Travel vlogging can be a challenge for many reasons – creatively, logistically, but also practically. Even the most talented filmmakers can get tripped up when they take their show on the road. That’s why having the right gear is a crucial first step for any aspiring travel vlogger.
To me, the biggest hurdle for first-timers is having the right backpack. Most people just wrap their camera in a sweatshirt and chuck it loose in their bag, or else bring a dedicated camera bag. Neither choice is optimal – either you’re going to break a lens, lose something important, or get weighed down with too much gear.
There are tons of different options out there, but my brother and I are big fans of F-Stop bags. [full disclosure: F-Stop have provided us with bags free of charge but we are not paid spokesmen for the brand].
F-Stop bags are designed especially for professional travel and adventure filmmakers and are capable of everything from a multi-city shoot to snowboarding film in remote Nepal. Everything is extremely durable and of the highest quality. Our packs have traveled to over 40 countries in 4 years, and they show barely any wear and tear!
We initially decided to use F-Stop for practical purposes. My brother and I had just won a travel filmmaking competition that would send us to 25 destinations in 25 weeks to make a 50-video YouTube series. With so many connecting flights, there was too much of a risk for losing our bags. We had to fly carry-on. Beyond our camera equipment, we had to bring clothes for everything from the deserts of Arabia to the glaciers of Iceland. The only way we pulled it off was with F-Stop bags.
The main advantage of F-Stop is what they call the Internal Camera Unit (ICU), which is basically a removable camera bag that sits at the bottom of the backpack. It’s perfect if you need to check your backpack but want to keep the camera gear with you. You can also buy a removable shoulder strap and wear the ICU like a sling for day shoots.
F-Stop ICUs come in different sizes, but we’ve always used a size medium to fit a DSLR, a pair of lenses, plus some basic accessories like a shotgun mic, spare batteries and lens cleaner. If you’ve got a more basic setup, you can even get by with the small size ICU. But you need more than medium, you’re probably bringing too much stuff.
Better yet, unlike most backpacks, F-Stop bags are accessible only from part that touches your back. That means that a thief can’t open your pack while you’re wearing it and jack your camera (trust us, this happened to us!). This allows you to focus on getting the shots or travel on crowded subways without worrying about getting pick-pocketed.
Bags come in a variety of sizes, almost all of which fit in carry-on. For the last four years we’ve rocked the Tilopa (60L) and the Satori (80L), with the latter being the upper-limit of carry-on. Both bags had space to pack clothes for six months of travel. To see how we did that, see our video on packing and choosing camera gear.”
Recently we added two more to wear as front-packs: I use the Tijuana (6L), which is perfect for low-key day-shoots; Alex has the Lotus (32L), which is a more versatile day-pack capable of everything up to snowboarding or mountain biking.
In short, if you’re serious about travel vlogging, you should invest in an F-Stop bag. Prices are not the cheapest, but they are hands-down the best bags for travel filmmakers. They will pay for themselves in the money you save from not checking bags, getting robbed, or breaking sensitive equipment.
Safe travels, and good luck vlogging!
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