I’m weird in a lot of ways, but one of the strangest is my unabashed love for articles like “What’s in your bag?” or “How do you work?” or “What’s your workspace look like?”. Lifehacker has a great series called How I Work and the Verge does the occasional What’s In Your Bag article. I read the hell out of these things because, for some reason, the things that people use and carry are incredibly interesting to me. One of the greatest things that ever happened to me was when Andy Ihnatko based an entire episode of the Ihnatko Almanac on my question about what he and Dan use to get things done.
So I figured I might share my own bag and what I carry. Now, this is the stuff that I carry to work, and occasionally carry with me to other places. If I’m just popping out to the store, or going for a jog, I don’t take this with me. This is truly the bag that I take with me when I’m leaving the house for the day, and won’t be back for several hours. At the minimum, this is my “I’m going to work” bag.
Right, so what have we got here? Well, it looks like a lot, but nothing is particularly heavy. I’ve never weighed the bag, but I’m certain it weighs less than eight pounds (3.6 kg) fully loaded. I’ve actually gone out of my way to carry lightweight things. There’s a lot of tech there, but that’s related to my job, and I’ll get into that as we go along.
Starting at the top left and working our way down in a rough kind of manner:
- MacBook Air charging cable – I carry the full cord because I never know how much I’ll need. It’s always better to have too much than not enough.
- iPad 2 – Issued to me by my library. I use it for lots of library related stuff from testing eReader apps, downloadable content apps (like OverDrive or OneClickdigital), and checking websites using Safari for iOS.
- Diving knife – Knives are useful tools. I’m not carrying this for anything other than utility. Because it’s a diving knife, I don’t have to care if it gets wet. It’s designed to get wet.
- Cycling gloves – I don’t bike as often as I used to, but I like to have the gloves with me anyway.
- USB 3 cable and car plug in – I use a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, which uses a USB 3.0 cable for charging and data. This cable is nice and long and allows easy connection to any computer while the car plug lets me charge my phone on the road. (Or when I’m using GPS.) It’s sitting on a case that I strap to the outside of my bag for easy access.
- Grid-It Organizer by Cocoon – I just got this and I already love it. It organizes my cables and stuff really well. Basically all the charging cables, spare earbuds, USB hub, and other stuff are strapped to it. It’s got a small pocket in back with extra cables. Little life lesson for you: If you want to make friends at a conference or at work, carry extra charging cables.
- Stainless steel water bottle – While it may seem weird to some people to carry a portable bottle of fluids with you everywhere, I live in the Land of AZ where the summer temperatures can literally cook meat on the sidewalk. Having water isn’t a must, but it is a damn good idea.
- Flash drive case with two 8GB flash drives – Besides the extra storage space, I also have various utilities and apps on these drives. The little case closes with Velcro and keeps everything safe and tidy.
- Medicine bag – An old headphones bag containing extra asthma meds, antacid meds, and a bottle containing Ibuprofen and Loratadine (generic allergy meds).
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7 inch) – My personal tablet. I like the smaller form factor. This is a total content consumption device. I don’t even pick up email on it. It’s my eReader, YouTube viewer, music player, and so on. I also use it to test websites and library related apps on the Android platform.
- Bag full o’ cable ties – Cable ties have a lovely habit of weighing almost nothing and fixing almost anything.
- MacBook Air (Late 2013 model) – The entry level MacBook Air and I absolutely adore this machine. It’s my go to for everything except video editing. For that, I have a Mac Mini. I’m literally writing all of this post on the Air.
- Bluetooth mouse – While I like the touchpad on the Air, I almost always prefer a mouse.
- Apple earbuds – I’m not an audiophile and since 80% of my audio consumption consists of podcasts, these headphones are just fine. The built in microphone also works with the Air, which is a nice bonus. Sure, there are better headphones, but I have those at my desks. For walking around, listening to podcasts and music, these are the way I go.
- External USB 3.0 1TB hard drive (and cable) – The entry level MacBook Air has a small storage space. Who cares? I store most everything on this. I carry it in a hard sided case (underneath the drive) which also holds….
- Extra plug for MacBook charger – Because why not?
- Red flash drive – The entire thing is encrypted with TrueCrypt. I found a red one just so it would stand out as my secure flash drive.
- First-aid kit – I’m a hemophiliac with hepatitis C. It pays to carry your own gear. Also included are a couple pairs of medical gloves I added to the kit.
- Paracord bracelet – 50 feet (~15 meters) of strong paracord.
- Sunglasses – Because I live in Arizona. It’s sunny here. A lot.
- Multitool – Small multitool for anything I might need it for.
- Minitool – It may seem redundant to carry two multitools, but where the first one has pliers, this one has scissors.
- Bluetooth keyboard – Works with the iPad, the Galaxy Tab 2, and my Galaxy Note 3. It’s a cheapy, but it’s never failed me.
- Headscarves – I have really short hair and I often shave my head all together. If I forget a hat, these fill in well enough to prevent sunburn on my scalp.
- ID and access badges – I work in IT and have several of these for different branch libraries. Below that are my…
- Business cards – I tell people about the library all the time. I teach public classes. I give them to people who don’t care. Basically, if people have questions, I try and get them answers. That’s why I’m a librarian.
- ID and access badges – These are the ones I always carry. The first set are extras I use when needed.
- Kindle eInk – I use it for eReading, but mostly to test library Kindle books and how they work with an eInk device. My primary eReader is my Galaxy Tab.
- Spiral bound, quad ruled notebook – Graph paper in a spiral notebook? Yup. Because even as digital as I get, I still write down a lot of stuff.
- Pain pads – These things have pain meds on them and you basically slap it on the thing that’s hurting. I’ve not tried them yet, but given my back, I have a feeling I’ll break into them soon enough.
- Survival pack – I’m not a survivalist or a zombie apocalypse type of person. But it’s not a bad idea to have a lighter, pocket knife, and face mask available if needed. This, along with my first-aid kit, paracord bracelet, and pain pads go in a plastic Ziploc bag to keep everything dry. Yes, it’s Arizona, but I’ve also been caught in torrential downpours and seen severe areal flooding occur over the space of minutes.
- Buncha pens and highlighters – For writing, notes, and organization.
- Index cards – Because when I write, I tend to build things via card stacks.
- ID, credit/debit cards, etc. – I hate wallets. They take up too much room in my pocket and I rarely carry cash, so my driver’s license, payment cards, and so on are held together with a binder clip. As a plus, it never looks like I’m carrying a wallet.