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What's In My Bag- Photography Survival Kit

How many adventures have you started only to arrive and realize you are missing a key piece of equipment? There is a painful feeling that resonates in the deepest emotional depths of your very fiber that can only be felt when you turn your camera on and realize you have no memory card. Or that you left your battery at home… and spare. What about those early evening hikes where you tell yourself that you’ll make it back in with sunlight to spare but eventually it’s 10:00 PM and you still have a mile to walk back to the car… in the dark… because you have no flashlight. I, as well as basically everyone, have experienced one or all of these scenarios at least once. Every time you promise yourself that you will be more diligent and prepared. Alas, these situations creep up at the worst possible time and place. Here is my list of survival camera gear I never leave without.


I tend to be very methodical in my prep work for any type of photoventure, so my survival gear and organization can be broken down into two categories. They aren’t really categories, but a system that allows my OCD and fetish for enhanced organizational theory really take flight and potentially impact my readiness to mobilize and bounce. The system is gear residency. Certain tools live in my QIPI Sling Bag because it is the bag I tend to utilize over my other bags, while other parts of my survival kit reside in a mesh bag. Weird, I know. Why not just keep them in the same compartment or sub-bag? Simple. Frequency of use and location of parent items. I know I can leave accessories and gear in my bag and it’s a safe play because I will most likely not need to transfer it to a different bag. The mesh bag is used differently in that I carry small items and kit items in it. A LR44 battery and spare roll of film for Grandpa Diesel for instance. This bag can then be stuffed with everything I need if I make a quick bag swap, and I can ensure I have everything I need for a successful shoot.


The QIPI Sling Bag- I won’t go into a detailed review of this bag in this blog, but maybe in another post. The items below are key pieces of survival gear that tend to live in this camera bag. They have a dedicated pocket that helps ensure I put them back to maintain the system and not waste time and money rebuying gear.

· Lens Cleaner Spray & Brush Tool/ Lens Cloth- This is self-explanatory. Keep your gear clean!

· Memory Card Wallet- Never again leave home without a card. I keep two 32GB cards in here so if it comes to it, I have cards in reserve.

· Flashlight- This is handy for so many applications. I like to have it on hand for those late-night hikes, but I find it useful for night and astro-photography. I prefer a pen style because its small and discreet.

· Pen & Paper- This is such a powerful but forgotten tool. Prewriting notes, research and goals/objectives for a photoventure can be critical in getting the shot. Planning and preparation pay off for sure. I find it fun to get a “caddy journal” going for the places I go to. Notes about lighting, key features and creative thoughts can help to prepare and execute better on your next visit.

The Random Mesh Bag w/ Clip- This little bag normally lives in the QIPI bag within the main gear compartment. Its general purpose is to carry my Nikon EL2 film gear, in addition to gear or items I will be removing completely from the survival kit after the photoventure.

· Spare roll of film- I am more deliberate with my film photography efforts, so I don’t go crazy firing away on an excursion, but I like to be ready in case I need a roll

· LR44 6Volt Battery- Sadly my lens cap does not deactivate the battery in my EL2, so I tend to remove it from time to time when I know I will be shooting digital, but it always stays in this bag.

· Spare DSLR Battery- Because this bag lives in the main bag compartment, I keep my spare DSLR battery in here for proximity to camera and easy access.

When I decide to utilize a different bag for whatever reason, all these items get consolidated into the mesh bag and we are good to go. I’m able to service & power my gear, as well as ensure I have sufficient memory and film to capture the shot I want. While it seems simple in nature and a no brainer, I have noticed a great improvement in my mobility and readiness because I know exactly where my equipment is and where it needs to be. The list is constantly evolving based on my experiences and lessons learned from getting burnt, but for right now I’m pretty stoked and always feel covered when out and about for most situations.


The Bonus Items- These are items that are important to come prepared with, but not necessarily part of your gear. This is my personal check down list for my own preparedness because hey, you never know what could happen.

· Cash or Card- Have a couple bucks on you. Make sure you have your wallet or leave some spare Cash and change in your bag. You might need a snack or a water. Stay hydrated!

· Phone- Again, self-explanatory. But what if something happens to your phone? If you bring some change maybe you can find a payphone. What’s that? That is if a kind shopkeep won’t lend you theirs.

· Battery Pack- If you can fit it and don’t mind the weight, its just another tool that’s a great addition.


While simple in nature, a Photography Survival Kit should be in all of bags. Being prepared and ready with failsafe measures is the perfect way to avoid some of the silly mistakes and errors. It allows us to maintain our gears integrity, cleanliness and operating capabilities in real time if needed. Proactive readiness in lieu of potentially missing the entire shoot or trip. Ideally, having a camera with a clean lens, fully charged battery and loaded memory card is what we all strive for, but hey things happen. A little safeguard can help prevent that frustrating moment from happening.


What do you think is a good addition to Photography Survival Kit?





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