Shooting in locations far from the comforts of home is a venture that takes equal parts strategy and gear. We’ve previously covered the strategy, so now it’s time to cover the hardware.
Below, you’ll find our staff’s curated picks for equipment to help maximize your travel footage—and your travels overall:
The Zoom H4n Mobile Recorder
That 2,000-mile trek is going to feel a lot longer if you’re carting around boom microphones the entire time. We suspect you’d much prefer to carry the Zoom H4n in your jacket pocket.
This battery-powered recording device enables four-channel audio recording in true stereo for up to eleven hours on a single pair of AA batteries. Of course, it also packs two external XLR inputs and can be adapted to AC power for marathon recordings. Did we mention it goes up to eleven (hours)?
$199.99 with AC adapter, SD card, and windscreen included
For Baggage Checkers:
The Trakdot Luggage Tracker
Losing luggage is never fun, but it’s made worse when that luggage contains crazy expensive video equipment and irreplaceable footage. Fortunately, there’s now a way to track your luggage live thanks to the Trakdot Luggage Tracker.
Battery-powered and measuring just 3 x 2 ¼” inches, the device has built-in cellular technology that can send you its whereabouts by way of email or text message. It might just save your shoot one day—and, perhaps, your sanity.
$49.99 (plus $19.99 for the first year of service)
For Walking Tripods:
A Manfrotto Monopod
Recommended by: Rachel
Tripods are great when you don’t have to carry them, pack them, or move them around all day—three reasons filmmakers who travel often reach for monopods instead. They’re lighter, smaller, and quicker to deploy than tripods while still offering vastly improved stability over handheld shooting.
Weighing just 1.19 pounds but able to support an impressive 11.02 pounds, Manfrotto’s MM294A4 Aluminum Monopod should have no problem holding any setup you deem travel worthy. If you absolutely need to support more weight, you can always go bigger—but you might regret it when the terrain rises uphill.
For Walking Suitcases:
The LowePro Transit Backpack
Recommended by: Ben P.
What makes for a good travel pack? We’d argue it’s a combination of practical compartments, easy access, and protection against the elements.
With its flexible central divider, long-lens cradle, removable sub-dividers, all-weather covers, and fast-access side opening, Lowepro’s Transit Backpack earns flying colors as a light travel pack—assuming you call a DSLR with three lenses, a compact tripod, and 15” laptop “light.”
For Walking Jibs:
The CowboyStudio Hands-Free Shoulder Rig
Recommended by: Adam
We can’t decide what’s worse—camera shake, muscle fatigue, or the weird contortions often necessary to pull focus—but all three make a great case for a hands-free shoulder rig. Made of lightweight aluminum and nylon with sturdy rubber handgrips, the Shoulder Rig from CowboyStudios is designed to eliminate each of these pain points.
It comes with an integrated follow focus gear and a universal base plate designed to fit DSLRs and camcorders. Add comfortable shoes, and you’re ready for a day of shooting in most any terrain.
For Espresso Drinkers:
Recommended by: Matt
You know what makes shooting at sunrise several billion times easier? Caffeine—the same thing that makes shooting after lunch, shooting at night, and shooting after second breakfast easier.
Better not to sell yourself short with instant coffee crystals this year, especially when you can preorder a slick and portable Minipresso espresso machine for just $39.95. With it, you might just be the happiest caffeine drinker in Death Valley.