Mission Critical Gear [plus chasejarvis TECH video]

gearbag_chasejarvisIf you’ve been paying attention to my latest photo adventure play-by-play here online, then it needs little introduction. The short version is that I’ve been aboard the Pangaea sailing in the South China Sea (in typhoon season….) with renowned explorer Mike Horn. That said, the GEAR for my current project has been the subject of lots of your questions via my Twitter, Facebook and here on the blog, so I thought I’d give you a quick run down on the setup for this journey.

First of all, our “photo crew” is small. As in it’s just me. Actually–not entirely true–my manager Jerard is along as well, but he’s not a trained assistant or focused on gear or data. He is writing, shooting video, and occasionally acting as my support when we’re in the weeds. Suffice it to say, the normal support channels are trimmed down, as is our space to operate–since we’re in tight quarters on a boat, we’re limited to what we can “carry on” (in airplane terms)…so we each have a very small backpack carrying photo gear and a personal 20” roll aboard for 10 days worth of clothing (everything from out on the town to typhoon ready). The combination of the above required us to choose our minimal amount of gear very carefully…maintaining special attention to:

1. the task at hand (photo + video);
2. small, light, fast; and
3. redundancy/fortitude…we can’t afford to be without mission-critical gear

That said, click ‘continue reading’ below to check out what’s in our gear bags, a NEW chasejarvis TECH video of how we packed it all, corresponding links if you want to scope out the gear/specs online via B&H (affil), and some other stunning instruments that will pique your interest…

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My gear bag. Very limited. Very light.

Bag one: Jarvis. (Primarily the still-photo bag)
_Nikon D3s. Bulletproof camera for stills and shoots 720 video. My fav. A workhorse.
_Nikkor 14-24mm 2.8 AF-S ED. Small spaces and lines of sight means we need some wide glass. Zoom lenses allows us to carry fewer lenses.
_Nikkor 24-70mm 2.8 AF-S ED. Mid range zoom.
_Nikkor 70-200mm 2.8 AF-S ED VR2. One of my favs.
_Nikon battery charger. Plus three D3s batteries in total.
_Petzel LED headlamp. Plenty of working in the dark.
_Array of SanDisk CF cards. Approx 15 cards ranging from 32 to 8GB.
_Apple 13” Macbook Pro. 2.5 DuoCore, 4gb RAM. 256gb solid state drive. Power cord. Loaded with the software goods. Aperture. Photoshop. FCP.
_LowePro Flipside 400 AW. Modified to accommodate the laptop. GREAT bag.

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Jerards bag. (Not pictured 13 inch Macbook Pro)

Bag two: Jerard (Primarily the video bag)
_Nikon D7000 (x2). The new 1080p/16mp camera from Nikon. Not yet shipping, but I’ve got a couple
_Nikkor 24mm 1.4 AF-S ED. Gorgeous, fast glass.
_Nikkor 85mm 1.4 IF. More gorgeous fast glass
_Nikkor 18-200mm 3.5-5.6 AF DX lens. All around zoom lens for flexibility and ease. The behind-the-scenes workhorse.
_Nikon SB-900 Flash.
_Vertical grip for D7000 (x1). No link avail at this time…
_Rode Stereo Mic. Complete with dead cat for wind noise reduction.
_Zacuto Z Finder. LCD magnifier to detect focus when shooting video.
_Nikon battery charger. Plus three D7000 batteries in total. (no link yet)
_Black Diamond Sprinter LED headlamp. Plenty of working in the dark for Jerard too.
_Array of SanDisk SD cards. Approx 15 cards ranging from 16 to 4GB.
_Apple 13” Macbook Pro. 2.26 DuoCore. 2gb RAM. 150gb hard drive. Power cord. Loaded with the software goods. Aperture. Photoshop.
_DaKine Mission photo pack. Jerard digs this bag.

Shared gear between both of our bags:
_G-tech 256gb SSD hard drives (x2). Given the amount of data we estimate shooting, this should suffice for Main and Backup copies of data.
_G-tech 500gb hard drive (x1). In case of overflow needs for the above setup.
_Sensor cleaning kit. For that pesky dust.
_Cables and adapters. FW 800, USB, iPhone, Macbook power. International plug kits. 3 of everything in case of problems.
_SanDisk card readers (x 2)
_Extra AA, AAA, and 9 volt lithium batteries.
_Other extras: Filters. Lens cloths. Headphones.

That’s the gear that I’m using. It’s specialized for this trip and it’s chosen carefully. And speaking of specialized…since many readers really get into the gear we use to make images–the precision engineering, the details, and all the thinking that goes into it–I thought it would be cool to call attention to some equipment Mike Horn calls “mission critical” for his expedition: his Panerai Luminor 1950 Pangaea Submersible Depth Gauge Watch and the additional Panerai equipment on his boat–barometer, hygrometer, and temperature gauges. Talk about engineering masterpieces…these are precision instruments and they are gorgeous.



I’m relatively new to knowing Officine Panerai, but I’ve quickly developed a lot of respect for the brand, for their heritage, their manufacturing prowess, and their impressive support for Mike’s goals to make the world a better place. Panerai have built all of these essential tools specifically for Mike from the ground up. The gauges on board are crucial info for navigating the seas. And the watch? Check these specs: It’s been with him at 60 meters below the ocean surface and at at 8000 meters atop the Himalaya. It’s been to every continent with him, it’s survived dozens of hurricanes and tropical storms, deserts and icebergs, it’s circumnavigated the world more than 2 times already. It hasn’t left his wrist in over two years. And through all Mike adds, “It hasn’t lost even a single second.” Pretty remarkable.

So Nikon, ahem, you wanna make a Mike Horn edition D4? Or anybody out there worn your camera around your neck for 2 years straight? Didn’t think so.

Anyhow, here’s a chasejarvis TECH video..buried as a little easter egg for the hardcores… on how we packed this gear for our trip. I’m hoping you’ll devour the gear and the vid in this post and perhaps have some questions. Send them over via comments below.

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