I recently got a freaked out phone call from an East Coast DJ looking to purchase a Big Namba Studio Backpack. It seems that he was standing in one of the endless lines at one of New York’s major airports with his laptop DJ gear in his old backpack. The backpack had the name of a major equipment supplier in bold letters across the face and lots of “convenient” outside pockets. He might as well have had a big sign on his back that said, “Please rob me, I’m carrying lots of expensive gear and it is easily accessible.”
The silent robber stole a beautiful new $350 microphone and a pair of headphones without leaving a trace. The theft was discovered when the DJ went through security and noticed that his outside compartment zippers were open and his gear lost forever. Of course the real nightmare would have been the lose of his DJ laptop.
Laptops have made DJing on the road for extended periods of time more feasible and significantly more fun. The only problem is that all this expensive gear has brought with it a host of new worries when traveling. So we have asked a few top DJs who travel extensively with laptops for tips they have learned to keep laptops secure and make traveling with digital gear as smooth as possible.
Yes, it’s insane to complain about the weight of a computer bag when you compare it with the weight of 200 records, but there are lots of ways that you can slim down the size of your digital-DJ bag. Trucking through endless security checks and corridors can get old really fast, so do yourself a favor and cut as much fat as possible. Do you really need those giant Pioneer headphones? Check out some custom in-ear monitors: They sound great, reduce ambient noise and take up far less room. Etymotic Research (etymotic.com) makes several models, including the ER•4s and ER•6s, which are quite popular for long plane flights. M-Audio (m-audio.com) carries a few models as well.
Where’s My Backup?
The Boy Scout motto (and your new mantra) is, “Be prepared.” Backups are a crucial part of any DJ regimen, but if something happens to your laptop on the road, that Lacie drive at home won’t save the gig. Playing the resident DJ’s 128 Kbps MP3 files is not going to cut it either, so you had better come up with a contingency plan before traveling. Some DJs will tell you, “Bring a backup computer. You are getting paid two to 10 times as much as a backup computer would cost you. So it doesn’t really make any sense to lose the gig because your computer crashed.” A great alternative idea to stay mobile is that you can also buy an 80 GB iPod or a travel drive and back up all of your crucial music and program installers. Then, in a pinch, a loaner laptop can fill in temporarily. Most experienced travelers never check any luggage; the same should always be true for your DJ gear. Never check anything required for your performance.
When we asked our DJs about what to make sure to bring we got some great ideas. “Always bring a laptop stand if you’re tall, create a no-drinks barrier around your laptop, and don’t forget the power supply!” The no-drinks barrier is an unfortunate reality that must be kept in mind when using a laptop. Too many DJs have found out the hard way; laptops and Long Island iced teas are a match made in hell.
A couple of must-haves for your DJ travel bag: Caig Deoxit (caig.com). This little cleaning solution is a life saver, just use the pen version because you can’t travel with aerosol these days thanks to the TSA. The Kensington (kensington.com) gooseneck USB lamp. This might just be the most useful item in your bag, as DJ booths are always too dark.
Give Me Some Peace of Mind
Well, this is where Namba Gear comes in. High performance bags & backpacks (without the screaming logo of an expensive digital gear provider), using weather-resistant, 1680D poly/nylon material and over-sewn stress point construction techniques to deliver a superior product. Cushy & plush internal compartments and pockets for your gear and lockable zippers for security. Conforms to airline carry-on regulations. It just doesn’t get any better.
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