It has been several years since we last visited our “What’s in your pack” segment here on Gadling. As times (and gadgets) have changed, it is time to breath some fresh air into the feature, and we’ll start with yours truly.
Lets get something out in the open – I’m a total gadget freak. My gadget needs go way, way beyond the usual “laptop, camera, charger”, and it isn’t uncommon for my gadgets to take up more than half the weight of the crap I carry on a trip. Of course, what I carry does vary for each trip, so I’ve collected the kind of stuff I’ll carry on an average trip.
I tend to swap out my luggage every couple of months – but I always stick with the same style – one roller and one checkpoint friendly laptop bag. My current pick of the month is the Pelican 1510LOC laptop overnight case. This thing is total overkill for anything I do, but I love the fact that I have a piece of luggage the airlines won’t be able to kill. The case weighs a ton, but that is the price you pay for rugged.
My laptop and other smaller items go in a Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer – the one piece of luggage I have used for more than 6 months.
To me, laptops are like my luggage – I buy something cool, and by the time the next new cool laptop is out, I’ll swap things out and upgrade. At the moment, I travel with an HP DM1 or a Google CR48 Chrome notebook. The HP DM1 has been upgraded with 8GB of memory and a 500GB Seagate Momentus XT hybrid SSD. Picking which one to use depends on the trip, and what I need to get done. To get some basic work done, I also carry a Barnes & Noble Nook Color, but I have hacked it to run Android Froyo. The tablet is perfect for my email, web and of course, Angry Birds.
For overnight trips, I’ll obviously pack clothes, toiletries and some spare clothes for the inevitable delay or cancellation. I hate checking bags, so my packing ritual always means I have to stuff everything I need into my 2 carry-on bags.
All my gadgetry is split into categories – and packed in Tom Bihn packing cubes. Laptop, chargers, flightbag and a bag with basics fits in my laptop bag, the rest (along with my clothes) goes in the rolling case.
Despite the risk of making a total fool of myself, here are the products I currently carry (in no particular order):
- Aaxa Technologies M2 Micro projector (in its own hard shell case)
- Barnes and Noble Nook Color (running Android Froyo with a 32GB MicroSD card)
- Nikon P7000 digital camera
- Canon S95 digital camera
- HP DM1
- Google Chrome CR48
- Tekkeon MyPower All laptop battery pack + cable pack
- Clear 4G/3G adapter
- Zagg Sparq 2 battery pack
- Verizon MiFi
- Motorola W233 unlocked mobile phone
- Unlocked 3G European MiFi + assortment of sim cards for Europe and Asia
- Livescribe Echo 8GB smartpen + notepads
- T-Mobile MyTouch 4G (primary phone)
- Sprint Palm Pre
- HTC HD2 (with Android)
- HTC Inspire (AT&T)
- Blackberry Storm 2
- Motorola Roadster Bluetooth handsfree car kit
- Trendnet 802.11n travel router
- Callpod Chargepod + assorted power tips
- 2 500GB drives (1 with restore image and 1 with apps/media)
- Assortment of USB drives and SD cards
- Assortment of cables, chargers and plugs
- Audio Technica ATC ANC-3 noise canceling headphones
- Monster Beats Tour in-ear headphones
- 64GB iPod touch + video cables/dock/remote
- Moshi voice recognition travel alarm clock
- Sandisk Sansa Clip+ MP3 player + 16GB MicroSD card
- Assortment of Eye-Fi wireless SD memory cards
I’ll try and explain some of the logic behind my choices for gear – part of the reason is that I’m always reviewing stuff, and some of the items in the collection may be undergoing a real on-the-road review. Other products are just things I’d rather carry than leave at home. I hate arriving somewhere and realizing I forgot to carry something.
Lets start with the various mobile phones – I always try and travel with more than one phone, and mix things around on various operators. Ideally, I’ll have one phone on each major US operator, which is a perfect way to prevent arriving somewhere and having a hard time getting a signal. Thanks to Google Voice, I can mix and match operators, sims and phone numbers.
My primary phone is a T-Mobile MyTouch 4G. I love that phone more than anything else, and its QIK videocalling and T-Mobile Wi-Fi calling feature make it the best travel phone on the market (in my opinion). The final phone in my assortment is a really cheap Motorola W233. I carry this when I need to head out for the night and don’t want to risk losing my smartphone.
Photography is something I never mastered (as you can see from these photos), so I stay away from the neat dslr rigs and rely on a decent point and shoot. The Canon S95 and Nikon P7000 fit the bill perfectly. The Canon is small enough for in my pocket, and the Nikon works nicely on the Manfrotto Modosteady 3-in-1 tripod. If I know I’ll be shooting hotel rooms or airline cabins, I’ll carry a Sima LED light as well as a better microphone for the Nikon if I plan to do video. Any camera I carry will have an Eye-Fi Connect X2 card in it.
Cables and networking gear all go in their own bag. I’ll usually carry at least one or two network cables, as well as a Trendnet 802.11n travel router and an assortment of USB and video cables.
As for headphones - I’m not an audiophile, and my only requirements are good noise isolation/cancellation along with good comfort. In a hotel room or airport, I’ll wear the Monster Beats Tour in-ear headphones, and on the plane I’ll swap them out for the Audio Technica ATH-ANC3 headphones. Music comes from an iPod Touch, my MyTouch 4G or the compact Sandisk Sansa Clip+. I love the Clip+ because it is small, sounds great and is easy to operate.
Power is always on my mind – I travel with a Tekkeon MyPower ALL battery pack which can double my laptop battery power. For my smaller gadgets, I’ll use a variety of battery packs like the Zagg Sparq 2 or the Technocel Battery Boost. Once I get to my room, I use the Callpod Chargepod to charge up to six devices at the same time. For the usual hotel room with just one outlet, I’ll use a Monster Outlets To Go powerstrip. To power my laptop, I usually swap out the included charger for a Kensington charger with DC and Empower plugs which allow me to charge and power on an airplane.
Entertainment in my room comes from a variety of sources – I always carry an HDMI cable for my laptop, along with Apple iPod/iPhone video cables with a dock and remote. With this, I can plug my player(s) into the hotel room TV. If the room lacks a decent TV, I can use the AAXA M2 Micro Projector, but I tend to only carry that if the trip is for business. In-room music comes from a Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth speaker paired to my laptop or music player.
For the rare events I actually need to get some work done, I use a Dell Bluetooth travel mouse. I make VOIP phone calls with a Plantronics .audio 480 headset or conference calls using the Polycom C100S communicator and Skype. If I’m on the road without my family, I carry a Microsoft Lifecam Studio HD webcam.
My flightbag is what carries all my short cables, Bluetooth headset(s), memory, Secure keys for my remote access and anything else I think I need if I become separated from my main bag. I also carry a small flashlight and SwissTool screwdriver set. My flightbag also holds gift cards, iTunes cards, Gogo Inflight access cards and sim cards.
There is no denying it – this setup weighs a ton – but I’ve mastered the art of making my bags look light. They always fit in the overhead, and I’m usually lucky enough to make it to the first boarding group on my flight, ensuring some space for the chunky rolling case.
Any logic to so much gear?
That said, when I travel with others, I’m always the one that has a spare charger, or a USB drive with a full Windows 7 recovery image. Or fresh music. Or a screwdriver. And while this may not be a good enough reason, I try and use it to justify my addiction.