Photographers have gear, and gear needs to be packed without being forgotten. If you’re like us, you obsess about systems that will make sure you have everything you need to create the work you want. Packaroo is an app we have been using to streamline this process.
For years, I’ve been a spreadsheet packer. Open Excel on the computer, carry the computer around, and pack the bags. It’s 2021 and about time for me to grab hold of a packing app.
Enter Packaroo, a new packing list app that’s perfect for photographers especially those of us that travel. Now, instead of walking around my house with a computer checking things off on a spreadsheet, I can pack for a trip with a sleek app. No more forgetting a light stand because I was too lazy to open my spreadsheet. Additionally, since I work and travel with my wife, we can separate our gear into our bags for when we’re working together versus separately and whether it's overnight or involves other activities like camping, climbing, or skiing.
Best Packing App Features for Photographers
1. Cost of Admittance and Customization
Here I’m not talking about the cost of the app, which is free with an option to upgrade for $4.99 at the time of this article, I’m talking about what it's going to cost me to set up my packing list. Packaroo is designed with list makers and spreadsheet lovers in mind.
When you start, the app has packing list suggestions for you and it even includes a photography category. There are suggestions based on location and you can select what you want to add to your list. It’s a pretty comprehensive and well-thought-out list, but they go one step further by recognizing that your bag is unique, and they make everything completely customizable with the Pro version.
If you’re starting from scratch, Packaroo has 400 items organized into nine different collections based on their seemingly extensive research. However, if you have specialty items that go beyond the average traveler, you can customize to your heart's desire. This is the feature that was most important for me.
I was able to bulk-add my items into the app and customize my bundles to suit my needs. Simply copy and paste your existing list into their framework and you’re ready to go. My fear of re-creating the packing list that I’ve developed over years of trips was quickly assuaged.
Packaroo has layers of customization. You can create multiple packing lists for different people or bags, and then, within a packing list, you can create bundles for different bags or cubes or types of trips. Bundles are organized by collections such as toiletries or clothes so you’re sure not to leave anything out.
Prefer a grid view to a list view? Packaroo gives you that choice.
2. Repeatable, Repackable, Remarkable
Need to pack the same thing for multiple trips? Copy the whole trip or make a bundle of frequently packed items to reuse. This app makes my spreadsheet with unlimited customization look limited, and it’s way easier on the eyes.
My spreadsheet involved typing x’s in a column next to the item that wasn’t packed and then clearing the x’s before a new trip — rudimentary, but it worked. Additionally, I had a big packing list with columns and columns of gear for all the different types of trips. Am I going on a day trip or overnight, camping or not, beach or mountains, do I need food?
The cumbersome spreadsheet had it all. It wasn’t pretty, but it had it all. The Packaroo app allows me to have collections and bundles for all the types of trips I take, but when I go to pack for a select trip, I can create a list solely based on what I need.
It has the complexity on the backend with good design on the front end as a high-quality app should.
3. Easy to Learn and Room to Grow
The app is intuitive and easy to learn and has a lot of in-depth functionality. There are two types of people: those that read the user manual and those that just start building the thing.
Regardless of which kind of person you are, Packaroo will fit your style. You can learn on the fly and use the app following only your intuition. However, might I recommend that you dive into their website and discover all the other things you can do with that app?
You might come up with ideas for ways to use the app that you didn’t think about. Do you want to create a separate pack list for each bag or one for each family member? What types of collections would be useful to you?
4. Nerdy and Artistic
The app designers are both nerdy and artistic, just like photographers. You’ll appreciate the design while reveling in the functionality. It’s complex on the inside but pretty on the outside.
With Packaroo, I don’t feel like I have to choose from or function, as I get both. The app feels modern and fresh and even uses fun icons for different collections and bundles.
If you’re traveling somewhere new, they even provide fun tips for different locations.
How I Use the Packaroo Packing App
I don’t just use this packing app for my photography gear, I use it for traveling in general. I took my old clunky packing list spreadsheet and created it in the Packaroo app. I’ll always have a thing for spreadsheets, but there’s nothing like a slick app.
Now, when I plan for a trip or a photo shoot, I can automatically populate the trip with the gear I need from various categories. Do I need photo gear, video gear, food, overnight, climbing, skiing, or other specialty adventure gear?
The Packaroo app comes with an impressive catalog of items sorted into common packing collections. As I mentioned, they even have a photography collection. Of course, the first thing for me to do was use the customizability to expand this collection to make sure it has the specifics of my camera bag.
Now, I can create packing lists for an upcoming trip. I can have separate packing lists for camera gear, video gear, clothes, food, or any other categories I want. To navigate between packing lists, you swipe left or right. Then, I add items from the collections using my pre-created bundles of commonly packed gear to populate the list. Then, you scroll up and down to view the items for each list organized by the bundle.
For example, my first packing list is photo gear, and I have a bundle for my camera bag, one for my wife's camera bag, and one for our accessories bag. These are all on the photo gear packing list. Then, you swipe right, and if it’s an overnight trip, I’ll have a clothing packing list with bundles for my bag, my wife's bag, the kids' bag, and toiletries. If it’s a camping trip, swipe right again for outdoor gear and scroll through the list.
Finally, I use the app to pack my gear checking off items as I go. I can also add things I need to buy to a shopping list or get recommendations and tips based on the location I’m traveling to. When I’m planning a new trip, I can duplicate a previous one as a starting point or simply uncheck all boxes.
What I Liked
- Aesthetically appealing
- Ability to create a shopping list
What Could Be Improved
- The app is new and there are a few small bugs that will hopefully be worked out with future updates
- I’m looking forward to when I can integrate TripIt (another favorite app) and also use the app across multiple devices
- The free version wasn’t enough for me, as the app excels with the premium service
Gear is good and organized gear is better. I’m always looking for ways to simplify my life and make things more efficient. I love a good tool or app and am adding the Packaroo packing app to my arsenal.
I suggest starting with the free version just to test it out and see how seamless it looks. If you don’t already have an extensive packing list, the free version might be sufficient for you, and you can add your items. However, if like me, you’re attached to your packing list, then you’ll want the pro version so that you can bulk add items and create everything how your brain works.
When you first install the app, it walks you through creating your first packing list. You can create a bundle for your regulars in each category. For example, if you always pack your toothbrush, add it to your toiletry regulars, but if you only sometimes need your makeup, create a bundle for trips with formal events.
Once you have everything set up and ready to go, you can pack for your trip or start planning for the next one by creating another trip. If you decide to upgrade, there are a handful of features from practical to simply fun. Save yourself time and increase your efficiency with the right tools for the job.