Safe travel with gear 2

Following on from part 1 I’m still researching my trip to Samoa. With the prospect of recording music on location I’ve become obsessed with ethnomusicology and have ordered a few books on the subject, so expect a post or two about them in the future (one of the older books cost me US$3 on ebay, shipping to NZ? $13)

Last week I luckily managed to buy a secondhand Pelican 1650 case which seems huge (because it is!) but its the only one big enough to fit my 816 & MKH70 in it. So it solves my problem of getting the mics, stands, boom and anything else I’ll be taking thats not breakable. The 1650 case will travel with me as checked luggage, while all the breakables (recorders, cameras, lenses, laptop) travel as carry on baggage. You can see the Rycote W8 rig holding my 816 in the photo below (12″ LP is for scale)

Pelican 1650 case

A number of people have emailed me asking what mic stands I’m using in the last batch of field recording photos & video; they are the Manfrotto 5001 nano stands as reccomended by Nathan in this Noisejockey post. Despite them actually being lighting stands the native thread on the stands fits the Rycote pistol grips perfectly, no adaptors needed! I also discovered while down south that the little old mic stand I was using for my Sanken CSS5 actually weighs more on its own than two of those Nano stands! And its reach is feeble in comparison, check the photo below to compare them… So its days are numbered – I’ve ordered a third nano stand.


Heres a photo to show how small the stands are when packed, again an LP for comparison.


I’m totally happy with the Petrol PS602 bag – its big but I need it big because I won’t be carrying my usual camera bag… Most of the time the Petrol bag will have the SD744+302 plus my Canon 40D DSLR (or a 7D if I upgrade in time) with a few lenses & the little Canon s95 HD/stills camera. At other times it will have the 744+302+722 in it (as below) which entirely fills the main compartments but still leaves the front & back pockets for a camera, headphones etc… And hey it still probably weighs less than a single Nagra reel to reel! I’ll shoot some video of the PS602 bag, showing all the pockets and the clever spaces built in for cable routing & battery access – its a little hard to show it via photos…


FWIW my usual camera bag is a LowePro Mini Trekker AW – AW stands for All Weather, it has a clever rainproof jacket hidden in the base of the bag!


Once I get over there I obviously won’t be carting the big Pelican case through the rain forests etc, so my next problem to solve is a lightweight bag which is big enough to hold the MKH70+816+CSS5+stands. While researching this very problem I came across these great alfa cases, which I had never seen before. Apart from the Combo-case which is like a rifle case designed to take your boom, mic and softie, they also make the waterproof MicTube – a hard case for securely carrying your shotgun mic, the BoomTube (for your boom) and the Softi-Case for carrying the mic in its Rycote – check here for the right size cases for your mics.


They seem very well thought out & I’ll check out pricing etc but I think what I am after is almost a lightweight backpack, but a rather tall one because the MKH816 is 82cm long in its Rycote…. Suggestions welcome, but I may just have to go into a local sports shop with my mics and try some out!

Two other gadgets I thought worth mentioning – I bought a Petrol rain poncho but did quite a bit of searching for possibilities for mic rain protection. I never realsied Rycote actually make a rain cover: Duck cover: “The Duck Cover is made of open cell foam that diffuses rain droplets’ sound, with a weatherproof backover spaced away from the windshield to minimise rain noise.”


The other nifty device is intended for cameras but got me thinking: Popabrella – not that i want to record the sound of rain on a brolley, but maybe if I covered it in palm leaves!?

Camera brolly

The shoot for the film finished in Samoa in December and the producer sent me 30 or so stills and wow! I never felt so incredibly inspired looking at mute photos! I wish I could share them but I can’t so here are some from Flickr that might help give some idea! Try this one or this one or this one or this one or the blowholes in this one!

So problems remaining to be solved: lightweight carry bag/backpack for MKH816+MKH70+CSS5+3 nano stands+boom. And then to decide which camera lenses to take!?! There must be advice on this subject out there – if anyone wants to offer advice my lenses are:
– Sigma 8mm fisheye
– Canon 10-22mm
– Canon 60mm
– Canon 70-300mm

I am prepared to leave the 70-300 zoom lens at home (its largest & philosophically I prefer the other lenses) but its a hard call between the fisheye & the 10-22mm, I love shooting with both of them! And the 60mm is essential…. and the timelapse controller… and the mini-tripod…. and the mosquito repellant….

Update: Might have found a suitable bag, these baseball gear bags look close to perfect: especially the ones with a seperate bat compartment (bat = mic stands!)

mic bag?

18 thoughts on “Safe travel with gear 2

    1. tim Post author

      Look like nice designs!

      But not long/tall enough for an 816…
      The L one is 21″ = 54cm,
      my 816 in Rycote is 78cm

  1. Tom Miskin

    hmmm… I’d leave the fisheye, you could always “bend” the 10-22mm in post at home (possibly but I’m no camera guru) but to be honest… is it going to matter allll that much space-wise?

    1. tim Post author

      You’re probably right, but the one thing with the Fisheye that makes it so much fun to shoot with compared with the 10-22 is you can get right up close! It warps something wicked when you are eg 6″ away…. When you shoot wider you’re definitely right…. The 10-22mm lens was the reason I bought my first DSLR, so I think its coming with me regardless, ditto for the 60mm…. so maybe the fisheye is third in line if there is room

  2. Pingback: Safe Travel with Gear « Sonic Terrain

  3. Jon Clark

    I have a Softi-Case and my only complaint is the hinge on the lid, which broke almost immediately. Hopefully they’ve fixed that problem with something more substantial.

  4. Adam Dransfield

    Hi Tim.
    I always lock my Pelican cases with cable ties and then leave a few sitting in plane site inside the case. This was if security want to take a look they just cut the ties and then when there finished will, with luck, lock it again. I also tape around the openings to make it a little harder to open.
    Something else worth knowing is that Storm cases are lighter the Pelican’s


    1. tim Post author

      ahar! Thats great advice Adam, thanks – Ray mentioned the same thing to me yesterday too

  5. Grant Finlay

    I use the same lowepro trekker as my audio backpack in the field, look here:

    Also, have a back-up plan is case your luggage is delayed. Jetstar “lost” my pelican 1450 full of mics for a few days on a flight this week.. Sure, I was covered under the insurance option online but only up to $5K. Read the fine print!

  6. John

    Don’t get rid of that old low mic stand too soon Tim. If you start recording indigenous musicians, you’ll find a lot of them sit on the ground and you need to get the mic almost in the sand. See some of Greg’s photos of sitar recording methods.

  7. Pingback: Music of Sound » Samoa Field Trip Debrief

  8. Stephen Saldanha

    This is great thanks for posting this, its really going to help me out taking some of my gear abroad for the first time.

  9. Pingback: Tim Prebble’s “Safe Travel with Gear #2″ - The Sonic Spread

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