As of 2018, here is my favorite travel street photography equipment:
Camera: RICOH GR II
I think the best travel photography camera is the RICOH GR II. My rationale: the smaller, lighter, and more compact your camera, the easier it is to carry with you everywhere you go, and thus you will take more photos. And the more photos you shoot, the more prolific and productive you will be as a photographer, and the happier you will be.
Camera Backpack: Think Tank Photo Perception 15
I’ve gone through dozens of camera bags and backpacks, and I’ve found the best bag for travel is the ThinkTank Perception 15. I’ve had mine for around 2-3 years, and everything is just perfect. The size (fits under the seat of an airplane), there is room for my laptop and iPad Pro 10.5, compartments for my RICOH GR II and GoPro, room for clothes, and compartments for my chargers, and other equipment.
I’ve traveled the world with this bag, and can fit everything I need in just this one bag, and so can you.
For clothing, just wear ‘all black everything’– less stress, and less worrying about matching. Also black shows less dirt (or in-case you spill coffee on yourself).
I also am a huge proponent of merino wool — which stays dry, warm, and cool when you need it to. It is more expensive, but totally worth it. And you don’t need more than 2x of anything.
Also when your clothes are dirty, just wash them in the sink/shower with shampoo, wring them, and hang-dry them.
My friend Kevin bought me the OUTLIER NYC Merino Wool T-Shirt (Crew Neck) and I have literally worn it everyday for the last year. Because it is merino wool, it wicks sweat (doesn’t smell), and also is quite warm when it is cold. Merino wool is my favorite new discovery– it is the ultimate material for almost all clothing. The cut, size, and length of the shirt is perfect. Generally the downside of using wool is that it is itchy, but merino wool isn’t. The finer the merino wool, the less itchy.
Another good option: the Minus33 Merino Wool Men’s T-Shirt.
If you plan on traveling, you can literally get by with just 1 merino wool t-shirt.
Pants: Merino Wool Leggings + gym shorts (black)
For pants, I just wear Merino Wool Leggings (imagine yoga pants for men), paired with black athletic gym shorts (to hide your junk). To me it is the ultimate: super flexible, lightweight, and super comfortable. After discovering this is an option — I don’t think I will ever wear jeans again when traveling (too heavy, inflexible, and uncomfortable). The leggings are good for winter/summer.
I currently wear the MERIWOOL Men’s Merino Wool Midweight Baselayer Bottom.
Socks: Merino Wool ‘Darn Tough Socks’
Socks are essential when traveling– I recommend the ‘Darn Tough’ brand, and merino wool (they stink a lot less, and are warm in cold weather, and cool in warm weather).
Underwear: ExOfficio Boxer Brief
I’ve been wearing the ExOfficio Boxer Briefs the last 5+ years. Comfortable, good fit, durable, and quick-dry. Highly highly recommended.
Shoes: Nike Freerun Flyknit RN
The Nike Freerun Flyknit RN: Super light, flexible, and they look cool. My favorite shoe for photography and travel.
Related article: What is the best shoe for photography? >
Typically the fewer devices you travel with, the better.
Tablet: iPad Pro 10.5 Inch
The iPad Pro 10.5 Inch is definitely worth it, and a worthy update if you have an iPad Air (or older tablet). I’ve been using it with Lightroom CC iPad App and the Apple Lightning SD card reader with huge success. Super fast, light, and has helped simplify and speed up my photography workflow.
Laptop: Any Apple MacBook Laptop
If possible, don’t travel with a laptop. Just stick with your phone, tablet– lighter is better.
If you are gonna travel with a laptop, just travel with a MacBook Air or the new (thin) MacBook Pro. Lighter is always better.
Headphones: Beats X
To travel light, I am starting to recommend traveling with light in-ear and noise isolating headphones. Why? Less weight, less bulk, and easier.
I like the Beats X headphones: they have good bass, are comfortable, bluetooth/wireless is convenient, and they have really good noise isolation (just like wearing earplugs). Battery life is pretty good, and you can charge them using the Apple lightning cable.
Lightweight photography travel principles
This is a list of my favorite travel/street photography equipment. Of course, these are just my personal preferences and what I consider ‘best’.
I recommend you to experiment with your own travel equipment in photography, and figure out what works best for you. But some general principles I’ve learned from traveling and photography:
- When in doubt, throw it out: If you’re not sure whether you need to travel with something, leave it at home. If you really really need it when you’re traveling, you can always buy it abroad.
- Just travel with 1 camera, and 1 lens: This will simplify your life, and help you shoot more, with less weight and stress.
- Just travel with 1 bag: Just travel with 1 camera backpack, or with a small backpack and one small camera bag. If you want a small and stylish camera bag, check out the SAIGON SATCHEL.
- When buying gear for travel, always optimize for ultralight: Lightweight is always best.
- For clothing, you don’t need more than 2x of anything: Generally avoid cotton for traveling (it dries too slowly). Opt for merino wool or quickdry clothes.
- When in doubt, travel with fewer devices: Too many devices will complicate your life. Remember the joy of traveling is having novel experiences, opening up your mind, experiencing a new culture, talking with new people, taking photos, and enjoying good food. More devices means more weight, more chargers, and more stress.
Have fun and pack light,
There is no “perfect” camera. Don’t fall into GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and falsely believe that buying a new camera will make you a better photographer.
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