I recently obtained a Bowens Travelpak, which is a compact battery unit that allows you to drive two Bowens Gemini flash heads away from a mains power supply. Bowens’s Gemini range have really stolen a march on other brands by designing-in battery savviness right from the word go. Before it was a question of using huge, heavy packs and heads or rigging up some sort of external genator that could supply a pure sine wave suitable for use with studio flash.
The availability of this Travelpak has made Bowens Geminis one of the most-used products by jobbing editorial, commercial photographers. Bowens’ compact flash heads and a Travel Pak is much cheaper than, say, a Profoto 7b or Acute set-up, Elinchrom Ranger or Bowens’ own Explorer 1500 pack. In terms of flexilibity there are certain advantages to ‘monobloc’ flash heads over powerback and heads, which I won’t go into here.
In 2009, Bowens launched a new generation Gemini Travel Pak. Unlike the previous, very good version, you now get a separate control panel, which clips on top of a battery pack. This means you can buy additional battery units and charge them up ready for long shoots. There are two battery capacities to choose from – a standard version with enough juice for more modest shoots or a high capacity version. The high capcity option is welcome but it does add weight. If going for two betteries, it might be good to have one of each to handle different types of job.
Unlike the bulky and expensive battery pack’n’ head systems, the Travel Pak wieghs in at under œ500 – it’s not cheap but well within the budgets of most pros and many committed semi-pros and enthusiasts. It’s relatively very small and lightweight, and can be used with any model from the Bowens ‘Gemini’ range, both the current range and the previous ‘grey models’. You can’t use it with the older non-Gemini badged Esprit range or the older studio Bowens monoblocks from Bowens’ entry-level GM200 head up to and even to a ‘big pack’ worrying 1500ws Gemini. I’m using mine with previous-generation 500ws Geminis and the options of having studio flash anywhere is proving extremely exciting.
The unit looks incredibly well well and beautiful engineered, a real throwback to the days when British-engineering meant tough, beefy and likely to last. The corners are pleasingly rounded with chunky, ruggedised rubber bumpers around the top and bottom of the unit – it looks like it’s made to be used and abused out there in the tough old world. In keeping with Bowens’ simple design philosophy the controls and indicators are simple as a kettle to use and understand. If Apple designed flash heads they’d probably be a lot like Bowens’.