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Archive 2011 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice
  
 
Mast3rshake
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p.1 #1 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


I'm having trouble figuring out how I'm going to pull this off. I'll be there for about 2 weeks traveling to Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh and Bangkok; I'm looking for a backpack that I can take with me to carry two weeks worth of clothing, etc. (I pack pretty light though), but also my 5D, 70-200 F4 IS and 24-105.

I've looked at the F-Stop gear - which looks very nice, but judging from the pictures the ICU's take up most of the room in the backpack and I still would have clothing and such that I need to take. I thought about getting an actual ~50-60L backpack like a Gregory and just using one of those SLR cubes to go into the backpack for padding, but then it seems like I'm just making my own F-Stop backpack with all the same problems and I come full circle.

It seems like this should be an easy thing to figure out, I just don't know what people typically do for this situation. If I wasn't taking the dslr this wouldn't be such an issue, but I'm pretty dead set on it. Hopefully someone can shed some light on this



Dec 13, 2011 at 06:10 AM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #2 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


What kind of travel and accommodation are you planning to do in Thailand/Cambodia When are you going?

And you could bring just one of those two zoom lenses. And maybe one small prime lens. Like 24-105 and a small 35 or 50mm lens.
You don't need much clothes either. It cost nothing to buy a few T-shirts and trousers in those places. And there are people doing your laundry for a few dollars everywhere. So don't bring clothes and other stuff for two weeks travelling from your country.




Dec 13, 2011 at 08:23 AM
Mast3rshake
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p.1 #3 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


Sounds like a good plan to pack small. I guess leaving the 70-200 might not hurt, but it's shame cause it's a lot sharper than the 24-105. I can take my 50 1.4 instead

I'll be staying in hotels I suppose, and might be doing some flying here and there (Bangkok to Siem Reap especially). I'm aiming to just take one backpack, but I haven't bought one yet so the table is still open on that one. I'll be wearing the majority of the time since I'm trying not to leave anything unattended in a hotel or otherwise, so I was starting to lean more towards a hiking pack. That said, if I'm leaving the 70-200 out then I can use my TT holster 30 with the 24-105 and carry it that way and put the 50 1.4 in a pouch somewhere.



Dec 13, 2011 at 08:56 AM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #4 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


I belive you have to fly when only travelling for two weeks. Otherwise you will spend most of your time on a bus It's a long trip with buses going from Bangkok to Angkor Wat & Pnom Penh.
I also belive you will miss a wider lens than 24-105 when shooting in Angkor Wat and those big cities.



Dec 13, 2011 at 09:27 AM
Mast3rshake
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p.1 #5 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


I agree with you completely. Any suggestions for a backpack? Not too worried about price


Dec 13, 2011 at 09:32 AM
justruss
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p.1 #6 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


I agree with Lars.

We've both spent a lot of time in the region, both with photography as a focus at times. I've filed a number of stories (written and photographic) from there over the last few years. Here's my advice:

Two bags. A light day bag, for carrying camera gear (and other light valuables), a rain shell (or 1 dollar/euro plastic shell you can buy at any market there), extra shirt, whatever. And then another cheap bag, be it a duffle, backpack, whatever, for a few changes of clothes (like Lars suggests, my protocol is to bring very little, and acquire stuff while there), maybe a pair of shoes/flip flops (I like having a choice each day), etc. Unless you pack REALLY light, you don't want to have to carry around cloths and stuff, nor a big (even if empty) backpack when you're out during the day. Transportation is cheap, and a second bag is no more difficult for moving around than having any bag at all. If anything, it makes it easier to keep track of your valuables (big bags might not fit well on some buses; a small bag with valuables goes with you at your seat, the big bag goes in the under-the-bus/above-the-van storage area). I actually switched to a non-photo bag for my photo bag purposes: TNF Hot Shot (non-special addition). It carries my netbook, backup HDD(s), 5Dmk2, 17mm Tamron, 35L, 135L, 0-series CF Tripod (outside), and all my other little gadgets, bits, and pieces (GoPro HD, gps logger, remote release, etc)-- and it's easy for me to get into and out of, it doesn't scream camera (labels blacked out, black, beat up bag), holds up to abuse, is very comfortable for day-out purposes.

If you're reasonably smart about what you leave and where, you can leave stuff in hotels/guesthouses. If you're really concerned, get a system for locking your stuff up, and insurance. A determined thief can always get your stuff-- but making them break something to do it will allow you to file a police report and get your insurance to cover you. Most thefts in hotels/guesthouses are crimes of opportunity, and easily thwarted. I've spent close to a year in the region on various trips-- and have left thousands of dollars of gear in $5 to $20/night guesthouses/hotels (I have insurance)-- and my sum total of experiences are i) returning to a hotel to see someone cleaning the room with my iPod on (first generation, when the iPod was a novelty in America still), and someone chasing me down to give me back a camera worth more than a good chunk of average local salary.

As for lenses, I personally see little reason to go beyond mid-tele in this part of the world (caveat: unless you have a specific reason, or specific things you wan to shoot with a long tele... see some of Lars's work). Sure, that's a generalization, but for me it applies. And for most people I am willing to bet it applies too. I find that the majority of my shooting in the area ends up being some of the following: tight/cramped spaces, large architecture, cityscapes, people, wide to medium scenics. i like having something ultra-wide (17-xx is perfect; I use a 17 prime), something for low-light (24L or 35L would be great), and less often something in normal to mid tele (135, or a zoom).

It's admittedly more difficult to compose/expose with wider lenses, but I think you end up feeling more because it forces you to get closer.

Have fun!



Dec 13, 2011 at 09:53 AM
Mast3rshake
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p.1 #7 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


Great information, thanks!

A duffel bag sounds good, something that I can leave in a hotel while taking my valuables with me. Great idea. Did you buy a padded insert for the inside of the pack?

You answered a bunch of questions that I didn't even know that I had on top of the one that I did, much appreciated



Dec 13, 2011 at 10:50 AM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #8 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


I will arrive in Bangkok at New Years Eve. And travel for 3 months in Thailand and Laos


Dec 13, 2011 at 11:42 AM
SidewinderX
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p.1 #9 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


Mast3rshake wrote:
Great information, thanks!

A duffel bag sounds good, something that I can leave in a hotel while taking my valuables with me. Great idea. Did you buy a padded insert for the inside of the pack?

You answered a bunch of questions that I didn't even know that I had on top of the one that I did, much appreciated


When I've traveled recently (Turkey and Portugal/Spain), I've gone with a bag for clothes/toiletries and then just a regular backpack for when I'm flying/busing (ipod, books, a snack, that kind of thing). I put my crumpler 5MDH in that backpack when I'm flying or busing and then I just bring that bag out when I'm out and about for the day. It works pretty well for me (but when I'm mostly vacationing I travel pretty light -- 50D, 50/1.8, and my sigma 17-70). Only issue is that you don't tend to have a lot of extra room for things during the day. ON the plus side, it helps prevent you from accumulating junk!



Dec 13, 2011 at 12:50 PM
justruss
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p.1 #10 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


Mast3rshake wrote:
Great information, thanks!

A duffel bag sounds good, something that I can leave in a hotel while taking my valuables with me. Great idea. Did you buy a padded insert for the inside of the pack?

You answered a bunch of questions that I didn't even know that I had on top of the one that I did, much appreciated


Naw, I don't use a padded insert for my bag. Too much bulk. Cameras and lenses are much hardier than most of the folks on here treat them-- and unlike a lot of the people on this forum, I don't mind if I pick up a tiny scratch or two on the body over the course of a year (though, my lenses don't actually have scratches on 'em, go figure).

I usually keep a small hoody, or rain shell, or t-shirt on the bottom of the main area of my backpack. The camera w/ lens (35L) on goes on top of that, lens pointing up. There's usually room next to the camera for another lens (135L) right beside the camera w/ lens, again lens pointing up so that the lens cap doesn't pop up and the glass doesn't get scratched. And then I have the 17, which is tiny, in a pocket, or smaller pocket/area of the day-bag.

I've been doing this for years, from the tropics to the alps in winter. I've skied/sledded like this with considerable crashes involved. I was derailed during an assignment on a railroad (not a train, though, more of a pump trolley) in Cambodia doing this.

Here's the backpack in action, at the center of the "norry" in this image, it's black and overstuffed: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Catching-the-Bamboo-Train.html



Dec 13, 2011 at 03:06 PM
 

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hk_mtbr
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p.1 #11 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


Along the bag line...

I bought a large Camelback (HAWG maybe?) to carry my camera gear while travelling. I use the small bags and cases that came with my lenses to hold them and drop them into the largest compartment. I used an L type lens sideways in the bottom and then stacked others on top. I used an after market smallish camera/lens bag in the very top to hold bodies and/ or body lens combo. This was tied into the bag via a loop that already existed for keys or some such.

This held a 100-400 in the bottom
17-40, 50 1.4 middle
and then body/lens stacked on top...all with in the same compartment.

And still room for tons of other stuff line the water bladder, etc in their respective compartments.

My main reasoning for this set up is having tons of abuse on my other camelback products (known durability). And the fact that it didn't look like a camera bag (I hate the stealth bags that have a big logo of a known camera co. or such). It wasn't small but I carried daily in Madagascar for a month.

By the way... "Vazaha le sack" loosely translates "hey idiot your giant bag is hogging up the world" (actually "foreigner, the bag!) in Malagasy/French.

Lars...need an assistant?! I'm pretty much up on shots



Dec 15, 2011 at 04:15 PM
dasams
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p.1 #12 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


Mast3rshake wrote:
I'm having trouble figuring out how I'm going to pull this off. I'll be there for about 2 weeks traveling to Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh and Bangkok; I'm looking for a backpack that I can take with me to carry two weeks worth of clothing, etc. (I pack pretty light though), but also my 5D, 70-200 F4 IS and 24-105.


I've just returned from trekking in Nepal and had the same challenge. My solution? I carried two backpacks: one large backpack that fits everything and a second, ultra light weight (ie, no padding) day pack that can be rolled up. On the flight over, the large backpack got checked while I carried my camera gear and valuables in the small pack. Ditto for day trips, ie, leave the large pack in hotel and carry the small pack. Here's a day pack that weighs 1.5 lbs and should fit the bill: http://www.rei.com/product/778467/rei-flash-30-pack dave



Dec 18, 2011 at 06:49 PM
Mast3rshake
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p.1 #13 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


I thought about something like that, but I do a lot of street photography and since it will be Songkran (Thai New Year's involving lots of water gun fights) it should give me a lot to work with. That said, I'll need quick access to my gear. I've been throwing around the idea of the Clik Elite Contrejour 35; internal frame, quick access side pouches, comfortable and I should be able to wear it for the majority of the two weeks, plus it's the size of a daypack so I can still carry a duffel bag with me to store in a hotel.

I can't seem to find another bag that has all of those components



Dec 19, 2011 at 05:04 PM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #14 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


Don't take out any DSLR and lenses when shooting at the Songkran. In most places it's like a 50% chans of getting your equipment soaked. In big cities or tourist places it's like a 95% chans of that It's not only water guns. You will probably get buckets of water over you.


Dec 19, 2011 at 07:32 PM
Mast3rshake
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p.1 #15 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


That's what I've been hearing lately. I might get some semi-cheap waterproof point and shoot, but I won't be in Bangkok the entire time, I'll be heading to Ayutthaya then Siem Reap then Phnom Penh so this backpack thing is a pretty crucial point right now. I can always get a rain cover for whatever pack I get to thwart would-be water bucket throwers, and maybe stick to using my 70-200 to keep my distance from the crowds. Maybe shoot from the skylift thing they have over there


Dec 20, 2011 at 02:54 AM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #16 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


It's impossible to "distance from the crowds" and use a 70-200, or even an 800 lens. You have thousends of people throwing water from all directions. As soon as you come out from your apartment/hotel you will be soaked within a few minutes


Dec 20, 2011 at 06:06 AM
justruss
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p.1 #17 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


Heed Lars's advice regarding Songkran!

You cannot keep your distance-- you'll become everyone's target. Water guns... hahahaha. Try multi-liter buckets, garbage cans filled with water and a 25 kilo block of ice, fire hoses (in some areas), and anywhere near a body of water-- the threat of getting pushed in (whether by accident or on purpose). For the 3 to 5 days on either side of Songkran, it's just not safe to go out with a camera that can take anything less than submersion. I've seen-- many, many times-- partiers run up to taxis, open the doors, and hurl buckets of water in at the passengers. Police officers get drenched in uniform, on their motorcycles.

If you're dead-set on photographing the festival-- get something water "proof." Whether it's a point and shoot, or a housing for your DSLR (the bag-based ones should be fine).

That said, if you've never been to songkran before, and you're up for getting sick in the days afterward, and you don't mind a bit of craziness with friends... join in. After all, it's usually the hotest time of year, and the water feels good (aside from the ice-bucket water). I think most people love it once. And then many try to find ways to avoid it (some Thais who live in the big songkran hot spots, like Chiang Mai, go on vacation to less hectic places).

Last piece of serious advice: Be mindful of the roads. Songkran, and about a week on either end, are the deadliest days on the roads in Thailand. The major papers actually keep a tally of the deaths each year. Rampant drunk-driving, crowds of people lining up on, and in, the roadways, etc. And the hospitals fill up in the week after with infectious disease patients sick from the combination of exertion, drinking, and getting filthy water in mouths and eyes. I speak from experience on that last one.



Dec 20, 2011 at 09:03 AM
rdcny
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p.1 #18 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


Here are some Thailand images from 2007 to the present...I do much bird migration research there in autumn and spring - primarily raptors, bee-eaters and swifts - in the area of Chumphon:

http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=714849

Try and avoid the big national parks on weekends too...can get pretty noisy in remote places.

Robert DeCandido PhD
NYC



Dec 20, 2011 at 12:09 PM
Jabberwockt
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p.1 #19 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


Spent a few months traveling around SE Asia some years back. Loved having an ultra wide angle for the big stone thingies.


Dec 20, 2011 at 06:25 PM
Mast3rshake
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p.1 #20 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice


I thought about picking up a 17-40 for my 5D but I think I'm going to have to use that money elsewhere (might invest in a waterproof P&S for street-level Songkran action). Hopefully my 24-105 will suffice for wide angle

Good advice all around though, thanks.



Dec 21, 2011 at 09:59 AM
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