A Nomad’s Gear Bag

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Gear Bag Contents

Any frequent traveller, whether for business or leisure, will have one of these: a collection of electronic gadgets they carry that allows them to be ready for most any situation they encounter on the road.

Here’s a detailed description of mine:

  1. Ram Suction Mount for iPhone
    Since I use my phone as my satnav when travelling, having a way to mount it in rental cars is critical. I’ve tried other, more compact options, but have always eventually run across a car where they couldn’t be mounted. This suction mount, though, sticks to just about anything and breaks down into three parts for easy packing.
  2. Anker 15000mAh Portable Dual USB Charger
    Open electrical outlets often seem impossible to find just when you need them most: at a crowded airport, on a plane or train, or in a too-busy coffee shop that seems to serve as the gathering point for everyone in a hundred mile radius with a MacBook.  This handy little device has two USB ports and can completely recharge an iPhone a half-dozen times or an iPad twice.


  3. Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
    Wi-Fi may often seem ubiquitous these days, with everywhere from Starbucks to your local barber shop sporting a free connection. Yet every so often, you’ll run across a motel or client site that still only has the old-fashioned, wired kind of internet, and this $30 adapter will prove invaluable for the modern MacBook owner. Plus, sometimes even when there
    is Wi-Fi, the wired connection can be considerably faster. 
  4. SanDisk Extreme 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive
    Though I’ve moved to storing and syncing most of my files with Dropbox, when you just need to copy a PPT to a random laptop at a meeting, a plain old flash drive is often the best choice. I also keep a bootable Ubuntu image on here to use with potentially insecure public computers, and the drive can be repurposed for restoring a broken laptop when needed. I like this one because it’s large, fast, reliable, and not too expensive.
  5. Assorted Cables
    A few Apple Lightning cables and some generic micro USB cables. Between the two, I can charge just about any recent portable electronic device.
  6. Anker 4-Port 36W USB Wall Adapter
    Even brand new hotels seem all too often to have been designed for an era when the only electronic device to be found in the average businessman’s suitcase was an electric razor. This wall charger lets you charge four USB devices—like an iPhone, iPad, noise canceling headphones, and a portable battery—all at once from one outlet. Unlike many competing multi-port wall chargers, this one can is powerful enough to charge all four devices at full speed.
  7. GorillaPod Mini Tripod
    Works great for holding my iPhone steady for taking photos, and acceptably well with a small lens on my Sony A7r. Not just for taking photos, this also works as a backup phone mount for a car or elsewhere.
  8. Bose QuietComfort 20i Noise Canceling Headphones
    Drowning out background noise and screaming children is an all too common challenge on the road. The QC20i is a big upgrade from the bulky QC15s I owned before. Not only are they much, much smaller, but they are comfortable enough to wear on long (6+ hour) flights, they charge off micro USB rather than eating AAAs, and somehow seem to do an even better job at noise cancelation. 
  9. Apple 60W MagSafe Charger
    Technically, this charger is only for the MacBook Air and the 13” MacBook Pro, but it actually works just fine with my 15” MBP and is a good bit more compact. I guess it might charge a bit more slowly, but I can’t say I really notice.
  10. Apple 12W USB Charger
    Yes, this somewhat duplicates the Anker wall adapter. However, I often want to charge most of my devices at the desk while keeping my phone next to your bed, and carrying an extra one of these lets me do that. Of the literally dozens of USB wall chargers I have lying around, I chose the Apple 12W because it’s well-built, high-power, and still reasonably compact. 
  11. Another Micro USB Cable
    Because you can never have too many of these (within reason, of course).
  12. Apple iPad mini with Retina Display, 128GB
    Great for both basic work and on-the-go entertainment. I use it for reading magazines, newspapers, and Kindle ebooks; watching movies and TV shows; and random web surfing and emails. I remain incredibly jealous of my fellow travelers who have managed to shed their heavy laptops entirely in favour of a tablet, but my work requires lots of specialised software that simply isn’t (and likely will never be) available in a tablet variant.
  13. Sony A7r Full Frame 36MP Mirrorless Digital Camera
    I used to shoot with a Nikon D600, but found that I was often leaving it at home because I hated carrying around so much bulk. I recently switched to the A7r and couldn’t be happier. It uses the same sensor as Nikon’s flagship D800, but is a fraction of the size and weight. Paired with the excellent Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 lens shown, it’s tiny and perfect for street photography and basic landscapes.
  14. Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15”
    The first Retina MBP was a bit of a kludge, but the latest generation shines. This maxed-out model can do pretty much everything my workstation can, and it’s surprisingly thin and light for how powerful it is. Long, 7-8 hour battery life means it lasts through a transcon and even the longest meetings. I wish it was as svelte as the Air, but I need the power for work.

All of these items fit comfortably in the excellent Timbuk2 Uptown TSA-Friendly Laptop Backpack, with plenty room to spare for whatever else I need to have at hand.


The Author

Alex Warofka works at the intersection of human rights and technology, with a focus on content regulation and the role of social media in conflict. He is currently Product Policy Manager for Human Rights at Facebook.

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