Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Footsteps of Giants: Camera gear and food.

A few years back when I did the Lost Coast South, I took a massive amount of camera gear along because I didn't want to regret going light in such a spectacular place.  That meant two Canon 7d bodies, a 28-300 tele zoom on one and an 8-16 UWA on the other.  I also had 8 spare batts (they are bulky for the 7d), an intervalometer, plus a Contour POV (and 5 more batts) in it's silly waterproof case.  Because of where we were and what our objective was, I had to have 2 separate waterproof bags to carry this stuff in.  Any way you slice it that was just too much photo gear, even if the results seemed to vindicate the decision to carry it.

This time around I went much simpler.  I no longer have the 7d bodies -- one actually died on the trip described above -- thus I brought my one and only DSLR: A Canon 5d3.  I schlepped along a Canon 28-300L lens, which is just a massive piece of metal and glass for this sort of trip.  I've owned 2 of these now, and both have been simply unparalleled as far as IQ and covering a massive range are concerned.  That said, I have a love/hate relationship with this lens: Love the results, hate carting it along.  First world problem, anyone?

I carried this body/lens combo in an Ortlieb "waterproof" bag, usually strapped to my handlebars.  I added quotes because it's a nice bag: great size, easy open/close zipper, and it does pretty dang well with moisture management.  But it is emphatically not waterproof in any way.  It manages a few hours of rain OK but after an all-day rain (during which I kept it sealed shut) it completely wetted through and there was a small puddle in the bottom of the bag.  Doom and Brett both used these bags as well, and both had moisture management issues as I did.

Camera bag bottom left.  I most often slung it over the front of the bars, but sometimes clipped it to my shoulder straps and had it on my chest.

Our forecast was so dismal that I forewent bringing a UWA lens, simply because I knew I wouldn't want to be swapping glass in such a humid and gritty environment.  Given a choice I'll always prefer to shoot from a UWA perspective ~50% of the time on any given trip.  But because of the rain and wet sand infiltration we experienced, coupled with the fact that the camera/lens combo I carried is a bonafide 28mm, I didn't regret the lack of UWA more than once or twice.

I brought an intervalometer but never used it on this go round, simply because I couldn't foresee many time lapse sets working out with the near-constant fog, drizzle and wind.

I carried 4 extra batteries for the 5d3.  But because we had so much rain the DSLR never left it's water-resistant bag for the entirety of 2 of our days out, which meant I only used 2 of the backups.  Raining sideways and blowing salt spray are not the ideal environment for electronics of which one is enamored.  On those days (and many other times when I wanted a quick from-the-hip shot) I exclusively used a Go Pro Hero Session and a few-year-old Olympus TG-830.  Image quality on both of those is meh, but they're waterproof and coming home with a low-quality shot beats nothing at all.  I was glad to have both of these.

Food: I carried organic pop tarts (no nuclear ingredients like the capital P version) for breakfast, salami, string cheese, and tortillas for lunch, and then freeze dried meals for dinner.  I had an even split of Backpackers Pantry and Good To-Go, and have learned that I vastly prefer the G2G stuff: Flavor and cost are about the same but I can pronounce and understand everything on the ingredients label of the G2G meals.

We cooked over canister stoves most of the time.  Normally this group would opt to heat water over a driftwood fire, but the copious quantities of precip made the effort of kindling fire with wet wood tedious, and the desire to stand over it in the rain non-existent.  We were glad to have stoves.

I had a handful of treats like chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, and licorice as "head food".  I don't ever seem to be able to carry as much of that stuff as my body would like to consume.  N+1 seems to be the correct quantity.

I treated ~1/100th of the water I drank with Aquamira drops -- basically just the stagnant stuff when we were thirsty and uncertain when the next moving water would arrive.  Anything flowing we just dipped and drank.  I flavored my water with Nuun a few times a day.

Tomorrow: bike geek minutia.


  1. That descending ride with the rock formations and all the contrasting color is absolutely stellar.... Well Done!!

  2. How often do you drink untreated water in the back country when not in AK?

  3. really dig your blog! being new to alaska, i've recently gotten a fatbike and tried a bit of packrafting. your epic adventures seem like the best way to combine these things. i'm following your updates with great enthusiasm and trying to learn as much as i can so i can attempt to piece together some (much more scaled-down) trips myself!

  4. instead of an intervalometer, have you looked at trigggertrap? small, light, cheap. uses phone (which you are carrying anyway) as intervalometer and more. only real drawback is that it put more drain on the phone and it will have to be charged more because of it. I leave mine in the camera bag at all times...

  5. Wasn't a question of technology. There just wasn't much point in sussing out/setting up a ~400 shot set when the lens would be splattered with raindrops before the first 10 frames were grabbed.