Travel Photo Gear Checklist: 9 Essentials Picked By The Pros

We asked the pros what gear they never leave home without when travel, the consensus on these 9 items was strong

Weather-sealed full-frame DSLR


The Canon EOS 5D Mark II and other rugged full-framers are the choice of many travel pros; the format takes advantage of the entire field of wide-angle lenses.

High-speed Zoom Lenses


A three-zoom kit of a 14–24mm or 16–35mm, 24–70mm or 28–70mm, and 70–200mm such as the Canon L-series (shown) covers everything from ultrawide to long tele.

Fast prime lenses


F/1.8, f/1.4, and even f/1.2 prime lenses are valued for low-light shooting and limiting depth-of-field. The 85mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor here makes an ideal not-too-heavy candid/portrait lens.

Circular polarizer


A must for deepening blue skies, making flowers pop, reducing glare on rocks in streams and waterfalls, and cutting window reflections. There are several reliable brands—we show a Hoya here.

Notebook computer


Near-indispensible for image download and backup, as well as photo editing on the road (typically with Adobe Photoshop). The MacBook Pro shown is widely popular with travel pros.

Portable hard drive


Considered by many a must for redundant image backup on the road. The LaCie Rugged XL shown comes in 1TB and 2TB versions, and it has shock-resistant cladding.

Collapsible reflectors


Folding to a third their size, they provide portable portrait fill-in. The Lastolite 5-in-1 here has four different color reflectors, plus a diffusion scrim. Some pros just use trash bags.

Swiss Army knife


Handy tools: scissors for cutting duct tape, screwdrivers for various jobs, magnifier for checking sensor, saw for cutting most anything, and a corkscrew for relaxation after the shoot.

Silica gel packs


Essential in damp climates to discourage fungus in lenses and corrosion on mounts. Pack your gear with them in resealable bags.