Four years ago, I was fully prepared to become a digital nomad. Then two weeks before my first trial run to Japan, COVID happened. My life which had been reduced to one personal item, one carry-on, and one checked bag got put in the closet. Instead, I went back to college to learn Japanese.
Three years later, I finally got the opportunity to go back to Japan. Most of the digital nomad gear I had forgotten about seemed like it would work just fine, but there was one major upgrade that I needed to account for: My keyboard. Sometime in the last four years I switched from a Goldtouch Go!2 Mobile Keyboard to a Kinesis Advantage2. To the uninitiated, it’s a funny-looking, disgustingly expensive keyboard. To me, it’s the only commercially available concave keyboard that allows me to work for hours free from wrist pain. At this point in my life, working without it isn’t an option.
But the Kinesis Advantage2 is not a travel keyboard. It’s big; so big that people use foam-padded firearms cases or camera cases that are — by themselves — the size of a briefcase. So when Kinesis came out with the newer Advantage360 with physically separate left-side and right-side components, I bought it because it seemed more travel friendly. Comparatively, it is.
I could be in the minority with this — logically, it makes sense to give a $400+ keyboard its own briefcase, but I think it’s a waste of valuable space on a plane. When I looked up what other people were doing, the most helpful information I could find was this Reddit thread sharing a case that would fit one piece, so I bought two. Together, they took up ~75% of my GoRuck kit bag, but 75% of a duffel bag was still better than 100% of a briefcase.
Again, just to be clear: Here’s the case from Caseling.
This is how I travelled with my keyboard to Japan, and it was… fine. For anyone who wants to be 100% protective of their keyboard, it’s not a bad way to do it. But as the days went by I kept thinking there has to be a better way. So then, one night after staring at one of the cases for 20 minutes, I realized something: Both sides could fit in one case. Since I’m writing this after the fact I only have pictures of the final product, so I’ll do my best to explain.
The two pieces of the keyboard take up the least amount of space when you flip and invert one then lay it on top of the other (like shoes in a shoebox). The problem is this mushes the keys together — somehow, something needs to lift the inverted piece high enough to prevent the keys from touching.
Fortunately, the foam piece inside the lid of the case is the perfect thickness to accomplish this, and since there’s no room left for the foam piece in the lid when the keyboard pieces are organized this way, it’s okay to use it to create the two required spacers.
All you need to do is cut two pieces of foam the size of the plastic area above the thumb keys. I used a pen and some paper to outline the size, then used that paper like a sewing pattern and cut the foam with scissors.
The result? The keys don’t touch. Success.
Admittedly, this may not work as smoothly for everybody. Using the foam in the main area of the case, I was able to easily make pieces that prevent the keyboard from sliding around, but I don’t use palm pads. The Reddit thread I mentioned above says they still fit, but I can’t say how snuggly.
The other thing some people might not like is there is no longer a foam buffer between the keyboard and the case wall. For a 50% reduction in total used space, I’m satisfied with putting a handkerchief on either side and calling it good enough.
So there you have it. Hopefully this helps some stranger on the internet.