Photo by Lily Girma

MatadorU’s current road warrior in Belize, Lily Girma gives us a peek into her backpack.


[Editor’s Note: Lily Girma is the first photographer-in-residence to participate in the Road Warrior program, a partnership between MatadorU and the Belize Tourism Board. Lily is spending the summer documenting the people of Belize as well as various adventure activities that can be enjoyed around the country. Each week, she reports on her experiences for Matador, her personal blog, and for other outlets.]

As a writer and photographer in Belize for the next three months, I have a little more gear to carry with me than most. But these are my essentials whenever I travel on assignment long-term.

Self-portrait of author

Two Nikon SLRs

A D700 mounted with a 24-70mm Nikkor lens, and a D90 mounted with a 70-200mm VR Nikkor lens. However, I only carry one body every day. The second is a back-up camera.

Wide Angle Lens

My wide angle 14-24mm f/2.8 Nikkor is something I just can’t do without as I’m often shooting interiors and outdoor festivals.

Prime Lens and External Flash

I carry a 50mm f/1.8 Nikkor and an Nikon SB 800. I sometimes use my prime when lighting is very poor, usually in the evenings. The SB800 is a necessity where there’s poor lighting at an event, for example.

If I use the on-camera flash, it’s only as a fill to tackle harsh lighting in the daytime.

  

  

  

  

  
Camera accessories

A zip-loc bag with cable release, memory cards, USB cord, power adapters, ear plugs, circular polarizer, a couple of external hard drives, lens cleaning solution and cloth, hand sanitizer, and my Nikon wireless remote.

17-inch Apple MacPro

I’ve had it for a couple of years and while it’s on the heavier side, it’s what I need to view and edit my images properly, at home or on the road.

iPhone 4

It has so many uses I never travel without it. It serves as my notepad on the go, as my voice recorder (with the voice memo option), as my alarm clock, and as my camera for Facebook instant-upload type of shots.

It’s also ideal for email or internet when there’s free Wi-Fi at a particular location.

Lowepro Backpack, Dry Bag & Rain Cover

My Lowepro Fastpack 350 fits all my camera equipment and is well padded. The top compartment also allows me to fit a day’s change of clothes, or a cardigan for unexpected changes in weather.

It’s the rainy season now in Belize, so protecting my gear is a must. I have an Osprey UL backpack rain cover that works like magic, as well as a super light North Face rain coat for myself, and an Overboard Waterproof Dry Tube Bag for water excursions.

It gets really wet here so I can’t take any chances. The dry bag folds and stores nicely.

Lewis & Clarke Flashlight

It’s actually a book reading light but super slim and bright enough to light up paths at night. I’m used to taking it wherever I travel. Here in Belize, it’s essential to have a flashlight as many paths are not lit at night.

Gallon-Size Ziplocs

I don’t remember my life before Ziplocs.

I use them for storing so many things, from adapters to toiletries (prevents leaks) to socks in my suitcase, to damp clothes (like a wet bathing suit) or even to store my lens inside my backpack in case I’m caught in rain (in addition to the backpack rain cover I keep in my backpack at all times).

Vitamins, Neosporin and Beauty Supplies

Small Ziploc full of Advil, multi-vitamins and a tube of Neosporin. When I’m overseas, I find I need to keep up with my health and well-being even more. Vitamins help me do that, and the Neosporin is great for the occasional blister or scratch – inevitable with heavy outdoor activities.

And finally, even if I’m constantly out exploring, that doesn’t mean I have to look crazy. So in my bag’s front compartment, I also keep a small mirror and some sheer lip gloss.

Water Bottle

In tropical weather it’s important to stay hydrated. Because my Road Warrior itinerary includes a lot of physical activity, I keep hydrated at all times by keeping a bottle and refilling it as I go along. 

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