During the harshest winter months, there’s a brief respite in the convention circuit, but those days are coming to an end. As the 2019 con season ramps up, it’s time to beef up your travel kit. This is the gear you need to survive that con life.
While you’re sitting in line for hours to meet Nathan Fillion, you might want to keep a book and a bottle of water handy. We’ve talked before about ThinkGeek’s Bag of Holding: Con-Survival Edition, and if you’re looking for something to carry your con guide, a tablet, a drink, and maybe a portable battery, this is one of the best around. If it’s not available, though, a good laptop bag or messenger bag—like this one that converts into a backpack—can do in a pinch.
If you expect to be outdoors or physically active a lot at your cons, you might want to consider a different kind of bag. CamelBak bags like this one have space to store your normal gear, but also include a water bladder that you can drink from without taking it off. This is especially handy if you’re watching a parade, standing in line outside, or marching from building to building. You can also find similar hydration bags that only contain the bladder, or even just buy a bladder a la carte, if you’d rather use a travel bag for your stuff, but still want the easy drink.
Cons are notoriously tough on phone batteries. There’s just no avoiding it. You’ll get poorer cell service in a crowded area with large buildings (which drains battery), you’ll use your phone more to navigate around, and you’ll probably need to message half a dozen people to coordinate your plans. There’s hardly a better place to carry an extra battery. My personal favorite is this 10,000 mAh pack from Heloideo that includes built-in micro USB, USB-C, and Lightning cable, as well as an AC plug so you can charge it from any power outlet you come across. Our readers also like this Anker PowerCore Fusion that can be used as both a portable battery and a wall charger.
If you’re staying in a hotel—and especially if you’re crashing with friends—you might start to run out of places to charge your various phones, tablets, and battery packs. A charging station can come in handy here. Towers like this one give you extra outlets and USB ports to charge all your gear.
Whether you’re planning to drink, or just plan to be moving a lot, you need to stay hydrated. Drinking water is important, but you should also bring something with electrolytes. Gatorade has been a go-to for active congoers for years, but recently Pedialyte powder—which you can mix into any water bottle you carry—has gotten even more popular and the company has caught on. It’s not quite a hangover cure, but staying hydrated will always be a good idea.
If you’re hitting up the dealer room, you might walk away with some sweet new art for your walls, but those flimsy bags are a chump’s way to protect your stuff. Instead, bring a rigid poster tube. These over-the-shoulder containers are designed to protect posters, prints, and other flexible, delicate swag.