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Santa Barbara, Ca

I'm a full-time rambler and contract designer with as many skill sets in my quiver as there are plane tickets in my passbook. I've worked in ornamental iron, jigsaw puzzle design, bookmaking, glass engraving, and a variety of other mediums. I'm currently living out of a backpack as I trek my way around the world.


¡Plan Beagle Begins! My Backpack's Payload

Zak Erving

Donatello, my travel talisman and patron turtle of creativity and lateral-thinking

Donatello, my travel talisman and patron turtle of creativity and lateral-thinking

¡Plan Beagle has begun!

Early this morning, I rolled off of my friend's floor and made my way to the Santa Barbara Airport for the official start of a monthlong tour of Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands, courtesy of Adventure Center and MatadorU. This trip will mark my introduction to the South American continent, and will also be my first time below the equator (with the exception of visiting Hawaii, Alaskans tend to inadvertently veer north when they travel).

So what am I bringing for a 31-day jaunt?

Despite needing to bring (a) a heavy wetsuit and (b) tons of extra media gear (I'm going all-out on content production), I'm traveling fairly light. See below for my starting lineup:


Media Hardware:

  • MacBook Air 11": this is my media beast. It's as light as a feather, and it's the reason I can workshift anywhere in the world (that, and a handful of various cloud service subscriptions)
  • Canon 60D, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, Sigma 55-200mm f/4.0: the triple-threat setup. With my favorite camera and a smattering of lenses, I'll be ready for anything. Probably.
  • GoPro HDHero2 video camera with wrist/head mounts & a flat-lens dive housing: I'm making a return to video production for this trip. Anyone who's known me from high school can get really, really excited.
  • Extra memory, batteries, and electronics: I've gotta keep my machines running. If I don't, you don't get to see how cool the Galápagos Islands are.
  • Gorillapod & collapsible monopod: for those really artsy shots, like long exposures and trailing segments of me snorkeling with seal pups.
  • iPhone & ear buds: how did we flashpack before there were smartphones? Remember CD wallets?
  • eReader: it's definitely nicer than having to lug around a half-dozen books.
  • Moleskine notebook & journal: I keep two of these—one for reservation numbers, timetables, maps, and cool Spanish catchphrases. The other one is for self-amusement, introspection, and writing down all of the funny jokes I come up with.
  • LED headlamp: this is extremely useful for night photography and avoiding corners that want to stub my toe for me.
  • U.S. Passport: without this, it would be a fairly short trip to Miami and back.
  • Manfrotto Agile II sling pack: this is my first outing with the Manfrotto, and I'm definitely holding it to the fire. A thumbscrew carabiner will keep my media compartments secure against pickpockets, while simultaneously not attracting as much negative attention as a padlock
Despite being an obvious way to ID my gear, I decided to forego bedazzling everything

Despite being an obvious way to ID my gear, I decided to forego bedazzling everything

Travel Essentials:

  • 3/2mm Wetsuit: Neoprene adds a lot of heft to the load, but I'm certain I'd regret not bringing it. I'd rather not try to shoot video as I'm shivering underwater.
  • 70-oz. Camelback, 32-oz. water bottle, & Steripen: Sources say that the drinking water in Ecuador isn't American-approved, and I'm not taking any chances. I've had Montezuma's Revenge before, and I'm not too keen on a redux.
  • Vibram FiveFinger KSOs and Reef flip-flops: these are additions to my normal footwear—the KSOs will be great for any hiking or tide pools.
  • GobiGear Hoboroll: a five-compartment compression sack holds a pair of pants, shorts, swim trunks, underwear, socks, and two long-sleeve shirts in half the space it would normally take.
  • Sleeping bag, hammock, & four 10-foot segments of rope: naps are like sneak attacks. You've got to be ready at a moment's notice.
  • Rain jacket & backpacker's towel: I've gotta stay dry, right? One for preventing getting wet, one for remedying it.
  • Beanie, headscarf, & bandana: nights out on the Pacific can be chilly, and direct sun at Quito's altitude can be devastating on my poor Irish-German complexion. Avoiding sunburn is a top priority.
  • Altoids tin survival kits, compression straps, tape, and garbage bags: little survival kits in the form of gear repair and airline/hostel essentials. If there's a thunderstorm, burst seam, or torn sleeve, I can fix it. And I will.
  • Hip flask: there's never a bad time for whiskey. Don't you agree?
  • Padlocks: for those pesky hostel lockers
  • Travel talisman: Donatello, my favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, always reminds me of the importance of creative thinking and problem solving. He was responsible for the turtle van, a blimp, & early GPS tracking, among other accomplishments. The bar has been set high, and I've got my work cut out for me.
  • Extra dry sack: either for dirty laundry, or in-a-pinch waterproofing

Looks like I'm set…what do you think? Did I miss anything?