Record-breaking underwater fisherman Cameron Kirkconnell makes a living guiding others to trophy-sized fish. It requires a lot of diving gear, electronics, and travel, so it’s well versed in the package for big trips.
Not everyone has a lead for an international flight, but for a spearfishing guide, this is only part of a long, heavy packing list.
As an outfitter, Kirkconnell plans routes years in advance, including logistics, yacht crew training and all the maritime surveillance and photography he will need once there. But the end of a successful mission may leave him just 20 minutes to pack his bags and return home.
This means throwing wet, fish-smelling gear into a bag and onto a private plane. So it is better that he does not run away, that he does not smell and that he does not even look ugly.
“I need simplicity, functionality, durability, relative water resistance and aesthetics,” he told us.
Due to its demanding travel needs, its bags must be strong enough to carry heavy diving gear and gear, as well as to organize and protect the most vulnerable electronics and cameras. So when he partnered with YETI, he was part of the design process for the brand’s Crossroads collection. luggage, duffel bags, and backpack.
We spoke with Kirkconnell about how he helped see bags through design and – more importantly – how he uses them on his travels.
Cameron Kirkconnell: All Trades Pack
Cameron Kirkconnell emerged from the merchant navy with a license to work on ships, which he did for 4 months and 4 months. In his free time he took up surfing and spearfishing, of which he became an expert. And he holds “18 or more” world records.
Today, he has transformed this passion into a profession of spearfishing outfitter. With trips booked years in advance, he acts as the captain of the trip and the hunt. He chooses the equipment, trains the crew and has everything in place for when the ideal conditions line up.
Kirkconnell worked with YETI since there were less than a dozen workers in his office. He has already tested equipment but played a more active role upstream with the Carrefour collection.
“The versatility of all of these is a nice clutch. Right now I’m looking at a stack of bags near the front door – one has wetsuits and the other has about 50 pounds of lead for taking him to the Bahamas and having him let it go, ”Kirkconnell said. “My clientele is made up of people who appreciate beautiful things, whether it’s their G5 or 200 ′ yacht and my equipment has to adapt to the room.
Cardboard and adhesive tape
In developing its Crossroads luggage, YETI sent a mix of its ambassadors to Louisiana. Once there, they were asked about their needs and desires for luggage and travel bags.
The group then split into design teams representing different backgrounds and interests. In Kirkconnell’s case, he teamed up with a hunter, leader, and bull rider.
Each team then spent part of their day working on DIY bag concepts from cardboard and tape. And at the end of the trip, they presented their concepts to the rest of the group.
“No matter what we did, we all wanted the same things – just for different reasons,” he said. “We had four groups that put together these ridiculous and amazing ideas, and at the end of all these YETIs presented us with what they had found. It’s great to have a business that really listens. We need things that work.
The Crossroads collection is designed to cover complete adventure travel. YETI designed it to look clean, stylish and similar to other luggage – when it starts up in the neater conditions of an urban airport.
But this is only point A of a trip. Point B can be the grassy airstrip and the rough path on the way to a destination, where point C is the actual location. And after that, at the target destinations, you can continue to use the luggage for daily trips and excursions.
Spearfisher Baggage Drop
When traveling alone, Kirkconnell carried everything in a triple surfboard bag. One of his big requests for Crossroads luggage was to build a bag long enough for his crossbows to hold. The majority are 60 inches long, and some are specially designed to snap in half, and the rod also breaks in half.
“The days of traveling with oversized luggage are over. I can put whatever I need in it and it can handle it, ”he said of his Crossroads setup. “Thank goodness I’m not a professional surfer.”
It also leaves two duffel bags wrapped all the time. One of them has his passport and travel accessories there. The other stores all of its diving electronics. “The one I thought I was using the least is the one I use the most.”
Kirkconnell says the packaging is an afterthought because he already knows what it will bring. He quickly lists his diving equipment: “Mask, snorkel, fins, shoes, weight belt, gloves, knife, wetsuits, guns, bungees, float lines, reels…” The list goes on.
“Typical” packing list
While the items may vary from trip to trip, Kirkconnell’s packing list for guiding a spearfishing excursion looks like this:
Crossroads 40L sports bag: Camera and electronics
The Crossroads sports bag opens like a shell, and he says he can support the most weight of the small bags he uses.
“With the Carrefour, everything is separate. I have at least a drone, two GoPro’s, a big underwater case for a Sony camera. Then I have all my chargers, which is a pain. Then the iPad and then I’ll put a bunch of clothes on it so nothing moves.
He adds, “And next week I’ll put about 60 pounds of lead in it. The transition is easy.
Kirkconnell says broken camera equipment is his biggest expense. “I go through two or three broken drones a year. It’s hard enough to land these things, but on a little boat in the middle of the ocean, it’s tough. It cites Crossroads ‘above and beyond’ design philosophy to keep things safe so far.
Crossroads 29 ″ luggage: Crossbows
For him, a trip to Tahiti will take at least two stages then a transfer from the international terminal to the domestic one. “After traveling for 36 hours, I need something that can roll. Stuff that rolls, fits together and has big tires, ”he noted. “The little ones don’t last. Most of us don’t just ride on level ground.
Its custom crossbows are almost 60 inches long and are specially designed to snap in half, with rods that also snap in half.
Crossroads 22 ″ luggage: Combinations
“Usually we’ll dive and fish and do whatever it takes until the 11th hour and I’ll have 20 minutes to pack to get home. So I have wetsuits, gloves that smell of fish and slippers that smell of sea water for days and you put it all in your bag that will travel for 24 hours to get home.
Crossroads 40L sports bag (& Occasionally Backpack 27L): Lead weight
Like a sinker for a fishing line, spear hunters use cigar-shaped weights in a belt to hold themselves underneath. Kirkconnell usually packs a few, with lead weights starting at 6 pounds and weighing up to 12 pounds.
“There is no way to distribute this weight properly. I did it first in that clamshell duffel bag and the rest in my backpack, ”Kirkconnell told us. “It was fun watching guys trying to load them into a helicopter.”
This article is sponsored by YÉTI. Learn more about the Crossroads Collection of luggage, bags and backpacks.