Last December I passed by my five-year anniversary of my permanent travels. The most time I’ve spent back in the States was actually just a few months ago, when I came back on Christmas Day, hung out with my family for about a month, then did my month-long USA Road Trip (though not fully as planned), then came back for a short bit and flew out to Germany.
Even during those two months back, I was living out of a suitcase for the month of the road trip.
Looking back on my five years on the road, I think the most time I have ever stayed in one location is probably about two or three weeks at a time. Maybe that long a few times in Costa Brava, also in London when I was based out of there for a while last year. But that’s about it.
Bottom line, luggage is very important to me.
When Eagle Creek approached me last year to try out some of their gear, I was already well aware of their company and their products. I have been using their zip bags to organize my electronics from my initial RTW trip and closely looked at their backpacks when I started out, but they didn’t have one big enough for what I needed — or what I thought I needed back then.
The first thing I wanted to try was their Switchback 26 backpack. Last year, I traveled around with a rolling suitcase all year and simply hated it. There were so many occasions where I really wanted the ability to be able to strap it to my back and walk with it. Bad cobblestone roads, buildings with no elevators, and more of those situations.
What I liked about the Switchback is that it is a rolling bag, but you can also just unzip a pouch in the back of it and make it into a backpack quickly and simply. So far this year, I have been lucky with my locations (and also on a big work project where they catered me around), so I have mostly used it as a rolling bag, but having the option of using it as a backpack is vital to me.
One thing about this bag, it has a zip-off daypack attached to it. I took that off when I got it and am not traveling with it because….
I went ahead and got the Afar Backpack to use as my electronics backpack. At some point, I guess I am going to need to have someone take a picture of me walking around, with one big backpack on my back and this smaller one on my front. The look is called “the turtle” and I think I pull it off nicely.
Just last night I was having a conversation with my friend Kiersten Rich about cameras and lenses and travel gear. It was at that point that I realized exactly how much stuff I carry around to do this work on the road that I do to keep going. I think I’m going to do a post about it, but bottom line here is what I carry around in this bag:
Three Olympus micro-four thirds cameras, six lenses, and eight batteries. Two GoPro cameras. Seven USB hard drives. iPad and iPod. A MacBook Pro 15 inch computer. Two power converters. And various cords and chargers for the equipment and batteries.
My big backpack/luggage weighs 19 kgs (41 pounds) when I check it in for flights. My small electronics bag weighs… 18 kgs (39 pounds).
Thank goodness I like making video as much as I do.
One thing I need more of in all aspects of my life is organization. Travel plans, work, organizing files, keeping my inbox uncluttered, client contact lists, and more… I need a healthy dose of getting things in order and in their place.
Luckily for me, Eagle Creek was able to help — at least in the ability to help organize my stuff.
I got three different things to help me organize out the little bits and bobs in my luggage: the Pack-It Wallaby for toiletries, the Pack-It Sac set for clothes, and the Pack-It Sac sets for electronics.
The toiletries bag is a pretty typical one, but I do love the solid construction and size of it. I don’t have a ton of bathroom stuff, but it perfectly holds everything I have and is built a lot better than the one that broke down on my last year.
The clothing sacks and the electronics sacks are invaluable for me. I keep my T-shirts in one sack, my boxers and socks in another, and so forth. Reaching into my backpack and pulling out exactly what I need — and only what I need — is simple now.
And between the new electronics bags I got and the old ones I had already, I’ve got five of them now and I’m 100% positive I’d lose gear left and right without them. When I am out shooting, I can reach into my electronics backpack and pull out the red bag — that’s my bag of lenses. If a battery runs out, I pull out the green bag — that’s my batteries and charger bag. And so forth. They help keep me organized, sane, and productive.
I’ve got my eye on a few more Eagle Creek products and when and if I get them, I’ll update you on how they work with my nomadic lifestyle. But rest assured, although Eagle Creek did give me this gear so that I can review it, this endorsement of their products is whole-hearted and complete. Their stuff is great — I just might have to see if they’ll design up a few things that work even more exactly with my needs.
A Michael Hodson travel line perhaps? Why not. There has to be at least 10-11 other traveling fools out there like me, traveling like this, right?