Kalahari Blog

Adventures of a field biologist and wildlife photographer living and working in the Kalahari.

Packing List – what’s in my bag?


Both my bags fully packed and ready to go!

Both my bags fully packed and ready to go!

With less than a week to go until I leave I thought I’d post up exactly what I will be taking with me. I have been thinking about what to take for quite a while now and have packed and repacked and carefully considered each item that I will be  taking. I will be staying at the research station for almost all the time I’m away and won’t be carrying my stuff very far so I don’t really need to pack that light or need a proper hiking backpack.

In some ways packing for a whole year is actually easier than packing for just a few weeks as I know that I can just buy anything that I’ve forgotten and I don’t have to repack and drag my stuff about every few days however it does make you consider what those things are that you can’t live without for that length of time and the things that will keep you sane when boredom and cabin fever set in!

Although daytime temperatures in the summer in the Kalahari can reach above 40°C the nighttime temperatures can drop well below freezing hence the fleeces, winter shirts and 3 season sleeping bag!

My main bag weighs about 20kgs and is well under the weight for checked baggage however my camera bag weighs about 12kgs which is almost double the carry-on allowance! I will be putting all non-optical gear apart from my camera body in my checked luggage however I will still be way over the 7kg limit. In fact I will only be able to be under the limit with just the big Sigma and my laptop. There is no way my lenses are going in the checked baggage as there is nothing worse than looking out of the plane window and seeing your bag at the bottom of the pile having hundreds of other suitcases being thrown on top of it!

My plan is to put all the lenses I can into my pockets (and maybe use Rachael as a “lens mule”!) during check in then put them back in the bag before security checks and try to avoid the question: “is that a 70-200 in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?”.  As I’m flying emirates not ryanair they might not even check however I still don’t want to be hit with an excess baggage charge!

Anyway here’s my visual packing list:

All the gear I'm going to take with me for a year in the kalahari desert.

All the gear I’m going to take with me for a year in the kalahari desert.

Packing List

  1. North Face Base Camp 90l Duffel – The best bag of it’s kind on the market, standard equipment on many expeditions!
  2. Dakine Photo mission pack – A daypack with camera insert for most days when I don’t want to carry the big sigma. (currently filled with wires/chargers/random bits)
  3. Camera Gear! (see below for contents)
  4. Sleeping bag – 3 season as it can get cold at night!
  5. Patagonia Drifter walking shoes – I didn’t want boots as they can be too hot and heavy.
  6. Travel towel – I will buy a proper towel when I arrive so this is just for emergencies!
  7. LED Lenser head torch – Very bright! Uses rechargeable batteries.
  8. Binoculars – Compact and tough.
  9. Tough re-sealable bags – For keeping dust out!
  10. Electrical tape – Very useful for fixing almost everything.
  11. X-Mini portable speaker – Tiny and very loud for its size.
  12. Redsnapper tripod and ball head – Solid and sturdy no-nonsense tripod.
  13. Redsnapper monopod and head
  14. Casual shoes
  15. Flip flops
  16. Desert sun-hat
  17. Kindle
  18. 500gb hard drive – Will probably have to get another if I start getting into video!
  19. 80gb ipod classic
  20. Birds and snakes pocket field guides
  21. Moleskine notebook
  22. Laptop and protective case
  23. Washbag with toothbrush/toiletries/contact lenses etc – I will be buying more stuff when I arrive to save weight/space.
  24. Gloves and warm hat – did I mention that it gets cold?
  25. 3 pairs of trousers – 1 Craghoppers Nosilife (very lightweight but still tough), 1 Craghoppers Kiwi (less light but very tough) and 1 pair of jeans.
  26. 4 t-shirts, 2 tank tops – mainly for casual wearing
  27. 2 lightweight shirts for fieldwork – 1 Craghoppers Nosilife and 1 Bear Gryills Trek. These will be used and abused and practically lived in for fieldwork.
  28. Rain coat – Just in case.
  29. 1 thick fleece and 1 lighter fleece – These pack small, are lightweight and warm.
  30. 2 thicker shirts – Great for layering or chilly mornings/evenings.
  31. Socks/boxers in drybag – Several pairs of each and I can always buy more. The rybag is useful for keeping stuff organised.
  32. 4 pairs of shorts – 2 tough for fieldwork, 2 boardshorts for casual wear.
Camera bag with all my camera gear!

Camera bag with all my camera gear!

Camera Gear

  1. Lowepro Vertex 200 AW – great, well-padded camera bag. Feels like it will take anything thrown at it and last forever
  2. Circular polariser and 4-stop ND filter in case
  3. Sigma 105mm Macro
  4. Canon 70-200mm f/4L
  5. Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
  6. Sigma 10-20mm
  7. Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 OS with lenscoat
  8. Cokin z-pro filter holder
  9. Canon 430ex speedlight
  10. Canon 7D
  11. Sigma 1.4x teleconverter
  12. Cokin ND grad set (ND2, ND4 and ND8)
  13. Cheapo ebay intervalometer
  14. Flash diffuser
  15. 16gb and 32gb CF cards
  16. 3 batteries
  17. Lenspen and cleaning cloth
  18. Rocket blower

Please comment if you have anything to say or notice any mistakes! And if you like it then click “like”!

Hopefully my next post will contain more sand and maybe even a Meerkat or two!

Thanks for reading.


Author: Robin Hoskyns

A field biologist and wildlife photographer from the UK who recently returned from working on the Kalahari Meerkat Project in South Africa. See main website for a full bio and portfolios: www.robinhoskyns.co.uk

3 thoughts on “Packing List – what’s in my bag?

  1. Looking forward to the first post actually written in the Kalahari!

  2. Pingback: Madagascar Packing list | Robin Hoskyns Nature Photography - Blog

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