I've written before in praise of paranoia in backup strategies, particularly during trips. Once I've made an image capture, I usually try that day to make sure that I have two independent copies of it, and depending on the trip, I utilize a variety of tactics in order to keep that level of insurance. I figured I'd discuss what I'm doing on this trip, and some of the scenarios that play through my mind when I plan a trip like this.
For this three-week Svalbard expedition, in addition to my own usual gear I'll be producing images for Theme Media, which puts together "trip memories" DVDs which are sold to passengers on these ships. Because of the timing involved, I'll be sending them portable hard disks after each of the trips I'll be working, which they'll eventually return to me. (It's still hard to beat the bandwidth of a hard disk via express mail.)
Portable hard disks these days are big--the disks I'll be using, while small physically, are far larger than what's necessary for the transfer. So I'll be using those disks (and their spare space) as an extra level of backup, rather than bringing my Hyperdrive gadget. This is in addition to my laptop's hard drive, which is my usual primary copy. This is slightly inferior in terms of pure independence in that the portables don't have their own card readers, but should something happen to my card reader and/or computer, there are other computers on-board that can be pressed into service.
I also realized that, in the course of upgrading memory cards, that I've put together a fair collection of memory cards--I'll be bringing 160 GB of memory card (144 GB on CF cards, plus a 16 GB SD-style card), which could also be pressed into service as a copy. I've done shorter trips using the cards as one of my backups, but it's stil a fairly new and exciting idea that it's becoming practical to do this more generally.
Two quick updates:
First, I'm in touch with the folks who will be helping organize my 2012 Iceland workshop, expect to see pricing and dates for that workshop in the next couple weeks. Sorry for the delay!
Second, please let people know about my book on photo composition, it's gotten a great response from the people I know who've read it, it's a remarkably inexpensive way to up your photographic game. If you've purchased the book and have a few nice things to say, please drop me an email if I can use your blurb on the sales page. And if you'd like to refer purchasers and get a cut of those sales, check out my affiliate program! Thanks!