This feature was meant to be published as a 3-part series of travel anecdotes with hands-on photography stories and tutorials. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced a total cancellation of our travel plans for the entire year. We had plans to head back out west to Wyoming, Idaho and Montana to find the lesser known gems and the least visited natural areas, and we had it scheduled to tour and camp through the northern Appalachia’s, and finally, we were working to finalize plans to jump across the pond to Europe, but none of these were meant to be. So we had to find a new way to experience life, while balancing social distancing and safe behavior.
My wife Leah and I talked it over many times and finally we decided the only choice left is to either stay home and flirt with our itchy travel feet, or to find a local place to camp around Ohio. Ohio doesn’t have huge ranging areas of unspoiled wilderness, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some amazing places to find. As my readers will already know, I prefer to escape civilization and to be surrounded by the natural world. My ideal place is a forest in the mountains, where I can’t hear another human. While there are a few decent forests and hikes around the state, there’s nothing that quite meets my typical expectations. So we did some research and sought out a few lesser known locations that allowed us to stay away from places that were too peopley.
I often talk about some of the most sought after destinations in the world, like Iceland, Europe, or the National Parks out west in the U.S., but there’s something to be said about finding the local natural beauty. No matter what state you’re in, no matter how developed, there are places you can escape that can be just as worthwhile to spend time in. In Ohio, we enjoyed camping in Blackhand Gorge and experiencing the famous Flint Ridge State Memorial, and we absolutely loved coming across hidden gems like Honey Run Falls.
Wherever you are, you can find a way to get to know the natural world, and to find a peace and freedom from the modern world. All you have to do is adjust your expectations a tad, and to take a little time to find the local treasures as we had. We setup our camp on a weekend recently this summer and we had a blast. This little local trip gave us a chance to go within a couple hours of our home, while still being able to create memories and to recharge. Staying in the home most hours of everyday, month after month, will take a toll on a person and a marriage, so don’t allow yourself to get complacent. Get out there and feel and find new things that excite the inner child found in all of us.
Let’s start with the 1535TRVL Air Travel Case by Pelican. As an avid airline flyer and global trotter, I flip between traveling with a rucksack backpack or a more traditional piece of luggage, and while it depends on the style of the adventure ahead of me, I tend to opt for the backpack. I’m relatively simple as far as what I take with me, besides the slew of tech gear, so I don’t need a lot of space. I usually carry the small to medium rucksack or carry-on luggage and a small handheld pack, and that’s it. My problem with traditional luggage is the soft style design, where the contents can be bashed or cut into easily. They’re fine for just clothes, but when you have a laptop, camera body (or two), and a lens or two (or five), along with hard drives and accessories, the fabric box isn’t enough.
I find Pelican’s 1535TRVL Air Travel Case to be sleek and fashionable, yet very effective at providing a strong layer of protection around whatever the contents. With this case, I can ensure the jostling from airline travel won’t bust up my camera lenses or shatter my laptop screen. A well-designed handle leads it on wheels for ease of transport through airports and in civilization, but strong enough to protect my gear when I’m out in the wilderness shooting or exploring. The 1535TRVL comes with packing cube organizers, lid mesh and zippered storage compartments. My message here is simple, it’s tight, well built, slick looking, ergonomic, feature rich, and strong enough to handle the impact of even the more careless of airline personnel.
I am picky about every bit of gear I travel with and use, and it takes something pretty special to work its way in front of my tried and true, most proven pieces. But Pelican has a way of surprising me. A camera backpack is simply a backpack with cubes that separate photography gear like camera bodies, lenses and flashes. The problem for me has always been that they’re not as resilient as a hardshell case. I typically employ a small fabric case that can hold one camera body and two lenses, which I can crush or fold up to cut down on luggage space, along with a hardshell case with foam forming around each expensive piece of gear.
The S115 Sport Camera Backpack by Pelican is a pretty revolutionary pack that takes care of a lot of the issues I ran into where I demanded burden-free travel, but at the risk of damaging my gear. Truth be told, most of the time I chose to risk my gear to save my back. What I like most is it’s also comfortable while not sacrificing the health of my expensive gear. The S115 provides a top-loading design with fast access panels. The inner compartment has enough space to hold two camera bodies, 3-4 lenses and a flash if needed, as well as a slim case for a laptop. The inner case is watertight up to 1 meter for 30-minutes. The front plate of the pack offers a rigid design that protects camera gear from impact. I’m a big fan of this pack and am currently working it into my process for future trips, when the world allows it.
To keep us quenched, Pelican sent along their 32oz thermos that can handle cold and heat retention. Actually, on their website, they use the word “Extreme cold and heat retention,” and they weren’t kidding. Also guaranteed for life, Pelican has obviously aimed at making the best of everything they make, because I tested hot tea, soup, and very cold water, and every time it preserved the temperature many hours longer than the thermoses I’ve been used to. The slip-resistant lid and sweat-proof powder coated finish ensures you always maintain possession, which was helpful when I was hiking on rockier terrain. What can I say? It’s nice, man. It’s built strong and is powerful as sustaining desired temperature. I fully plan on taking a few of these with me on my next camping trip, packed with soup and ice water.
If you would like to learn more about Pelican, click here.