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CH Zambia: Safari Photo Gear

Six of our favorite accessories to help get the perfect shot in the bush

by Josh Rubin
on 20 August 2012

For our first Cool Hunting Edition travel experience we brought 24 friends and readers on safari in Zambia. Over the course of eight days CH Zambia guests experienced the wonders and wildlife of Africa with a few surprises from our brand partners. More stories and videos here.

On such an epic trip as a safari, a once-in-a-lifetime shot presents itself almost every time you turn around. To make sure we didn't miss anything, we made sure to bring the right equipment to accompany our Pentax cameras. While we're always attracted to the latest tech, we also recognize the need for tried-and-true items that are lightweight, durable and worth the schlep on an excursion like this.

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Gura Gear Kiboko 30L Bag

Designed for neat freaks, this lightweight (4 lbs) camera backpack offers more organization options than you'd imagine. The front butterfly zipper reveals side-by-side, rearrangeable lens and DSLR body holders while the back's adjustable chest, shoulder and waste straps work well to distribute the weight of a full pack. We were most impressed by the hideaway straps that stuff behind a sail cloth fly to turn the busy bag into a single-handled tote. This is especially nice for traveling—stuff the straps and avoid snags when maneuvering airplanes, buses or safari-outfitted Land Rovers. Plus the outer shell can be easily cleaned or brushed off, unlike most more porous cordora fabrics. Get the Kiboko 30L bag from Gura Gear for $430.

Vintage Banana Republic Photojournalist Vest

Although we often lean towards the latest, sometimes there's just no improving on a good thing. Case in point, the vintage Banana Republic Photojournalist Vest. This purposeful piece was first introduced nearly 30 years ago—prior to the company's acquisition by GAP—and remains just as stylish and functional today. Designed entirely with purpose in mind, the neutral color camouflages it in the bush, avoiding attention from animals, while the mesh back keeps the body cool. Keep an eye on ebay for your best shot at tracking one down.

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The simple, travel-ready Moleskine notebook and wood pencil set kept the entire crew in touch with their studious and artistic sides during the adventure. The plain pages were perfect for keeping tabs on everything from flora and fauna species to photography tips from our guides. The soft notebook and wood pencil are available directly from Moleskine for $12 and $13 respectively.

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Kaufman Mercantile Pry Bar

A multipurpose keychain-sized crow bar proved to be the perfect tool for a number of unexpected scenarios. While KM suggests it be used to pry nails or open sealed windows, we found it most useful for unscrewing tripod mounts when nothing else would get the job done. Made of hardened D-9 steel and weighing less than 0.25 ounces, the little guy made for a useful companion in the bush. Kaufman Mercantile has the mini pry bar for just $8.

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Manfrotto Monopod

Made of aluminum, equipped with a sealed fluid head and compressible to under 30 inches, we found this monopod particularly suited for travel. Plus, the smooth panning and tilting movements made it great for filming video on the move—especially when you have your mini pry bar handy for adjustments. Find it on Amazon for around $250.

BlackRapid RS-Sport

The ideal camera strap for an adventure such as this, the RS-Sport features an under-arm safety tether to keep your shoulder-slung strap securely on your body. By attaching to the camera body's tripod mount, the D-ring attachment can be slid up or down the front of the strap, allowing quick maneuvering for spur-of-the-moment shooting, even with the weight of a new Pentax K-30 DSLR anchoring it down. The RS-Sport sells from BlackRapid for $70.

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