High Tech & Low Weight

13+1 Gear essentials for the digital nomad

Being a Digital Nomad, in other words location independent, mostly translates to being a minimalist. This doesn’t mean living on canned food and mountain stream water, however when it comes to gear you can get far with very few belongings. In 2014 I decided to reduce what I own to 300 items. When on the move I carry less than 80, all of which fit comfortably in my Tortuga Backpack so I never have to check my bag.

Before I my transition to becoming a digital nomad I was carrying far too much luggage. I’m reminded of those days occasionally when I spot a stereotypical backpacker. We have all seen them: 70L pack on their back, shoes swinging loosely on it’s outside, a big daypack across their chest, sweaty shirt and a stressed expression on their face.

Over time I found out that the lighter I travel, the happier I am. Since I constantly travel and want to maximise happiness I choose to travel ultra-light. Being a nomad isn’t about not spending but about mindful ownership. It means having the best of one item rather than three crappy versions of the same and using it regularly. Here is my personal list of 13 +1 gear essentials for the digital nomad. Note: no affiliate links, just cool stuff.

Book

I have never seen a successful person who doesn’t read. My current choice: Walden by Henry David Thoreau. It’s an ideal travel companion and a good read for anyone interested in the nomadic lifestyle. Price: $6

Wrist Watch

My choice is a silver Casio Vintage because it’s design is simple, timeless, young and professional at the same time so I can wear it to any occasion including exercise. Price: $26

Long Sleeve Shirt

My most useful piece of clothing is a thin cotton long sleeve. It’s handy on chilled evenings, early morning hikes and long plane, boat or bus rides. My choice: Blue America Today long sleeve. Price: $20

Small Pouch

A small pouch is a requirement for travellers in general. It protects your valuables and documents like passport, bank cards, tickets and sim cards. I’m not a fan of travel wallets or hidden belts of any kind so instead I picked up this leather pouch in Pushkar, India for a fraction of what these pouches usually go for. Best part: the pouch fits in the side pocket of my Tortuga for swift presentation of my documents at checkins. Price: $2

Passport

Almost too obvious but without a passport you’re not going anywhere so it deserves it’s spot on the list. I just got a visa extension for Colombia a few days ago and will get a new passport in 2016. Priceless.

Pencil

Even though I love Evernote I still take a lot of notes in my notebook and comment on passages in books. The Faber Castell Perfect Pencil is a traveller’s true friend and it’s name is no exaggeration. This pencil has an integrated sharpener, a clip and an eraser. Made in Germany and sold for $10

Notebook

My notebook of choice is a bit larger allowing enough space for sketches. My choice: Moleskine at $6

Laptop Computer

My laptop is my office. I prefer the 13 inch Apple MacBook Air. Some people say a Mac is too expensive and carries a higher risk of theft. I’d like to think that I’m investing in my productivity as I can work many times faster on a Mac. It never got stolen either, in part thanks to it’s low-profile sleeve (below) so it’s worth every dollar for me. Price: $1.200

Laptop Case

A quality protection for my laptop computer is one of the most important parts of my gear. The NomadSleeve is my MacBook’s home. It’s a soft but strong felt sleeve with a minimalistic design. There are no unnecessary straps, pockets or flaps and it comes with a 2 year guarantee. Price: $50

Pocket Knife

You don’t need to be camping to find a pocket knife useful. My small swiss army knife has been a blessing in uncounted situations. Whether it’s removing a splinter, opening a stubborn bottle-cap or peeling an orange, the 2 1/4 inch Victorinox knife is a great tool. Outside the US it’s even allowed in your carry-on luggage on planes. Price: $18

USB Cable

You’re hardly a digital nomad without a smartphone (my +1 on the list). The most practical charging cable I found is the Jump Cable. After your phone is fully charged, it saves another 30% of battery capacity in its tiny belly, which comes in very handy when your phone dies. Price: $50

Wallet

I have never been a big fan of bulgy wallets. The minimalistic and stylish Slim Wallet holds only the fundamentals: cards. When I’m traveling my bills are held by a money clip, which also ensures that I’m not producing all my valuables when I’m paying for a juice. Price: $25

Travel Carabiner

Not exclusive to climbing a carabiner can be useful for hanging, fixing or connect things. It’s handy when on the road but also a nice tool around the house. Best memory: Being able to hang my backpack above my head in a dirty and crowded bus in Sri Lanka. Price: $4

I hope this list has given you some inspiration. Tell me what your travel gear looks like and what I’m still missing in my backpack. If you liked this post please share it with a friend.