Most of us have, at one time or another, worked away from the office. We may have enjoyed a conference call during a commute, worked on a business plans on the plane and even built websites on the go. As telecommuting becomes more common for professionals within the tech world who may be zigzagging between meetings, conferences and conventions in different time zones, having the right arsenal of gear can mean the difference between getting the job done and getting left behind.
To ensure that you are prepared for your next business trip – or just keeping in touch with the office on summer vacation – this guide offers insights into some of the best tech gadgets and apps on the market for tech business travelers. They’ll help keep you charged up, looking good and in touch. They’ll also make the job you do a whole lot easier.
Pack up your precious gear in tough-as-nails Zero Halliburton luggage. Small enough to qualify as a carry-on and sturdy enough to protect your tech cargo, these carbon fiber and geo aluminum cases, like the Zero Air II, are designed to be hardworking and lightweight. They include swivel casters and come in a range of colors from more traditional silver and black to red, blue and green.
Need a shoulder or carry bag to take your laptop and accessories on the go? Booq bags are designed for commuters who want to travel with gear in tow. The new Saddle Pro is an expandable laptop bag that is quite a workhorse. The lightweight waterproof nylon bag can expand to fit a laptop with quick access to handhelds, folders, documents, accessories, and even a coffee container or water bottle.
Booq also released a new backpack – the Cobra – that’s a stylish companion with room enough for a laptop and accessories thanks to pockets and folders to keep everything organized in transit. The company even offers a lost and found service that helps you track your bag and everything in it.
If your business trips take you poolside or on a boat, Overboard has a line of bags and cases that keep tech dry, like the Pro-Light Waterproof Messenger, as well as a variety of camera, tablet and phone cases that will spare you from spills and splashes.
High-tech fashion isn’t what it used to be. Forget the bulky gear. ScotteVest has been perfecting its designs to meet the demands of mobile gadget users. One way to look professional while still toting your gear is in the Sports Coat, a stylish blazer with 23 pockets, including exterior pockets (with key holder) and interior zippered pockets with room enough for a cell phone, music player, camera, wallet, glasses, tablet and pens. It looks like a blazer but feels more like something out of Iron Man.
A sporty alternative is the H2Flow Jacket. It features comfortable Polartec fleece with H2Flow technology that helps regulate body temperature in warm and cool weather. It’s ideal for anyone traveling between time zones and who needs extra pockets for gadgets. The lightweight jacket also rolls up small enough to fit into a carryall bag.
One of the best smart watches on the market that’s designed specifically for techies is the Pebble Time, which comes in several styles ranging from traditional to mod. It’s been on the market for two years after a successful crowd-funding campaign, and the latest version offers a whopping seven-day battery life with connectivity between both Apple and Android. The popular Pebble Steel lets you stylishly check emails, texts and calls right on your wrist. It’s even waterproof.
Take it to the next level with the SOOT Electropack 2, a wearable charging station that features easy access to inputs, as well as storage that comfortably fits into a backpack style. There are six different pockets – that’s enough to fit a laptop, tablet and much more – with the aid of comfortable back straps and enough juice to keep you in business for two weeks off the grid.
One of the biggest challenges of working on the road is ensuring that you’ve got enough juice to get the job done. When you’re using a variety of gear – like a laptop with a smart phone and tablet – a power source can make or break your deadlines. Thankfully there are quite a few handy backup chargers designed for high-capacity use, like the Choetech 20,000mAh Power Bank. This handy brick lets you charge any device up to four times – this includes phones, laptops and accessories – with built-in safeguards that ensure the devices are protected from surges.
Also powerful and pocket-size, the Anker PowerCore 20100 packs a punch as one of the most compact power banks on the market. A user gets up to seven charges before the charger needs to be juiced, ensuring a smooth road. It even comes in two colors – black and white.
Who doesn’t love multitasking? Mac users may want to check out Twelve South’s Plug Bug, a dual charger that allows you to power up a Macbook along with an iPhone, iPad or iPod simultaneously. The plug even includes five international snap-ons to ensure access to power anywhere in the world.
Nomad also introduced a wallet that charges your iPhone. It may look like a lightweight, fashionable leather wallet, but it has a lithium-ion battery built in. By placing the battery into the spine of the wallet, it maintains its thinness so it fits into a pocket or shoulder bag comfortably. And it has enough space for five credit cards, an RFiD card, three business cards, 10 bills and one full iPhone charge.
TYLT’s Vu Wireless Charger has Android users covered. This sleek little device allows users to power up without actually plugging in. The stylish stand is designed for placing a phone onto the charger on a 45-degree angle so there’s no reason to miss a call or text. The charger does its job while you do yours.
Just like actual gadgets help keep you connected anywhere, apps can keep you on track on the road. A great travel app to start with is TripIt, which keeps your travel itinerary in one place. Ideal for commuters who spend much of their time dashing from cars to planes to trains, the app allows you to organize all hotel and transportation booking, along with daily schedules, in one easy-to-access app on your phone. You can even forward confirmation emails to the account so they can be integrated automatically. It’s like your own personal assistant.
ConnectBot is the ultimate app for Unix-based servers. The app, a powerful open-source Secure Shell (SSH) client, lets you perform system admin, maintenance and troubleshooting on the go. It supports local connections, so you can access via any Android phone.
AndFTP can be used to download and upload files and even perform select administrative tasks right from your phone, too, like renaming and deleting files, and updating permissions while running custom commands. The pro version even has support for secure copy protocol and enables remote synchronization.
Want to monitor if and when a server goes down? Httpmon’s got you covered. The app supports HTTP connections. You just need to add the pertinent, totally customizable data and the app will alert you if there’s a problem. It even sends texts messages to anyone on your contacts list.
Evernote is the ultimate office app for when you’re away from the office. It’s most basic features allow for note-taking, task tracking and online searching that clips notes from anywhere on the Web. The app also syncs across all phones and computers, which can be key when working with multiple parties. Plus and Premium access also help to create a virtual workspace from anywhere with access to data even when you’re offline. Its most sophisticated version even allows you to scan and digitize business cards, annotate PDFs and search docs and attachments quickly.
Natalie Hope McDonald is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia.