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Is A One-Bag Documentary Filmmaking Kit Possible?

Lately I’ve been thinking about my dream traveling rig, the kind that filmmaking dreams are made of. But is it only a dream?


Think about it, your camera, lenses, audio, light kit, AND tripod in one carry-on backpack. Most documentary filmmakers would need at least 3-4 bags for their travel kit.

Right now I have a small bag for the main camera stuff, a big bag for the tripod and light stand and umbrella, a medium-size bag for the lights and batteries (which makes it really heavy), and finally the shoulder rig carried separately.

Yes, it takes two people to carry a one-man-band kit. And this is a very, very small kit that we’ve pared down to just the bare necessities!



Then I read about the Ice Light. A traveling filmmaker at reduced his whole kit down to two bags. And it was because he replaced the heavy LED light kits and batteries with one Ice Light.

The Ice Light doesn’t have a lot of output, but for talking head interviews, it’s perfect. And it already has a diffused look, so umbrellas aren’t necessary.


I only need a light and tripod for the interview – the rest of the time I’m mostly on a shoulder rig with one lens. So what to do with the heavy bags? Leaving them somewhere, moving them, etc – all that takes forever. It makes it impossible to go anywhere the subject takes you . . without putting away your camera, picking up your 3 bags, and then slowly making your way to the next destination.

That’s why my dream one-backpack rig will stay on me the entire time! AND the backpack will serve as a counter balance to the camera. Boom. No need to carry a 5 pound counterbalance weight.


So what’s inside this ultra small backpack kit? Click here to see a full list of the gear in this setup.

  • Camera body
  • 11-16mm lens
  • 17-55mm lens
  • 70-200mm lens
  • Shotgun mic
  • Lav mic
  • General stuff, batteries, cables, etc

On the outside of the bag:

  • Ice light
  • light stand
  • lightest tripod with fluid head I can find
  • shoulder rig, disconnected for traveling

I think the tripod kit would probably be the toughest part of this. But, with an ultralight carbon tripod like the GT1542T, along with a 701HDV fluid head on top, you could have a usable tripod at less than 4 pounds. I think the rest of the kit would probably be about 20 pounds.

So could this really be possible? One bag for everything, staying on your back while you shoot, so you can go just about anywhere? Or is it impossible?


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