Dan’s Photography EDC Kit
Before we get started, an important disclosure
What is an EDC kit?
EDC stands for Everyday Carry. This is the stuff you carry around with you on a daily basis, usually in a pocket or a bag that’s always on you. Over the years, I’ve developed a very specific collection of EDC items for my photography kit. This is the stuff that always comes with me when I take my camera somewhere. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is, what the weather is like or even where in the world I am! My photography EDC kit has all the essentials to keep me shooting. What’s important is that it’s in a small bag that’s easy to grab and stuff into a jacket pocket or a camera bag. If you have multiple camera bags (who doesn’t?!), then it’s easy to leave stuff behind in another bag unless it’s organized in this way. I can’t tell you how much time this saves me when I’m packing for a trip or a shoot. Just grab, and go. Let’s take a look at the kit…!
Outdoor Research Backcountry Organizer (small #1)
There’s more items in my EDC kit than can be conveniently carried loose in a pocket, so I had to find some sort of small bag. I settled on the Backcoutry Organizer from Outdoor Research in the smallest of the three available sizes (#1). The beauty of it is that it weighs almost nothing when empty and it’s small enough to fit into the top pocket of any bag I own, or even a jacket pocket if I’m going ultra light. Several zippered compartments provide ample options for storing small and large items, and a series of elastic loops are perfect for holding cables and straps. For this purpose, there’s no finer solution, and I also use another one for my travel medical kit which stays in my main travel duffle bag.
Peak Design Leash
I only use a camera strap when I need to, otherwise it’s just wasted space and an annoyance when I’m trying to use a camera on a tripod or gimbal. The Peak Design Leash is my camera strap of choice because it’s so elegant in its simplicity. Using the Anchor system (shown in the next item down the list), I can attach this strap so my camera in seconds when I need it, and otherwise it just stays out of he way in my EDC kit. I can also attach it to my super telephoto lenses, or small camera pouches to turn them into shoulder bags.
As well as being a shoulder strap, the Leash also functions as an emergency tether. Loop one end of the strap around an object and clip the end into the special Anchor half way along the strap. Now you have a solid tether, and you can attach the remaining end to a camera or a camera bag to secure it. I’ve used this to tie cameras to myself while I shoot out of helicopters, and I’ve tied camera bags to trees on the edge of cliffs and waterfalls. It’s also great for tethering a camera to yourself if you’re leaning off a building or bridge.
All these uses from a $35 shoulder strap that’s small enough to fit in a shirt pocket! I hope you can see why this quickly earned a permanent spot in my EDC kit.
Canon RC-6 Remote
Whilst my preference is to work with the cable remote (RS80-N3), the tiny RC-6 IR remote also does the job pretty well, and has the additional virtue of being able to trigger the camera wirelessly from a few feet away either on the button press, or after a 2 second timer. Most of the time I’ll have the cable release with me in my main camera bag, but if I were to forget that, it’s useful to have this tiny backup in my EDC kit. It’s truly tiny, and it only costs about $20.
Bose SoundSport Wireless
I usually spend several hours a day listening to podcasts or audio books from my monthly Audible subscription. Mostly this is while I’m walking my dog or riding my bike, but sometimes I like to do it while I’m out wandering around with my camera. I suffer from an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, and whilst that’s far from the worst thing in the world, it sure is nicer if you have some good headphones!
The Bose SoundSport Wireless earbuds are part of my EDC kit because they have great bluetooth range, about 7 hours of battery life and they’re incredibly comfortable. I can easily wear them for a while day and there’s not a hint of an ache in my ear. I have the wired versions as well, but the freedom of the wireless ones is awesome, particularly when I’m riding my bike and can simply stash my phone safely in my backpack once I’ve pressed play.
Field Notes Expedition
Field Notes make lots of different note books, but the Expedition books are tearproof and waterproof, so they suit my photography style pretty well. I know note books seem pretty old school, but I think the Field Notes tag line sums it up perfectly – “I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I’m writing it down to remember it now.” Usually I use them to doodle lighting setups and other elaborate equipment plans, and when its paired with the pen that’s mentioned next, I can write and draw in the rain or snow.
Fisher Space Pen
The perfect partner to the Field Notes Expedition books. The Space Pen can write in pretty much any condition, including underwater. Considering how small they are when the lid is on, they are balanced remarkably well when extended to full length.
Think Tank Battery Holders
Camera batteries are a necessity and I often have some AAs with me as well for flashes. I use a couple of battery Cases from Think Tank Photo to keep things organized. They make great little cases that hold 4x small camera batteries, and they are sized perfectly for the Canon LP-e6N battery. If you have larger batteries for something like a Canon 1-Series, they also have cases to store those.
Leatherman Signal Multitool + Accessories
Some sort of tool is a must-have item in a photography EDC kit and the new Leatherman Signal suits my needs perfectly because I spend almost all of my shooting time outdoors. Pliers and a knife are always useful, but the Signal is designed as a survival tool as well so it has an emergency whistle and even a fire steel for starting a fire.
In order to make it useful for photography equipment, you need to add the optional Leatherman Bit Kit. As standard, the Signal only comes with a Phillips and a flat-head screwdriver, but the Bit Kit adds on a further 40 different head types that encompass pretty much everything you’d expect to find on a tripod, lightstand or lens foot (the most common items that need tightening in the field). The Bit Kit is about $15, and the low profile design means you can slot them into a Leatherman Sheath, or directly into the Outdoor Research organizer. The Signal is available with a Sheath as a kit, but you can also get a Molle Sheath that attaches far easier to the outside of a camera bag when you need fast access to it. I LOVE this thing, and I never leave home without it as this is part of my personal EDC and not just my photography one. If you don’t want to carry it in a sheath, it comes with a very sturdy metal belt clip.
Looking for something similar in design to the Signal, but a little smaller? Check out the Leatherman Skeletool CX which I keep in my travel duffle bag.
LensCoat 3 Axis Bubble Level
The bubble level is a great addition to an EDC kit if you often find yourself shooting from a tripod. Wonky horizons in your landscape photos are just lazy, and ultimately it’ll ruin your framing when you have to rotate the image on the computer when you get home. This little bubble level weighs next to nothing and easily disappears in the the organizer bag. Small items like this are great for EDC bags as well because they are so small, they can often be left behind if you just try to remember to grab it when you are packing a landscape photo kit for the day. Just keep it in the EDC kit and you’ll always have it there waiting for you.
MindShift Gear House of Cards
Of course you’ve got to have memory cards in your kit! I like the House Of Cards from MindShift gear because it has a selection of CF and SD card slots. My Canon cameras use CF, but my Sony cameras use SD. I also keep MicroSD cards in there for my DJI Phantom drone. The elastic loop means the wallet is silent when you open it, which could be beneficial when lying in wait for wildlife and trying not to make a sound. Wedding photographers also find that a useful feature (so I’ve heard!).
Goal Zero Venture 30 Battery Pack
With a rugged design, built-in USB cable and 2x USB ports, the Venture 30 is part of my EDC kit and always in my bag to add extra juice to my phone, GoPro, GPS device or even my camera. You can read the full Venture 30 review here.
Zeiss Terra ED Pocket 10x25 Binoculars
Binoculars are an essential item for wildlife photography and these new Zeiss Terra EDs are perfect for a photographer who already has a heavy enough pack. I simply don’t have the room in my bag for large binoculars when I’m already carrying a huge super telephoto lens, so the folding compact nature of these ones is brilliant. They’re waterproof, which is ideal for my kayaking missions, and they have a nice rubberized rugged finish to them. The focus knob is also large enough to use with gloved hands, which isn’t always the case with folding compact binos. These are one of my favourite purchases in the last few years!
RRS TFA-01 Ultra Pocket Tripod
I think a small pocket tripod is an essential piece of gear. You never know when a photographic opportunity will appear, and sometimes it might require a long exposure if light levels are low. There’s a plethora of cheap, frankly crap, tabletop tripods on the market, but most of them struggle to hold a small point and shoot camera. The TFA-01 is different, this can hold a pro-sized DSLR, and the ratcheting legs mean the leg angle is adjustable without the weight of the gear slowly spreading them apart – a common problem on almost every other pocket pod.
Note: Eagle-eyed reader might note that the tripod in the gear spread photo at the top of the page is actually the regular TFA-01, and not the slightly more expensive TFA-01 Ultra. The Ultra variation is a newer model, and has replaced my previous one since this photo was taken. The Ultra is well sort the additional few dollars as it adds the ratcheting legs which really increases the useable capacity of it. Honestly, this thing is simply brilliant for DSLRs, GoPros, or even holding a cell phone while it records a timelapse – something I’m quite fond of doing while I’m shooting with my big camera on a larger tripod.
Petzl Tikka R+ Headlamp
With many photographic opportunities coming at the very beginning or end of the day, some sort of illumination should be in every EDC kit. My preference is the Tikka R+ from Petzl because you can charge it via USB which means I can use my Goal Zero Venture 30 pack. Another essential is a red LED so that you can work in the dark without affecting your might vision, or that of those around you. If you’re shooting stars at night with other people, they’ll definitely thank you for using a red LED. For simplicity when packing, I try to make as many devices as possible chargeable via USB so that I don’t have to bring a stack of bespoke chargers with me.
I also usually carry a Fenix UC35 tactical flashlight with me which is also chargeable via USB and puts out a full 960 lumens.
Adventure Medical Kit
Adventure Medical make a variety of different sized medical kits and I have a few of them for different situations and types of adventure. The tiny .3 kit is the smallest one, and this tends to live in my EDC kit so that I have a few essentials like medical tape, alcohol swabs, and some painkillers. I’ve customized all my kits to my own needs, but these waterproof kits are all great places to start.
What’s in your EDC kit?
Let me know in the comments below!