I used to use a CountyComm bag to carry all my camera stuff, but after SHOT Show last year I concluded that it just wasn’t cutting it for what I needed to get all the cool pictures and video that I post on TTAG. For the last few months I’ve been trying out a new bag from Civilian Lab and its been doing pretty awesome. Since I’m on a plane to Arizona tomorrow to film some more awesome stuff, I thought I’d pull back the curtain and show you what’s in my pack . . .
Before we get to the awesome MOLLE stuff on the outside, the really cool thing is on the inside. I reviewed Hazard 4’s “Plan B” bag earlier this year, and while the design is similar, there are some really neat tricks that make this bag just about perfect for the travelling shutterbug.
Chief among those is this panel right here.Underneath that MOLLE pouch is a zippered panel that opens into the interior of the bag.
The inside of the bag comes completely hollow, the only thing in there is some seriously heavy padding. There’s a good half inch of foam between your gear and the world, keeping it nice and unbroken even in the back of Tyler’s bumpy off-road buggy or the overhead bin of a cramped airplane. Adding to the padding are a series of velcro padded divider panels that you can arrange to keep your gear in the proper position. I’ve sectioned my bag out into three main compartments.
The bottom (far left) compartment holds stuff that generally won’t break. Stuff like my Flip HD video camera that I’ve blown up a couple times and refuses to die, two Hero cameras (including the new Hero3 Black Edition, subsidized by my blogger sugar daddy), and a Contour HD that I’m testing out for an upcoming review. I usually carry another camera that I don’t care about (for downrange pictures and such) but the Contour has taken its spot for now.
Honestly, most of the work can actually be done by the Hero3 Black Edition. Excellent video and excellent quality photographs means that if all else fails, as long as I have that camera I can complete the assignment. The wide angle lens is a bit annoying for product photos, though, so best to have more options.
Speaking of lenses, that’s the next compartment up. In the most protected portion of the bag I have my two favorite lenses: a 50mm macro lens and a 45-200 zoom lens.
I use a micro four thirds camera, specifically the older Panasonic DMC-G2. The reason is simple: its light, small, and does video extremely well. Sure I’d love to shoot with a D7000, but hauling that boat anchor around is another matter.
These lenses have made for some great photos. The 45-200 was what I used for the Knob Creek pics from last year, some of which I still use as a desktop background. And the macro lens makes for some great close-up shots as well as landscape shots.
The pockets hold a spare battery for the DSLR camera, spare SD cards, and an SD card reader.
The last compartment is for miscellaneous bulky crap, like a crappy external flash (that actually works really well) and a suction cup mount for the GoPro cameras. I get the feeling that the suction cup mount will be getting a workout this week. The cable is for letting me move the flash around off the shoe, so I don’t get a flat image.
If you close that panel, on top of it I’ve got a MOLLE pouch mounted right on top for easy access. The main point of that pouch is audio gubbins — a lavalier microphone, an omnidirectional microphone for the GoPro, and usually an external microphone for the DSLR. However, I recently found out that my old microphone is a pile of crap and chucked it. Also in that pouch is a voice recorder, and an external 1 TB USB hard drive for offloading the video and pictures from the smaller SD cards in the devices.
Above that is an admin MOLLE pouch, with a bunch of administrative gubbins. Specifically pens, of which a writer can never have too many. Plus they keep disappearing, so having a ready supply is excellent. Also in that pouch is a Surefire flashlight with a red filter attached, mainly so I can see where I’m going when I’m filming something and its too dark otherwise. Like the upcoming TTAG pilot that we’re working on, during some of the hunting sequences. Its always nice to have a flashlight, and that one has been with me since day 1 as an EMT.
Moving around to the front, the large pocket contains a notepad and some small tripods. These are extremely useful for capturing pictures and video of things on the ground, since it doesn’t have the same height as a fullsize tripod. Plus, they fit nicely in the bag. In addition, there is a Verizon USB network card shoved in there for when the internet doesn’t work or is too expensive.
Just above that is charging supplies. The black bag contains a wall socket with a USB port and every size USB adapter you could want, and the cord is wrapped around a charger for the main camera.
The last pocket is another add-on MOLLE pouch reserved for GoPro kit. In addition to the WiFi remote that comes with the Black edition of the new camera, I’ve slotted in a handlebar mount and head mount, as well as some assorted mounts and such. The only non-standard mount in there is a Strikemark GoPro Picatinny mount that I’m reviewing and will be talking more about quite shortly.
As for the main camera, the DMC-G2, the bag has one last trick up its sleeve. The top unzips, allowing direct access to the padded internal compartment. Using a padded velcro panel I made a compartment exactly the right size for my camera, keeping it extremely safe and readily accessible.
And now you know all my secrets.