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  • Writer's pictureMichel Braunstein

Travelling with Underwater Photography Gear

Southern stingray (Dasyatis americana) laying down at 42 meters / 138 feet depth

I have shared my thoughts in previous posts about different options of equipment for travelling. If you have DSLR equipment, it’s much bigger and heavier than point & shoot or mirrorless. Same concerning flashes, some are more bulky, others more compact.

If, like me, you have all the “big and heavy” equipment and you refuse to send with your baggage on the plane, you need to manage with it.

I travel with a Tamrac photo trolley backpack (697), which is very strong and can contain a lot of gear. The downside is that it’s quite heavy when empty and very heavy when loaded up, and looks quite bulky.  It’s not always easy to sneak it on the plane, but mostly possible. I have always succeeded.

There are of course also lighter bags on the market, but once they are filled-up with all the photo gear, they are very heavy. Thinner bags models look more discreet, even if they are heavy.

The advantages of the trolley backpack is that it contains a lot of place and the large wheels help a lot when you need to cross a huge airport. Also, the bag can be transformed into backpack within seconds.

Tamrac rolling backpack trolley full of underwater photo gear

Tamrac rolling backpack open with plainty of underwater photo gear inside

The bag includes here the housing, 3 lenses, 1 flat port, 2 ports extensions, 2 flashes, 3 sync cables, 2 flash arms, 1 or 2 focus lights, a multi-socket plug adapter and some more small accessories.

Lowepro offers also a good trolley photo bag, which is lighter than the one I owe.

Tamrac 697 Rolling Backpack SpecificationsMaterialExterior: Waterproof Power Grid Cordura three-ply woven grid fabric Interior: Gray colored smooth, weatherproof, lightweight nylon fabric Interior: Thick, closed cell foam padding Windowpane-Mesh combines clear vinyl and nylon mesh for strength and provides easy viewing to the contents of film and accessory pocketsType of ClosureZippers Two straps with bucklesExterior Dimensions12 5/8 x 10 1/2 x 22 1/4″ (32.07 x 26.67 x 56.52 cm) (WxDxH)Interior DimensionsFront computer pocket: 12 3/4 x 10 1/2 x 2.0″ (32.39 x 26.67 x 5.08 cm)(WxHxD)Tripod HolderYesWaist BeltYesAccommodatesDSLR with large telephoto lens attached, multiple extra lenses and flashes, and a 15.6″ (39.6 cm) screen laptopCarrying/Transport OptionsTuck-a-Way backpack harness Side carrying handle Large ball bearing in-line skate wheels Telescoping handleWeight11 lb 5.0 oz (5.12 kg)

Safari Photo Jacket makes all the difference when travelling

With my Safari Jacket and Tamrac trolley, in Doha Arport (Qatar). Photo courtesy: Ran Ton

I usually wear an inexpensive safari photographer jacket with large pockets and I move most of my gear to my pockets before embarking the plane.  I keep my laptop with me so the trolley is lighter and look more streamlined.  I look huge, but that’s fine!

The last time I traveled I used a regular trolley, lighter and thinner than the photo trolley. I put my flashes, lenses, flash arms and other small equipment carefully into it. I took my camera housing in my hand as a simple camera. It included the camera, a large lens, two port extensions and dome port. The photographer’s jacket is always very helpful to stash some gear that I couldn’t tuck into the trolley and has already saved me many times. My notebook is usually in a separate side bag.

For “dry” trips, I either take my small Tamrac back-pack or my LowePro side camera bag with a minimum amount of photo equipment (1 DSLR + 18-200 lens, 1 complementary lens, SB800 flash and Sanho HyperDrive Colorspace UDMA2 + some small accessories).


There is a wide choice of camera bags on the market. Choose one large or two smaller in which you will be able to set all your equipment. Trolleys are always helpful to save your back, but they are heavier. Make sure the bag protects properly all the gear and don’t forget an important detail which will save you many times: the safari jacket for photographers!


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