12 Gadgets Every Creative Person Should Carry at All Times

Nancy Messieh 31-03-2017

As a creative person, you probably carry a sketchpad and pens or pencils with you everywhere. Aside from these key analog tools, there are a variety of gadgets small enough to take with you everywhere that boost your creativity and productivity and make life a little easier.


1. Laptop or Tablet

It goes without saying that you’ll want to carry your phone with you at all times, so we’re not including it as an item on this list. But you’ll also probably want a small laptop or tablet.

Ideal choices include the iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface Pro. Cost, weight, and OS are all key to your decision making.

Without the keyboard, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 weighs only 1.7 pounds Which Should You Buy: Apple Macbook Pro 2016 or Microsoft Surface Pro 4? Don't know whether to go with the MacBook Pro 2016 or the Surface Pro 4? We've covered all the reasons why you might -- or might not want -- one of the two laptops. Read More , and with the keyboard, it’s 2.4 pounds. The Surface Pro 4 starts at $799, with deals from Microsoft saving you up to $200. Rumor has it though that the savings signal a Microsoft Surface Pro 5 is on the way.

If you’ve settled on the Apple iPad Pro, you can choose between the 9.7″ and 12.9″ models Which iPad Should You Buy? Find the Best iPad for You Wondering which iPad should you buy? Here's our handy guide to all of Apple's iPads to help you decide. Read More . The 9.7″ iPad pro weighs up to 1.0 pounds and starts at $599, while the 12.9″ weighs up to 1.6 pounds and starts at $799.

2. Digital Camera

You might be satisfied with the camera on your phone, but a small mirrorless camera Not Everyone Needs a DSLR: Which Camera Is Right for You? Some people say you can't take good pictures without a DSLR camera. They're unequivocally wrong. Here's our guide to which type of camera you should buy. Read More won’t add much weight to your bag and will add some really handy manual settings for total control over your photos. Carrying a good quality camera will allow you to capture moments you don’t want to forget, with the ability to capture it the way you see it.


Fuji, Sony, Olympus, and Panasonic all offer popular mirrorless cameras. You can choose between a camera with a lens system or without. Going for a camera without a lens system will be more affordable, and you probably don’t want to weigh your bag down with additional lenses.

Check out the video below on how mirrorless cameras differ from DSLRs:

Another option is to go the point-and-shoot 6 Best Point-and-Shoot Cameras: Style, Features or Optics Some people may want the most stylish camera, others may want superior zoom, and some may be on a strict budget. Don't worry, we have you covered. Read More route. Many of these cameras are much more affordable, but won’t give you as much manual control.

3. Instant Camera

If you’d prefer to go old-school, rather than carry a digital camera, you could go for an instant camera. Creatives might appreciate the physical photo they can hold in their hands rather than yet another digital shot.


Fuji has an extensive line of instant cameras and instant printers:

As is to be expected, Polaroid also offers instant cameras and printers in its current lineup, but Fuji’s offerings are definitely more varied both in prices and specs.

If you want more control, both Polaroid and Fuji offer small portable printers. The Polaroid Zip prints 2 x 3-inch images while Fuji’s SP-2 prints out small 1.8 x 2.4-inch images and uses the same film as the Fuji Instax cameras

4. Card Reader

To get the digital photos to your laptop, tablet, or phone — you’re going to need some sort of card reader. A basic SD card reader is perfect for anyone who is carrying their laptop around with them.


sd card reader

Or a wireless SD card Wireless SD Cards Explained: The Features You'll Need What do you get if you combine WiFi technology with SD card storage? You get a wireless SD card, obviously. But what benefit does that actually offer? Read More  is useful if you’re looking to cut back on the number of cables in your bag. If you’d prefer to edit or share your images on your iPad or iPhone, you can use Apple’s Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader. Most Android phones have a Micro SD slot, so you could just be sure to use a microSD card The Fastest and Best microSD Cards Running out of storage space? You'll want a microSD card! But which is the best microSD card for you? Read More with an SD card adapter. Alternatively, you can use a card reader like the $9 BasAcc MicroUSB Card Reader.

5. USB Flash Drive

A USB flash drive USB Flash Drive Guide: 5 Things to Know When Buying One USB flash drives might seem mundane and straightforward, but there are a few tips and quirks that you should know before you buy your next one. Read More or small external hard drive is extremely useful to make sure that you don’t run out of space on your laptop. This is particularly necessary if your creative drive has pushed you in the direction of graphic design, photography, or video.

As a creative person, your creativity will probably extend to your gadgets — even the lowly USB flash drive. A popular option among creatives is the 4 GB Pantone Chip Drive, which comes in seven Pantone colors.


pantone chip drive

But don’t rely just on your physical external drive to backup your work. We would definitely recommend saving your work in two places with cloud storage Free Cloud Storage Upgrades: Grab 100GB of OneDrive and 2GB of Google Drive Cloud storage is getting cheaper by the day, but nothing beats downright free. Some of the top services have come up with a few schemes that will raise your online gigabytes without spending a dime. Read More  serving as a great backup option.

6. Wacom Intuos Draw

If you’re an illustrator or graphic designer, you probably already have a Wacom tablet, but they tend to be unwieldy and aren’t suited to a mobile lifestyle. Wacom Intuous has a line of small pen tablets: the Intuos Draw, Art, Photo, and Comic.

If you’re wondering which one is right for you, check out this video:

7. Bluetooth Mouse

Your Wacom Tablet can replace the need for a mouse, but if you’re not a graphic designer or illustrator, you won’t need one. Instead, a decent mouse to accompany your laptop will come in handy.

You can either opt for a small travel mouse The Computer Mouse Guide: 8 Things to Know When Buying a Mouse Planning on buying a new mouse? Here's everything you need to know before making your purchase to get the best mouse for your needs. Read More that won’t take up too much space in your bag or if you don’t mind the larger size, a trackball mouse can offer a more comfortable experience.

A popular option in this category is the Logitech M570 (UK).

logitech m570 mouse

If you’re a Mac user, you might find that OS X works better with your laptop’s trackpad Why OS X Works Better with a Trackpad While Microsoft has focused on bringing touchscreen technology to the desktop, Apple has continued to optimize for the more traditional pointer-based approach. Read More and you can put that money you would spend on a mouse toward something else.

8. Bluetooth or Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Regular wired earphones that come with your phone are perfectly fine, but if you tend to work in public places noise-cancelling headphones can come in handy. If your priority is to have something to listen to while you’re on the move, Bluetooth headphones can be a lot more comfortable.

You don’t have to break the bank with either. You can purchase affordable noise-cancelling headphones for as little as around $50.

Check out this list of affordable noise-cancelling headphones The 6 Best Cheap Noise-Canceling Headphones That Are Affordable Here are the best cheap noise-canceling headphones you can buy at a decent price. Perfect for students! Read More to choose from.

If you want to go the Bluetooth route, check out this list of four Bluetooth headphones The 7 Best Bluetooth Headsets With Good Battery Life Looking for a Bluetooth headset with good battery life? Here are some of the longest lasting Bluetooth headsets on the market. Read More  with good battery life. If you’re looking for more variety, check out this list of best Bluetooth headphones in 2016 The 7 Best Bluetooth Headphones You Can Buy Finding the right pair of Bluetooth headphones isn't easy, so we've compiled a list of the best Bluetooth headphones money can buy. Read More .

9. Portable Charger

With all those gadgets in your bag, you’re going to want a way to keep them all charged. There’s a huge selection of power banks to choose from.

If this is something you’ll probably be carrying around with multiple other gadgets, you’ll want something light. And you want to charge several devices at once, you’ll want it to have multiple ports.

If portability is your top priority, a good choice is the EasyAcc Portable Power Bank [Broken URL Removed] (UK). It comes in black, red, and blue, and costs just $15.99.

If you’re willing to spend a little more, you might consider the larger Anker PowerCore (UK) which doesn’t come cheap at $65.99 but has received rave reviews.

The RAVPower 22000mAh (UK) is a third option which can charge multiple devices and comes with three ports. It can charge your phones up to nine times and your tablets up to three times. It comes in white and black and costs $35 on Amazon.

ravpower power bank

10. Cable Organizer

All these gadgets come with a whole lot of cables. While you can keep your cables at a minimum by sticking to a single brand, you’re still going to need to keep them all organized. While technically not a gadget, a cable organizer is a must-have gadget companion.

The Tech Dopp Kit is by no means a cheap option at $249 but it’s gorgeous. Made of handcrafted leather, you can fit charging cables, adapters, headphones, and other tech accessories.

tech dopp kit

If your main concern is function over form, you can go for something more affordable, but not as pretty, like the $17.99 (£13.99BUBM Double Layer Travel Gear Organizer.

11. Portable Scanner

If you’re in the business of selling prints or digital downloads of your artwork, a portable scanner can be a very handy tool. The Doxie Flip is a cordless scanner weighing a little over 1 pound that uses two AA batteries.

doxie flip portable scanner

It can only scan items up to 4 x 6 inches, but at a quality of 300 or 600 dpi. The supported file formats are JPG, PNG, and PDF. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support TIFF.

To use the Doxie Flip you don’t actually need a computer to scan images — you can scan straight to an SD card. Couple that with an SD card reader, and you can send your sketches or drawings on the go without having to carry a laptop around. The Doxie Flip sells for around $140/£120.

12. USB Hub

Between your camera, phone, battery charger, SD reader, Bluetooth mouse, external hard drive, and any other gadgets you might have that require the use of a USB port, you probably don’t have enough USB slots on your computer. An easy fix for that is a USB hub What Is a USB Hub? 3 Reasons Why You Need One Nearly all devices these days utilize USB ports in one way or another. Here are several reasons why you might want a USB hub. Read More .

The USB hub can be used to charge your gadgets and to transfer data between your computer and external hard drives or SD cards. The Anker 10 port USB hub (UK) will set you back about $40 and includes three 2.1-amp power ports for fast-charging of large devices like an iPad.

usb hub

What Are Your Must-Carry Items?

The cost of this full list of gadgets can really add up, and in many cases, you might have to be selective as to which items are essential to you, your life, and your career. A portable scanner, for example, won’t be a priority for all creatives. A portable charger, on the other hand, is an affordable gadget and one that will come in handy for all creative types ensuring you can say connected and productive all day.

Which items on this list are your must-haves and what else would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. Dennis Faucher
    April 16, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Carry at all times? Useful tools, but not needed at all times.

  2. Bruce
    April 3, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    That Trackball is not Bluetooth but worst, 'wireless', there is a conspiracy not to make a Bluetooth Trackball by the whole freakn computer industry!!! WTF, man?!!

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 9, 2017 at 1:23 am

      It's not even remotely portable, but I found a Bluetooth 4.0 LE trackball from Kensington. I got it on sale from Fry's for around $50 -- which was a steal. It currently sells for the ridiculous sum of $85, which puts it on par with the MX Master.

      The Kensington comes with a scroll ring, four buttons, and an optional dongle. Overall, it's great, but its large size makes it strictly a desktop oriented device.

      • Bruce
        October 13, 2017 at 4:52 pm

        Kannon, you are a life saver! I have been writing and begging to everyone of these manufacturers to produce one, everyone refused even Kensington (they make 'wireless'crap with a doggle you can not replace if lost)! This must be a resent update to product.... THANKS A MILLION

        • Kannon Yamada
          October 13, 2017 at 9:31 pm

          Hey Bruce! Yes! Glad that you are getting what you need!

          Believe it or not, it isn't very recent a product. But Kensington apparently did not sell very many of them because it was on fire-sale at Fry's not long ago. My theory is that they didn't bother advertising it and hoped it would sell itself. Great device, too.

  3. brandt
    April 3, 2017 at 1:06 am

    My OTG cable....

  4. infmom
    April 1, 2017 at 3:45 am

    You forgot the portable forklift to carry your bag full o'stuff.

    • PlaGeRaN
      April 3, 2017 at 7:15 am

      lol classic!

      There are also portable 4G wifi modems available, why kill your battery for Internet if there's no wifi available.

    • silverlokk
      April 10, 2017 at 6:43 am

      For instance, I can do without a mouse - I'm almost as proficient with the TrackPoint on my ThinkPad as I am with a mouse, the only thing I can't do as well with the latter is play Minesweeper :)

      That means I won't need a USB hub either, and while the cable organizer is neat, I don't think I'll need it either.

      I've been using the Android app CamScanner in place of a dedicated scanner. Works in a pinch.

      If I were to work in, say a coffee shop, I'd be sure to have my devices fully charged so I don't need a battery bank.

      To be fair though, I don't think the article said to tote all those gizmos, just list those that you might need

      • silverlokk
        April 10, 2017 at 6:52 am

        Eh?, part of my reply got lost. I think I was leading it by saying that I myself wouldn't need all that gear.

        As an aside, I don't know the capabilities of a Wacom pen tablet vis-à-vis a stylus-equipped two-in-one, e.g., my ThinkPad X1 Tablet, so I can't say if the former is a necessity.

        Also, I meant to say that I am almost as proficient with my laptop's pointing device as I am with a mouse, the only thing I can't do with the former is play Minesweeper