If you're a programmer then there's a good chance that you have a desk full of random gadgets lying around. Maybe a few flash drives, an old heavy hard drive and maybe even a satisfying finger twirling toy to distract yourself with when not working.
If you're a programmer that travels alot though, such as myself, there are certain things that you must carry around with you to be prepared. You won't find leather wallets and pocket knives here in this list. Those are cool too. But this list is reserved for essentials that any programmer could use in their day to day lives.
10. Flash drive
I rarely use flash drives these days, mainly because of cloud storage. Whenever I need to transfer files to any device, I'll more than likely drop it into either Google Drive, OneDrive or simply email it to myself.
But every so often on a rare blue moon I find myself with a super large file and not enough bandwidth to make the transfer. And that's why I always carry a flash drive with me wherever I go.
But not just any flash drive. If you're going to have to carry something around with you, why not make it interesting. I currently use the Corsair Survivor as my flash drive of choice. And in fact I've had the same one for the past 4 years and it still looks like the day that I bought it.
The Corsair Survivor gets its name for a very specific reason. It's a tough little piece of hardware. Here are a few of its standout features:
- Encased in extremely strong CNC-milled, anodized aircraft-grade aluminum
- Water proof to 200M through the use of a EPDM waterproof seal
- Protected from vibration or impact damage through the use of a molded shock damping collar
- High Performance with USB 3.0 or USB 2.0
- Plug-n-Play compatible
You don't need to get a tough as nails flash drive in order to transfer files. But if given the option, why wouldn't you?
Best of all, you can get all of these features at a pretty affordable price point these days.
You can pick up the Corsar Survivor starting at around $21 on Amazon for the 32GB model and you can go as high as 512GB.
9. Mobile hotspot
This one should be at the top of the list. But seeing as how this is not in any type of order, here it is. The most powerful tool that you can carry with you is definitely a high speed mobile hotspot.
And you have a few options here. I personally use the mobile hotspot on my phone, mainly because I use Google Fi and the plan offers 22GB of monthly unlimited high speed data. That's plenty enough for me to conduct day to business when traveling or when I'm waiting for someone at a coffee shop.
If you don't have Google Fi though, then maybe you might consider switching. So feel free to check out my Google Fi 2-year review right over here.
Most other phone companies do allow for mobile hotspot tethering, though they might do it at an added monthly cost, and from what I've seen, they might cap the data at around 5-10GB, so shopping around is always important as data cost can easily add up without you noticing.
Which is why you also have the option of picking up a dedicated data plan and a separate hotspot router of your choice.
8. Power bank
A list of gadgets wouldn't be complete without an external power bank of some kind. Because this is a list of every day carry items, I'm keeping the size of most items small.
For a portable powerbank, you don't really need anything more than 10,000mah really. That should power the latest and greatest phones at least twice over at any given time.
The brand of choice for me when it comes to power banks is always Anker. For one, they consistently rank high in terms of reviews wherever you look. But more importantly, their powerbanks actually use very high quality power cells. And that's important, because if this is something that you are going to be carrying with you daily, you want it to be reliable.
I always recommend the Anker Powercore 10000 for an everyday carry, mainly because of its small size, but also because it supports fast charging on most modern phones.
And it's also pretty affordable, which is going to be a theme in this list. I'm not trying to break the bank on what I carry in my laptop. You can find it on Amazon typically for around $24 right now.
7. Portable SSD
If you deal with large files and speed really is of importance to you, then you can't go wrong with a portable SSD drive (as oppose to a standard flash drive).
My recommendation for SSD's has always been Samsung. They consistently have the best reviews and they push some of the strongest benchmarks when it comes to overall performance.
They also make incredibly compact SSD's that you can toss into your backpack and never worry about.
The Samsung T7 is a 1TB drive with 1050MB/s read speeds and around 1000MB/s write speeds. The SSD is shock proof from up to a 6ft drop and has built-in heat protection technology in case internal temperatures begin to reach a critical level.
The Samsung T7 connects to any PC via USB-A or via USB-C as well making it pretty versatile and, again, is relatively affordable when compared to other SSD's on the market.
You can currently find the T7 on Amazon for around $79 for the 500GB model.
6. FIDO Security Key
The future of security really does lie in 2-factor authentication. 80% of all data breaches currently center around compromised passwords and the problem isn't going to improve on its own.
You might already be familiar with 2-factor authentication protocols, such as biometric readings, face scans and short-lived tokens sent to your phones.
Those are all valid and secure ways of authenticating your accounts. But they aren't without their shortcomings. For one, not all of your devices have biometric scanners and not all services, such as email providers and online e-commerce accounts provide that as valid methods of authentication.
And truthfully, they still aren't 100%. We've all seen videos online of people gaining access to a device using either high-resolution photos or a person or even going as far as making 3D face molds in order to gain access to a system.
And if you don't want to walk around worried about face-tracking, biometric sensors or voice pattern recognition, then I highly recommend a security key.
A security key is essentially a device that carries your private encrypted keys and that you insert or tap (depending on the model) in order to activate 2-factor authentication on a variety of services. And best of all? It's a battery-less thin piece of plastic that you can probably run over with your car and it would survive just fine and that you can carry on your keychain without having to think about it.
Truthfully, it's orders of magnitude more convenient than having to launch an authentication app, copying a token quickly, and navigating your way back to the source before it expires.
With a Yubikey, you pretty much just insert the key into a USB-A, or if you have the NFC enabled version, you can tap it on your device and voila, you are in.
The Yubikey supports multiple security protocols, such as FIDO, FIDO2 and U2F and can be used on any FIDO compliant applications, such as GMail, Outlook and Dropbox to name a few.
You can pick up the Yubikey 5 (NFC) for around $49 on Amazon right now. Out of all the items on this list, this one would rank the highest I would say in terms of overall long term usefulness.
5. RFID Blocking Device
Continuing with the theme of security, these days odds are that you have a card somewhere on your person just waiting for a scanner to appear within a set number of inches so that it can broadcast it's precious data.
Luckily, we also have new gadgets now to counteract that type of thing. I don't recommend any specific wallet for RFID blocking (though there are plenty), mainly because everyone has their own style and specific needs and wallets these days go for as high as $90. Which is crazy, as you can pick up an entire SSD (seen above) for cheaper.
So instead I will recommend an RFID blocking card that you can carry around with your regardless of the type of container you prefer to carry.
And the best part? These things are super cheap. You can pick up a pack of 4 RFID blocking cards on Amazon for under $10 right now.
4. Wireless Earbuds
And I don't mean wireless headphones here. I mean small, easy to carry, throw into your backpack earbuds.
I don't leave anywhere without mine fully charged these days. And while I do own a pair of the Surface Headphones 2, which I enjoy using, those are more in line with office use. They have good noise cancellation and you can wear them for long periods of time.
But wireless earbuds are a whole thing entirely. I always recommend the Galaxy Buds+ these days, for a number of reasons.
For one, they sound pretty fantastic. I'm not an audiophile in any way, but there's something about these that just sounds good.
But the most important reason why I recommend them, is because of their ridiculously long battery life. The Galaxy Buds+ can last up to 11 hours on a single charge. That's easily 2-3 days of full use before you have to toss back into their case to charge another 10 hours back in.
Because of the release of the Galaxy Buds Pro (still good), the price of the Galaxy Buds+ has dropped significantly and you can find them for around $109 on Amazon.
3. Innergie 60C Foldable, 60W PD USB-C Wall Charger
If there's one thing that I hate carrying, but that I typically have to, it is a giant 45w laptop charger in the shape of a brick.
For one, it's heavy and makes up a bulk of the weight that I typically around. But secondly, it's only 45W. We can do better.
Say hello to the Innergie 60C Foldable. A 60W PD wall charger that is over 50% smaller than your typical laptop charger and that can charge all of your USB-C powered devices.
And it really is tiny. This thing could fit into your pocket if you so wished it. Why carry around 3-4 power bricks, plus a laptop power supply, when you can replace it with one of these.
The Innergie 60C is pretty affordable as well coming in at around $34 on Amazon. This is one of those things that isn't a requirement, but that once you have it you wondered why you spent so much time fiddling with 45W giant power bricks.
2. Pen and Paper
I constantly have new ideas for projects, websites, blog articles and other types of content as I go through my day to day activities.
Most of those ideas are pretty much forgotten within the hour never to be heard from again. Sometimes they come back, but I always wonder "for how long?".
Recently, as an experiment, I began to carry with me a pocket sized notebook and a pen and made it a point to actively jot down these ideas as they happened. And what can I say.Those ideas are still here with me. I have more of a recollection of them, and while I'm not actively pursuing them right now, they are at least not forgotten just yet.
Any pen and paper will do fine here. As long as it is convenient enough for you to carry around. Almost everyone I know has an "idea book" of some kind, but it essentially sits on their desk gathering dust because they are a nuisance to carry.
My personal recommendation though is the Roketbook Smart Notebook.
The standout feature? It's completely reusable. The notebook contains 32 pages in total, but once you are done with a page, you can scan it using the accompanying app and then wipe the page down and await your next bout of genius.
You can pick up the Rocketbook Smart Notebook for around $24 on Amazon. And when you consider the fact that you won't have to buy paper ever again, the notebook eventually pays for itself.
1. Raspberri Pi
And last on the list, and quite possibly the oddest item, is the Raspberri Pi. The tiny "can do anything" computer that you can carry around with you wherever you go.
There is a ton that you can do with the Raspberri Pi. Everything from streaming music to detecting wifi signals to playing video games. You name it. And that's why it's on this list. Because it is a blank slate and your imagination can fill in the gaps.
It's almost like the pen and paper mentioned above. Except in digital format. When that next idea sparks into existence, you want to be sure that you have the right tools at your disposal to ensure the highest likelihood of seeing come to life. I think the Raspberri Pi makes that much more achievable, and it does it at a pretty decent price point (theme of this article).
You can pick up the 4GB model for around $62 on Amazon right now.
I hope you enjoyed this list of 10 things that I for sure carry around with me wherever I go. May your packs be full of gadgets.
Walter Guevara is a software engineer, startup founder and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He is currently building things that don't yet exist.