Outside video producer Claire Bruce has plenty of experience traveling with expensive camera equipment—she made trips with the U.S. women’s soccer team as a staff videographer for nearly two and a half years leading up to the Olympics in Rio. Bruce flew with the team an average of four times every two weeks, never quite knowing what conditions she’d touch down in, so she learned how to shoot in snow, hail, thunderstorms, and high humidity. Here are her nine tips for keeping your gear safe and clean on any adventure.
Zeiss Lens Cleaning Kit ($30)
“This kit has everything you need to clean lenses the right way,” says Bruce. Contents include a microfiber cloth, a brush, cleaning fluid, wipes, and an air blaster. “That doesn’t mean just wiping the front lens, but the rear lens, too. And don’t forget to clean your mount.” Humidity, rain, and dust can leave hard-to-remove residue on your lens, and this kit will save you.
EZ Sensor Cleaning Kit ($24)
Included in the EZ Sensor cleaning kit is a liquid-sensor-cleaning solution, five sensor-cleaning swabs, and a stain-removing solution. “No, a Q-tip, which is more abrasive and fuzzy, doesn’t count as a sensor cleaner,” Bruce cautions. She recommends following this protocol from the Adorama Learning Center to clean your sensor properly.
Altura Photo Professional Rain Cover ($15)
“Weatherproof does not mean waterproof when it comes to camera bodies and lenses—water will get in if it rains hard enough,” Bruce says. “In an emergency, you could use a Ziploc bag, but this rain cover isn’t too expensive. It’s worth the investment if you want to really protect your gear.” To install, slide the rain cover over the camera and lens, zip the bottom waterproof zipper shut, tighten the Velcro strap around your lens, and access your camera through the side hand holes.
Pelican 1510 Case ($180)
“If you’re traveling and flying a lot, this case is great for withstanding bumps and bruises, thanks to its solid waterproof, dustproof, and crushproof construction,” Bruce says. “Never check equipment in a soft case, as you’re opening it up to being damaged. As always, plan on having TSA go through your nicely organized gear.” The foam inserts are easily removed so you can customize the case to your specific gear needs.
Tiffen UV Protection Filter ($7)
“These filters will protect your front element from scratching when you’re out and about,” says Bruce. “It’s cheaper to replace a scratched UV filter than a scratched lens. And at $7 a pop, you might as well pick up a couple.” Plus, these will help reduce UV light and blue casts on images.
Leatherman Skeletool Multi-Tool ($70)
“A solid multitool like the Skeletool is essential to have around for quick tripod fixes, tightening screws, and adjusting mounting systems. You’ll have to check these along with other luggage, as the knife won’t get through TSA,” Bruce says. This Leatherman has a partially serrated stainless-steel blade, needle-nose pliers, regular pliers, wire cutters, a large bit driver, a bottle opener, and a removable pocket clip.
LaCie Rugged Mini Portable Hard Drive ($160)
There’s protecting your physical camera equipment, and then there’s keeping your hard-earned digital photos safe. “You should always back up your content in two places in case one fails or you lose one while traveling,” says Bruce. “This hard drive is burlier than others, thanks to the included rubber bumper. A good rule of thumb is to carry one of your backups on the plane with you, in case your checked luggage gets lost along the way.”
Anker PowerCore 10000 ($32)
“It’s a good idea to carry an external battery pack with you to charge your camera,” says Bruce. “This battery is lighter than its competitors and has a 10,000 mAh [milli-Ampere-hour] capacity, which should give your camera at least one extra charge to get the job done.”
Travel Insurance (Price varies)
“If you lose a piece of gear or you break something abroad, travel insurance will be there to save you,” says Bruce. “You can buy travel insurance anywhere that offers regular car or home insurance, like Progressive or Geico. Make sure you are covered in your intended travel destination, as some travel insurance plans only work in select countries. You can buy it for a single trip or for the year.” Most companies will reimburse you for the cost of lost or damaged equipment, but the level of coverage will depend on your specific plan, so make sure to read the fine print before embarking on your next adventure.