Paul Buff’s Vagabond Mini is a great portable power source for flashes. I use these little gizmos all the time, and in many different situations. They charge quickly, and they allow for a fast recycle flash time. Here is a $3 improvement on the Vagabond Mini that has made a big difference for me.
I travel quite a bit for photo shoots. Many times I will rent equipment in our destination city. However, there are times when I will travel in with my own light kit for the photo session.
My biggest complaint against this product is the subpar stand mount provided with each unit. Frankly, the plastic casing can’t take the stress of the mount when you try to attach the battery to a stand. The plastic snaps off the bottom, leaving me with a cracked casing and a hole in the inverter.
I’ve broken multiple units this way. I’m using the unit as indicated by Buff, but it still breaks. After the casings cracked, I was forced to leave the battery on the floor or hang the battery using some other method. Once on the ground, the batteries were kicked and scraped, accumulated dirt and dust, and the hole in the bottom obviously left it susceptible to moisture damage. All of that dirt ends up in the Pelican case, too.
My assistant and I tried using the strap over-the-shoulder thing, but that only works if you are holding the light. Then we moved to a combination of two super clamps with 5/8-inch studs: One clamp on the lightstand, stud in the middle, one clamp outside. We wrapped the shoulder strap and screwed the outer clamp tight. It worked, but the battery swings around too much if you are carrying or holding the stand. Also, it’s too heavy for travel. We already lug enough equipment to throw my back out of whack. Adding 6 super clamps at 1.1 lbs each was too much. Six pounds makes a big difference when you are trying to meet the airline baggage weight requirements.
So here’s our quick and easy $3 solution. It’s lightweight, travels easily and will fit into nearly any case you might use to store and transport your batteries. Best of all, it requires no physical modification to the Buff battery or inverter.
You need two cable ties and one S-Biner per battery. Nite Ize is the company name. I like these because they have small slides that lock the clip closed. They come in all kinds of colors. I bought this one at a local hardware store for $2.97. The cable ties cost 3 cents each. So for $3.03, your battery isn’t sitting in the dirt anymore and you’ve eliminated 6.5 pounds of gear. Not too bad, right?