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packing and transporting my rig

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3 minutes ago, Barmaglot said:

My last trip to Egypt, the customs officers at the Taba crossing demanded that I leave all my underwater photo at the border. I told them no f'ing way and went back home.

Holly crap! No way! :dunno: We flew via Frankfurt direct to Marsa Alam, had no problems. We did at least 5-6 trips to Egypt and never had any major issues.

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2 minutes ago, andi_db said:

Holly crap! No way! :dunno: We flew via Frankfurt direct to Marsa Alam, had no problems. We did at least 5-6 trips to Egypt and never had any major issues.

I'm Israeli; they don't like us very much :rolleyes:

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Posted (edited)

I have been traveling by checking a Pelican Air 1615 with padded liners and all my gear fits perfectly with 1.5Kg to spare. It includes a Nauticam NA-Z7II, Zen 230mm dome, Macro Port 60, port extensions, 2 - Inon Z-330s, 2 - Kraken 8000s, arms, floats, clamps, etc. I have a large travel dive bag that I also check with dive gear and clothes. I carry on my camera body, lenses, and all the batteries in a backpack. The Pelican Air 1615 is lighter than my 1650 and practically indestructible.

90BE16DB-DE63-48C3-9D9A-DF8F5F4C4A1E.jpeg

Edited by UWPics

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For air travel I place a pelican case inside a large duffel bag and check it on with zip-ties through the Pelican case lock holes.  So far, so good...

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So much to unpack here...

 

I don't even know where to begin to figure out the best bag for transport of my gear. I guess take measurements and go from there?

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One thing that took me a while to realize: not everything needs to go in the equipment case, only the fragile stuff.  Arms, clamps, floats, chargers, tools can go with the wetsuit.  These days, batteries can’t be checked so go in my backpack.  It’s all obvious now . . .

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On 10/5/2021 at 9:16 AM, Draq said:

Thanks Draq for sharing these, I that is a lot of hit that a case would take in any sort of air travel!

To avoid running off-topic on my separate thread on the theft-appeal of Pelican cases, I thought I'd ask here for opinions/experience on another approach to checking-in underwater imagery gear.

Knowing my gear must travel as checked baggage (save for laptop, cameras, lenses and batteries that I'll keep in carry-on), the Pelican alternative I have considered is the following:

=> Buy a regular suitcase (flying under the radar), you can find a variety of soft and hard shells that will take anywhere from 80 liters to 120 liters of stuff (for reference, the lage Pelican 1637 that I was considering "only" takes 89 L), and weigh only 2.5 kg.

=> include in there 2 DSLR housings, 2 flat ports, 1 or 2 dome ports, EMWL, 2 viewfinders, strobe arms & floats, 3 strobes, 1 focus light, 1 dive torch, 3 snoots... OK my list is a tad long, but I like to play around :P To avoid bubble-wrapping nightmares, I would pack them in "clusters", using the Cinebags pouches tested by Adam Hanlon here (just saw this yesterday), plus some nauticam portective boxes for the DSLR housings.

 

Now with this approach I saw 2 flavours:

Option 1: hard-shell fancy Samsonite, like the Samsonite Lite-Shock Sport 75cm, takes 98L, weighs 2.4kg.

Option 2: soft-shell case, like the Samsonite 72 DLX SPINNER 71/26 EXP, takes 90L, weighs 2.5kg empty.

 

Has anyone used either Option 1 or 2? How well does this work?

I think the packing would be much eaiser with Option 1 (the lid opens at the top of the case), you can stuff it up, put clothes in between boxes etc, before the final closing... but I am not too confident about using a soft-shell case. Soft-shell is OK for my rebreather (the one that lives in a titanium case...), but worrying for photo gear.

So Option 1 sounds attractive (except its cost) BUT I think it might be very tricky to pack every moving element tightly, because such a case opens right in the middle, closing it down without half the gear falling over would be tricky I suppose.

Thoughts?

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The suitcases sound like a good option, though I'm not sure if the samsonites you link are the best option.  They are hard sided but quite flexy.  I fly a lot (at least before Covid hit and soon to start again) for work and I've seen my share of beaten up luggage on carousels.  I bought Briggs and Riley cases for my travel - they are very pricey - The smaller bag was $US600 and the larger $US900 but my first one was purchased in 2013 and I would estimate has been on maybe 250 individual flights and still looks great, it has only just started to not look new.  The point is not suggest you buy B&R as they are not sold in Australia - rather that quality luggage is expensive and there are a lot of junky bags being sold so if you go that route do some research.  I think all the bags except ones like the pelican with rigid sides need to be packed quite full for best protection.

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Good point from Chris but if you pack them full, the "flexy" cannot flex and is effectively a hard shell as your luggage becomes full. I have used my large samsonite without any issues multiple times (short and long hauls). Cinepouch look interesting, had never come across them!

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Good point from Chris but if you pack them full, the "flexy" cannot flex and is effectively a hard shell as your luggage becomes full. I have used my large samsonite without any issues multiple times (short and long hauls). Cinepouch look interesting, had never come across them!

So do you pack housing / ports / strobes in your samsonite? Which model?


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2 hours ago, Nicool said:


So do you pack housing / ports / strobes in your samsonite? Which model?


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Magnum Eco - On my last trip, I fitted backplate, wing and regulator on one side. And for the other my; ports, strobes, arms, chargers and clothes (incl a light wetsuit). The rest (Housing, camera, lenses; and anything else you can think of for a trip) was in my cabin luggage or backpack.

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9 hours ago, Nicool said:

 

Now with this approach I saw 2 flavours:

Option 1: hard-shell fancy Samsonite, like the Samsonite Lite-Shock Sport 75cm, takes 98L, weighs 2.4kg.

 Option 2: soft-shell case, like the Samsonite 72 DLX SPINNER 71/26 EXP, takes 90L, weighs 2.5kg empty.

Hi Nicool

With this 2 options I would go with the hard shell. The housing is quite sturdy (if an aluminium one), specially if you takeout the handles. Dismantle the handles, keep the housing closed, use food tappeware to protect the ports and domes (special attention to protect the dome port, keep them with the neoprene covers and ), and use you cloth, towels, wetsuit, neoprene boots / sock and rubber fins to avoid direct contact of the housings and the ports and to give them a soft shell.

Be careful with metal d-rings form the bcd or other equipment inside the suitcase to avoid cosmetic damage to the housings.

The strobes take them with you on the hand-luggage. Do not send them in the checked-in luggage!

Avoid empty areas inside the suitcase to grant that the equipment you put there does not moves around during the travel, increasing the risk for damages.

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2 hours ago, pbalves said:

The strobes take them with you on the hand-luggage. Do not send them in the checked-in luggage!

I don't disagree at all, but why do you think that?

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13 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

The suitcases sound like a good option, though I'm not sure if the samsonites you link are the best option.  They are hard sided but quite flexy.  I fly a lot (at least before Covid hit and soon to start again) for work and I've seen my share of beaten up luggage on carousels.  I bought Briggs and Riley cases for my travel - they are very pricey - The smaller bag was $US600 and the larger $US900 but my first one was purchased in 2013 and I would estimate has been on maybe 250 individual flights and still looks great, it has only just started to not look new.  The point is not suggest you buy B&R as they are not sold in Australia - rather that quality luggage is expensive and there are a lot of junky bags being sold so if you go that route do some research.  I think all the bags except ones like the pelican with rigid sides need to be packed quite full for best protection.

hi Chris, I've got my fair share of travel in previous job (probably 300-400 boarded aircrafts in 10 years) but I have never seen one of the fancy hard-shelled Samsonites cracked (i mean these). Not advertising them in particular, I don't even own one (yet?) but they have a reputation for being one of the very lightest and yet very sturdy.

Have you ever seen one of these cracked/burst open? 

4 hours ago, pbalves said:

Hi Nicool

With this 2 options I would go with the hard shell. The housing is quite sturdy (if an aluminium one), specially if you takeout the handles. Dismantle the handles, keep the housing closed, use food tappeware to protect the ports and domes (special attention to protect the dome port, keep them with the neoprene covers and ), and use you cloth, towels, wetsuit, neoprene boots / sock and rubber fins to avoid direct contact of the housings and the ports and to give them a soft shell.

Be careful with metal d-rings form the bcd or other equipment inside the suitcase to avoid cosmetic damage to the housings.

The strobes take them with you on the hand-luggage. Do not send them in the checked-in luggage!

Avoid empty areas inside the suitcase to grant that the equipment you put there does not moves around during the travel, increasing the risk for damages.

Thanks, but wouldn't the housings be better protected with the handles on? Thinking of the levers on the sides.

With your last comment, I very much agree, stuff needs to be packed in the suitcase, but that's the exact reason of my question: I wonder how practical/feasible it would be to tightly pack a hard-shelled suitcase, give it opens right in the middle. 

I mean, picture it, the case open on the floor,

-either you stack-up your gear on the right shell, and hoping that you've maximized space/filled any holes, once you close the left shell, or

-you fill both shells to their respective thickness, but then what happens when you lift-up the left shell to close?

Maybe I am over-thinking it... or not :) 

If I end-up embarrassing myself by taking 20kg of UWP gear in a travel shop and actually try... I'll report my findings here :D

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16 hours ago, TimG said:

I don't disagree at all, but why do you think that?

Hi Tim

Strobes are much more fragile than the housing, both the shell and also the internal eletronics. Bumps and not the best for the eletronics.

Of course that if you use a sturdy case type Pelicase with internal foam, you can transport it in a more protected way. The internal foam of the hard cases like Pelicase are a better protection than the usual stuff used in a general purpose suitcase (clothes, wetsuits and so on), because all the volume  is occupied and a good amount of foam in between every part of the equipment.

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15 hours ago, Nicool said:

Thanks, but wouldn't the housings be better protected with the handles on? Thinking of the levers on the sides.

For sure that if the handle is there, the levers are more protected. By that argument, you can dive with the housing without a handle, but you cannot use it with a lever pinion damaged, if the housing becomes not sealable. If the lever get broken but the pinion remains ok, it might be easier to find a workaround to be able to use it in the field.

But the handles seems to me that are a fragile point on the housings.  And it is more difficult to "embrace" the housing with "soft" protection with the handles on. Without the handles the housing becomes a more uniform "brick" an make it easier to protect it (even granting more protection  on the area of the levers).

Of course that if you are transporting it in a hard case with foam inside, wither way it is easy to have the housing secure (with or without handles).

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I started a thread on this yesterday and am intrigued about which is more "fragile," strobes or housing.  I would love to understand more about this.  I am tempted to send an inquiry to Oskar on the topic.  With no basis to support the opinion, I would have guessed housings,with all their little levers and buttons and screws would be more susceptible to problems due to vibration, impact and physical shock.

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At this very moment I'm in the process of packing for a dive trip and trying to figure out how on earth to get the cabin bag within the specified 7kgs. A first attempt with a Cinebags Grouper was a cool 12kgs. I've already discounted the Pelican! The Grouper has only got a housing with camera/lens inside, attached 180mm dome port, 2x Retra strobes and the Superchargers. And, errr, that's about it. :rolleyes:

Usually my gear is packed in a Pelican 1512 with the arms and other hardware removed -  including the 45-viewfinder. The Grouper packed better armless. 

So I'm hoping I get the loaded Grouper in the cabin.... If anyone is inclined to light a candle/say a prayer/sacrifice a goat, then be my guest.

Yeah, I reckon the strobes, camera and housing are not things I'd want to holdload. Ports I'll take the risk if well-wrapped. Arms etc, no problem.

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Tim:

Which airline?

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35 minutes ago, Draq said:

Tim:

Which airline?

Ha! Well at the moment, InterCaribb and "Hahn Aviation"

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I guess that explains the 7kg.  I gather they use a larger plane than the twin otter,  and the square grouper will fit somewhere.

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53 minutes ago, Draq said:

I guess that explains the 7kg.  I gather they use a larger plane than the twin otter,  and the square grouper will fit somewhere.

Let’s hope so! 

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2 hours ago, TimG said:

At this very moment I'm in the process of packing for a dive trip and trying to figure out how on earth to get the cabin bag within the specified 7kgs.

Hi Tim

There is a movie saga called "Mission Impossible". It is more feasible and realistic than an underwater photographer to be able to cope with the weight regulation for cabin bag.

That said, you can decide go over the weight limit and use your best smile and coolness to go under-the-radar through the checkpoints.

You can also try to do what I have read in this forum (and once saw it in an airport, but not in my flight) to take the camera rig mounted and taking it in your hand. It is a camera, you are allowed to take a camera. At first it seams a lit bit crazy and risky, but if we think about it, it is not much more risky than handling the equipment to the dive boat. It is not the most comfortable way to transport it, but the truth is that with the weight of the system, only a trolley can make it comfortable, but 15-16 kg total weight on the trolley is the "price"... 

Another way is to get a coat/vest with big pockets that allows you to fit the heavy stuff on the pockets. I believe the flight company can complain on what bags you are taking, but not on what you are dressing.... This vests are not cheap, but they look sturdy and have big pockets

https://thevestguy.com/collections/photography-vests/products/500262-the-traveler-photo-vest

 

I myself use a backpack, overweight, and a fishing vest inside if for some reason I need to reduce the weight of the backpack, I pass the housing + camera + strobes to the 2 big pockets of the vest... Not a TheVestGuy one...

 

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1 hour ago, pbalves said:

That said, you can decide go over the weight limit and use your best smile and coolness to go under-the-radar through the checkpoints.

Yep, that's my usual technique: a cheery smile, an innocent grin, a bit of chat.......

1 hour ago, pbalves said:

Another way is to get a coat/vest with big pockets that allows you to fit the heavy stuff on the pockets. I believe the flight company can complain on what bags you are taking, but not on what you are dressing

And that is Plan B. My Domke photo vest. Although the flight company might not complain about it, there are "Those" who do ("WHAT!! I'm not getting on a plane with you wearing THAT thing!) Sound familiar to anyone?

1 hour ago, pbalves said:

You can also try to do what I have read in this forum (and once saw it in an airport, but not in my flight) to take the camera rig mounted and taking it in your hand. It is a camera, you are allowed to take a camera.

And that could be Plan C.

Brilliant ideas - thanks :lol2:

There just has to be an easy way of having fun, right?

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