Follow these tips and advice on how to pack and ship your camera gear. Most shipping services deliver packages with reasonable care, but things go wrong sometimes. Here’s how to ensure your equipment moves through the logistics chain unscathed.
Zone focus version
- Use a strong box
- Wrap gear in something soft/padded
- Pad inside of box with something flexible
- Put gear in the middle of the padding
- Make your label clear and protect it
- Buy extra insurance if necessary
- Get a tracking number
1. USE THE RIGHT BOX
Using an impact-resistant, reinforced cardboard box to ship your delicate gear is essential. A reinforced cardboard box has layers, including a corrugated layer sandwiched between the inner and outer surfaces. Most shipping services offer these for a nominal cost. Or use one you have on hand if it’s in good condition, undamaged and undented.
Make sure it’s the right size. It should be large enough to accommodate 2″ of padding on all sides of the object (four sides, top and bottom). Inadequate padding is the primary culprit in damaged items.
2. USE PROTECTIVE MATERIAL TO WRAP THE OBJECT
Bubble wrap is ultra-effective and widely available. It is the best solution, yes, but if you can find a more eco-friendly material, please use it.
The best alternative would be GreenWrap. If it is available to you, use at least two or three layers of it for each individual item. If not, wrap each item in a soft, thick material to serve as padding. There are lots of ideas online.
3. USE FLEXIBLE MATERIAL TO IMMOBILIZE THE WRAPPED OBJECT
This is as important as wrapping the object itself. Once you’ve secured the item in its protective layer, it should be tightly packed in the box to immobilize and insulate it in the centre of the box. Again, bubble wrap is ideal. You can use something like packing “peanuts,” but ensure you have enough of them that they prevent any movement of what they’re protecting.
Ensure the item is secured snugly so that it can’t move or be shaken to the edge of the box. And be sure to avoid hard materials like large styrofoam sections, hard cardboard blocks, wood, or other material that will transmit impact, not soften it.
4. PACK YOUR CAMERA OR LENS PROPERLY INSIDE THE BOX
When you pack your item in the box, there should be at least a two-inch packing material covering the bottom of the box. Next, place the wrapped object in the box, and surround it snugly with packing material evenly on all four sides. Don’t forget the top of the item. Like the bottom, the top should be blanketed evenly with sufficient packing material to fill the box. Make sure the wrapped object is totally immobilized in the box before you seal it. If the box holds more than one item, each should be wrapped individually but placed next to each other within the protective box as a unit. Give the box a little shake before you fully seal it; the contents should not move at all.
Tape the box securely over all seams. Double tape the openings on the top and bottom of the box. Tape down any loose tape that didn’t stick to the box properly.
Tip: Include a copy of the shipping information inside the box if the label on the outside gets disfigured or damaged somehow.
Points 1 through 4 are well summarized in this truly excellent YouTube video about shipping antiques. Things get real at the 2:07 minute mark. Watch and learn.
5. LABEL IT CLEARLY, THEN PROTECT THE LABEL
Most shipping services have labels that can be filled out and attached to your package if you want to use one of theirs. But if not, make sure your own shipping label is clear and unobstructed. If you can print the label on a computer in a 24 point font, do it. Be certain to add “TO:” and “FROM:” so there’s no confusion about the destination. If you can’t print the label, use a dark marker to write legible block letters. It’s also a good idea to add “FRAGILE” or “HANDLE WITH CARE” stickers or writing on the box.
Once you’ve labelled the box, tape over the label with CLEAR packaging tape protect it from moisture and abrasives during transit.
Here’s a helpful illustrated guide from Canada Post of “do’s and don’ts” when it comes to labelling your box.
6. BUY INSURANCE
It is well worth the money to buy shipping insurance to cover the cost of your camera equipment. Buy enough to cover the amount you paid for it. If your camera has become a rare and valuable item, insure it for its current market value so you can replace it if it’s damaged beyond repair or damage. These things are very unlikely to happen, but they’re still a possibility.
Don’t consider this an optional expense. Get insurance. Just do it.
7. TRACK THE PACKAGE
Use a shipping service that offers the ability to track your package’s journey. This is a no-brainer. It’s almost as important as buying insurance, and they go together to give you peace of mind.
8. MAKE SURE THE PACKAGE NEEDS TO BE SIGNED FOR
This isn’t vital, but if you’re sending a $1000 camera to some you don’t know, make sure they need to sign for it so you can be sure it landed in the right hands.
Factory Cameras uses a secure shipping depot to receive packages. Your camera will never be left untended on our doorstep as a target for package pirates. We value your equipment as much as you do.