From Issue Six of Gear Patrol Magazine.
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Let’s face it, most of us have given up the idea of totally disconnecting on the road. The pressure of the Netflix queue, work emails and Instagram are just too much to bear. But what is it about traveling that makes one rethink every gadget they own?
The right travel gadget can be a game changer. Even for all the gadget naysayers, products are simply getting better (thanks, Amazon user reviews) with every iteration. We’ve tested our fair share of them aloft, and here are the best gadgets worthy of consideration for a coveted spot in your carry-on this season.
Further Reading: Best Noise-Canceling Headphones | 7 Best True Wireless Earbuds | GP Staff’s Favorite Travel Essentials
If you’re looking for a proper camera at a price that won’t break the bank then look no further than the X-E3. It features everything you want in a portable mirrorless camera. Images are rich, detailed and the controls are perfectly tactile. While we’d normally scoff at built-in post-processing filters, Fujifilm and its renowned color scientists faithfully recreated the company’s famous traditional films as built-in settings. Postcard-y photos from your trip suddenly look richer and emotional. The X-E3 sports the other requisite features you want in a modern camera, such as 4K video capture mode, a touchscreen and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The screen doesn’t tilt or swivel, so you’ll have to keep all those selfies to your phone.
Apple SD to Lightning Adapter
The Apple-branded Lightning Port SD Card reader isn’t a new gadget, but we’ve rekindled our love for it. While cameras are getting better with their Wi-Fi connection than ever before, there’s a good chance that the camera you own is still finicky when it comes to making a fast, reliable connection to your iPhone or iPad. There’s no replacement for a direct connection, and the reader’s built-in compatibility with the Photos app makes it a total cinch to bring in all your favorite photos and into your favorite editor for that tier-one ‘gram you’re itching to post.
Remember how much you loved your Game Boy when you were growing up? Yeah, kids these days have it way better. We’re not above admitting that several of us own one and play it proudly.
Native Union Belt Cable
Until everything is wireless, we’re going to have to deal with cables and nothing is more depressing than one of those ratty old ones with the exposed wire near the connection point . Accessory and cable brand Native Union answers the call with beautiful braided cable accessories. We’re big fans of their modern design and robust construction. They’re pricey, but would you rather pay a few bucks more for a beautiful cable that you can rely on or risk having to buy an overpriced generic replacement at the airport? Exactly.
Sony Noise-Canceling Headphones WH-1000XM2
Bose rules the roost with noise-canceling headphones, but we’ve discovered a great alternative to recommend this year: the Sony WH-1000MX2. They’re incredibly comfortable, well designed with an unassuming look that we love, and they sound fantastic. The fact that you can use them right out of the box with the standard settings, or dial in everything from noise canceling atmospheric pressure to custom EQ settings, makes them a tinkerer’s dream. 30-hour battery life (or 40 hours without noise cancelling) means they’ll be ready for any gauntlet of transcontinental business trips.
RavPower HyperAir Fast Wireless Power Bank
This is a portable power bank first, but it’s also a Qi-wireless charger. Simply set your iPhone 8, 8-Plus or wireless charging-capable Android down and it will start charging — no wires anywhere. The convenience of a nightstand charger even when you’re on the road.
MUJI Double Fastener Case
A great accessory doesn’t have to cost a lot. Look no further than MUJI when it comes to an outfitter who crushes the function-to-price ratio. We’re still keen on the MUJI Double Fastener Case. The dual pocketed design – one fully covered and one with a mesh front – allow you to store objects that you want to keep out of sight or easily visible for quick access, while the flat pack structure results in minimal bulk.
At some point we’ll stop talking about how much we love the AirPods, but until something better comes across our desks we’re going to continue lavishing praise on them. While the AirPods don’t offer any noise canceling, they’re perfect for travelers who prefer to stay lean and light. They’re great for hands-free phone calls so you can power through notes on your laptop. Bonus: you’ll be able to upgrade to a wireless charging case Apple releases later this year.
Samsung Portable SSD T5 (250GB)
You never know when you’ll need extra storage your laptop or camera. This portable drive is rugged and can easily fit in your pocket. Plus it works with USB-C, meaning it can transfer data off your new MacBook Pro at super fast speeds.
Anker Nebula Capsule
Most people aren’t going to travel with a portable projector, but the Nebula might make you rethink the nerdery of a portable projector. The soda can-sized device allows you to stream shows and movies via Wi-Fi onto a projection up to 100 inches large. Oh, and it works with a Nintendo Switch via HDMI, too. Aces.
Twelve South PlugBug World Adaptor
The Apple World Travel Adaptor kit has been one of the best ways to ensure your jet-setting only requires one accessory, but there’s a good chance you’re carrying a lot more than just your MacBook. The PlugBug supercharges your wall adapter by adding a smart looking red top that gives you an additional USB port, eliminating the need to carry another plug adaptor (it also functions as a solo worldwide USB adaptor). Less really is more.
Remember phablets? Neither do we. The iPhone X strikes the perfect size. Large enough for red-eye show binging, large enough to crush some Google docs, but small enough to fit in a pair of trim chinos. It’s a supercomputer in your pocket and, let’s face it, if you’re carrying the iPhone X there’s a good chance you can leave the camera and iPad at home.
Roku Streaming Stick
Travel with a streaming stick. You can plug it into your hotel room’s TV and stream your favorite movies and shows. No more paying extra for movies on demand.
Apple Watch Series 3
Don’t bother digging out your iPhone every time you get a text, email or call. Just check your wrist. This is the first Apple Watch to have built-in LTE, meaning you can answer calls, receive texts and stream music without your iPhone.
Rimowa Topas Multiwheel Electronic Tag
Luggage should be reliable and dead simple, but we’re obsessed with the Electronic Tag from Rimowa, makers of the iconic aluminum-magnesium alloy shell bags towed by the stylish jet set. Paired with an app, the Electronic Tag allows you to check-in luggage from home or hotel and automatically display the ratty paper/sticker luggage tag on the built-in crisp E Ink display. Just drop off the bag and go. It only works on a few airlines right now, but we can’t wait to see it everywhere.