When getting ready for conventions, we here at The Beat can most likely pack with our eyes closed at this point. Years of experience have taught us what works, what doesn’t work, and what is a definite must in terms of gear and how to pack it. For those still mystified of what to bring, read on ahead and sample from some of our collective wisdom.
My packing list for San Diego Comic-Con hasn’t grown much since starting these gear lists. If anything, I’ve been removing more and more from the list to become more streamlined and effective, inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupery:
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
As such this year I wanted to focus on items that are more helpful than expected, and should require a second look for your own kit as well. Down below you can also find a summary view of what’s in my SDCC go bag. If you want to know why those items are essential to me, go back and read last year’s roundup here.
Wet wipes’ utility rises to that of a Swiss army knife when traveling, and especially at a convention of San Diego Comic-Con’s scale. Public bathrooms aren’t as scary, they work as a quick refresher for your face and neck before a meeting or party, they’re decent in a pinch for unexpected condiment stains, and they’re quite gentle at removing muck from your con exclusives when you didn’t notice that sticky residue you set them on.
I’ve found the best option to be the slim packaging of the Cottonelle Fresh Care Travel 10-Pack that you can usually find for a buck at a Walgreens or Target, or order multiples at Amazon.
4-inch Power Cables:
PACKING LIST SUMMARY
Backpack | Nomadic CB-01 Multi-Compartment Day Backpack
Organizer | Coccoon Grid-It Elastic Organizer
External Battery | Anker PowerCore 20100mAh Dual-Port
Cables | Anker Powerline II Lightning/MicroUSB 6ft Cable
Phone Lenses | Olloclip Wide Angle
Microphone | Zoom iQ7 Mid-Side Stereo Microphone (iOS)
Water Bottle | Vapur Eclipse Foldable Water Bottle
Tripod | Joby Grip Tight GorillaPod Magnetic for Smart Phones
Pens | Parker Jotter Ballpoint Pen
I’ve found a happy medium with my gear over the years: SLR camera with a zoom lens, high-capacity memory cards, extra batteries, tablet-pc with keyboard, sturdy-paper notebook, pen that writes easily, water bottle, business cards, a book when waiting in line or sitting down to eat, portable hard drive to backup pictures, portable MIFI device when the venue’s WIFI inevitably fails, and energy-packed snacks when food lines are too long are all staples at this point. For various reasons, however, there are a few pieces that standout above the rest.
When writing articles on the fly, a highly portable laptop or tablet is a must. That’s why my Microsoft Surface Tablet with an extra battery packed into the keyboard has done many tours of duty at conventions. I’m still on the first-generation model; it’s simply a workhorse.
Sometime back, I switched from a backpack to that of an over the shoulder messenger bag. Backpacks were too cumbersome and time consuming to take off and scrounge around in for what I needed, when I needed it. My Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag has served me well for a while now. It has a lot of inner pockets to help organize your pieces.
Portable Game Console:
There’s often a great deal of waiting involved when in line for a panel or for convention exclusive merchandise. And sometimes, you just don’t feel like reading a book. The Nintendo Switch has become a godsend for these occasions. I doubt you will need more than one game with you, so I recommend you bring The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It’s a large world with enough ground to cover and side quests to complete that will keep you occupied for a while. The only downside is the relatively short battery life, but hopefully you won’t be doing that much waiting.
One of my last major editions to my bag has been the Omnicharge, one of the most successful crowdfunded tech campaigns in 2016. This 20,100 to 20,400-mAh capacity battery pack is unique because not only does it sport two USB ports, it also comes pre-equipped with an AC outlet, making it capable of charging small-electronic devices like tablets, laptops, and camera batteries. The OLED screen will tell you things like how much battery time you have left if you continue using it, the Omnicharge’s current temperature, to even how much wattage being used. The Omnicharge can range from $199.99 to $299.99, but I recommend the mid-line $249.99 option as it has a larger battery compared to the lower-tier, offers DC as well as AC compatibility, and is capable of higher wattage outputs.
And perhaps one of my best additions to by gear has been the TASCAM DR-05 handheld digital audio recorder. This has made interviews a lot easier than by trying to record from my cellphone or tablet. Audio files can be saved as a WAV or a mp3 file, recorded to a microSD or microSDHC card. The integrated microphone captures voices clearly, but the DR-05 can also accommodate for a 3.5mm stereo mic/line to be attached, allowing for external microphones and other sound sources. TASCAM has other, more powerful models, but the slim design and portability of the DR-05 is a happy balance for those always on the move.
I would be absolutely nothing without my portable battery. This puppy is small but mighty. I’ve even used it to charge my laptop when things get a little dire. It will charge a phone about 5 times and a tablet 3 times. I’ve been using this puppy for two years pretty extensively and it has held up really well. It’s pretty quick and it saves me from having to fight over the non-existent outlets in hallways.