 pm

      Thanks Jery – really appreciate your comment.

      All the best on your plans!

  • sussy Jan 1, 2015, 10:40 am

    bryan, fyi when i type in http://www.bloggerabroad.com it will not open your site. llove your blogs

    thanks for your hard work

    • Bryan Haines Jan 1, 2015, 11:15 am

      Thanks for the heads up Sussy. I checked the site and it’s working well from this end.

      I suppose a setting in your browser could be affecting access. The site is located at http://bloggerabroad.com (without the www) but this isn’t a concern on most browswers.

      Please let me know if this continues to be down for you.

      Thanks!

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