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How to Pack Like a Kitesurfing Journalist

By Paul Lang

I travel a lot in my role as Editor of The Kiteboarder and I often get asked about what I take with me. Over the years I’ve been able to really narrow down what I need and now I pack the same basic kit no matter where I go or for how long. The only real variations to what I pack have to do with the expected water and air temperatures.

This week I’ll be joining F-One in Mauritius (expecting warm water and warm air) and here’s what I’ve packed.

kiteboarding-packing

Kitesurfing Gear:

  • Mystic Majestic Harness: Since I usually travel to meet up with other people, I rarely have to take kites or boards with me. A huge perk of the way I travel is that I can always use the gear that is already there. My harness is the biggest piece of kitesurfing gear I usually travel with.
  • DaKine Pro Comp Board Leash: Yes, board leashes can be dangerous, but it can also be dangerous to not use one. In some places the dangers of using a leash are outweighed by the dangers of having to cross a reef or deal with a rocky shoreline to recover your board.

Water Gear:

  • Patagonia R1 Wetsuit Top: Mauritius is warm, so this is all the rubber I’ll need on this trip.
  • FCS Booties: These booties aren’t available anymore, but they almost always go with me. They keep my feet warm in cold water and make it much easier to walk across reefs or rocky bottoms if I have to.
  • Ocean Dolphin Helmet: This is the helmet I wear when swimming with my camera. I hardly notice it and it’s bright green so riders can see me.
  • DaFin Fins: I just recently started using these fins for swimming with my camera housing and they are the best I’ve ever used.
  • Patagonia Wavefarer Board Shorts: These shorts are comfortable enough to wear all the time and hold up to a lot of abuse.
  • Kurtis Surf Goggles: It took me awhile to get used to them but now I almost always wear these while I ride. It’s amazing how much better my eyes feel after a full day of riding with these compared to not using them.

Camera Gear:

photographer-packing

  • SPL Housing: SPL makes great camera housings. This one has been all over the world and has never given me a problem.
  • Canon 50D: This camera spends most of its time in the SPL housing. A slightly older camera but still produces great images.
  • Canon 60D: My main camera on land. It also gets a fair amount of use as a video camera.
  • Sony NEX7: A great compact walk around camera that I find myself using more and more for both stills and video.
  • Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye: This lens’s main use is in the housing.
  • Canon 24-70mm: The 24-70 is an amazing lens that I use a lot for photos on land.
  • Canon 100-400mm: My main lens for action photos. Lots of range and really practical to travel with.
  • Sony 16mm: A really compact wide-angle lens. This lens combined with the NEX7 is really easy to walk around with and not be noticed.
  • Sony 18-55mm: A standard zoom, nothing special about this lens but it is nice when I don’t want to walk around with a DSLR.
  • GoPro: I like to stick a GoPro on my housing to get a few video clips while swimming with a still camera. Here’s what it looks like.
  • Microphones: Wireless lapel mic and a shotgun mic for recording interviews.
  • Extra batteries, memory cards, card reader, mini tripod, and battery chargers. Small things that are very important to not forget.

Electronics:

  • Laptop: My current laptop is a Samsung. I honestly couldn’t tell you more about it than that.
  • External Drive: A critical piece of equipment so I can back up photos daily.
  • iPhone: I always load this thing up with nerdy podcasts for the flights.
  • Headphones: Flights go by a lot faster when you have something to listen to.
  • Kindle: I like to read on the plane. I can only handle so many bad movies.
  • Power Adapter: Another small but important item. Always do a little research to find out what adapter you need when traveling internationally.

Other Stuff:

  • Patagonia Flannel: One of the most comfortable pieces of clothing I own. It basically goes everywhere with me and I shouldn’t need anything warmer than this on this trip.
  • Floppy Hat: When I travel I spend a lot of time in the sun. A wide-brimmed hat helps keep me from getting fried.
  • Sunscreen: I’ve got light skin, so this is super important for me. I get toasted without it.
  • Passport: Don’t lose it! I actually have a scanned copy of this and my driver’s license saved where I can access them from any computer with an internet connection.
  • Moleskin Notebook: For notes about stuff I don’t want to forget.

Not Shown:

  • More Clothes: I obviously pack more clothes than in this photo, but not by much. I always make sure to take one nice shirt and a pair of pants. This is what I usually wear on the plane as I’ve found you get treated better at the airport when you dress nice.
  • Water Bottle: I always take an empty water bottle with me. Airports are full of water fountains but you can’t take water in. It’s much better than paying for overpriced bottled water every time you get thirsty.
Everything fits in these two bags.

Everything fits in these two bags.

Bags:

  • Pelican 1500: This case is waterproof. When traveling my housing goes in here and the whole case goes into the duffel bag with other stuff. The great thing about this case is that all of my camera gear fits in it which is really helpful if I need to get into a boat or spend all day on the sand.
  • Patagonia Black Hole Duffel: This is usually the only bag I check. It’s really sturdy and holds a lot of stuff. A great feature is that it has removable backpack straps if I need to carry it a long distance. As long as it stays under 50 pounds there’s never any excess charges for it.
  • DaKine Sequence Backpack: This is one of my most important pieces of travel gear. I learned very early on to avoid checking things you absolutely need. This bag holds all of my main camera gear with enough room left over for a few items of clothing, a laptop, and toiletries. Even if my checked bag never arrives I can get the work done I need to with what I carry on the plane. Another great feature is that the camera compartment separates from the main pack. Because of this I never have to check my camera gear no matter how small the plane.

That’s basically it. This trip is especially easy to pack for because it’s a warm destination. Colder destinations require a little more planning because thick wetsuits and winter clothing take up a lot more space but I can almost always manage to fit everything into these two bags. When going somewhere remote I also pack a Goal Zero Sherpa 50 Kit that allows me to stay powered while off the grid.

I realize my packing list isn’t very realistic for most kitesurfers because I don’t have to take any actual kitesurfing gear with me, but my biggest tip is to go with the bare minimum amount of gear. I used to take way more stuff with me only to return home with items of clothing that were never worn or camera lenses that were never used.

We can all get by with a lot less stuff than we think we need and it’s a liberating feeling when I manage to pack all I need to live and work for an extended period of time into two bags I can easily carry by myself.

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