Nanuk of the South

A few weeks ago I ran into a photographer I know, an Englishman, who travels as much as anyone I’ve ever seen. Technically, he lives in London, but I think there were horse and carriage in the streets the last time he was home. I mean it. You ask him where he’s going and it normally goes like this, “France, then NY then Toronto, then back to NYC, then LA for a day, China for two days, then home for eighteen minutes and back to NYC.” These people intrigue me because I know a little about travel. Not a lot, just a little. I’m always interested in ergonomics and realities of traveling as a photographer, especially when a DSLR and two zooms are not enough to keep your mind happy. So, I studied my friend. What clothes does he wear? Why does he wear them? What camera does he use and how does he travel with it? What bags does he use? Why does he use them? With a guy like this there is no fat, not just on him but in his method of operation. He doesn’t wear lace up boots through airport security…know what I mean.

So I saw him making the transition from his rental car to his hotel room and he had exactly two bags, one shoulder bag, backpack of unknown make, and a case much like the one in these photographs. His had wheels on one side, but otherwise it looked just like the case shown here. This case was loaned to me by a friend, and after I saw my traveler friend with his case it got me thinking. Maybe I should use a case like this? Nanuk is the provider of this particular case.

So, I dug out this case and began to fondle it, dreaming up how I could use it. Now as you can see, this is a small version, not good for taking my entire rig, but I used this more as a study of what this case can do. After about five minutes with this I realized, just about anything. It’s built like a tank. It locks. It’s waterproof. That in itself if enough. Right there. Done.

A month ago I sent an M6 to Leica for repair because one of mine got mangled…somehow…in transition. I have ZERO bags that protect like a case like this. Everything in my life is about small and easy. I’m a Tenba guy for my bags, and I’ve had the conversation with Peter, many times, and can remember myself saying to him, “Make the bags thinner and lighter, who cares about protection.” Thin and light is great, but it surely won’t keep your M6 rewind crank from protruding out at an angle it was never intended to see. Peter would just look at me and smile that smile that internally meant, “You’ll learn one day.”

Considering the travel I have coming up, a case like this is beginning to creep into my mind. The ONLY drawback I see is that it looks like a camera case, which means the hawks will be searching for it. But, if I sticker it up, scrape it up, etc, it should be somewhat camo. And, I would keep this case with me, as a carry on, just as my friend does. I would keep my backpack with me, and this case, and then check my clothes. Or something like that. The logistics, as you can see, I’ve yet to solve. Over the past few months I’ve seen several bags take four to five foot dives to the airplane floor as irate fliers shoved other peoples bags out to try and get theirs in. With a case like this I can just watch as I’m eating warm nuts. Like all photographers, I have a total bag fetish, so this Nanuk case will be added into the mix. I’ve yet to determine what will end up living in this little beauty, but something surely will.

11 responses to “Nanuk of the South”

  1. Eric Jeschke says:

    Not a bad bag to $tore an M9 in, eh? If I paid that much for a camera I’d have a bag like this…

  2. Carl Peer says:

    These types of cases are great, I have a few by a different manufacturer. I have shipped them, check them on planes and never had an issue. I have even seen a few take some hard abuse and come through with no real damage. But like a pair of converse you need to scuff it up or all the other photographers will tease you for trying to be trendy…

  3. Kevin Keefer says:

    Not looking at your “Partners” I would have taken you as a Domke guy. You should look at Think Tank Photo Bags, they’re incredible, and they would suit you well, for as much traveling as you do.

    • Smogranch says:

      I’ve got two Tenba bags I really like, both shoot/travel size. One smaller backpack which is really light, and a larger, more padded back that holds my laptop as well. The larger bag has cover that when opened folds completely back so I can work out of the bag. This case, however, is pretty cool.

  4. Karen says:

    It’s hard to tell from the specs how much could be carried in that case– I could guess… but based on having one to play with what are your thoughts? 1 M body and a few lenses? 2 bodies and a few lenses?

  5. Jim OReilly says:

    That tank does look like a case.

    Have you ever checked out a timbuk2 bag? I use one to carry everything back and forth to work every day. I threw a domke insert in with some velcro and now I have a place to take my camera with me everywhere. Best part is – doesnt look like a camera case.

  6. Gary Kurtz says:

    I put something similar to a Domke insert into a messenger bag. It’s in no way equivalent to a Nanuk or Pelican case, but it’s pretty good. And doesn’t look like a camera case.

  7. mike a says:

    I have an old Domke that I store my cameras in when I’m not using them. But most of the time they are just hanging of my shoulder and getting sorta rough looking, I kinda like it. But really I need a good bag.

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