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Is this gear safely packed?


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#1 Draq

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 01:47 PM

I finally decided to give a try to a larger camera and housing.  As expected, packing has become more of an issue.  I recently saw this video from a well known underwater photo store where they show how much gear they can fit in a think tank bag.  I am attaching (hopefully) a screenshot.  If you look at the picture it shows the edge of an 8" or 9" dome protruding up almost 2" from the body of the bag, the balls on the tray handles extend up a similar amount and the lens shade of a small port is sticking up as well.  In the video the guy demonstrating easily zips up the bag and says it is ready to go.  To me, the only protection is the relatively thin lid of the bag.

 

My question:  would you folks feel the gear is safely packed, especially if the airline insisted on the bag being checked?  In my mind i am seeing a shattered or dislodged 9" dome at a minimum, but maybe I am being overly cautious.  FWIW I know that the SOP for the baggage handlers is to toss bags such as this onto conveyors and belts and ramps, with the soft side (lid) facing down.  I would not be very concerned about this as a carry on, but I have had my roiling Pelican carry on (smaller than the one shown) taken from me on multiple occasions.  I currently use the pelican for that reason.

 

 

 

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Edited by Draq, 07 June 2019 - 01:48 PM.


#2 ChrisRoss

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 05:27 PM

It's really only carry on capable,  if you are traveling like this you need a plan B taking out the domes to hand carry them.  You have to take the Li batteries out of anything checked regardless.  You also very helpful to be on one of the first groups to board so the overheads don't fill up..  If you don't have status, then pre select a seat down the back as they generally board earlier.



#3 davehicks

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 08:41 PM

I pack my Nauticam D850 with dual Inon 330 strobes, 105mm, 15mm, 140mm dome, flat port, arms, cables, spotting light, and tools into a similar ThinkTank roller.  

 

* You need to remove the ball joints and put them and their washers in a ziplock bag.  You can't have them sticking up like that.

* Put the housing lower, next to the wheels.  Heaviest items nearest the ground or it may be top heavy.

* Consider putting the camera bodies in a backback and not the housing.  Leaving the camera in the housing could lead to alignment problems.

* If I put the camera in a backpack, I put my 45 degree viewfinder inside the housing, in it's little neoprene bag & a microfiber towel.

* Put your 8" dome in a suitcase with clothing or wetsuits wrapped around it.  

* Wrap a microfiber hand towel around the macro lens and put it inside the flat port to save space.


Edited by davehicks, 07 June 2019 - 08:43 PM.

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#4 Draq

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 05:02 AM

I am actually giving serious thought to packing housing, ports, strobes and the assorted bits and pieces we all need to use in a Pelican (larger than carry on size) and just checking it as baggage on each trip and paying the fee.  Camera and lenses can go with me as carry on as they have always done. 

 

I will fret about whether the bag might get lost, delayed or stolen, but there is really no way to carry it all on unless I leave a lot behind.  My main reason for the post above was that I was surprised to see that suggested as an adequate way to pack that bag since none of us can be certain the bag won't have to get checked.  It looked unsafe to me and then I thought perhaps I have been overly protective of my gear.

 

I jut got back from a trip where I was barely able to keep my small Pelican with me on Fiji airlines because they have a 7Kg limit for any bags in the cabin.  I whined enough about it being fragile photo gear that I got it through, but just barely.  I shudder to think about what might have occurred had it been a think tank bag packed like depicted above if they had insisted the bag get checked.  I actually think the fact the bag was a Pelican is what got it through as it looked like a camera case and not just a rolling bag.

 

I will be on Philippines air later this year and they have a similar limit.  I think I am better off packing it all in a bigger Pelican as baggage and paying the extra bag fee.

 

Dave Hicks:  You have some interesting suggestions.  I had never thought of putting macro lens in the port or the vewfinder in the housing.  I would love to see photos of how you get all of that packed into the Think Tank Bag.



#5 Ministryofgiraffes

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 06:43 AM

i gave up last year and bought the big pelican air. don't regret it one bit... was in cayman in may and took it to the diveshop and anchored it to the bar with a bokelock...it's now also a travelling safe :)

 

when it's full it weighs 49.50lbs and is exactly 62"


Edited by Ministryofgiraffes, 08 June 2019 - 06:43 AM.


#6 Interceptor121

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 07:07 AM

I am not a fan of ThinkTank after spending quite a bit of money on LowePro backpacks

 

What I do not is to use cheaper backpacks or even samsonite trolley and pack £10-15 Amazon insert bags or similar

 

I found the photo bags are not aligned to airline sizes at least in Europe and also it is not useful to have padding all over as underwater gear is sometimes bulky

 

example think tank airport international 35.6 x 53.3 x 20.3 cm $399 -> not useful when max dimensions are 56x45x25 especially on width a lot of waste

 

With regards to that photo you clearly need to take the handles off and a dome like that looks bad it is better to pack a dome flat as it is usually shorter. If you go sideways you can pack an 8" assuming your luggage max dimension is 25cm or 10"

 

Two products I am using for my next trips (two pieces hand luggage allowed)

 

https://amzn.to/2MBs5iT (UK)

 

 

 

and

 

https://amzn.to/2WPE1Bv 


Edited by Interceptor121, 08 June 2019 - 07:29 AM.

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#7 kellison

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 11:04 AM

I pack my Nauticam housing for Sony A6500, 2 strobes, 10-18mm lens & dome port, 16-50 mm lens & port, 2 sets of focus gear, arms, cables, extra batteries, focus light, flash light, manuals and 8 buoyancy floats into my Ape Case w/ rollers ($139 at Amazon).  It's a little heavy, but with the rollers, it's fine.  And it fits into most overhead bins. I am too nervous about checking my camera gear.  I've had a few issues with bags not making it to my destination and an entire dive bag stolen from an airport. 

 

Thank you, davehicks for the suggestion not to pack the camera in the housing. I have always done that to save space. I didn't realize it could cause alignment issues. 



#8 DocTock

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 09:06 AM

The question I ask myself when I pack carry-on vs checked is "what is the minimum I need for this trip"?

This usually leads me to put: camera, batteries, strobes, macro glass, WA glass, macro port in a ThinkTank backpack (no wheels!) and my housing, octo, dive computer, and a dive skin in a tiny roller. All this gets carried into the plane with me.

Everything else (including big dome, arms, snoot, clothes, fins, dive gear etc) goes in checked bags.

 

This way, if my checked bags never make it to whatever destination I'll be able to have a trip.

It'll be spare and I'll depend on the kindness of strangers for arms and charger space, and I'll need to rent all the dive stuff minus my octo, but I'll not have a total "loss".


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#9 Tinman

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 10:13 PM

Is it just me or is that one of the smaller ThinkTank bags? It looks like a smaller model, but it could just be the angle perspective of the photograph. Handles with balls still mounted on the housing are a problem.

 

For what it's worth, I think the issue of packing the housing with a mounted camera inside causing alignment issues really depends upon what housing one is using. I've never had any alignment issues with packing my Ikelite housing with the camera installed in my carry-on. The camera mounting system in my Sea & Sea housings locks the camera in place solidly.

 

The soft Pelican roller bag I use fits in the overhead and holds my housing, camera, housing handles, two strobes, four strobe battery packs, three lenses, three port extensions, strobe arms w. floats, macro port, two strobe battery chargers, and two sync cords. Two dome ports for wide-angle lenses, cleaning/o-ring maintenance kit, two strap wrenches and camera battery charger fit with my computer in my under-the-seat bag. The under-the-seat bag zips onto the roller bag for the bag drag through the airport.

 

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#10 TimG

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Posted 10 June 2019 - 07:01 AM

 

 

For what it's worth, I think the issue of packing the housing with a mounted camera inside causing alignment issues really depends upon what housing one is using. I've never had any alignment issues with packing my Ikelite housing with the camera installed in my carry-on. The camera mounting system in my Sea & Sea housings locks the camera in place solidly.

 

 

 

-AZTinman

 

 

Like AZT, I usually put a D500 in my Subal housing to travel by air - and then it's all packed in a Pelican 1520 roller box. Not had a problem so far and I must have done this - or with various other camera bodies and Subal housings, dozens of times.

 

As Chris sets out, I wouldn't be too happy if I ended up having to hold load that Think Tank the way it's packed. I suspect the calls mounts might not survive. Brrrrr..... Fine though, probably, for the cabin.


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#11 davehicks

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Posted 10 June 2019 - 11:35 AM

I've packed my cameras mounted in the housing a bunch of times but have come to realize it's not a great idea.  First off the FF DSLR's are getting heavy.  My Nikon D850 has quite a bit more mass than my old D70 or D300 had.  The controls, buttons, knobs have a tolerance that is not very forgiving.  After a few annoying glitches with zoom knobs, aperture or shutter dials, I decided to change my ways with the D850.  Rolling that bag around creates a lot of bumps, drops, and vibration that go way beyond what these housings will see even on a speed boat. 

 

I made up the for lost packing volume by putting my (padded) viewfinder, ball mounts and some other small items in the housing instead of the camera body.  The bodies and land lenses go in my backpack now.


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#12 Draq

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 02:41 PM

I recall seeing something from nauticam that said the buttons on the housing do not have "stops" on the buttons that would prevetn them from damaging the buttons on the housing if subjected to an impact on the button, and a camera could be damaged as a result.  I have no knowledge that would support or refute that, just repeating somehting I read.

 

On the packing front, I am about 90% of the way to just buying a large Pelican case (probably a 1610) and using that to check for housing, ports, etc., and pay the extra bag fee, then carrying camera and lenses on board in a shoulder bag.  Increasingly, I am not confident that I won't be forced to check a rolling bag of any size, especially with international airlines and international airports.  I have had a couple close calls and was recently forced to check and approved-size carry on because it weighed over 7Kg.  it contained things I did not want to check, but no photo gear.  It had been permitted in the cabin of the same plane on the way out of the U.S., but not on the way back.  Plus, I just can't pack what I need in a carry-on bag anymore, unless I start leaving stuff out that I would rather have available to me.  It that unpredictability that really frustrates me.

 

If the checked photo stuff gets misrouted, stolen or lost, then I will be very sad, but I just don't seem to have much choice, unless I hire a person to go with me for the sole purpose of hauling extra camera gear as his carry-on stuff.  Don't think that is a workable plan.



#13 oneyellowtang

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 03:34 PM

This is a great topic that comes up every so often... 

I'm definitely an outlier here - after ~30 international diving trips I've gotten to the point now where I always check my housing, strobes, and arms. Recently I've been traveling with 2 Nauticam housings (850 & 500), both in their Nauticam padded cases. These each go into a separate hard-sided suitcase (that look very beat up). I'm now a HUGE believer in the CineBags line of padded bags - every strobe, light, port, cord, charger, etc. go into these which I then split up across the various bags, usually also wrapped with t-shirts or shorts so not obvious to a casual observer if the bag is opened.

I carry my cameras & the key lenses in my backpack - always with me on the plane. When I travel with the WACP I usually bring a small roller bag onboard with that as well. 

As to the above - I never put anything inside my housing for travel (other than the occasional bathing suit) because I put a t-shirt-wrapped light in a housing exactly once (on the way to Fiji) and managed to somehow bend part of the camera tray while in flight - never again). 

I know this has been said before. I (like many others) started out traveling with a pelican case. I've talked to too many u/w photographers that have had cases damaged or stolen - they tend to scream "expensive equipment inside!" If you are going to use a case like this please consider sticking it inside an old rolling duffle bag (or the equivalent). I stopped using them long ago... the corollary is the dive-gear branded bag - still surprises me that people want to advertise which bag has all their dive gear in it... 

I completely understand the anxiety of not having your u/w camera gear show up in the same location as you (at the same time) - you can optimize a bit, but eventually there's just a bit of faith that you have to fall back on. 



#14 Draq

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 05:31 PM

I have heard the suggestion about using a suitcase or concealing the pelican in another bag and I would like to hear more thoughts on that.  The problem I see with the old suitcase idea are these:

 

1.  Good ones are not inexpensive and are themselves high-dollar items that are likely prone to being broken into.  I would be reluctant to buy and rely on a used (pre-beaten-up) case.

2.  Not-so-good cases are cheaply made.  I have seen many broken ones come out of those luggage chutes and riding around on the carousel.  The idea of it breaking open and ports and housing and so on falling out is discomforting.

3.  By the time I wrap each item in clothing or place it in an individual padded bag, how much space do I really get unless I go to some really mammoth case?

 

The problems I see with the concealing rolling bag with a Pelican inside are these:

 

1.  Most rolling bags are going to add 7-9 pounds to an already heavy pelican case and gear.  I just weighed a Pelican inside a rolling bag and it was over 30 lbs, empty. 

2.  I doubt the rolling bags are made to hold a hard case with 30-40 lbs in it.  I would think handle and wheel and zipper breakage will occur early.

3.  The maximum luggage size for most airlines is 62 inches.  They tend to be long but somewhat narrow.  The few I have seen cost around $300 and really aren't sized to fit a Pelican case well and the end result would be a huge and very heavy bag.  I suspect that in addition to putting a Pelican case in the bag, I would need to stuff soft things in to keep the pelican from sliding all around and breaking the bag.  I doubt that would be within the 50 lb max.. 

4.  A $200 pelican inside a $300 rolling bag gets to be pretty expensive luggage.  Do you lock the bag and the pelican or just one.  i would think if a thief saw a pelican concealed in another bag, that would virtually shout out that expensive stuff was inside.  Would it be better to have a scuffed-up pelican with sea & sea and save the whales stickers on it?  How about putting a tank inspection sticker on it?

 

Finally, although I have heard of the danger of using a Pelican because it is obviously full of expensive gear, I have not heard that many stories of stolen pelican cases and no more than other gear bags.  Similarly, I used to avoid gear bags that suggested dive gear but then someone pointed out that compared to other items, dive gear is not really a hot commodity for stolen merchandise, at least not fins, wetsuits and BCDs.  Regulators might be a different story.  I have bags with BARE and Stahlsac brands on them that seem to fit gear better than non-dive gear bags.  I am not sure housings and ports would be viewed as prime theft items and I also think that with all the security protocols now in place the theft of luggage itself (as opposed to valuable items ifrom the luggage) is less than it used to be.

 

I don't know any of the above to be true or false.  just thoughts as I transition from carrying everything on board with me to dealing with larger stuff.

 

 

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#15 Interceptor121

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 10:10 AM

I don't think you want to put a pelican bag inside a roller bag that makes not sense to me. What I do is to insert a divider bag inside a normal trolley. I travel with two pieces of hand luggage one is the laptop bag that is actually quite bit at 40x35x20 it has the housing and 4 strobes in amazon $15 divider bags and laptop documents it could take more but I tend to keep it light.

The second item is a larger trolley 55x45x25 this has a vanguard divider bag, another insert bag with the video lights a 7" dome the Nauticam WWL-1 and arms and other chargers it would also fit some clothes

The diving bag I use is normal mares roller with the gear for warm water come at 15Kg so have another 8kg spare for clothes (usually less than 2 Kg for a liveaboard) so I can put the housing or the WWL-1 back in if I wanted. I prefer not to check in the strobes and of course the camera and the lenses and the video lights have to go hand luggage anyway.

If I had to do all with hand luggage and one trolley would put housing and wwl-1 in check in right away together with all the hardware and leave strobes lights domes and camera plus lenses in carry on

For me having things on wells is so much easier and all the bags can go on wheels the backpack has a special band to go around the carry one trolley

 

In terms of weights the trolley takes 13.1 Kg or 29 lbs the laptop bag 8.1 kg or 18 lbs

 

So in total I travel with 36 Kg or 80 lbs either 50 hold and 30 in a one bag if two bags are not allowed or 29+18+33 if two pieces are allowed this gives me the certainty all the travel gear will arrive. If the 'laptop' bag is smaller I use the vanguard divider as a laptop bag this makes the single trolley 15 Kg load

 

On the return flight when I am less concerned about equipment separation I move the hardware and the WWL-1 into the check in usually and sometimes even the housing


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#16 oneyellowtang

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 03:30 PM

A (counter) example...

1. New Guinea (7 years ago) 2  pelicans (from 2 different divers)taken at Jacksons International (Port Moresby) Airport. 1 was checked (never made it to the carousel, but was confirmed to have made the flight), and 1 was taken near the baggage claim when the person left it unattended for just a moment. 

Dive computers & dive lights (followed by regulator rigs) are the top items I've heard that have been taken from dive bags. I've known several divers who used to travel with branded dive bags that have experienced some level of pilfering while traveling internationally. 

Sticking a divider bag (or padded dividers or cubes) inside another bag makes sense (and is very similar to what I do leveraging CineBags and other soft-sided packing containers). I was referring to the post above that talked about going with a pelican case, vs other options.



#17 TimG

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 09:18 PM

Re-reading all of this again, I'm now thinking I won't pack my camera in the housing (in a Pelican case) for an upcoming trip! Why take the risk.....


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#18 jemery

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 11:54 PM

Has anyone tried carrying their underwater housing setup (without arms and strobes) just as it is?

I have done this on internal flights before where I had 1 checked bag (30kg dive and clothes) 1 carry on lowepro camera bag (15kg laptop, lenses, batteries plus accessories) and then I just carried my underwater housing with camera inside and 170mm dome attached. When on the plane I place the lowepro bag in the overhead compartment and the housing underneath the chair. I have only done this on internal flights and not international so not sure if you would get away with it. 



#19 Draq

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 03:49 AM

oneyellowtang:  OK, well that is discomforting. 

 

To all, if you were going to put padded nauticam or Cinebags or otherwise pack housings and ports, etc in luggage to check, what would you use?  I am concerend about theft, but rough handling of bags is an everyday occurrence.   I have seen bags fall offf of the conveyor belts and the little luggage trams that are driven around the tarmac, and can only imagine what goes on behind the scenes.

 

The attached illustrate my concerns.

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#20 hyp

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 04:41 AM

In cases like the last picture of the aluminium suitcase only carry on helps, but these images most likely show the worst of the worst. I think most suitcases with a hardish shell are sturdy enough, that with enough padding inside everything will be fine. I would say that the most important thing when checking your gear is to make sure it is insured. Obviously that won't help with images from the trip, if it get's lost on the way there, but that way it will at most ruin one trip.