Keeping your equipment safe?

Discussion in 'Nature' started by derek_thornton, Feb 11, 2008.

  1. Just curious what you all do on a shoot when you leave your vehicle behind.

    Do you carry all your gear with you? There are times when I take 5 lenses and
    2 bodies on a weekend. I will use all 5 lenses. Normally I take what I need
    and leave the rest locked up in my car. I may walk 2-3 miles away from the
    car. The whole time I am away from the car I am slightly worried. Other times
    I carry it all with me, the extra weight does not allow for a comfortable time.

    So, I am thinking maybe a vest would work better than the pack, be more
    comfortable due to the weight distribution. But can you carry a 300mm f/4, 70-
    200mm f/2.8, 12-24mm, 105mm, and 24-70mm in a vest?

    I also thought, maybe I can bolt a tuff box type tool box in the back of my
    CRV and lock the gear in there. I would probally still worry. I have seen what
    people are capable of when they want something. And, with a tool box bolted in
    the back of a CRV, they will no something is in it.

    So what do you all do to feel comfortable physically and mentally on a shoot?
    Any help or pointers will be appreciated.
  2. I insure it for replacement value and no longer worry about it.
  3. I just throw a coat over my lenses and lock the car doors. If you drove an expensive car you might be a target for theives, but I quess that I don't see a CRV as a car that cries "my owner is rich and there's expensive stuff inside of here."

    I drive a Honda Element (same chassis as CRV) and have had no problems. Most of the people you meet in the out of doors or at a national park are good and honest - not many gang types in the out of doors. I've never had any problems in over 10 years, and I don't carry any special insurance on my equipment.
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If you have an SUV or wagon type vehicle where people can look into your trunk from the outside, I would get a large cooler and put your cameras and camera bags inside. It is far less likely that people will break into your car in order to steal stuffs from inside a cooler.
  5. Dave, I never worry in the National Parks, it is the National Forest that bother me. Where I go there are a lot of rednecks that cruise the forest roads looking to capture snakes for the pet trade. Pretty sad, but thats another story.

    I dont know if your Element has this, my CRV has a tire well in the back that is empty. I keep my spare on the rear door. It would be a great spot if I could get a lock on it.

    Don, what does insurance cost for camera equipment?
  6. That is a good idea Shun.
  7. Where I live, I often park in a farmer's field access. It is customary to leave the car unlocked with the keys in the ignition. No, I don't worry about it.

    Kent in SD
  8. Yeah Kent, SD and SC are not at all alike. Last year the family and I went to AZ. We stopped in western Kansas to get gas and noticed three cars running while the folks were in the store. I would like to see someone try that in Anderson SC.
  9. Hello Derek:

    I have a Domke Vest and I often use it instead of a pack, for day trips, if the weather is good. It is a longer vest that pretty much prevents the use of a belt (to carry accessory bags).

    The vest offers almost no protection to the kit. I transport the kit to the site in a camera bag and transfer what I need to the vest upon arrival.

    Lots of room in that vest though. I normally carry a 70-200 f/2.8 and a 17-40 f/4 (or an 85 f/1.8 + ext tubes) complete with lens hoods. I also carry a flash, flash bracket, EF Extender 1.4, 500D Close-up Diopter, Polarizer, a poncho/groundsheet (covers me and the vest if it rains) and assorted smaller odds&sods.

    I guess you could carry four lenses in that vest, as long as they weren't too large and you didn't carry too much else.

    The 70-200 fits in one of the large lower front pockets. I'm pretty sure a 300 f/4 would not fit in any of the front pockets.

    There is a large, lower-back pocket that is split into two compartments. If you remove the stitching, and make one large compartment, the 300 f/4 would easily fit there.

    I like the way the vest distributes the load and the way it compartmentalizes the kit. I also like the fact that the vest leaves space on my back to sling my tripod (wouldn't work to well with a lens in the back pocket).

    The vest pockets provide very little protection for the lenses & flash. I also didn't like the hook & loop fasteners (velcro) on the pocket flaps (some of the pockets have a zipper). The velcro is very noisy and sometimes difficult to open in a hurry. I removed all the velcro and installed dome fasteners.

    Cheers! Jay
  10. I always worry, regardless of the location. It's a pain, but I do carry insurance. I also usually carry all of my gear. 60 pounds or so. Even with insurance it's a pain missing a needed lens when you are on a 5 day or longer trip.
  11. One option is this:
    I generally just don't worry about it. My gear is insured just in case and most of the time, especially in National Parks and such, it's just not likely to be a problem.
    The only time I worry a bit is if I have a super-telephoto with me. I was out on the Oregon coast this weekend shooting with a 400mm f/4 DO and I just hate the way these big white lenses draw attention. I even had one fellow approach me and ask how much it cost!
    I also drive a Honda Element (which I think is the perfect nature photographer's car) and find the back windows and deep well in the back do a pretty good job of hiding stuff. I usually just toss a coat or sleeping bag over my gear and that does a pretty good job -- just glancing in it's hard to tell if there's anything in the back if it's covered with something dark.
    Another option is to carry your gear in a diaper bag, the cuter the better. No one steals a diaper bag! And old beat-up cooler in the back works, too.
  12. Hey! I moved to South Dakota from Kansas! Don't think my key was ever out of the ignition there. Anyway, we do sometimes travel to places like Hawaii where we'll leave the car at a trail head and not be back until dark. My strategy there is to leave the car unlocked with one window down. There is nothing left in the car that belongs to me either. If I don't intend to carry it, I don't bring it. So, I don't worry about it.

    Kent in SD
  13. awahlster

    awahlster Moderator

    Mike hate to get you worring but the wife and I had a diaper bag stolen out of our car at Beverly beach they used a pellet pistol to shoot out a rear window.

    And they were after the jacket covering the diaperbag and my wife's purse.

    So hiding in plain site is worthless.

    When we go out in my Dodge Dakota pickup with it's little rear seat I have a box that I used to use to transport my hunting rifles. I have to have both doors open to get it in and out since it takes up the whole space. It locks with 2 locks that can not be pryed. and then the opening is turned towards the seat back so no lever can get between the lid and the body.

    This is then locked to the truck via 2 eye bolts that come up through the bottom of the box. So the box has to be open and empty to remove it from the truck.

    Dark tinted windows and a note on the drivers window to have the other half of our hunting party meet us just over the hill around the corner down the creek. And an empty rifle scabbard flooded on the driver seat is always a nice touch LOL
  14. On trips I often don't want to hike with all the junk I've brought and whatever is left gets kept in my truck toolbox. I cannot imagine carrying everything I have brought on every day or overnight hike. The gear is insured; I usually worry about it till the vehicle is out of sight and then I don't give it another thought. I think it helps that I'm shooting film and not leaving a $3000 DSLR body or two in there - the biggest loss would be a few lenses. However I've considered leaving a note on the bag: if you're planning on stealing this, leave me the exposed film!
  15. I meant to add - if you have homeowner's or renter's insurance the gear may already be covered while it's in the US. If you're making any money with it you may need a supplemental policy; mine costs about $150/year (but I hope to never deal with the hassle of filing a claim).
  16. Derek,

    I'm quite paranoid about losing gear, here is what I do..

    I've been shooting the southwest the past 15 years and it seems to be very safe with a few

    Canyon De Chelley has always been a problem because of the somewhat remote pull-offs
    and one high risk area was Spider Rock parking lot. I've heard Grand Canyon south rim is
    iffy but the few times I've been there, no problems. GC north rim seems quite safe.

    I used to check out the NPS Daily Report and most of the smash and grab sites were in the
    Smokies and Blue Ridge parks.

    I don't insure, can't use my homeowners because I've sold stuff and my agent knows that.

    I drive an old beat up Toyota truck to throw predators off, my gear is worth more than the
    truck, but It still runs great and it is 4WD.

    I put my gear in black bags in the extended cab section and cover with coats and food
    boxes or whatever is handy. I don't leave anything in view that screams photo gear, such
    as the photo vest. No empty film boxes laying on the floor board or seat that gives a clue
    what might be inside and nothing else visible that indicates value, binoculars, GPS, etc.

    My biggest worry would be town parking areas such as restaurants. I usually park close
    enough so I can see the vehicle from inside the restaurant while eating. Dinner is more
    important than breakfast or lunch, and this usually only in the winter when I'm staying at a

    Motels. Always get a room on first floor, if possible near the lobby, always pack the gear
    in bags for the trip from truck to room. No cameras hanging off the shoulder, even the
    tripod is in a bag. No ballcaps that say "Outdoor Photographer" or "Nikon". Never wear the
    photo vest, always carry it inconspicuously.

    You get the idea. Don't advertise.

  17. It's not generally safe to leave equipment in a vehicle at a trail head (or possibly anywhere). Assume someone is watching you, especially in or near the Smokies. It seems that anyone with enough time to hike is considered "rich" by those who wait and watch.

    My equipment is insured, but it would be inconvenient to have it taken. I leave what I'm not using in the hotel room or other residence, usually inside a Pac-Safe cover to foil sneak thieves (who follow the maid service into a room, pretending to be the occupant). Major equipment in shipping cases can often be left in a secure storage area in an hotel.

    A vest is very uncomfortable with a lot of equipment, and puts all the weight on your shoulders. It's OK for film, filters and batteries, but little else. For anything more than 16 pounds net, or when on a steep grade (or stairs) a backpack is preferable to a shoulder bag, and much more stable. Most of the weight rests on your hips.

    A car alarm is largely useless. Ever notice how they are universally ignored in a parking lot? A silent, remote alarm is another matter, at least at a motel or restaurant. Incidently, Tennessee is a "carry" state, along with every state west of the Mississippi and east of California.
  18. Thieves hang out in busy parking lots (they're too conspicuous in remote, less used lots) and mostly watch women. They watch for women who get out of the vehicle, prepare for the hike/walk/sightseeing, and walk away from the vehicle without a purse. The thief will want to break into that vehicle assuming there's a purse in there. That's why my wife never takes a purse into a park.

    A local park ranger says the best place to park is in a busy location where someone trying to break in has a better chance of being noticed - the busiest place will be next to the restrooms.
  19. Storing gear in a cooler might hide it from a thief OTOH bears in the more popular parks know what a cooler looks like.
  20. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I would like to see you file an insurance claim that my EOS 1Ds Mark III was stolen/damaged by a grizzly while inside a cooler. :)
  21. i only just recently insured my gear, not because i leave it my car while hiking, but because i was traveling. normally i just leave it out of site in the car. i find when hiking or dirtbiking, the people are pretty good people. i never worry about my stuff out there.

    i worried more when i was walking downtown with the lowepro pack on my back loaded right up.
  22. Thanks for all the comments. I talked to my agent yesterday about insuring my equipment. $10,000 for amatuar is $100 a year with SF. That is a lot better than expected. Pros pay $150 for 10 grand. However, even with insurance I would hate to get ripped off. And you all are very right about GSMNP, it is bad.

    Shun, I thought you were a Nikon user?

    Also, sorry for the name change. My brother tells me there is another photographer with my name. I figured I would change to D.F. when I get subscription. I am now a subscriber and will be uploading some pics soon.
  23. I have never been to the US but travelled a lot in Africa. In national parks and reserves there, I sometimes leave my gear in a locked car. Usually just cover it with a towel or coat. In cities or areas with lots of people, I always take it all with me. That can be a pain when you have to carry both a 300/2.8 and a 500/4 lens.

    I do have my gear insured but missing a lens or camera on a trip "costs" more than just the replacement value. And insurance doesn't help against breakdowns either.

    Last summer I stayed a month in Kruger in South Africa. It was the first time we rented bungalows instead of camping, because it was the first trip together with our small children. Much to my surprise, when asking for the keys at the reception, I got the answer: "oh sir, we do not have keys. There is no need for that over here....". And that in a country with one of the highest crime rates in the world.

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