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Time to Pack for the Polar Bear Capital of the World

Hello everyone,

I am writing this post as I thought it would be the most efficient way to ensure that everyone receives the same information about our upcoming trip to the polar bear capital of the world.

I’ve received a few emails about packing and carry-on items for your Calm Air flight. I wanted to share my standard kit for any wildlife trip and two different scenarios for my camera equipment. Some of you may have more equipment than others, while some of you may have less. Nonetheless, this will give you an idea of what the airline allows on all my trips up north. Although Calm Air has stringent restrictions, they are accommodating when it comes to cameras, from my experience.


The top image shows my Gura Gear backpack scenario and the listed equipment that I can fit into it, which can be taken right onto the flight. However, personally, I find it a bit heavy to lug around airports and have on my back.

My preferred option is the image below featuring the hardshell NANUK roller case and the Wandrd backpack, which still accommodates the same amount of equipment but distributes the weight for easier travel, in my opinion. The backpack can easily fit under my seat, and the case goes in the overhead compartment.


As for my monopod and tripod, I pack them in my luggage along with any extra cameras or chargers. For luggage, I prefer to use a large North Face waterproof duffle bag. Here, I can pack all my winter jackets, boots, and cozy clothes. Don’t forget extra camera cards and hard drives since you won’t be able to purchase such items in Churchill.

Bottled Water

This year, my call to action is to leave zero waste behind in Churchill from our tour. I encourage everyone to pack their reusable coffee cup and water bottles. All other single-use bottles, cans, and packages used during the trip will be collected and taken to proper recycling depots back south. Churchill lacks a recycling program, and we aim to leave no trace of our trip in this precious and fragile environment.

Pro tip: Try to have boots that allow the liners to be removed; this is essential for keeping your feet warm and toasty as you can dry the liners each night. The difference a dry liner makes is incredible. Also, bring extra lens cloths as the winds can be very high at times, throwing snow or dust around.


I’ll have some CCD cleaners with me in case you get a dirty CCD. However, as proficient as I am with most camera brands, I prefer each of you to clean your own CCD if needed. I’ll be here to help.

A wide-angle lens is my go-to lens for capturing the northern lights.


On a side note, for those of you who enjoy a beer or a glass of wine after a great day of bear viewing, I’ll be providing beer and wine once we’re back for the night. There is a main grocery and general store called the Northern in case anyone needs anything special. I can drive you there if necessary after our day of bear viewing. The same goes for anyone who wishes to buy souvenirs. We can arrange a trip once it’s dark out and we’re done with bear viewing for the day. Our main goal is to spend as much time as possible with the bears and capture the setting sun if the weather permits.

LE Lone Wolf Mgig standard

Please note: Once you step off the plane in Churchill, you are in bear country, and bears can literally be anywhere at any time. We are here to keep both you and the bears safe. Unlike black bears or grizzlies, these are apex predators, so please don’t go anywhere outside unaccompanied.

Churchill Polar Bears Nov ZH copy

I believe this covers most of what you need to know for the trip, but please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns.


I’m looking forward to seeing you all in Churchill.

Johnny/Bear Witness Photo

J Hayward

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