To remember the past is both nostalgic and frustrating. Some memories burn bright: the peaks of experience that remain close in recall. Some are difficult to bring back: the valleys, full of blurred faces and forgotten names. For every great visceral memory, there are thousands of places you’ve been, people you’ve met, films you’ve watched and meals you’ve shared that can only be half recalled. To grab hold of all memories is simply impossible. So we turn to tools of recollection and immortalization, tools to capture the views, feelings, senses and observations that can remain long past our fleeting memories. Here are the right tools to attempt to preserve the sight of the Thames, the taste of a beignet, the rock of a Carolina Skiff. Preserve what you can, and share all you preserve.
Unencumbered Travel, Full-Frame Memories
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX1R II
Best Pocket-Sized Camera, Period: Sony managed to pack a massive 42.4MP full-frame sensor into a skinny 1.1-pound body for optimal portability without sacrificing quality. The lens, which retracts for just a 2.8-inch depth, is a 35mm f/2 from Zeiss with macro capability for wide-angle, and wide-open, photography, perfect for capturing the entire scene. And if the price tag makes you scoff, look for the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 IV ($948).
Handy, Take-Anywhere Quality
First Water-, Shock- and Dust-Proof Leica: The most recognizable brand in top-tier photography just got tough, with an aluminum-and-matte-plastic camera that’s safe to take on your desert adventure, drop off a table and dive down to 50 feet with on your Caribbean vacation. And the 23mm f/1.7 lens works well in low light and snaps a wide 35mm equivalent, the perfect solution to most scenarios. A great budget-concious alternative is the Olympus Stylus TOUGH TG-4, which comes in at a much more wallet pleasing $349.
Topo Designs Camera Strap
Low Key, Durable, Nothing to Snag On: This strap’s simple design won’t snag as you weave through Indian markets or Kenyan jungles; the 10.5mm climbing rope can withstand any wear and tear during your travels and adds a streak of color.
A Streamlined, Expert Package
Nixon JJF Camera Bag
A Camera Bag that Doesn’t Scream Camera Bag: This 17-liter bag is shrouded in distressed PU-coated canvas, making it discreet, weatherproof and able to develop patina over the life of your adventures. A removable padded camera block sits at the base, in a separate compartment, while the top section has internal organization pockets, a laptop pocket and plenty of space for whatever else you pick up along the way.
Stripped-Down Canon Quality: This 20.2MP full-frame DSLR comes with the quality you’d expect from Canon, including HD 1080p video recording at 30 fps, but in a lighter, stripped-down version of the 5D. Perfect for long trips when you need to cut weight. Just don’t forget extra batteries.
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L
Wide Angle, Wide Open: A 35mm lens is the best walking-around option for a trip, allowing you to capture the chaotic scene of a parade or the expanse of a landscape in its entirety. And by opening to f/1.4, this lens ensures low light won’t be much of a problem.
Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8 IS II
Narrow Angle, Super Versatile: Since you’ve got your wide/normal focal length covered with the excellent 35 f/1.4, the perfect go-to for getting tighter in the action and isolating your subject is Canon’s 70-200 f/2.8 IS II. The 70-200 is best for tight, detailed shots that tell stories of form and allow for subject isolation, or for shooting past barriers to grab details from a scene you can’t physically enter. It’s a little heavy, but the weight savings from carrying the 35 and 6D should make up for it.
The Pocket Planner
Maintaining Your Adventure Schedule
2016 Panama Agenda
The Traditional Pragmatist: The original from 1908, this weekly planner runs from November 2015 to January 2017 and measures 3.5 x 5.5 inches, the ideal size for minimalistic traveling. And the gilt-edged, blue-tinted featherweight paper keeps old-school pen-and-paper planning classic with every page.
Caran D’ache Ballpoint
Beautiful, Durable, Clippable: The aluminum body won’t break or bend stuffed into your carry-on, and the hexagonal shape won’t roll off the edge of a pitching ship’s deck. Manufactured by the iconic luxury Swiss company that just celebrated its 100th anniversary.
The Travel Author
Annotate at the Scene, and Document Later
Appointed Mini Linen Jotter
For on-the-go Documentation: Bound by water-resistant book cloth, this pocket-sized 4.25 x 6-inch, 40-page notebook comes with blank pages for the freedom to sketch, write or whatever else you need.
Rhodia Wire-Bound Notebook
Bus Seat Scripture: A personal favorite, Rhodia is known for the quality of its paper, which allows a good pen to glide easily. The wire-bound notebook doesn’t depend on adhesive, which can’t stand up to moisture. At 80 pages of 8.25 x 11.75-inch lined paper, this is enough for even extended trips.
LAMY 2000 Fountain Pen, Extra Fine
Comfort and Class: A great story needs a worthy pen, and Lamy, a German company founded in 1930 by a sales rep for Parker Pen Company who wanted something all his own, makes the best fountain pen for the money.
Making the Most of Your Smartphone, Even Offline
Never Unseated: Evernote is well known, and for a reason. Take and save notes on anything, save important documents online for hassle-free retrieval and back it all up to the cloud, all with almost any device — Android, iOS, Mac, Web, Windows or Windows Phone. For alternatives, try OneNote (for Android) or nvALT with Simplenote (for iOS).