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packing and transporting my rig

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#101 Eddcar



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Posted 29 May 2013 - 12:34 AM

I'm using 2 1510 carry on, one to check in with the housing, one dome port and one macro port, handles, ball heads, sync cables, 45degree view finder all in the check in case.  The other 1510 hand carry with the camera, lens, two Z240 and charger + accessories.  This works for me as I always travel with my wife and we can use our max allowable weight and number of luggage to fit in these two 1510 + a Mares large wheeled bag to check in all our dive gears.   

#102 Oceanshutter


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Posted 24 July 2013 - 03:44 PM

Would any of you hesitate to pack 2 Ikelite housings in 1650 pelican case and check it in with the airlines? I am mainly worried about the housing/lights/lenses breaking. Given the baggage people don't care about how rough they are with the cases. There would be foam in it. How would you lock it? Normally do zip ties....?

Also, should I leave the handles attached or detached?

I can normally do this with a carry on, but am going to run into a 7 kg limit on an upcoming trip.


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#103 samgarber



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Posted 11 November 2013 - 09:43 AM

The Airport Acceleration backpack has seen me through several international dive/photo trips. Fits all my stuff!

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#104 andy_deitsch


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Posted 18 November 2013 - 12:28 PM

You could save room by putting the camera in the housing. That is how I travel with my airport accelerator.

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#105 thetrickster


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Posted 10 January 2014 - 12:19 AM

The problem is the rules vary so much between airlines. Nearly all the flights to the Red Sea from the UK are charter flights and these are very strict on luggage allowance. Hand luggage is limited to 5kg and this is strictly enforced.


I've had this problem so many times now - I pay the extra supplement and change my flights to EasyJet - no more Thomson!


I use a Peli 1550 case for my camera gear.

Regards, Richard


Camera Rig: Nauticam Lumix GH5/GH5s, 14-42mm II, WWL-1, Atomos Inferno, 48,000lm of artificial sun.


#106 JamesR


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Posted 15 January 2014 - 12:42 PM

You could save room by putting the camera in the housing. That is how I travel with my airport accelerator.


Yet many people say do not do this.


I sometimes put things a ziplock bag with foam q-tips, makeup remover triangles, spare o-rings, and other soft things in my housing


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#107 jasdivr



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Posted 12 March 2014 - 08:02 PM

I'm another Pelican 1510 user:


Pelican 1510 Carry-On:

- Remove all the foam and dividers!!!!

- 3/2 Wetsuit on the bottom

- Ikelite enclosure for Canon 5D towards the handle end, enclosure filled will gears, orings, etc

- Regulator coiled up on other end (hog-style long hose, short hose)

- Wrist dive computer and compass wrapped in cloth and stuffed inside the 8" dome

- 8" dome with longest port extension tube placed on top of reg (port tube fits inside coiled up reg)

- Strobe cable and arm

- Batteries, chargers, small flash lights, etc stuff around edges

- Dive boots above the dome port (boots are heavy!)

- Small cable lock used to lock this same case to a pipe or bedframe in the room (if needed)

- Swim trunks a very light tee-shirt on very top.

- The case is quite heavy.

- I always have a large padlock on it. Everytime it goes through security they have me unlock it (never cut)


Think Tank (Medium Sized Forgot Name) as the camera / computer bag.

- Camera Body

- Canon 100macro, 17-40, 40 Pancake and the Rokinon 14mm.

- Ike DS51 strobe

- USB powered 500gb portable drive

- Card reader and USB hub

- Surface RT (web, movies, email, transfer files from cards to drive, preview 5d2 video)

- Filters (polarizer, ND)

- Camera strap

- Ballhead (tripod goes in checked baggage - only for land shots and video)


Large Roller Suitcase (checked)

 - Large Dive Bag (w/tags) And everything else inside (in case suitcase breaks)

    - BCD,

    - Fins,

    - Housing handle

    - Floats

    - Dive

    - Clothes

    - etc. 


This has worked for all the common Caribbean destinations and rarely have I paid any luggage fees since I'm only checking one item. Since we usually fly Delta (Minneapolis) the first bag has no fee for all Caribbean and places like Bonaire and Belize are two checked bags without fees. For the small hops (Aruba to Bonaire, Belize City to Ambergris Caye) the Pelican goes underneath but the camera backpack is okay to carry on.


I can't wait to go to the Pacific - yet I know this travel setup would easily exceed the carry on weight limits as the Pelican 1510 loaded probably weights over 45lbs with all the gear.


I really appreciate this thread as it has a great deal of useful information for traveling lighter and awareness of the various carry-on weight limits which haven't been a problem - yet - for US based carriers.

This sounds great for American based airlines but it won't cut it in Asia.


Anyone fly Singapore Airlines from Asia to Asia city? They have lower limits for carry-on and I will be over that limit. I now have a EM5 with Nauticam UW housing, two ports and two z240s. I will be flying from Manila to Manado on Singapore Air. On a trip last fall I managed to get all my dive gear into one Northface duffle at about 45-50lbs then I packed my UW housing, strobes and arms into a AO Smith soft cooler. I packed the camera gear and essentials in to a light backpack. Both cooler and backpack ended up at about 18 lbs__ a bit over the 15 lb max for EVA carry-on but they let me go as I nodded quickly that I had electronics packed.


Soooooo, now I will travel to Manado from Seattle via Manila AND I now have an extra port and laptop computer - an extra 5-7 lbs. I am tempted to play it safe and get a Pelican 1510 or Nanuk 935 for the underwater camera stuff and check it in? I already stuff a travel vest full of batteries etc. to make it by.


Thoughts, advice or prayers? Ditch the clothes? thanks.

#108 Nuno A

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Posted 16 April 2014 - 11:32 AM

We'll I always carry my camera in the housing with me.

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#109 Akoni


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Posted 24 April 2014 - 08:03 AM

Just picked up a Shapeshifter  from ThinkTank. Definitely like the pack for travel! I'll have to see how much of my camera kit I can pack in it...the housing will be the issue. My other carry-on item will be for most of my rebreather. Without a rebreather it becomes much easier and for many destinations carry-on will not be an option anyway.


Is anyone else using a Shapeshifter?

#110 oosantoo



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Posted 30 April 2014 - 06:50 PM

I Use the backpack solution for years. 

Whitin required size, but absolutely overweight.

I always travel with a jacket with big pockets. 

If I see that the specific airline is weighting the hand luggage then a couple of strobes, a couple of lenses, viewfinder and focus light quickly go into the jacket... bag weighted... and a few steps away... back into the backpack...

#111 jplaurel



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Posted 29 June 2014 - 07:54 AM

We travel with our dive gear and photo gear all over the world. Each of us has 2 check-ins, a carry-on and a camera bag as personal item


- Large Eagle Creek duffel: BCD, fins, wetsuits, booties, all clothes in Eagle Creek packing cubes

- Pelican 1560 or 1620: Camera housing, strobes, ports, batteries, chargers, cables, tools, etc.

- Carry on: For me, this is usually a backpack containing laptop, backup drives, cables, iDevices, dive computer, Nautilus Lifeline and regulator, . Nowadays, I'm using a Booq Boa Flow. This pack has a padded bottom compartment intended for a DSLR that I use to carry my reg.

- Camera bag: We use Domke bags due to their lift weight and capacity. Two camera bodies each in case we flood one. For lenses, we each carry a fisheye, a ~100 mm macro, an all-around lens for topside such as a 24-70 equivalent, and at least one high speed (f.95 - f1.4) prime in the 35-50mm range.

Each of the check-ins nudges right up against 50lbs. The carry-ons can be a problem on small regional flights, in Europe and some parts of Asia, or in coach everywhere. In Asia, you will often find the gate agents weighing bags as you board. If you use a backpack+camera bag strategy like me, keep your backpack high and tight. In other words, something like a Booq is less likely to be weighed than a big sloppy, saggy backpack, even though the Booq may weigh just as much or more. The gate agents are usually subjective about which bags they weigh based on how heavy they "look". The tidy-looking Booq backpacks help by attracting less attention. Also, it is less likely to attract attention as a potentially heavy item than the roller carry-ons that most people use. I have seen agents weighing large camera bags too, and when we see this, we start stuffing lenses and camera equipment into lightweight jackets. I've never seen anyone weigh peoples' clothes. I've used a Domke vest for this purpose in the past, which also works well. The vest option is sometimes the only way to get through in parts of Asia.

Those big rolling camera backpacks like the Think Tanks may work well in the US and Caribbean, but in Asia, they can be a problem. You arrive at a gate, the agent weighs it because it looks large, find that it's too heavy and force you to gate check it. The last thing you want is to have to gate check your cameras. Your housings, ports and everything else are perfectly safe in padded Pelican cases. Ours are covered with stickers from dive places, equipment manufacturers, fragile stickers from 10 different airlines and ferry services from all over the world, many of them half worn off. Our hope is that this makes the Pelicase stand out and less attractive to potential thieves whereas a plain black unadorned one may be slipped away quietly.


The Eagle Creek duffels are rollers and about 18 years old. They look kind of ratty but they are still holding up and don't look too conspicuous. We recently ditched the Armor mesh bags to save a few lbs.


If I need to carry a bit more and we're going to be in the US or Caribe, I put my camera bag inside a rolling carry-on along with extra equipment or whatever. When required to gate check it, I simply remove my camera bag and carry it on.

#112 jplaurel



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Posted 08 July 2014 - 01:47 PM

What the heck was that? Can we get a mod to step in and delete the SPAM?

#113 Erik Olsen

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 09:56 AM

I ended up going with a Seahorse 920 case for my aquatech surf housing setup. It is actually a little tight but I did make it work. I can fit a couple extra lenses, 5D in the housing, a p-65, p-120, p-70ex and a 8.5 dome port along with some extras odds and ends. Pretty nice, and it has wheels which I am starting to become a fan of. 


#114 blibecap


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Posted 28 July 2016 - 03:03 PM

Something that I've been looking for in the "packing" category is how to keep dirt, dust & junk out of the inside surface of my dome port while it is broken down into pieces for transit, since it is a bit of a nuisance to clean the interior surface & Murphy prioritizes things that are hassles.

Ideally, there would be a low profile screw-in plug that would fill the hole. But barring that, does anyone have any suggestions specific for an 8" Ikelite dome?


Hi Hugh


If you still have this problem please PM me.  I have the right part for that. 

Bill Libecap
Cincinnati, Oh
Home of the Housing Sentry, the ultimate leak prevention system.

#115 Ggtuim


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Posted 17 May 2017 - 03:31 AM

I intend to carry on my 9in Sea and Sea Dome when I travel and have heard that some use a tupperware like cake dish to protect their dome port. I have searched many shopping malls and such, but have not come across an ideal container for this task. Can anyone offer advice on a specic product that they use? 

#116 conger



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Posted 17 May 2017 - 05:54 AM

For my Seacam superdome I have two solutions, which I believe is similar in size.


The expensive solution that I haven't tried is using the case made by Cinebags. 


The cheap solution that has worked on numerous trips, was a home depot five gallon bucket and some dense foam.  Buy a five gallon bucket with a lid, cut the bucket down to the desired height of the lens leaving room for some foam padding.  Make sure there is enough foam to hold the dome securely and to provide sufficient padding.  When I travel I duct tape the lid to the top of the bucket with three or four pieces long pieces of tape.  The goal is to close the lid securely but to make it fairly easy for TSA to open and reseal the case if they need to look inside.  I leave a polite note on the outside of the lid in large letters explaining that it is a fragile glass dome.   Not the most elegant solution, but it was a cheap do it yourself project, and it has worked for years for me.

#117 ChrisRoss


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Posted 11 December 2017 - 08:31 PM

This is my setup with a Nauticam EM-1 MkII rig, combined with the Zen 170mm dome, 12-40mm lens and two Inon Z-240s.   All packed into a domestic regulation size Samsonite carry-on:




Still room for the macro port and lens.  Bag is lined with closed cell foam tiles cut up and with fabric glued on with contact cement.  The advantage of this is looks like any other carry on so tends not to attract attention.   I've flown domestically in Australia with this setup and also to Thailand.  Ive flown SIngapore, Thai, Cathay in Asia and generally have not seen carry ons being weighed.  Where you get weighed is when the airline is charging you to check bags as this tends to encourage people to carry on bags and the airline weighs so they can charge you to check it.  That's why I never fly Jetstar in Australia, they charge for checked bags and by the time you pay for that the fare is about the same as Qantas cheapest fares and no hassling from the staff.  The dividers are re-purposed from a photo backpack.

Edited by ChrisRoss, 11 December 2017 - 08:32 PM.

#118 thetrickster


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Posted 14 December 2017 - 03:26 AM

Just booked my trip to Truk next year and flying Swiss out to Japan - and boy are they limited on their hand luggage - 8kg!!


I like the idea of using a normal roller and padding it, I've got a ThinkTank Airport Security V2 - and its now too big for most flights, and the last time I flew I ended up putting my Peli 1550 in the hold, due to restrictions..


So now looking at more alternatives, looking at going big on a Peli Air case and putting it all in the hold and be done with it and not worry

Regards, Richard


Camera Rig: Nauticam Lumix GH5/GH5s, 14-42mm II, WWL-1, Atomos Inferno, 48,000lm of artificial sun.


#119 benedika


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Posted 17 April 2018 - 12:28 AM

My solution a Manfrotto Aviator D1 drone backpack. Its very light, cheap, padded and very comfortable to carry on the back. Simply Manfrotto quality. Its 8-10 kg packed. (With housing)
The blue divider is DIY. I dont want to mix up the gear with the housing and i can unpack/pack the housing much quicker. I often remove the housing while checking in.

The brown bag is loaded with lenses, cam, a.s.o.
The small black is for drone and Keldan batteries. 3779816fa0582a9b04e5ee4c1bf67952.jpgb4091267b7e8509e35448dc5f3b8a0d4.jpg

#120 ChrigelKarrer


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Posted 19 April 2018 - 06:55 AM


Would any of you hesitate to pack 2 Ikelite housings in 1650 pelican case and check it in with the airlines?


I always (because i have to...) have parts of my photography rig as checked luggage.

- HugyFot D800 housing, arms, and macro port go in a Pelicase, all wrapped in bubble wrap and foam, spare parts go inside housing and macro port
- HP ZBook17, Hugyfor minidome, D800, 15mm, 24-70mm, 70-130mm - 105mm macro, 2 Z240, 2 external hard disks, chargers, cables, 1 SpeedLite 800 and other smaller stuff went in a LowePro Backpack (18 kilo)
If there where issues with carry-on weight i put all my lenses in the side pockets of my cargo pants and the other heavy stuff in a fisherman/photographers vest.
That make me look as a extremist with some exlosive stuff, but until now it worked like this


As the new carry on laws reduced carry on weight to 8kilos/17lbs i don't take the D800 anymore on flights, fly with less picky airlines or business class.

If i would have/like to then i would fit everything in a big PeliCase and check it inside a old, worn suitcase to hide it's content

That will be unfortunately the destiny of underwater photographers ... :-(


The main problem with checked-luggage is that max insured value is 3000$ and i did not found a company who is willing to insure checked-in luggage with photo gear.
For our british readers, Dive Master Insurance in England has a insurance who is 10% of the insured value, but only for british residents!



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