My Kenya Gear Bag

I am heading out tomorrow to go to Kenya for 13 nights. It is my first time to Kenya but not my first trip to Africa. My co-leader Paul McKenzie has been going there for over 20 years so I feel like we will be in good hands. I am very excited to see Kenya and I know it will be a stellar trip. But, believe it or not, I struggle just like everyone else on what to bring, on trying to make weight, on making sure nothing is left behind. However, I do have a few packing tips that I want to share.

The first thing I do, long before I start to pack is make a gear list. I have a typed out a list of all my camera gear starting with my lenses from biggest to small, then my camera bodies and all of my accessories, including my Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod and Mongoose 4th Generation M-3.6 Action Head w/the Integrated Low Mount Arm. Very similar to “My Gear” page list. I make a fresh copy for each trip–it only takes a second to print and I can check things off once they are chosen and cross them off once they are packed… you get the idea.

So for this trip I know that I will need my longest lens, I know that because Paul supplied me with a suggested gear list and I in turn sent it to our clients. I will start by packing my big gun, my EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens, then I start to go down in size. I will not bring my EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens because I will have that focal length covered with my next lens choice and it will not be my largest lens. If I were photographing Snow Monkeys in Japan I would want the 300mm lens with me, it’s tack sharp and the minimum focussing distance combined with the close magnification make it a winner for portraits and close-ups, so dragging around an extra lens for the monkeys makes sense.

My next lens will be my intermediate lens. I usually go for my EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens because it is an f/2.8, but for this trip I am sure that I will need more focal length and rather than put on one of my teleconverters like the Extender EF 1.4X III or my Extender EF 2X III; I’ll just cut to the chase and bring my EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens. That does not mean that the teleconverters get left home-they come with me, I’ll need them for the 600mm.

Now, I realize that not everyone has the lens lineup that I have but some of you do 🙂 In fact some of you have much more. I will also say that my gear bag took years to assemble –so be patient.

Next I need to pack my wide angle lenses. I first go for my old faithful, my EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens, then my EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens in case I want a unique shot or if I want to do some night stars, the f/2.8 will be needed. I won’t be bringing my macro lens as the 100-400mm will be good enough.

Once I am good on my lens choices I move to my camera bodies, for me this is now easy as I have sold off several bodies and now only have 2 Canon bodies, the EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR Camera and the Canon EOS-1D X DSLR Camera .

I will also bring extra memory cards, batteries, chargers, flashlight, Rocket Blaster Dust-Removal Tool (Large, Black), CF Memory Card Reader, laptop, plug adapter, camera straps, extra plate, allen wrench, Hoodman lens wipes–thanks to Beau Gill for turning me onto them! I’ll also put some rain sleeves in just incase.

I also won’t be bringing my flash or better beamer, I seldom use them anymore. I also won’t bringing my Olympus gear since the reason for getting it was to lighten the load not bring both systems!!

Now to pack it all up into my two bags of choice:

Think Tank Glass Limo Backpack (Black) and The Airport Advantage roller. I use lightweight buffs as separators for my gear-they double as face masks for wind, sun, sand, etc.. I also use their UK site (that is the one I linked to) as the prices are generally cheaper.

**PS- The top picture does not properly depict how I will store my lenses, it is a generic promo picture. I never travel with my lenses attached to my camera bodies or with my lens caps off.

**I should have mentioned that our interior flights are chartered so we don’t have the strict weight regulations that many folks have.

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20 Responses

  1. Denise Dewire says:

    Glad you put the **PS at the end…the first thing I thought “where are the lens caps”?? Sounds like you have your gear ready to go. Can’t wait to see some of your amazing work you’ll be capturing!! Have a wonderful and safe trip!

    Hi Denise, thanks 🙂 I appreciate it!
    denise

  2. Jim Fennessy says:

    Thanks for the last minute reminders. Kenya is going to be fantastic, and I cannot wait. As soon as I saw the uncapped lenses attached to the bodies (both major sins), I knew that wasn’t your packing. You would be as likely to start referring to gulls as “Sea Gulls,” as to pack your gear in that manner.

    Too funny! I just used a generic pic but knew I needed to qualify it 🙂 See you soon!!!
    denise

  3. Marsha Gibson says:

    Have a wonderful trip, Denise! Can’t wait to see your beautiful images.

    Thanks so much Marsha!
    denise

  4. Muriel McClellan says:

    You are going to have a fantastic trip. Can’t wait to see what you create in beautiful Kenya!

    Thanks so much Muriel!
    denise

  5. Dave Klein says:

    Hi Denise! It is always so helpful to learn what goes into your thought processes and gear selections for each workshop – highly instructional!! Please have safe travels and plenty of photo ops to create your award-winning images. Thanks, also, for your recent update on Jaxson – what an inspiration to us all!
    Kind regards,
    Dave

    Hi Dave, Thank you kindly, I am counting the days till we see each other!
    denise

  6. Sharon Hallowell says:

    Have a wonderful trip! I will be anticipating all you capture! The use of the buffs as separators is a great idea! Safe travels!

    Hi Sharon, thanks, I love my buffs!!
    denise

  7. Bill Gorton says:

    I was there last Oct, one body with 100-400, one body with 24-105, lots of memory cards. It seem to do the trick. It was so dusty, did not want to change any lens. Also the weight restrictions of 33 lbs includes both carry on and checked baggage. Have a great trip….

    Hi Bill, I’m bringing a towel in my checked bag for my big lens, that should help with dust. I hate the airline restrictions!!
    Thanks so much!
    denise

  8. Neil Nourse says:

    Have a great trip, Denise!
    Another piece of gear that I find very valuable in Kenya is the Visual Echoes Panning plate. I find most vehicles in Kenya have doors so you shoot off of beanbags and with the plate on top it makes tracking animals much easier.

    Hi Neil, I have a panning plate that is heavy and I don’t like it too much, I’ll probably be good w/ the beanbag but thanks for the tip.
    denise

  9. Barbara Sepples says:

    Hi Denise
    Sounds like a fantastic trip. Thanks for sharing your thought process on what to bring. Looking forward to seeing your Kenya images.
    Thanks for the update on Jaxon.So glad to hear he is doing well.

    Hi Barbara,
    Thank you so much for your continued support of Jaxson. Wish me luck in Kenya!!
    hugs, denise

  10. Cindy Cone says:

    I know you’ll have a great time in Kenya! I went really light this past trip, taking only the 100-400 mm on one body, and the 24-70 mm f/2.8 on another body. Along with the 1.4 extender, I found I didn’t really need much else. I did take my flash and better Beamer but only used a few times. I’ll look forward to your images and hearing about your trip. This was my 10th time to Kenya and it’s still my fav!

    Hi Cindy, Thanks, I appreciate the kind comments. I’m bringing the 600mm because I like tight close-ups, otherwise I would leave it home.
    denise

  11. Ron May says:

    It’s been a few years since I have been there, but I still have fond memories of the trip, so enjoy yours. I am looking forward to seeing your images.

    Hi Ron, thanks, so am I 🙂
    denise

  12. Carol Nichols says:

    This is such helpful information for those of us who hope to make such a trip one day. Would you please tell us your weight restrictions for both carryon and checked bags on this trip?

    Hi Carol, Each airlines sets the weight restrictions, my checked bag is almost always 50lbs exactly and that is usually fine. My backpack (Think Tank Glass Limo) is almost never checked for weight. My small roller bag-well, that is why I am bringing a small one so they won’t check it 🙂 Wish me luck! I have a lightweight duffle back -up just in case.
    denise

  13. Denise, I don’t know if you have booked an extra baggage seat, but flying internally in Kenya from the domestic Wilson terminal is strictly controlled with all bags and extras you’re carrying checked for weight. The total single seat limit is 15kgs. I went earlier this year and was told I could push the weight (camera gear and small clothes bag) to 18kgs without a problem. That was not the case. I was reprimanded and told that they’d let me on with 18kgs only because the plane was not full. I was also told that an extra baggage seat must be booked in future if you want to exceed 15kgs. Clearly your weight is in excess so please double check. Notwithstanding that cautionary note, have a great trip.

    Hi Tony, thank you for all of that but we have a private air charter to the Mara arranged. But the first leg is slightly iffy, but I have back up.
    The airlines have taken the joy out of flying, haven’t they?

    thanks, denise

  14. I recall a recommendation that Swifter sheets are handy for removing dust from the non-glass surfaces of your equipment, and tend to re-release the dust they pick up. Keep a couple of sheets in a ZipLok bag.

    Hi Craig, I might be careful trying them w/o knowing what they are made from. Thanks for sharing.
    denise

  15. sue eberhart says:

    I can hardly wait ’til you start posting, Denise. Safe and happy travels.

    Hi Sue, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
    denise

  16. Cris Hamilton says:

    Hi Denise.
    Sounds like a great trip. Just wanted to mention that I recently purchased the Think Tank “Roller Derby” and I love it. It has four sets of wheels, which makes it so easy to push around the airports standing up vertically, as opposed to pulling at a 45 degree angle. I am in Brazil right now and had no issues on any of the planes with it and my Chobe shoulder bag. In the TT, I had: 1dxII, 5DIV, 500/4, 100-400 ver II, 16-35/4, two extenders, straps, and extra misc stuff. It also has room for a laptop – I think 15″ max but not sure about that. I carry my laptop in the Chobe bag, so didn’t use that compartment in the Roller Derby. Not sure if the 600/4 will fit or not. Just an FYI for anyone needing a bag that is real easy to roll!!! Have a great trip!!!!

    Thanks for sharing Cris, have a fantastic trip, say hi to Kitty!!
    denise

  17. Liz Lauer says:

    Good luck and safe travels. I know you will have a fantastic trip. I borrowed the 16-35mm f2.8 and really loved it. Thinking about getting it myself. Kenya is awesome. Looking forward to you images. Should be fun.

    Thanks Liz, I appreciate it.
    denise

  18. Hi Denise,

    Just wondering why you stopped using your flash and better beamer. I haven’t used my flash with my long lens yet, but have been considering buying a Mag Mod Wildlife Kit in hopes of improving some of my shots.

    Do you avoid flash for wildlife?

    Hi Anthony, sorry it has taken so long to answer you, I’ve been in Kenya with limited internet. I don’t use flash anymore because I haven’t found a need for it. I also don’t like the “steel eyes” that come with using flash, it has a very unnatural look and I want my nature images to reflect what I see in the field. Everyone has their own thoughts about what is right for them, flash just doesn’t appeal to me.
    thank you, denise

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