Tag Archives: Outdoor

Kinabalu, my preparation

I have climbed few mountains before including Mt Merapi (2968m) in 2008, Mt Lawu (3265m) also in 2008, and Mt Rinjani (~3200m, up to its rim only) in 2009 (all in Indonesia). But when my friend, Ali invited me to join him & the UMP Kolej Matrikulasi Team to climb Mount Kinabalu…..I was so anxious and to some extent scared. This make me plan properly of what I should prepare in conquering the summit especially when I have heard so many people failed to reach the summit.

Camera & Lenses

The thing that make we, photographer, differ than most other climbers is that our gears are heavy! Camera & lenses plus tripod already weigh almost 10kg. That, if I bring only one camera plus 2 lenses (Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8 & Nikkor 85mm f1.4). I normally carry two camera bodies, few wide angles & one tele-lense (Nikkor 70-200mm VR). But I have to prioritize. No point bringing heavy equipments but not able to climb the mountain. So  its final, its a D3 plus 14-24 & 85mm.


I have been asking people whether I should carry a tripod or not. And since I was given a tripod to test, I will bring it.

Thermal Skin Baselayer

I asked people who had succesfully climbed the mountain & almost all told me to prepare for the extreme cold. I had horrible experience when I was at Rinjani’s rim last July. The temperature was about 4-5oC, and I was told Kinabalu can go sub-zero!! So the first thing I get for my self is a pair of good thermal base layer. I bought it from eBay. Its called Super Featuring Aerowarm. Just google for it. Its about RM100 each. Both the shirt & pant arrived yesterday & the quality is good.

Camera Bag

Then, come this huge problem. Camera bag to carry that 10kg camera equipments. I have decided to rely on my Deuter Futura 32L & I bought a camera insert (also new from eBay) called Puleme. This insert is not that great. Its cheap looking padded bag with cheap zip. But the pad should be adequate to protect my gears.

Other Bag

Futura is for my camera gears. How about other stuff? I don’t think I will bring too many things. If only I can leave some stuff in the hotel. So, for those stuff, even though not that heavy, maybe another 6-8kg, I’ll use my Deuter AirContact Pro. I plan to ask a potter to carry the bag.

Trekking Poles

Based on my experience, trekking poles help a lot, and I will bring two!

Water Bladder

I already have a 3L Deuter water bladder. I’ll use it & bring it inside my Futura. But I don’t think I need to carry all 3L from the basecamp as there are many water station along the way.

Shoes & Socks

I will use my old Columbia trekking shoes. A friend advised me to bring thick socks, so I will bring 2 pairs.


Glove is extremely important. But I antipcate problem using my camera with glove on.

Snow cap & Balaclava

I don’t have balaclava but I do have buff. So I will use that buff & wear it as a balaclava.


Someone reminded me about headlamp…yes! It is extremely essential. How come I forgot about it. I do have an old Black Diamond. Served me well in all my previous mountain expeditions.

Anything else I miss guys?? :)

Mental & Physical Fatness Fitness

Finish with the equipments, now the most major thing for all mountain climbing is physical & mental fitness. But me & Ali managed to climb Merapi without any of those things! Thanks to Arey & Remy. Lucky we didn’t die up there.

I am now cycling. Try to exercise for both cardio & muscle. Hoping to cycle 300 km monthly. And I must try to climb Bukit Panorama once before I go.

What Tilopa is not?

I bought this expensive camera backpack for awhile now. The bag is great but it is not suitable for travel photography. It is good for outdoor photography though. I normally find it very good for my hiking & short days camping. I am happy to use the bag for my regular Panorama Hill climb. But for my oversea trip, I had to leave the bag at home.

The bag is too small for the main backpack but too big to carry into the plane’s cabin.

During our recent 7 days Indonesia travel, I wish I can use the bag at Mt Bromo & Mt Ijen. But I didn’t bring it because the size issue. I will never put my camera bag inside the plane’s luggage.

So now…..I have another excuse to find a complementary bags….or maybe ‘just’ camera pouch……ThinkTank holsters are in my mind, together with the harness & belt.

Ideal bag for outdoor photography

I love photographing beautiful & scenic not-for-usual-tourist kind of places. Been to few jungles & mountains, locally or in Indonesia. Been searching for the perfect bag for ages. I already have a lot of camera bags. All of them are Lowepro. From Nova 4, Off-trail II (sold), Computrekker AW (sold), Inversion 200AW, Computrekker Plus AW, Top-loader 75AW and Primus AW. My favorite at the moment is the Primus but it is not ergonomic & killing my back for a long hiking. For someone with prolapsed disc, this is not good. During the last outdoor adventure up to more than 2000m high Mount Rinjani, I can’t simply carry my own bag, the Primus. I had to rely on the porter to carry all my bags. But I soon discovered than carrying heavier loads with my Deuter Quantum 55-10L, a proper backpack for hiking, seems ‘lighter’ than the Primus. Therefore I believe that a suitable bag matters.

Since then I have been searching for a suitable solutions for such activity. These are few possible solutions:

  1. Use my Deuter Quantum plus Lowepro Toploader (over my chest) – Cons: I find it difficult to descend with huge bag on my chest. It was difficult to see my own step. And the number of lenses able to be carried is limited & I need to use pouches for each lens & put them inside my Quantum. Pro: Easy access to my camera (and one lens) – therefore more picture or else, I will just use my P&S.
  2. Buy Domke inserts & put it into my Deuter Futura 35L. I’ll put the rest of the stuff like cloth, jacket etc on top of the camera. Cons: It will be a nightmare to remove the camera from the bag during the hiking. Meaning less picture from the DSLR. This combo is just meant to carry the camera & lenses from point A to point B.
  3. f-stop bags!! Just found out about this bag & its extraordinary Internal-Camera-Unit (ICU). The ICU serves as paddings for the camera & lenses, and the best thing is that it has special access to all the camera & accessories. However I still need to put down the bag to get the camera. So, I can take out the camera but it won’t be handy. And the major cons is the price! A Tilopa + ICU = USD290. And the courier charge from US to Malaysia using UPS is another USD280!! More pictures of f-stop gears’ products available here.

    (source: http://www.fstopgear.com/now/media/gallery/66-action-shots/139-gerd-riegers-tilopa-setup-20080612)

So for now, I may have to choose Option #1 as I don’t have to spend anymore $$. I just need to descend slowly.

2009-06-13 12-06-04

Me with the toploader when climbing Mount Nuang in Selangor.

Note (June 2010): I have bought more bags including f-stopgear Tilopa which had cost me RM1000 with the internal compartment unit but it is not suitable for deep tropical jungle trekking. Now testing the ThinTank Photo waist bags solution.