Gear Every Road Warrior Must Carry

Aaron McHugh

Thule Crossover backpack will swallow anything you insert
Thule Crossover backpack swallows it all

Gear Every Road Warrior Must Carry

I travel a lot. So much so that I try to not think too much about it and count how many days I spend away from home.  I’m going to download this list of what I consider to be key “must have’s” on any travel.  Whenever you travel away from home for business or pleasure, I guarantee these (or something like them) will make your bag lighter, more efficient and diverse.  This is Gear Every Road Warrior Must Carry. The result is your bag will weigh a lot less and you will be a lot more comfortable.

Thule Crossover backpack 25L

I’ve owned this pack for two years now and won’t ever go back to a traditional laptop bag.  This pack is very functional, easy to stuff full or cinch down when carrying small loads. Personally I like the work, life, play feel of this bag.  It is professional enough for business, but playful enough for personal travel. I also purchased the Macbook Pro sleeve that inserts into the built-in pack pocket.

Thule Gauntlet Macbook Pro Sleeve
Thule Gauntlet Macbook Pro Sleeve

Backpack Cost $100

Macbook Pro sleeve Cost $50

iPad with Logitech Bluetooth keyboard

I try to take only my iPad and keyboard for personal trips and business trips that last less than three to four days.  The weight saving is significant compared to dragging a laptop along.  I use Evernote, Dropbox, Skype and Lastpass to help cure the normal challenges you might experience from not having your full computer.  With the Bluetooth keyboard your iPad turns into an email machine during the day and Netflix viewing stand at night.

Price around $80.00

Logitech iPad keyboard
Logitech iPad keyboard

Mophie PowerStation Duo

How many times has your cell phone died and you can’t pull up your travel itinerary, digital boarding pass or use the GPS on the train or subway?  It has happened to me a lot. The Mophie duo gives my iPhone or iPad between two to four charges when starting with a full charge.  I’ve used this magic power pack all across the world.  My son even took it to Disneyland last week so he could stay in contact with us throughout the evening after his phone battery drained.

Price $130.00

Mophie Juicepack for charging your devices
Mophie Juicepack for charging your devices

Starbucks Via Italian Roast instant coffee packets

I admit I am a coffee snob. Most hotel coffee tastes like dirty water to me. Starbucks Via packets give me the delight of being at home.  I use them for everything from backpacking to business travel.  More uses for Via packets read this.

Price $10 for a pack of twelve. 

Portable caffeine buzz
Portable caffeine buzz

Garmin Vivofit

You’ve heard my commercial on this device before, but I find especially for business travel that it’s important to me to track my movement.  A sedentary life leads to a slow death or maybe better said a life I don’t want to live. The Vivofit helps me make sure I am moving enough including walking in airports or during conference calls.

Costs $130.00

Vivofit tracking your daily movement
Vivofit tracking your daily movement


I probably don’t need to give you many examples as to how you might use this wonder drug.  I use them for everything from backaches from sitting on the airplane to not being able to sleep.

The cure for any ailment
The cure for any ailment

Express Rocco Slim Fit jeans

My more rugged buddies will make fun of me for adding these to the list. However my wife brought this home for me to try and they have turned out to be perfect.  They are a great combination of casual and dressy.  The important point here is to find a versatile pair of jeans that fit multiple environments.

Price around $80.00

Casual but nice enough for the office
Casual but nice enough for the office

Bluff Works pants

I love these pants.  My friend Stefan Loble started this company from a Kickstarter campaign and now almost two years later, they are killing it. Hear his story on my podcast interview just as he was launching the company. The best part about these pants for me is that the inside pockets are lined with two words: Work & Play.  Although I am wearing them at work with clients I am always aware that both of these realities are available.  I guess it serves as another way I feel I can Stick It to The Man.

Price $93.00

I can easily wear with no iron and throw on a sport coat if needed
I can easily wear with no iron and throw on a sport coat if needed

GoLite Black Button up

Black is versatile for both nice and chill. You can dress it up or down. This universal GoLite shirt, like Bluffworks, provides the perfect combination of no iron required and I can go out to a business dinner or throw it on with a pair of shorts and flip-flops.

From GoLite’s website, So versatile you won’t know whether you should wear it while doing yard work, or hiking through the rainforests of Costa Rica. 

Price $50.00

Who doesn't love a man in black?
Who doesn’t love a man in black?


The North Face Thermoball Remix Vest

A quick zip up vest can cut the wind, shed a few raindrops, used as a pillow or a back support.  I love the versatility of always having this in my backpack. It’s easy to throw on and stuffs down to the size of your fist.  It weighs nothing and eliminates needing to bring a full-sleeved jacket or coat. I still bring it along in the winter as it provides a quick added insulation layer if my outerwear isn’t cutting it alone.

Price $135.00

Easy to stuff and always useful
Easy to stuff and always useful


Bose Noise Canceling headset

I resisted buying these for about ten years.  My wife pushed me over the edge and I wish I had listened to her sooner. Here is what I notice with these.  Yes, they are a bit heavy and even expensive. The benefit is the time spent on an airplane drains your body and mind.  Air travel is noisy.  The frequency and volume of announcements combined with the constant drone of jet engines.  These noise-canceling headphones don’t eliminate the noise all together, but the noise is reduced by upwards of 70%.  Over the course of a full day of air travel, I find that my general mood is significantly improved.  Most importantly that travel fatigue that I thought was just part of the deal is also reduced by 70%.  Feel better, sleep better and be ready to go to work or play once you arrive on the ground.

Price $300.00

Although a bit bulky you'll sleep like a baby
Although a bit bulky you’ll sleep like a baby

Other staples in my bag:

  • Running shoes and shorts
  • Garmin 910 GPS watch
  • Spare collar stays
  • Earplugs

I hope you find this list of road warrior gear helpful. I’m sure you have a few in your bag that we need to know about.

Hook us up!  Tell us what we need to add to our list.

4 thoughts on “Gear Every Road Warrior Must Carry

  1. Super helpful post. Thanks for all the recommendations!

    For portable batteries I supported my friend Tony’s No Outlet No Problem on kickstarter and have been really pleased with the performance of this unit:

    I get 6-10 full charges out of it and it fits nicely in my backpack. I even use it on long rides when I’m using GPS tracking for strava. And it’s less than half the cost of the Mophie unit.

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