It was so long ago that any self-respecting travel photographer had to carry a trunk of equipment. Long lenses, short lenses, wide lenses, spare bodies, tripods, filters, film (more film) and stuff to clean and repair all this. This was me.
What little money I was making was spent on excess luggage fees and chiropractors.
Nowadays it’s not unusual for travel reporters, bloggers, vloggers or plodders to travel with just a single smart device, be it an iPhone or tablet. Plenty of megapixels, inbuilt filters and image processing, albums, geo-tagging and instant upload to the web or via email.
Okay, you may not be going to win a Walkley or Pulitzer with your Samsung Note just yet, but the comfort and practicality of travelling with just one easy-to-use device is pretty compelling.
While the tools of choice may have changed, the elements and hazards of travel photography have not. Wind, rain, dust, impact, snow and vibration are all still everyday risks the intrepid news gatherer must face. And let’s be honest, smartphones are pretty flimsy. Hands up: who has damaged or smashed an iPhone screen? Huh, thought so. Who has sprayed their iPad with warm yak milk or Taiwanese rice wine? Didn't end well, did it?
Just as the market is being deluged with smarter and more delicate devices, so has the industry for producing their protection. I'm not talking just about a humble screen protector or silicon sleeve. I mean military grade, RPG repelling hardcases.
Before you head off upriver in the Congo or embed yourself with the Marine Corp, take a look at these bad-ass phone protectors.
Even the packaging looks scary. The Griffin Survivor claims to 'meet or exceed US military standards' which might mean it could be used for hand-to-hand combat if your rifle butt won’t do.
It makes a big deal out of ensuring your iPhone will be safe if falling from the roof of your HumVee (180cm), Afghan desert grit, Cambodian monsoon rain and vibration from the floor of your Huey helicopter gunship. Heck, it says you can even dive to three metres underwater and still text 'YOLO!'
Ports are securely plugged and the camera has a nifty rotating shutter that protects the lens and still keeps the gunk out.
The outer shroud is made from heavy duty silicon, while inside is a shatter-resistant polycarbonate frame. Clip it to your gun belt with the removable clip.
Griffin Technology make an array of protective envelopes for a wide range of devices including iPad, Android and Kindle, including civilian spec.
Survivor for iPhone is $69.95 from major retailers. www.griffintechnology.com
InDepth Waterproof Case
Okay, so let’s say your next assignment is chasing Japanese whalers in the Antarctic. These guys can get cranky and turn the fire hoses on you, so you better make sure your iPhone is safely installed in an InDepth waterproof case.
If the Survivor is for the Marine Corp, then the rigid InDepth case is for the Navy Seals. There’s a hefty range of integrated accessories including a bicycle handlebar clip, a flotation lanyard and also a handy bottle opener so you can celebrate a successful target extraction.
Australian made for Australian conditions. RRP $99.95 for iPhone 5/5s case and $89.95 for 4/4s.
Mophie Juice Packs
Smartphones and tablets can chew through batteries in no time if you’re behind lines relaying co-ordinates and calling in air strikes. Maybe you need to go off the grid and lay low? Better have some spare battery power - and that’s where mophie’s juice packs come in.
While mophie also have their own range of 'special ops' phone cases and Q-inspired gadgets, it’s their portable, quick-charge batteries that might mean life or death for your forward operating unit.
When the regular 'civvy street' juice packs won't do, grab the chunky 6000mAh juice pack powerstation PRO. This ruggedly powerful, impact and splash–resistant unit that's jungle friendly and protected against all comers with aluminium and steel construction and impact-resistant exterior.
This monster can stay charged for months and still recharge quickly. RRP $139.95 www.mophie.com
About the Expeditionist
Roderick Eime has spent his whole life getting lost and the last two decades doing it professionally. From 4WD journeys across Australia to icebreakers in the polar seas, Rod isn't happy unless he's wondering where he is. In his quest to find oblivion, he's sailed all five oceans and many of the great rivers reporting for magazines and newspapers but has yet to fall off the edge of the world.