What to pack for five months in the field.

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning (and Saints day, I understand) in New Orleans—the last of our mornings here. Brett is out running the cracked sidewalks, leaving me to edit video and sound of our time here. But I haven’t the patience to navigate editing software right now, so instead will nerdily talk gear.

We had a lot of conversations with friends and colleagues about what to pack for Haiti. Though my documentaries will be for radio, we wanted a good camera for shooting both stills and HD video. I wanted a more muscular recorder than the Zoom I’ve been using these last couple of years, and a warmer microphone to go with it. We wanted a mic that would also work with the camera, a variety lenses, a lightweight but sturdy tripod. We needed storage, phones, batteries, solar chargers, adaptors, every kind of cable you could possibly imagine, waterproof and shockproof bags, a featherweight computer, notebooks, pens.

I began to miss the days when I worked in print, and print alone.

On the advice of several friends, and our own long experience with the brand’s cameras and lenses, we settled on the Nikon D7000. I invested in a Marantz PMD661, and a Shure omnidirectional mic. Both are sturdy, intuitive to use, and make beautiful sound. I packed my Zoom as a back-up as well, and an external mic that will work with both it and the camera. And we threw in a small arsenal of unlocked phones that take decent pictures, and mini mics to go with them should it come to that.

But of course, gear is gear is gear. It’s the storytelling that really matters. And for that, I’ve packed everything I’ve learned over the years from my many mentors and colleagues. (I’m particularly indebted to the faculty over at the UBC School of Journalism—which, incidentally, is administering the award I’m now travelling on—and to the producers who have so generously taken the time to work with me at CBC’s The Sunday Edition.)

Our bags are surprisingly light, and will only get lighter as we run through our supplies—the batteries, the anti-malarials, the oregano oil, the water purifiers, the contact lenses.

And if a friend on the ground in Haiti is to be believed, my bag may very well be relieved of my bras as we travel through customs tomorrow. I suppose every little bit of extra space counts, non?

Finally, I’d like it to be on the record that Brett packed more pairs of shoes than I did.

5 Responses to What to pack for five months in the field.

  1. Just one question: What is the oregano oil for? And one more: Do you have a photo of yourself surrounded by “gear”?

    • Oregano oil is our favourite kill-all-that-ails dish. It burns. It tastes disgusting. But it works like nothing else. Brett’s naturopath prescribed us eight drops a day while we’re here as an immune booster, so the bottles add up. And yes, we DO have photos! I just haven’t uploaded any. But I will soon. Thanks for reading, Papa.

  2. i was also going to inquire about the oregano oil. sounds gross, but glad to hear you guys are keeping healthy! why don’t you call your blog “five months in the field”? in the meantime i will try to think of something more clever. also: you have to update this more frequently or those of us with limited attention spans will stop checking. daily updates please. and photos. xoxx

    • I promise to update more frequently, p! Shorter posts must be the answer. Thanks for checking in. And yes, clever suggestions please.

  3. Pingback: Gear, gear, gear. | Eye on (re)building

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>