BAG CCS Freestyle Double-Take bag
Times have changed. No longer can we divers cheat restrictive airline baggage allowances by putting all our heavy gear in our carry-on luggage, and queuing at the check-in with ever-lengthening arms to try to disguise that fact.
The game is up. We are often allowed as little as 6kg carry-on weight, and aircraft despatchers are becoming persistent about enforcing that rule at the gate, especially on charter flights.
I used to check in all my diving gear and carry my camera housings and flashguns, but I have had to rethink. Everything is now packed in substantial boxes and checked in, and if I have to pay an excess baggage charge, I do as my old dad advised: Dont argue about it. Pay up and be smart.
That leaves my precious cameras and lenses, and the few essential items that cannot be supplied by either airport facilities or cabin crew. So what do I carry them in, if only one piece of cabin baggage is allowed
My very nice camera hold-all was ripped open at Miami last year by American Airlines security staff who had not been trained in how to open a zipped bag. Their manager later told me I should not have let them touch my luggage. I argued that to have tried to stop them would have brought Broward and Dade Counties to a halt, such has been the level of paranoia since the Americans learned that they have a terrorist problem. But the incident gave me the chance to get something better.
I needed a padded camera bag big enough to take two Nikons, an SB27 flash and three lenses, with a second section for film, a couple of dive computers, change of underwear, toiletries and a paperback. So for Christmas my beloved went to Camden Cameras to see what it had to offer.
Camera Care Systems is a British company with an enviable reputation among photographers worldwide, and its CCS Freestyle Double-Take bag has proved eminently suitable. A tough, shaped rucksack with a rigid and padded camera-bag base, it is just big enough (31 x 17 x 14.5cm) and its movable sections allow customisation.
It is closed by a zip which is covered by an all-round flap that forms part of the top section, and held tight by a pinch-clip and buckle. This is CCSs Dri-Flex system, which keeps the elements away from the zips and the photographic kit, though it is not waterproof in a diving sense.
The upper section is a soft bag that takes all I want and more. This too is closed by a zip and fastened by a soft elasticated lid using a second pinch-clip. A bonus is a third little zipped pocket in the lid in which I can carry tickets and travel documents. CCS docking loops on the lower part allow further pouches to be added to expand the bags capacity.
The whole thing has a semi-rigid padded backpack with padded rucksack-style straps plus a belt and sternum strap. There is a grab handle at the top, too.
I can sling the whole thing on one shoulder but should I ever need to do some serious yomping all these straps are multi-adjustable for a perfect fit. Fully loaded the bag weighs less than 6kg, is unobtrusive and stows easily in an overhead bin on the aircraft. The CCS Freestyle Double-Take is part of a large product range with varying specifications.
It costs £50 from good camera shops.
  • Camera Care Systems 0117963 5263, www.ccscentre.co.uk

  • Divernet
    + Ideal for cameras and useful carry-on items
    + Resists the elements

    - Not a dive bag
    - Not waterproof