When I scheduled my photo trip to Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks nearly a year in advance, my plan was to shoot both landscape and wildlife images. With Canon's Canon EF 500mm f/4 L IS II USM Lens
and Canon EF 600mm f/4 L IS II USM Lens
scheduled to arrive before my trip, I planned to take one of these long lenses with me.
The arrival of these lenses was of course delayed by the tragedy in Japan, so I decided to take both the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS II USM Lens
and the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 L IS II USM Lens
with me - along with both Canon Extender IIIs. Carrying these large lenses along with a full landscape kit including three Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
bodies (and a smaller telephoto zoom lens) onto an RJA (Regional Jet Aircraft) is of course a challenge.
To meet this challenge, I packed the two super telephoto lenses into my Lowepro Pro Trekker 400 AW Camera Backpack
using a creative padded divider layout. I squeezed two 1Ds III bodies into the pack along with a variety of other supplies including 5 spare batteries, filters, memory cards ... This pack was my "carry-on" - and I know from previous trips that it fits under the aisle seat of an RJA.
This meant that my "personal item" was going to have to carry many lenses and the 3rd camera body. Think Tank Photo
provided me with what they thought was their largest available "personal item" -qualifying bag - the Think Tank Photo Urban Disguise 60 V2.0
The Urban Disguise 60 V2.0 proved to be the right choice. I loaded my laptop, 3 mid-sized lenses, a 70-300 L, an EOS 1Ds III and many other items including a pair of portable backup drives into it. It tightly fit into the RJA overhead compartment. Note that filling the middle section of this bag and adding bodies in the front pouch makes this bag too large to fit into the overhead compartment of the RJA I was on (4 seats wide).
I packed some additional (backup) lenses into my checked luggage along with a pair of tripods (you can sometimes nearly double the take-home from a great sunrise or sunset with two cameras ready) and a monopod. I was carrying about 70 lbs through the airport (yes, I belive that was over the weight limit). Carrying 70 lbs through airports is of course not fun - especially when I had to run 89 gates to catch a connection in Denver. But, these bags worked out very well.
In hindsight, I would have left the 300 II and 400 II at home. The targets I found for these lenses were not within reasonable carrying distance - most were 4-5 miles up into the trails. I carried the 70-300 L along with my 24-105 L on separate bodies until my own body could not take the weight of both bodies any longer. The Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens
on a 1Ds III once again proved to be my go-to combination. Yes, there were times when I could have used wider and longer lenses, but with nearly 50 miles of hiking up into mountains on my schedule, panoramas and cropping were the options I elected for much of this trip.