Birder's Guide

NOV 2017

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 37 of 51

Continued on page 38 36 Birder's Guide to Gear | November 2017 Travel Bags camera became larger, my gear heavier and bulkier. I've tried several combina- tions of adventure bags and can't say that I've landed on a perfect solution. But I will keep searching for the perfect bag or die trying. Let's understand the traveling birder's dilemma. We travel far from home and across continents under stressful or challeng- ing conditions. We carry a lot of heavy "stuff", such as binoculars, spotting scopes, cameras and lenses, laptops or tablets, and tripods, in addition to all the miscellany, including hats, rain gear, bug juice, field guides, headlamps, and n Birders can often easily be spotted in airports by the way they dress. While this birder may be trying to fly under the radar, his rubber boots give him away! But what about his luggage? Photo © Michael Retter charging apparati. We have to carry a variety of clothes and footwear to fit the wide-ranging conditions we'll experience in the field. And we have to drag this heavy gear through long airport lines, in and out of buses and airport limos, and in and out of remote ecolodges throughout our trip. And we need to save our backs and feet in the process. For this reason, a low-stress birding trip demands advance planning and sturdy, functionally appropriate luggage. But which brands and models are best? David and Judy Smith from Durham, North Carolina, said, "We're still work- ing on this one, even after thirty years of birding travel!" The Smiths were just two of many birders surveyed from 16 countries who provided me with birding travel tips last year. Much of their advice appeared in the 2017 issue of Birder's Guide to Travel, but their travel-bag ad- vice is relayed here: ◗ I like lightweight hard-shell luggage with four wheels. It lasts 2–3 years, but it's inexpensive enough to be dispos- able. I have a camera insert for a car- ry-on piece, and it's much more light- weight than actual camera luggage. —Linda from Corrales, NM ◗ Eagle Creek is tops for adventure travel. It holds up well and has great features such as larger wheels which don't get stuck and are more stable when pulling over uneven surfaces. —Jude from Bayside, CA ◗ I check a The North Face ® duffel circa 1988—has been around the world and back! Carry-on is a Swiss Army ® / Victorinox ® , which lasted 12 years of weekly plane trips. Now the zippers are going and I can't wait to read your article to see what I should buy next. I have a giant Longchamp ® Le Pliage bag for a "personal item" that can fit my scope, bins, camera gear, and change of clothes. That might be a bit too fash- ion-forward for most birders, though. —Anon. ◗ I now take two small, soft-sided L.L. Bean ® bags on international trips. Many companies ask that you limit lug- gage to 40 pounds and often you have to handle your bags by yourself, so I pack 20 pounds in each bag because I find a 40-pound bag hard to handle. —Winnie from Friendswood, TX ◗ I switched to a large trunk that stands being tossed on/off planes and 4WDs. In addition, two backpacks: one for trekking day excursions, which holds camera, some food, water, and maybe –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Author's Favorite Travel Gear –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– n Swiss Army ® sport bag PROS: That tweed-and-mesh water-bottle compartment had me at "hello." CONS: No substitute for a handbag. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– n Eddie Bauer ® Adventurer 25L pack with laptop compartment PROS: Skillfully handles all my gear. CONS: Camera and long lens fit but are not secured. My son stole it for school. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– n Lucas canvas computer bag PROS: Completely functional, designed to wow the nature crowd. CONS: Doesn't impress at corporate meetings. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– n Packing cubes PROS: They've transformed me into an organized traveler. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– n Pájaro Pack field bag (large) PROS: Fits field guide or bins. CONS: No pockets on the outside for field notebook and pen, no secure pocket on the inside, a bit frumpy. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– n Eagle Creek Travel Gear Sport Bag PROS: Fits field guide or small bins, several compartments, side pocket to slip in field notebook. CONS: Mine has ink stains.

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