AS A TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER who spends most of the year moving through airports, exploring remote locations, and documenting life on this planet, I’m always in search of technology to make my life easier. Over the years, I have fine-tuned my adventure / travel gear list to include devices that not only make me more efficient, but also help me expand both my creativity and functionality while on the road.
Here are 10 devices you’ll find in my backpack on any given adventure.
Smartphone (Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone)
Mobile technology has undergone serious evolution since 2006, when smartphones first truly entered the market. These days you can effectively get much of the power of a desktop or laptop in a device that fits into your pocket. To top it off, most high-end smartphones now have incredible cameras, ensuring that you always have a camera with you. No matter if you choose an Android HTC One, iPhone 5c, or Nokia 1020, you’ll have a lot of power in the palm of your hand.
Casio Pathfinder Pro Trek Watch
While watches might have become somewhat antiquated for many out there, a solid adventure watch is a must when I hit the road. Casio’s Pro Trek line of watches not only provide you with a compass, altimeter, and barometer, but also come solar powered in specific models. Want to know the moon phases and tidal charts? Not a problem!
Sony a7R Camera
While this device is technically not publicly available just yet (December 2013 release date), the Sony a7R is the most exciting camera to hit the travel sphere in a long time. It comes with a full frame high resolution sensor (36mp) yet still easily fits in the palm of your hand. Marketed as the smallest full frame mirror-less camera with interchangeable lenses, this bad boy packs a ton of power in a very portable body.
Wacom Cintiq Companion
Up until now, most photographers, graphic designers, and illustrators had to make significant sacrifices when trying to do any serious editing work on the road. Not any more! The Wacom Cintiq Companion is a powerful 13” laptop running full-version Windows 8, living in a tablet body. Like most Wacom tablets, it comes with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity on its screen that, when coupled with the included pen stylus, becomes the traveling creative professional’s dream come true.
- Note: Enter Wacom’s “Make the World Your Studio” contest for a chance to win a Cintiq Companion Hybrid or Cintiq Companion. To enter, visit Wacom’s Facebook page and click the map to show where you like to get creative. The deadline is November 11, 2013 (contest open to US residents only). Good luck!
Toshiba Kirabook Ultrabook
If you’re not looking to do any serious editing work on the road, the Toshiba Kirabook is arguably the best ultraportable laptop on the market. With a retina-like high-resolution touchscreen, pressed magnesium alloy body that’s 100% stronger than an Apple MacBook Air, and a powerful i7 CPU processor, there’s a lot to like. Weighing in at just 2.6 lbs (on some models), I rarely notice the weight of this laptop in my bag.
X-Rite i1 Display Pro
Having a laptop or Wacom Cintiq tablet with a beautiful screen doesn’t mean much if it’s not color calibrated to make sure you’re always seeing the most accurate colors possible. X-Rite’s i1 Display Pro is an incredibly powerful and portable spectrometer that, when combined with the right software, allows me to maintain color accuracy on my laptop, tablet, or desktop computer.
Goal Zero Sherpa 50 + Nomad 13
When I find myself working off the grid, the first thing I reach for when packing my bag is my Goal Zero Sherpa 50 & Nomad 13 solar panel. When combined, I have the ability to remain on the move, uninhibited by the need to find an outlet to keep my cameras and laptops charged. This gives me the freedom and opportunity to always be on the lookout for that next great image.
Nexus 7 Android Tablet
Tablets have come a long way over the years, not only in how powerful and portable they are, but also in their price. The Android-powered Nexus 7 starts at $229 and comes with top-of-the-line specs such as a 1080p screen, 9 hours of battery life, and quad core processor. I use mine to not only respond to emails and surf the web, but watch movies while in transit and show off my photography portfolio on a gorgeous HD screen.
Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone
While the world has become more globally connected over the years, there are still places on this planet where even cell phones don’t get reception. When I’m out traveling alone, worried about my safety, or just want to make sure I have a backup communication option, I pack my Iridium 9555 sat phone in my bag. I’ve been able to call my wife and son from the middle of Patagonia, in the heart of the Sahara Desert, and even in the backcountry of Colorado (where I call home).
As a photographer and technology geek, it’s hard not to get excited at the idea of a computer-powered pair of glasses. By running a custom version of Android and tethering to your smartphone via Bluetooth, Google Glass is forging into territory that has only previously be seen in the movies. That being said, I have thoroughly enjoyed using Google Glass on my adventures, as it has allowed me to capture (stills and video) from a first-person perspective that’s next to impossible with any other device. Even though Glass is still a number of months away from public availability, I have a feeling the software and functionality is only going to continue to get better as more developers get their hands on this amazing piece of technology.