Traveling with a 600mm Prime lens and a LOT of camera gear!

Up until now, most of my projects have involved me taking road-trips in my Subaru Outback to travel. But ever since I started doing wildlife photography for a living; I have been on the look out for interesting wildlife and conservation related projects to work on, all over the world. I realized that my regular way of traveling with my gear will need an upgrade. During road-trips, I just carry my camera and lenses in multiple bags, and throw them in the back seat of my Subaru. I would just keep the tripod, pack my clothes in a suitcase and leave them in the trunk of my vehicle. But now that I had to fly from Seattle to California, to do some photography at Point Reyes National Seashore, I realized that I will need to re-visit my plans. As I was thinking of a blog post idea for this week, I thought that it would be nice to share my air travel experience with the largest set of gear I have ever carried with me. After successfully traveling by air and on the road with this set up, I have been very pleased with how it worked for me. So here goes!

Problem : The gear :(

Here is a list of equipment that I need to carry with me

  1. Nikon D850 body

  2. Nikon 600mm FLED VR2 Lens

  3. Nikon 24-70mm f 2.8 ED VR Lens

  4. Sigma 150-600 Contemporary Lens

  5. Induro CLT404L Stealth Carbon Fiber Series 4 74.6" Long Tripod

  6. Movo Photo Carbon Fiber Professional Gimbal Tripod Head

  7. DJI Mavic 2 Pro & accessories

  8. DJI Smart Remote & accessories

  9. Go Pro Hero 7 & accessories

  10. Movi Cinema Robot

Rest of my equipment like my laptop, battery chargers etc always fit nicely into my backpack. So I am not going into detail about that aspect of packing.

Solution : Pelicans! :)

After researching online and thinking about what would be my best option to pack up all of my gear, I decided to go with two Pelican cases. I already have experience using a Pelican case which I use to pack the Profoto B1 strobes that I use in my studio and on location. I have always been very impressed with how good, sturdy and reliable that case is. So I went to Kenmore Camera in Bothell, WA and picked up a Pelican 1560 and a Pelican 1610 case. I never order luggage online as I prefer seeing, holding and checking out these things before I buy them.

Pelican 1560 Case

Interior Dimensions L x W x D - 19.92 x 14.98 x 9.00 inches

Weight with Foam (lbs) - 20


This outstanding case is made of ultra-high impact structural copolymer that makes it extremely strong and durable. It has a 0.25" (6.4 mm) neoprene o-ring, two easy-open double throw latches that seal perfectly. It is water tight and comes with pluck foam so that I can customize the layout inside it as per my unique equipment needs. It also has got wheels attached to the bottom, which is great for me since I hate to lift heavy boxes, considering the fact that I had a serious back injury many years ago, that I have to be conscious of. The feature that I love the most though, is the super easy to use release latch for the 17" retracting extension handle which works great when I pull the case along as I scurry around dragging it everywhere. The metal reinforced padlock protectors provide extra strength and extra security against cutting and theft. Optional divider sets are available too.

Gear that I decided to pack into the Pelican 1560 case

  • Nikon D850 & Battery Pack and viewfinder rubber eyecup

  • Nikon 24-70mm f 2.8 ED VR Lens

  • Sigma 150-600 Contemporary Lens

  • DJI Mavic 2 Pro & accessories

  • DJI Smart Remote & accessories


I used the pluck foam panels that shipped with the Pelican box, to make holes that fit in the above showcased equipment. It took a while and some careful planning to make sure that all of it fit into their respective holes nicely. Keeping that measuring tape next to me did come in handy I must add!


Now it’s time to pack all the gear into the foam.


Everything fit nice and plush! Yay! Finally I am getting somewhere with this :) I also used the second pluck foam and carved out the holes in exactly the same configuration to add more protection and some height to the holes.


Now that this case is all packed up and ready to go, let me move on to the next set of gear.

2) Pelican 1610 Case

Interior Dimensions L x W x D - 21.78 x 16.69 x 10.62 inches

Weight with Foam (lbs) - 22


The Pelican 1610 is another fantastic rolling case in the Pelican large case category. The length and width make it a great solutions for a number of different applications. I really like the size factor. It is not too large to check in at the airlines and so makes it a good solution for traveling with your valuable gear. It too ships with dividers and pluck foam. I decided to use the dividers instead of the pluck foam this time.

Gear that I decided to pack into the Pelican 1560 case

  • Nikon 600mm f4 FL ED VR2

  • Induro CLT404L Stealth Carbon Fiber Series 4 74.6" Long Tripod

  • Go Pro Hero 7 & accessories

  • Movi cinema Robot and accessories


Now this is where I adore my Induro Stealth Tripod. It is simply awesome to have a tripod system that can be so easily and quickly disassembled and packed into the pelican box. I first fitted the 600mm lens into the box and adjusted the divider to make space for the Movo Gimbal and the disassembled tripod. I used my water proof pants as some extra cushioning for the lens as well.

Then I fit in my Go pro Hero 7 and accessories all packed into a bag and placed it over the tripod and gimbal, along with the Movi Cinema Robot case.


All that fit really well and I made sure that stuff doesn’t move around in the box too much, by making use of the unused padding as extra shock absorbers over and around the gear.

Securing your valuable boxes and last steps

I am almost at the end of this patient packing journey by now, yes! To secure my equipment I did some last minute shopping and bought 4 Eagle Creek TSA locks from REI. Yeah, I need to work on my planning, but hey these are baby steps now!


And last but not the least, I always remember to ask the airline personnel to give me some “Fragile” stickers to stick onto the boxes on all sides. Most airline services take good care of your baggage with fragile stickers on them and they don’t just throw them onto the baggage claim conveyor belt, instead they hold it at the baggage pick-up counter.