Inexpensive DSLR travel kit

DSLR travel kit

For the past year I’ve been using this Rubbermaid Handi-box Snap Case to pack my Canon 5D, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L lens, Canon 100mm f/2.8 L macro lens or a Canon 135mm f/2 lens (either/or), a pouch with extra batteries and CF cards, a blower, and a strap. The only part of the kit that won’t fit in this plastic case are the two lens hoods for the lenses and they go in my LowePro Stealth Reporter 200 bag.

I’d put this stuff in the bag but in fact, it’s better protected in this plastic case and the bag holds battery chargers and computer stuff I don’t need on the plane.

The camera is in a small, padded Eagle Creek pouch and the lenses are in Zing lens pouches.

DSLR travel kit

DSLR travel kit

DSLR travel kit

DSLR travel kit

I’ve used this system to pack and check my camera gear on each of my JFK to LAX flights for the past year (7 trips) and it’s worked beautifully. used to carry the Stealth Reporter bag on the plane as a carry on but given that I check a piece of luggage I figured why not check this stuff?

I also check a small Benro travel tripod and head.

I know, many of you are thinking this is a recipe for disaster: TSA will take my gear, it will get broken one of these days, or the bag will get lost. All of these are possible but in fact, I’ve done this numerous times now and nothing has happened except I get to travel lighter on the plane.

I looked into Pelican cases but I don’t need such a high end case, just something that will protect the gear in case of a direct hit. These 5 images show the kit in various states of unpack/pack.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I have a soft sided North Face rolling duffel and this case goes on the bottom with clothing on top of it. It has never moved or been compromised in any way and TSA has never opened it (that I know of) so it must look like camera gear in the x-ray image.

Something to consider for those of you who travel with a DSLR kit that you don’t want to lug on the plane.


  1. Looks like a great system Richard – spot on. I’d certainly consider something like this. My Pelicases are WAY too big really, although sturdy bits of kit.

    Thanks for posting!


  2. Jon: Simple, inexpensive, and does the job. I hope I never have to carry that heavy kit on a plane again (unless I’m not checking a bag). The Rubbermaid case costs under $10.

  3. Richard this looks great, I was impressed with I saw it (in person) I have a pelican case and love it. it is very strong but also very heavy. Traveling with photo gear is allays a challenge and it is great to see post on your blog about this stuff.

    A few questions i have what is the reference for the lens pouch and the padded Eagle Creek pouch?

    also are you sure that the insurance will cover the damage in case of an issue if you have checked it in the trunk? I read some ware that this is one of the rare places where the insurance wont cover the equipment.

    I am going to consider your method for future traveling.

    thanks for being a great resource. and that is some nice paper ;)

  4. Edward: This looks like the new version of the Eagle Creek pouch my 5D is in:

    Not sure but it looks similar.

    The zing large pouches are these:

    As far as insurance, for a while I was covered by insurance I carried on all of my electronics gear when I traveled on business. It wasn’t my homeowner’s insurance but a separate policy. I don’t carry that policy anymore so in fact, I do run the risk of uncovered theft. However, as I said, I’ve done this for many years now with no problem.

    However, I can’t swear that it would all go as smoothly on another airline or flying internationally. Every airport and country may be different.

    I just have never had problems with any of this, never made a claim in 25 years of flying around with a load of electronics crap checked. There’s always a first time for sure, but I’m not going to get too paranoid worrying about it. If I were doing this for a living that would be another matter and I’d carry extra insurance on everything.

    Glad to be a guinea pig and resource.

  5. I didn’t want to be a party-pooper, Richard, but since you mentioned the possible caveat concerning international travel in your reply to Edward I’ll chime in.

    For travel to S.E. Asia this is very risky. It’s very common to have equipment such as this and laptops go missing from checked baggage. About a year ago, all pockets in the uniforms of baggage handlers in Bangkok were sewn shut in order to curb theft. Ironically, it is widely understood that government officials actually do some “equipment shopping” by x-raying bags and taking what they wish. This is not only discussed in the press, but comes to me from someone associated with the government. So carry on or insure if concerned about loss.

  6. Dale: Darn, too good to be true worldwide. Not that I was planning to take this kit on an overseas trip but it’s good to know that if I was I’d have to carry it on. Thanks.

  7. Edward: I usually carry my pack with computer and iPad, etc. and my camera bag on board but I prefer not to carry the camera bag if I don’t have to. I can, no problem but why? Easier to check it with luggage.

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