- Buyer's Guide
Packing List :: Outdoor Photojournalist
Hey, I'm Jess McGlothlin, and this is my packing list…
Me, I’m happiest on the road in the gritty, far-off corners of the world. I see my mission as a simple one: tell stories. Working as a freelance photographer and writer in the outdoor industry, while on assignment in the past year I’ve learned how to throw spears at coconuts in French Polynesia, dodge saltwater crocodiles in Cuba, navigate uninvited sharks in Samoa, and eat all manner of unidentifiable food. Based in southwestern Montana, I can usually be found trying to juggle a fly rod, a notebook, and a camera.
My work chiefly involves the fly-fishing industry, which means while one week may find me on drift boats in Montana, the next might find me on pangas in Belize. Often travelling to the destinations is half the battle, and my gear needs to be ready to adapt — from commercial airports to riding helicopters to small boats. Most importantly, I need to be mobile and adaptable. Underwater photography equipment almost always makes the trip along with me — it’s crucial for observing fish in their natural habitat, and providing a fresh perspective on the pursuit of fly fishing.
In addition to camera and personal gear, I carry necessary fishing gear — rods, reels, flies, wading equipment, boots…the list goes on and on. While some locations have been fished before and have established, dependable fly selections, often for expeditionary shoots I must carry a wide variety of equipment to see what works for the given fish population. While my main role is as a photographer and writer, I often take on the role as angler to help bring fish to hand for photos. Fish are always handled carefully and then released back into the water, to be caught another day.
"Often travelling to the destinations is half the battle, and my gear needs to be ready to adapt — from commercial airports to riding helicopters to small boats. Most importantly, I need to be mobile and adaptable."
I need gear that can take me from a tropical atoll in the South Pacific to above the Arctic Circle in the backwoods of Russia. And while the kit will vary slightly from assignment to assignment, the basics remain the same. After years of trial and error, I’ve found gear that holds up to abuse and allows me to focus on the important work — making images.
"While some locations have been fished before and have established, dependable fly selections, often for expeditionary shoots I must carry a wide variety of equipment to see what works for the given fish population."
See more of my work at www.JessMcGlothlinMedia.com.
Pelican 1510 Case with Foam (for underwater housing and on-boat use)
Pelican 1510 Case with Dividers and Lid Organizer (effectively home base for tech)
“The Pelicans are a crucial part of my kit. While sometimes heavy and awkward to haul around in vehicles and aircraft, the protection they offer is superb. One goes with me on the boat every day, keeping cameras dry while I work with the underwater gear, and it’s a saving grace in pop-up squalls. They also make a pretty reasonable workstation in basic conditions.”
“I pulled the innards out of an old camera bag and slid the structural liner into this backpack. Now it’s my go-to for boat use, travel, and cramped quarters. And as an added bonus — it’s awfully hard for pickpockets to get into.”
Canon 5D Mark III (2)
Canon 5D Mark II
“The Mark II was my first DSLR. Now I’ve added on a pair of Mark IIIs, but the II always makes the trip. When I’m shooting off a boat, I’ll have one camera in the underwater housing, one fitted with a long lens, and one with a wide-angle. It covers all the critical bases.”
Aquatic Underwater Housing
“AquaTech has been a great partner for me. This housing has swum with salmon in Alaska and been curiously munched by blacktip sharks in the South Pacific. It’s a workhorse.”
"Underwater photography equipment almost always makes the trip along with me — it’s crucial for observing fish in their natural habitat, and providing a fresh perspective on the pursuit of fly fishing."
Filter Set (Tiffen and B+W, circular polarizers and protective UV filter for each lens)
Cleaning kit (assorted cleaning gear in an old Altoids tin — low-profile and easy to stick in a pocket)
Rain covers for cameras (OP/TECH USA Rainsleeves)
Buff (emergency camera cover, wipe, etc.)
“Multiple Buffs always slip into my bags. One to keep the sun off myself, one to keep in the camera bag for emergency cleaning, and a few just float around. An awesome, relatively cheap piece of gear with so many uses.”
Manfrotto Befree Tripod
Canon Speedlite 430EX II Flash
Canon flash tether
Canon Remote Release
Spare camera batteries
Editing Gear / Other Tech
LaCie hard drives with assorted cords
Memory card reader (and backup)
Goal Zero Outdoor Speakers (awesome on boats!)
Pelican locks for all cases / bags
Power inverter / adapters
Small travel power strip (useful when there’s only one outlet)
"Multiple Buffs always slip into my bags. One to keep the sun off myself, one to keep in the camera bag for emergency cleaning, and a few just float around. An awesome, relatively cheap piece of gear with so many uses."
Rite in the Rain notebook and various pens
Chapstick (plenty of it), sunscreen, bug spray (Sun Bum makes the best sun protection!)
Passport (and extra copies hidden in each bag)
Travel paperwork (visa, carnet, camera insurance information — copies hidden in each bag)
Comprehensive first aid kit, including antibiotics
“Things go wrong on shoots. It’s inevitable. And coral cuts mixed with saltwater and local insects can lead to some pretty nasty infections. I always pack a first aid kit with the basics, along with enough antibiotics to last the trip. A suture kit is also in the bag – often in third-world countries needles are reused and this is one easy way to avoid issues there.”
Snorkeling kit — flippers, mask, and snorkel
GRAYL water filtration bottle
Costa sunglasses (the Cocos frame is a current favorite)
“These energy tabs are made in my home state of Montana, and offer non-jittery energy for those moments when I’m crashing hard. And they’re compact!”
Terminal tackle (leaders, tippet, flies, nippers)
“Often on trips I don’t know the quality of anglers on location, and bring my own gear in case we need to get fish to hand for shots. And, yeah, it’s hard to be in some of these locations and not take the opportunity to wet a line!”
KÜHL splash pants
Old, lightweight fishing pants
“Long pants and a long-sleeved shirt are important for boat use during sunny, hot days, and at night to protect against insects in tropical environments.”
KÜHL travel skirt
Icebreaker Allure dress
“These shirts are a favorite. Comfortable and easy to pull on even when I’m wet, they offer stellar sun protection — I don’t get burned through my shirts like I do sometimes with other brands — and the close-fitting neck and hood offer another level of protection.
Buff bamboo scarf
"Long pants and a long-sleeved shirt are important for boat use during sunny, hot days, and at night to protect against insects in tropical environments."
Patagonia base layers