Chances are, you’ll be doing some traveling this holiday season. Or perhaps you have someone on your gift list that is a regular puddle jumper. Below you’ll find my top-picks for either scenario that will keep all your devices organized and operating at peak performance.
Managing Your Gear
Whether you’re a regular at the airport or just traveling this holiday season, managing all of your gear can be a frustrating proposition. If you’re anything like myself, you’ll be hauling around a MacBook, iPad Air 2, headphones, chargers and other peripherals. Nothing solves this problem like a well-thought-out backpack or messenger bag to keep all your gear in order. Our top-pick is the Incase Range backpack, although it’s designed for bicycling it’s actually a great everyday option. There are designated compartments for a MacBook up to 15-inches in size, as well as an iPad sleeve and plenty of room for your other gear. The wide-mouth top gives ample space to see and access all of your gear. It retails for $120 and comes in black.
If you prefer a Messenger Bag style, look no further than Timbuk2. The San Francisco-based company has been churning out quality products for years that are backed by a lifetime warranty. My favorite option over at timbuk2 is the Command TSA-Friendly Messenger Bag 2015. It comes in a number of colors and has a nice modern design. There is storage for a 15-inch MacBook, plus your iPad and other devices. It uses aluminum hooks to keep everything stored in tight and has clever zipper system for accessing gear without opening the top flap. Timbuk2 charges $109 for this messenger bag and offers it in 10 different colors.
Corralling all your cords
Now that you’re straightened out with a new backpack or messenger bag, it’s on to all the stuff inside. On a typical day, I’m carrying at least one Lightning and microUSB cable, headphones, and my Apple Watch charger. This can become quite the jumbled mess in my bag if I’m not intentional about organizing my gear. I lean on two products to keep my satchel in order. First is the Nite Ize Gear Tie, which is available in varying lengths and colors. Personally, I prefer the three-inch rubber ties, which provide just enough length to coral my cables but aren’t too expensive at $3 for a set of four.
I’m also a big fan of the Cable Clip from Blue Lounge. This handy piece of plastic is a must-have. It simply clips your cable in two locations to keep it from running wild. The Cable Clip is one of those things that I wish I would’ve invented but none-the-less still love. At $10 for a set of six, it’s a worthwhile investment that will pay off quickly.
Although cloud storage has come a long way over the last few years, there is still a need for physical portable hard drives in our digital lives. I’ve tried a number of different strategies for keeping my files in order and have ultimately settled on the following two devices in my daily routine. First up is SanDisk’s Extreme 500 Portable Solid-State Drives. These puck-shaped drives come in a few different capacities, ranging from 120GB up to 480GB. While the price per GB is higher than traditional portable options, the difference in speed is well worth the investment. Additionally, SSD options are generally more reliable in the long term in comparison to its mechanical counterparts. I use the mid-range model to store and transfer my GoPro videos when I’m away from my desktop computer. The smallest capacity is currently $90 at Amazon.
For iOS users, I’d recommend SanDisk’s Connect drive. This handy drive adds up to 128GB of storage to your device and connects wirelessly for easy access. It’s perfect for keeping movies and other files around without bogging down your iPhone. We positively reviewed the Connect when it was released back in the summer and still recommend it today. Prices start at $30 for the smallest capacity and range up to $100 for 128GB.
My favorite Bluetooth keyboards
Every solid portable setup deserves an external keyboard that is comfortable to type on and can take a beating out on the road. My top-pick in this category for iOS users is the Brydge Keyboard for iPad Air/2. I’ve been using this keyboard for a few months now and can honestly say that it’s my favorite of all the portable options. It has a classy aluminum design that is available in three color-matching styles. The keyboard is backlit and has a design that is reminiscent of the MacBook Air. There is nothing “plasticy” or cheap about this keyboard, the aluminum design is an excellent visual companion to the iPad Air 2. The Brydge Keyboard is available in three colors for $150.
Those in the market for a more cost-effective option will want to look at Anker’s iPad Air 2 Keyboard with a familiar clamshell design. It is available with a backlit keyboard or without and uses the familiar folio-style design. This keyboard is favorite amongst Amazon users, collecting a solid 4.6/5 star rating from hundreds of reviewers.