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Travel Gear in Southeast Asia

Photographer David Hiser asked me what I learned about travel gear in my latest trip to Southeast Asia. I learned a lot and changed gear accordingly. My big weight was in camera, lenses, and books. At one point I wrote that in the next trip I'd leave the telephoto and wide angle at home, but one week later I was thrilled to have them, especially the (125-450mm) telephoto (lots of pix of Mekong riverside houses I would have otherwise missed) and decided to take all 3 lenses in the future. Because of all this weight, I streamlined in Bangkok and air mailed 13 lbs of clothes home. I ended up with a lightweight pair of cargo pants, one short sleeve and one long sleeve shirt, both North Face, wrinkle free material. One pair sandals from REI. These were killer.

Keen sandals from REI

Comfortable, cool, good cushion, more protection for toes riding a moto than the usual flip-flops. Everything else to minimum.

In addition to camera and 3 lenses, I have a Gigavue 40-gig hard drive for photo storage while on the road. It worked great.

Luggage: I started out with these:

Left, Rick Steve's Day Pack. Right, Ultralite backpack by GVP Gear

I've replaced the Ultralite with an REI pack that has a light frame and several compartment separations, padded shoulder and hip straps. and will hold its shape when loaded unlike the Ultralite. The Rick Steves bag is lightweight and great if you're going to roll up your day pack and unpack it when you arrive. But I ended up wearing the day pack every day of the trip, everywhere I went. I got into lugging the big camera (I also have a pocket digital camera) with me at all times, and once the Gigavue had hundreds of pics stored on it, carried that as well, not taking any chances on losing stored files. I got a Jansport day pack with a little more body, padding, and especially compartments for pens, etc. Much better set up. Live 'n learn.

At left, REI UL45L lightweight backpack (new model); right, Jansport day pack; middle, Gossamergear ultralight (7 oz.) backpack that stows away small and expands slightly larger than the REI pack at left