Having the best gear doesn’t make you the best creator or the best student, but having the proper tech bag essentials can make quite the difference in an individual’s life. We rely so much on technology nowadays with our phones and laptops, so having the right gear can help improve your overall efficiency and effectiveness when you’re editing or finishing that paper.
Over the years, I’ve gone through college while doing both film and photography on the side. Now I find myself traveling quite a bit. I’ve bought so many tech essentials over the past few years both good and bad, so I decided to compile a list of the best tech bag essentials. What’s in my tech bag are items that have helped me based on my college experience, travel experience, and my photography experience.
What’s in My Tech bag: A Brief Summary of My Tech Essentials
- Laptop + Accessories
- Portable Mouse for Laptop
- iPhone + Accesories
- Portable Power Bank
- External Portable Hard Drive
- Phone Charging Cables
- USB Wall Plug
- Tech Carry Case for Gadgets
- Portable Bluetooth Speaker
- Earphones / Headphones
- USB Drive
- Stylish Backpack for Tech Essentials
1. 13 inch Macbook Pro Retina Display
This is the one absolute tech gadget that I could not live without. My laptop is something that I use to create basically everything. From taking notes in my freshmen year to editing photos and videos for major artists. I bought this Macbook Pro Retina display in 2012 and as I’m writing this post, I’m still tapping away at this piece of machinery. Regardless of your opinion on Apple, I have used this for almost 6 years (knock on wood) without any issues.
I’ve actually just recently upgraded to the new 15 inch 2018 MacBook Pro and I love it so far. If you’re curious to see what new accessories I’ve added to my tech bag, here is a post I wrote about the best 2018 MacBook Pro accessories.
MacBook Case Cover
Some things that have helped me keep this Macbook intact include the Macbook cover I bought off of Amazon and a see through silicon keyboard cover for my keyboard.
I used to have an Asus laptop back in high school and it worked fine. Ever since I switched to my Macbook, I never really had the chance to try out other Windows laptops. I do run a desktop at home for my editing purposes as well, but apart from that the Macbook has held up well. I have heard good things about the Microsoft Surface Pro, so if you’re anti-apple then it might be a good idea to check that out.
In my opinion, one of the most underrated pieces of technology. This little tech gadget has made such a difference to my workflow. A portable mouse is always in my tech bag. For one it’s very portable to carry around in my backpack, but it also helps me edit videos, photos, and navigate through my browser in a more efficient way. Some people prefer the trackpad, but I am definitely more of a mouse user.
3. iPhone 6
Is this an overpriced piece of technology? Absolutely. But the phone does everything I need. I’ve had the iPhone 6 for over 3 years and although it’s been slow at times, it’s still alive (knock on wood again). The camera is okay on this phone especially compared to the new iPhones on the market such as the 7+, 8+, and of course the iPhone X. Since I mainly take photos with my DSLR camera, I don’t see the need to upgrade.
Of course alternatives for your phone can include the newer iPhone models such as the 7, 7+, 8, 8+, or 10. But the iPhone 6 is good enough for my current mobile usage. I’ve also heard nothing but good things from my friends who use the first Google Pixel and the recently released Google Pixel 2.
Authentic Apple iPhone Case + Tempered Glass Protector
A couple things have helped me with keeping this phone for such a long time in such decent condition. The authentic Apple case that I bought from the store is also overpriced, but you get a year warranty and it’s a nice leather case. I love the feel on it and it has helped the phone survive MANY drops. Speaking of drops… Get yourself a tempered glass case… I’ve gone through three of these and trust me. THEY DO WORK. On the several occasions that I’ve dropped my phone, the tempered screen protector has cracked and it’s an easy 10$ replacement compared to a 200$ replacement for the screen, which I have unfortunately paid for my iPhone 5s back in the day.
4. Aukey Power Banks (5000 mAh and 20 000 mAh)
If you’re anything like me, I rely on my phone and my tech pretty heavily when I travel. I take videos and pictures all the time, so staying plugged in and charged up is essential for me. Over the years, I have been using two power banks and I live by them.
The first one is the Aukey Power Bank 5000 mAh which is a much more compact portable battery pack that is almost always with me. This small size battery pack is the size about two chapsticks and it can charge my phone a couple times fully before needing to be recharged again. Whether, I’m on a bus or out on the streets, I can always rely on the power bank to keep my phone juiced for my mobile needs.
The second powerbank is my 20 000 mAh Aukey, which is larger and heavier than the previous Aukey, but it also holds much more power. This power bank is your travel buddy and can charge your iPhone over six or seven times. This is perfect for road trips or long flights where you need to keep your music playing and your apps running for long periods of time.
5. Seagate Slim – Portable External Hard Drive
When I bought my Macbook, I made the mistake of cheaping out on the hard drive space and only got a 128 gb SSD. Throughout my four years in my undergrad, even before I got into photography, I was always clearing space on my laptop. Before Spotify and all of these music streaming applications were out, I was always counting on my laptop to hold my music. Along with pictures, applications, word documents, my laptop was quickly filled up with hard drive space. Getting my hard drive was one of my best purchases and I was able to take as many photos as I wanted and download as much music as I wanted, without having to worry about space on my laptop. With that being said, I went through two hard drives and the 500 GB Western Digital portable hard drive I got ended up breaking on me. So while on a trip to Chicago, I bought a 2TB Slim SeaGate Backup Plus and it has worked fine ever since.
In addition to the hard drive, I wanted something that would protect the hard drive since I carried this in my bag while going to school and on my travels. I didn’t want to fork the money on a Lacie at the time, but I found this rubber case for only 10$ on Amazon that fits amazing and does exactly what I need it to do. Protect the outside of my external hard drive.
6. Aukey iPhone Charging Cable
If you have an iPhone or any Apple accessory actually… You can probably agree that the quality of the accessories are pretty bad. I’ve probably gone through several iPhone charging cables and earphones over the years.
After my fifth iPhone cable with my iPhone 6, I decided to look for better third party options and if this is starting to look like a paid Aukey advertisement, it’s not… I wish it was, but it’s not and the Aukey doesn’t only offer a better cable that doesn’t tear apart, the cables are actually longer and are more useful for me at least.
These cables are 12$ each, which may be pricey if you’re looking at third party iPhone cable options, but Aukey also offers a 2 year warranty which I have used and have had great success and service with. A quick email with pictures and a brief explanation will get you a new cable. You also get to choose from a variety of colors and cord lengths to fit your preference.
7. Aukey USB Wall Plug
Almost all of my portable tech gadgets plug into a USB port and instead of carrying each individual USB brick for each product, I have this Aukey USB wall charger. Aukey offers a variety of USB extension cords and wall plugs, but the one I use is compact and easy to carry around. It offers three ports, and I use it mainly to charge my iPhone and portable battery packs.
I just took a trip to Asia and this tech case I got from AmazonBasics was incredibly functional. It helped me keep some of my cables organized and helped me when I was moving from hostel to hostel. This inexpensive tech case is well built and is the perfect size for traveling around. While it helps keep my tech gadgets organized, it also looks great and helps protect the gadgets with it’s sturdy build. I typically throw this in my backpack or my rolling carry-on luggage and it’s easy to pack in.
I’m a big music guy and absolutely love this Bluetooth speaker. It’s easy to carry around, looks great, and the sound quality is phenomenal. This is the first generation of the UE boom and I’ve had it for just over 2 years now. I bring this thing everywhere with me and it’s perfect for hotel stays, AirBnB stays, cottages, and house parties. Super easy to carry around and to pack in with your other essentials. Super durable and although it’s not waterproof, I’ve had a few incidents where liquids have drenched the speaker and it still sounds great. After a full charge, you can use it for hours before needing to fully charge it again.
I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Bose SoundLinks and they seem like a quality speaker. Back when I bought my UE Boom, the Bose SoundLink didn’t seem as durable and weather proofed as the UE boom, but i now see waterproof versions that I should one day check out. If you have one, I want to hear your thoughts on it in the comment section!
10. Apple Ear Phones
For ear phones, I’ve always used the standard Apple earphones. The reason for this is that I use my earphones for almost all of my daily activities and I don’t want to pay attention to them as much. I use them for the gym, school, on the bus, leisure, and I always find that I chuck them around. A nice pair of earphones definitely makes a difference in the sound quality, but I rather have a working pair that sounds okay compared to an expensive pair that I run the risk of losing and damaging because of my recklessness.
You might be a fan of headphones for your tech bag essentials, but I’m personally not a big headphone user. If you’re looking for the right headphones, I would recommend checking out a list like this.
My next earphone purchase will definitely be the Bose QuietComfort 20 In-Ear headphones though. They don’t seem too bulky and front he in-store tests, the sound is incredible. These are noise-cancelling which makes it perfect for travel and plane rides.
11. USB Drive
A USB drive might not be as relevant anymore because of apps such as Google Drive or cloud storage that can help you transfer files easily through the web. But, having a USB drive at all times is incredibly useful. There were so many times in college where I would need to get something printed and either the internet was down, or the old computers would have trouble connecting to the internet. The USB drive saved my grades and always performed when I needed it. Super compact and you don’t need one with huge storage space, but having one for school can be a lifesaver.
12. Herschel Backpack
You might be wondering what bag I carry most of these tech gadget essentials in. The Herschel backpack is my go-to tech bag and it has served me very well for almost 5 years and still looks great. The one I have has a black exterior with a reflective strip on the bottom zipper. The inside is had red and white stripes with a suede side for the laptop sleeve which feels very nice when sliding the laptop in and out.
Although the backpack looks small, it actually carries quite a bit. You have a laptop sleeve that fits my 13 inch laptop and I have a huge pocket to fill up with either textbooks, hard drives, tech gear, camera gear, and much more. You also have the front pocket to put your wallet, charging cables, or battery packs.
The best looking backpack that I’ve ever owned… hands down. This is a very popular backpack brand on campus and in Canada – I can now see why.
What’s in my tech bag might not necessarily be the right gear or gadget essentials for you, but these are items that I can vouch for and have done the job for me throughout the years. There are a ton of alternatives out there on the market, but I always like to look at reviews and see what other people recommend before buying.
I’ve upgraded and added quite a few new tech essentials from the last time I made an essentials post. As I go through new phases of my life, I’m sure these tech essentials will change compared to my time in college and as I start working remotely, I can already see things changing in my everyday workflow. I’ll try to keep you guys updated on what’s in my tech bag, but for now I would love to hear what you all carry!