Packing…method or madness?

Packing…method or madness?


I’ve had a lot of people comment on the use of Packing Pro, the iPhone app I’m giving away this week. Many people couldn’t believe that I would be capable of getting all the items on the list in my bags and under the allotted weight limit. While I can guarantee you everything got in the bags. I can’t guarantee to you it is under weight. In fact, my carry-on is probably twice the weight it’s supposed to be. However, my checked bag is only 2 kg over! That’s fine for the first part of my trip, as I gave myself 35 kg on Air Asia to Chengdu. Where it might become a problem, is the flight from Chengdu to Lhasa or my Thai Airlines flight home from Kathmandu. Both these only allow 20 kg checked bags. But that’s why I have my trusty press ID from the National Press Photographers Association. It has bailed me out on at least a half a dozen occasions when my hand carry was overweight. Well worth the $30 it cost.

So let’s look at the bags and what is in them. I debated about doing an exploded view and showing you every single item. Quite frankly, it was too complicated and I just didn’t have enough time. So you have to trust me that everything that’s on the list is indeed in the bags. I promise!


As always, just click on the image for larger view. Here are the three bags I’m taking. (a) my Think Tank Airport International roller bag will be keeping all of my costly camera gear and will be my carry-on. (b) Is my Think Tank MM Wired Up, this is also a small carry -on and contains my passport, a book to read, my MacBook Pro 13″, some headphones, a few snack bars and some Gatorade powder along with a few other odds and ends. Then (c)  is my Delsey Duffel and that is home to the rest of my gear. Of course (d) is my Acubra Style Master fedora.

Here’s what it looks like on the inside the Delsey.


(a)  packing cube with my pants

(b)  packing cube with my shirts

(c)  toiletry items

(d)  down jacket

(e)  raincoat/shell

(f)  Think Tank water bottle carrier

(g)  Think Tank storage bag full of things like my Pogo printer, extra AAA batteries, and other odds and ends (see below)

(h)  Think Tank Bazooka tripod case with my Digipod A2830 (see footnote to the last post for more on this.)


Here is another look at the Delsey with some items pulled away.

(a)  packing cube with my pants

(b)  packing cube with my shirts

(c)  raincoat

(d) Think Tank Lens Skin that contains my filters

(e)  packing cube with more clothes

(f)  packing cube with heavy winter weight socks

(g)  Think Tank storage container that  with two other smaller containers of storage (see below)

(h)  nylon liner for sleeping bag

(i)  Think Tank storage bag (see below)

(j)  Eddie Bauer toiletry case.


Here’s a closer look at the larger Think Tank storage case.

(a)  5D MKII batteries and chargers

(d)  CF card reader and extra cables

(c)  Peterson pipe case. It contains four pipes, two bags of tobacco, a lighter, a tobacco tamp and some pipe cleaners.


This is a view inside one of the smaller Think Tank storage bags.

(a)  Pogo printer

(b)  Phottix intervalometer

(c)  8x Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable AAA batteries (by the way these are amazing batteries)

(d) USB adapters and cables as well as my computers AC adapter.


Finally a look inside the Think Tank International.

(a )  2 x converter

(b)  50 mm 1.2

(c)  electro-voice hand held microphone

(d) below 70–200 mm 2.8,  rocket blower and  16–35 mm 2.8

(f) 24–72.8, 85 mm 1.2

(h) two 5D MKII bodies

(i) two OWC 250 GB FW 800 drives

(j) 580 EXII, Think Tank’s Pee Wee Pixel Pocket Pocket containing 48 GB  CF cards ( sensor cleaner and my Sony PCM D50


I hope this gives you a good idea of how I packed and what I am taking. The big red Delsey weighs in at 22 kg. The Think Tank International, well… I’m not even going to go there. Suffice it to say it’s really heavy.

Tomorrow I’ll be announcing the winner of the giveaways of the iPhone application Packing Pro. I will also be posting my Packing Pro list that you can import if you own the application.

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About The Author

Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer. In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.


  1. laura☆ann

    Way to pack like a pro! Thanks for the look at the method/madness. I can’t think of a darn thing you forgot. 🙂

  2. Serge Van Cauwenberg

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks for sharing this detailed post!

    I use the Eagle Creek Tarmac for my main luggage, several Eagle Creek packing cubes which are very handy! I can’t travel without them anymore. Furthermore, I also have the large Think Tank Cable Management bag and some smaller Cable Management bags. Very convenient tools if you ask me. My carry-on bag is the Think Tank Streetwalker Harddrive, containing my photo gear, laptop and additional items (iPhone, passport, book, iPod, etc…)

  3. Tom Bourdon

    I´m no smoker but 4 pipes does seem a little excessive, no?

    Safe travels.

    • Matt Brandon

      It does sound that way. But a pipe smoker rotates pipes. After a smoke a pipe gets very wet and it takes a day or so to dry out. I also pack an extra for folks that want to join me.

      • Tom Bourdon

        Well there you go, you learn something new everyday.

        How do the rollers stand up on the bumpy roads? I´d fear that they´d break on such uneven terrain

        • Matt Brandon

          I am sure they would do well. The are made very well. But I don’t use the bag that way. I roll it to the car or taxi then into the airport. Then when I arrive, from the airport to the taxi then to the hotel and then all over again. Once I get to where I am going I shoot from my MM Wired up and BR Strap double.

        • Bob


  4. Suzanne Chater

    Thanks so much for sharing your packing method Matt and wow – you are scarily well organised.. very impressed!

    After all the recent talk about Think Tank I decided to order a Think Tank Airport Takeoff today – will get it on the weekend and be able to test it out on my UK trip – really hoping it will be the magic solution I’ve been seeking!

    Thanks again and safe travels…

  5. Chris Plante

    Excellant! You are very well organized. I also like the way you label things.

    One thing I MUST do when I pack is to check off the items that I HAVE packed. Otherwise, sometimes I forget if I packed an item or not. If so, I go to the list to see if it’s checked off. 😀

  6. Jim Matiko

    Matt, excellent insight into your packing routine. Looking forward to meeting you on the trip!

    • Matt Brandon

      Jim – It was a real pleasure to have you on this trip. If people thought my packing was amazing, they should have seen everything you were able to get into that small Patagonia bag! Thanks again for coming and keep up the shooting, you are very talented. Let go to Vietnam!

  7. André Joanisse

    Always great to see how others pack, thanks Matt and safe travels.

  8. Melissa

    Is your TT Bazooka inside your Delsey? If so wow.

    • Matt Brandon

      Yep. But once I start traveling by car I’ll take it out and just throw the Bazooka and tripod in the back.


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