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Why Packable Gear Makes Sense

Why Packable Gear Makes Sense

Why Packable Gear Makes Sense

Why Packable Gear Makes Sense

APR 11, 2017 - POSTED BY: DAVID BOLLER

APR 11, 2017 - POSTED BY: DAVID BOLLER

I tend to think of myself as a “no compromises” photographer, especially when it comes to gear. As a result, I have always avoided gear that I felt made too many compromises. In my mind, packable gear seemed to fit into that category. I was wrong.

Recently, I took a last minute trip to New Zealand to shoot content for some of our brand partners. I had less than 12 hours notice. Which meant I had less than 12 hours to pack, sleep, and make my first of four flights to the other side of the world. Matador had sent us some of their gear, and even though my window to pack was insanely small, I made the decision to throw some of their stuff in my bag. I figured it would be a novelty, and then I would not use it again.

Well, I was wrong again. The reason is pretty simple. All of that “no compromise” gear I love is great, but it’s not always practical in the moment. I often find myself missing the shot because I either didn’t bring my camera bag, or because I couldn’t get to my camera fast enough.

While in New Zealand, we visited a little glacial lake called Lake Alta. I think that day illustrates why packable gear has earned a place in my arsenal. The hike up was short but steep, and I didn’t want to carry any more weight than I had to. As a result of the hasty packing I had done, my normal daypack was half a world away. Luckily, one of the Matador items I had brought with me was their Hydrolite bag.

It’s a great little pack, but the camera bag I was using wouldn't fit into it. Faced with the choice of leaving important gear in the van or lugging around a pack that was much larger than I needed, I remembered that I also had a sample of Matador’s new Camera Base Layer. Suddenly, I had an efficient way to carry my second lens and extra gear. The camera went around my neck, and the Base Layer (holding my second lens) went into the backpack. This kept me mobile, while also giving me options when I was out shooting (I love options when I am shooting).

Once at the lake, I quickly got to work on my shot list for the day. I scrambled around the lake’s rocky perimeter for a couple of hours before getting unexpectedly caught in the rain. I immediately started trying to keep my camera dry (I also love not having to replace my gear). So the camera went into the Base Layer, and out came the built-in rainfly. This let me enjoy the lake a while longer. For the hike down, all of my gear went back into the Hydrolite bag, which is also waterproof (Good choices, Matador).

The best gear for the job is the gear you actually take with you
The best gear for the job is the gear you actually take with you


At this point, it’s probably obvious that I had not planned for every possible contingency (I blame the short notice). To make matters worse, our days changed by the minute. One day we would be at a glacial lake ( Lake Alta), and the next we would be taking a helicopter to an actual glacier ( Tyndall Glacier). Still, thanks in large part to the Matador gear, I never found myself without what I needed to get the job done. It was light enough that I didn’t think twice about packing it, which meant I actually had it when I needed it. I have used a ton of camera bags over the years, but the only one that ended up at that glacial lake was the Base Layer.

Lake Alta (The Remarkables)

The big takeaway for me is actually something I have heard said before: the best gear for the job is the gear you actually take with you. Next time I pack for a trip, I will probably pack a little differently than I have in the past. I will pack less "perfect" gear, and more gear I will actually use. At one point in my career that would have felt like a compromise, but if I actually get the shot, it’s a trade I am more than willing to make.

Want One?

They just updated it to include more space, Cordura Ripstop Nylon, and it’s now Vegan and Animal free. Plus it has Sorona synthetic down fill, YKK buckles, and a PU coated and siliconized nylon rainfly.

Want One?

They just updated it to include more space, Cordura Ripstop Nylon, and it’s now Vegan and Animal free. Plus it has Sorona synthetic down fill, YKK buckles, and a PU coated and siliconized nylon rainfly.

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