On Monday, Simon kicked off our series on the gear we use to do our jobs. Truth is, because there are no IT departments for freelance web workers, there are as many unique gadget combinations as there are people doing the work. I love hearing all about someone’s kit, and hopefully sharing some of my own suggestions will be useful as well.
When I’m on the road, I’m much less concerned with computing power and storage, and much more occupied with how to make my load as light as possible. I actually try to make sure that I have shampoo, toothbrushes and even some clothes stashed at friends’ houses in areas I travel to frequently so that I can get away with just packing a single backpack and nothing else. Obviously, this can’t work if I’m living out of a hotel, but most of the time a backpack and a small bag is all I travel with.
In the backpack (which is a Victorinox Swiss Army with only one large pocket, and one smaller one. I don’t like a laptop pocket because it adds bulk), I will generally carry my 13-inch black plastic MacBook, which I got approximately two years ago now (still using the original battery, although I’ll probably need a new one soon). Sometimes, if I want to travel lighter, or I won’t be gone for that long, I’ll sub-in my Asus Eee PC 1000HE, though honestly I prefer the MacBook in almost all situations.
I don’t use a mouse or external keyboard with my MacBook, unless I have it hooked up to a television for whatever reason, but that happens so rarely that I generally don’t take those peripherals with me. I have a SimpleTech Black Cherry 320GB portable HD that goes in the bag if there’s a specific need for more storage, and an LG Slim DVD super drive for when I’m using the Eee PC.
A recent acquisition is my LaCie Iamakey 8GB USB flash drive. Honestly, I bought it because of the design, since you can easily find more storage for $40, but I never regret it. It’s durable, works great on a key ring and it’s a nice talking point when strangers notice it.
My iPhone is the most consistently present element of my gear. I recently posted about how BlackBerry’s new App World made me doubt my choice somewhat, but there’s still no way I could ever give it up now that I have it. Even if all my other gear was sidelined, I could get the job done using the iPhone alone if I had to. It would take me a lot longer, but I could do it.
Some items only get a spot in the rotation on the odd occasion, but when they do, they make all the difference. The most important among these are all imaging devices.
First, there’s my Canon Rebel XT digital SLR camera. Originally purchased for travel, I use it much more for work than for play these days. If I used it just a little more often, I’d consider upgrading to the upcoming X1i. I opt for one of two bags for my XT if it’s along for the ride. Either the Lowepro Topload Zoom 1 if I only need the camera and a single lens, or the SlingShot 200 AW (also from Lowepro) if I need the whole shebang.
In addition to my camera, I have two Wacom tablets to which I’ve grown quite attached. The first is a 6×8 Graphire4 that was once my only tablet, but that now generally serves as my travel device if I feel I need one on the road. The other is my mainstay, a 12-inch Cintiq 12wx with a built-in display. It was an expensive piece of kit, but it totally changed my graphic/photo workflow and I find it hard to go back to the Graphire4 on the few occasions that I have to. I take it with me if absolutely necessary, but it basically requires a second laptop case in order to carry it around, so it isn’t exactly the ideal portable solution.
That’s my gear. This feels a little bit like an extended piece of gadget porn, but I suppose that’s one of the reasons we do this job. It’s both a blessing and a curse, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What’s in your bag?