I posted this same question on gearslutz, but I'm sure I'll find plenty of useful insights here too.

So in a few months, I'm going to be traveling by motorcycle from New York to Ushaia, Argentina (southernmost city in the world). I'm then going to journey by ship to Antarctica. The trip will take me roughly a year give or take a few months (I won't be able to go to Antarctica during their winter months, so I need to time it accordingly).

This is first and foremost a cultural adventure. My main focus is on interacting with people and exploring parts of the world I've never been to. That being said, I would never forgive myself if I did a trip like this and didn't bring at least some recording gear. Thing is, I'm going to be severely limited in terms of space. I'm mostly interested in recording ambiences, so stereo is a must. My question for you all is, if you had the equivalent of, let's say, half of a small backpack, what would you bring (minus tripod, that can be strapped down on the bike)? Keep in mind I'll be recording in literally every climate and terrain there is, so durability is a must as far as humidity and temperatures go.

I have an SD 702 which could work as a recorder, though it's a bit bigger than I'd like. I also have a pair of CM3s set up semi-permanently in a Rode blimp in an ORTF setup, though I think that may be too big. Perhaps switch out the blimp for two baby ball gags?

One thing I'm thinking is, regardless of what light duty recording rig I use for the bulk of the trip, I can have my parents ship the rest of my gear to Ushaia so that at least for the time that I'm in Antarctica, I'll have a full rig (cause let's be honest, how often do you get to record in Antarctica?)

Look forward to the responses, thanks :)

  • I would love to track your journey and post updates, photos, and sound samples on my audio engineering blog. It's about "all things audio engineering" and I will be profiling studios and recording engineers as part of it. You can get in touch with me there through the contact form. It's AudioEngineering.co. I am just launching it now. Check it out and let me know if you like the idea, OK? PS: I'm located in Maine.
    – user9385
    Jun 11, 2014 at 3:01

4 Answers 4


What an exciting journey! My two cents worth: Regarding the safety of your data, be sure to upload to the cloud (Dropbox or the like) whenever you have internet. Bring WAY more memory cards than you think you will need, then double that. As long as you can get it to the cloud and know someone back home has copied it locally AND backed it up preferably offsite, then you could re-use cards. Also backup your files locally on extra memory cards, keep them hidden and waterproof, because you never know when and for what odd reason you could lose your gear. Not trying to be debbie downer, but it happens, fire, theft, water, etc. You might also want to do a lot of review and deleting of bad takes, keeping only the best ones.

  • Welcome to Sound Design.SE. Great answer. Just to let you know, we generally don't bother with signatures on posts since your user tag is automatically associated with it, but your profile does provide a great place to share details like your site and credentials. Answers should also focus on answering the question, but I moved the part that was more of a commentary to a comment for you (since you don't have enough rep yet to comment, though that should change pretty quickly.)
    – AJ Henderson
    Jun 11, 2014 at 14:20
  • Ah, thanks so much for doing that AJ, and clarifying it for me. I get it now!
    – user9385
    Jun 11, 2014 at 16:30

This is not exactly an answer to your question, but for a while now I've been trying to think of what could be a useful lightweight rig for recording ambiances. I thought I might of found it a while ago in the Telinga SSM partnered with a small recorder providing plug-in power. I saw this shot of one mounted on a gorillapod: Telinga SSM

It would probably all package into a pretty small case, yet provide good stereo, low noise recordings. I've tried to get in touch with Telinga about buying one, but sadly they don't reply. If anyone knows anything about the SSM availability please comment. Of course it may be a good option for you too.. if they still exist.

  • ps. search soundcloud for 'Telinga SSM' to hear examples. Jun 10, 2014 at 22:18

If you're looking for something extremely compact, the new Sony PCM-D100 is fantastic. It's the best you'll find in such a small package. Other than that you'd be looking at a 702 and small blimp setup as you've mentioned. I've travelled through Nepal, India, Australia, and Cambodia with my 702 and an MS pair of Schoeps CCM mics in a rycote blimp and absolutely love the recordings I've captured. I couldn't recommend it enough if you can spare the room! I manage to pack it all into the bottom half of a kata 3n1 bag.


I haven't worked with the PCM 100 yet so it may outperform my recommendation, but I would go with the PCM M10 as your bit bucket.

Instant on, battery life for days, memory rolls over from internal to the SD card seamlessly, and its the size of a cell phone.

You'd need a small 2 channel preamp to go with - I use the SD mixpre with mine. Sounds great, super stable, super solid.

For a mic I'd run an MS setup (for space and ease of setup) and maybe just bring a fuzzie instead of a blimp that wraps around both mics. This would rule out your ability to record in situations where the wind is up over 10-15mph, but that may not be worth the packing space it would take to transport it.

If you go with the CM3s instead of the MS rig, Rycote has a super softie that just came out that may be right up your alley for this trip.

I'd also go ahead and build a 5 pin XLR cable with two little breakouts at each end. It will be way easier to store and to coil than two separate cables. They're simple to make and super worth it. Pinouts go like this

  • pin1 - ground
  • pin2 - mic1 hi
  • pin3 - mic1 low
  • pin4 - mic2 hi
  • pin5 - mic2 low

I have a couple of them and I use them all the time.

alternatively you can zip-tie or rubber band your two cables together to keep them acting as a single unit.

last thing - check out nathan moody's excellent article on ultralight portage. Lots of killer tips in there.


have fun, post to soundcloud!

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