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The RSAC 2024 Swag Awards: The best of the best

Who won this year's RSA Conference when it came to offering the best merch? Here's Pluralsight's list of the definitive winners and stand-outs.

May 16, 2024 • 5 Minute Read

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One of the best parts of attending any industry event is getting your hands on the must-have conference goodies, from t-shirts to tech gadgets. This year, Pluralsight spent a whopping six hours scouring the expo floor at RSA Conference 2024, taking photos and trying out all the coolest givaways, all to determine who will rule swag supreme!

... And also, so you can take a break from your work day, and stare at all the pictures of the neat merch. Let's start with the category winners!

Best mascot giveaway: Dasera's Data Gators

This was a really tough one to call, since there were two other strong contenders here. However, these gators are quality-made, and they're the only mascot in attendance that got its own fan art before the event. 

Best stickers: GitHub's Octocats

Over 100 million developers use GitHub, and if you're like me, you've got a repo somewhere with your code in it. If so, you're probably familiar with GitHub's mascot, the Octocat, and don't mind slapping a sticker with it on your laptop. There were so many cool sticker options at GitHub's booth, and dangerously no limit to how many you could take. 

There may have been a mad scramble to grab these. I've now got a litter of Octokitties and no space left on my laptop to home them.

The best shirt: Akamai serious zero-trust hyenas

Even after RSAC was over, I saw people wearing this shirt around San Francisco, and it's easy to see why. It's got a message any cybersecurity professional can get behind about zero trust, and it's a little bit funny because the hyenas look so serious.

The most important thing, though, is it doesn't have Akamai's name or logo slapped on the front. This is such a repellant when you get a shirt at a conference, and you're wondering if you like the company and product enough to be a walking billboard for them. This shirt isn't advertisement-free, of course --- there's a non-obtrusive hashtag with Akamai's name on the back, which in my opinion is where any branding should be. I'll be personally wearing this shirt around the neighbourhood with no complaints.

The RSAC 2024 Swag Awards: Overall winners

In fifth place: Axonius's hoodie for your beer (or soda)

Wearing a hoodie is pretty much the iconic tech outfit, cybersecurity or not, so seeing this gave me "Mini Me" vibes. There's a slightly Kafkaian quality to pulling back the hood of a tiny person and drinking their insides, but it's also pretty cute to see my drink rugged up with its hands in its pockets.

Fourth place: Mesh Security's dragon eggs

I've always wanted to own a dragon --- who wouldn't? --- and so Mesh Security gave me the chance to do that. These 3D-printed eggs have a tiny dragon inside, which I will nurture until it's strong enough to plunder Tokyo for all of its gatcha prizes. Yes, I may have a slight bias towards anything egg-shaped with a prize inside.

Honestly, this merch also makes fourth place because of the presentation of it. As you can see, it was in a chest right next to the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones, which I got to sit in and tick off a fantasy I've had since the sixth season of Parks and Recreation.

In third place: Uptyck's Nerd Nirvana display

Uptycks didn't just have one bit of merch --- they brought the whole comic store. There was a smorgasboard from board games, hard cover comic anthologies, collector figures, and more. As a "tick all of the above" geek, I nearly collapsed with sheer swag cravings. 

The best part? Unlike other booths, where you had to enter a lottery to win something at the end of the day --- which is a big ask when you're busy, and there's 40k attendees --- you could just get one of these items by following a few easy steps. To get an item from the middle row, Uptycks asked you to do a social media post, and for an item from the top, you just needed to sit through a product demo.

Given some of those top items --- like the Black Panther hardcover anthology set --- is easily worth $120 USD, that is some top-tier merch right there. Asking for ten minutes of my time is an easy sell.

In second place: RSAC's official swag 

Yes, it might seem like a cheat to give a swag award to the showrunners, but in this case it's well deserved! There was a metric ton of swag RSA was handing out, and all of it was quality.

On arrival, I got an official RSA backpack filled with a notepad, pen, waterbottle, and other goodies --- the backpack was cosy enough that I barely noticed it for the full four days of the conference, even with a laptop, charger, gimble, and other gadgets in it. If you're someone who walks around with a lot of electronics, you'll know how miraculous that is.

The only downside is because everyone has the same bag at RSAC, it's easy to risk switching, especially since they had bag scanners at the door this year. But to me, the comfort more than made it worth it.

There were also a ton of other giveaways. I got pair of socks for attending a certain amount of sessions and reviewing them, which was a neat way to gamify the RSAC experience. Also, there was this branded conference treat (which was surprisingly delicious).

Come to the cybersecurity side. We have cookies*. 

* Actually this is a third-party cookie, so it would probably be blocked.

This year's RSAC Swag Awards Winner: Crowdstrike, with its adversary figurines

Crowdstrike takes the crown for being the only merch provider that not only gave away something awesome, but made me actually come back and buy more of them with my own money.

Not only was their booth display fire, you could win a figurine representing a cybersecurity threat by completing a three-stage process of taking a photo of their terrifying spider person, watching a short video, and sitting through a two minute product demo. For each step, you got a neat collectable card, and when you had all three, you could trade them for a figurine. 

At first, I thought someone had played too much Metal Gear Solid given their names --- Aquatic Panda, Scattered Spider, and Spectral Kitten sound like secret agent names --- until I realized these were actually adversary profiles for real world hacking groups. That's a surprisingly cool way to keep people informed about malicious entities out there, and giving them a figurine to constantly remind them who's lurking in the shadows.

Since my wife was also attending the conference as a cybersecurity learner, we were able to get two figurines. However, we ducked down to Crowdstrike's pop-up store just next to the conference to buy two more, since Spectral Kitten and Scattered Spider were a must. We almost lost more money to Crowdstrike's merch given the very cool shirts, hoodies, drink bottles, bags, and even surfboards and skateboards.

If you want these figurines and merch yourself, Crowdstrike has an online swag store where you can order them. Note that I'm getting zero dollars for promoting this, and I know nobody in Crowdstrike at all --- I just genuinely think they're that cool*.

(* Well, except for Trojan Horse. This figurine is the one odd duck that I refused to buy. My collection will just have to be one figure short of completion. )

Other RSAC honorable merch mentions

There was no shortage of great merch at the event, so here are some that came very close to winning, but were just nudged out.

Spyderbat had some awesome squeezeable mascots 

I angsted --- angsted --- about whether to give this one the top mascot spot. However, Dasera got bonus points for having its own fan art (though I think Spyderbat better tied it to their product.)

You'll also notice I'm not handing out "best swag" for those thousand dollar Lego sets. If they handed them to me for free, I totally would! But again, if I've got to go into the draw with 40,000 other RSA attendees, it's just a recipe for me to be sad and thinking about how much I want that AT-AT.

... Great. Now all I can think about is going out and buying that Lego set...

Anjuna's squeezable avocado

Also in the list of "adorable squeezeable things" was Anjuna's avocado. I could make a ton of smashing avocado puns right now, but they'd be pretty pit-iful.

A-LIGN's owl is a hoot

The other strong contester for the top mascot was A-LIGN's owl. I just didn't know feather to choose it or not.

Okay, okay. I'll see myself out. 

Censys ghost busting socks and cotton candy marshmellows

Because I'm over the age of 30, I think socks are suddenly a great thing to have a lot of. Having ghost busting socks is even better, and the candy is just a bonus. Censys also had a claw machine, and because I've lost a lot of yen in Japanese arcades to these dreaded devices, I quickly moved on from their booth before it could capture me instead.

They also had a Lego ghost busters car up for grabs, which you can see in the background below. Once again, I didn't win. I guess it's going to haunt me forever.

Wallarm's threat stickers

I'm a sucker for the intersection of snakes and technology --- just read my article on programming naming conventions explained by a snake --- so Wallarm's stickers definitely hit the mark for me. These will have to compete with GitHub's octocats from my laptop space.

Torq's awesome merch... which had just run out

Torq had run out of these shirts and the black socks by the time I got to their booth on Wednesday afternoon, but they were still on display in a glass cabinet beyond my reach. NGL, this stung a bit, as the shirt looked particularly metal and I would have worn it everywhere.

I got some white versions of these socks, but white doesn't quite scratch the part of me that wants to attend a 1980's metal concert with a black flaming skull shirt, or headbang to Bohemian Rhapsody in the car. Maybe next year!

Secure SketCH's multilingual Pokemon-style stickers

Secure SketCH were offering stickers of threats styled as Pokemon-type creatures, and had the awesome distinction of offering them in both English and Japanese options. Did I mention I'm running out of laptop space? Yeah. This is a problem.

Xygeni's ergonomic mug

The best mug in this photo is not mine, just putting it out there.

I drink a ton of coffee --- I switched to decaf because drinking four double-strength coffees a day isn't good for anyone. That's why I appreciate a good cup, and even though Xygeni's didn't have flames on the side, it did have a spill lid and a nice wavy design. It will certainly get used, and that's the best indication that the merch is good.

Dishonorable mention: Giving sunglasses to a guy with glasses

Look, I'm not naming names, but if you've got a "spin the wheel" game where one of the prizes is sunglasses, and someone spins it who is wearing actual glasses, offer to let them spin again. Come on, folks. This happened to me twice!

Conclusion: Lots of great merch, so everyone's a winner

Hopefully you've enjoyed seeing pictures of all the great RSAC merch, and it's brought a tiny bit of joy to your day. Stay tuned for when we do it all over again for AWS re:Invent later in the year, and see who reigns supreme in terms of cloud merch!

Read more about RSA Conference 2024

Adam Ipsen

Adam I.

Adam is the resident editor of the Pluralsight blog and has spent the last 13 years writing about technology and software. He has helped design software for controlling airfield lighting at major airports, and has an avid interest in AI/ML and app design.

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