I quite like those pictures of people’s bags and their contents that sometimes get tweeted about. It’s slightly voyeuristic, but also you get ideas for practical stuff to keep with you at all times.
So, in what is officially my second Filler PostTM for #30DWC I thought I’d share details about my bag, albeit without an amazing photo and the intricate numbering that some provide.
Use case: carry with every day, work or play. If overnighting a second bag will contain clothes and wash stuff.
I am away from home a bit, say one overnight stay every other week. A few years back it was much, much more; like 3-5 nights every other week.
This got me very organised very quickly. Initially I was constantly frustrated that [a thing] was left at home on my desk or in a drawer. It wasn’t always something that seemed really important, but from a convenience point of view it made being away from home so much easier to bear.
For a while I had too much stuff with me, I had the balance all wrong. Carrying around a large Crumpler courier bag that was rammed full and hurt my shoulder to carry for any extended amount of time.
I’ve got it pretty nailed now and the contents I’m about to share are my ‘minimal’ every day things, that balance between “I wish I had that thing with me” and “Why on earth am I lugging this around every day”.
The Ultimate Bag
Over several years I went through a few different bags before this one. A couple of smaller handbag-type man bags and the Crumpler I mentioned before. But I finally decided that I wanted a rucksack to distribute weight evenly & reduce shoulder strain.
The problem is that rucksacks look a bit, well, rucksacky and I wanted something that looked good in any situation from suited at a client’s office through to jeans & t-shirt at the Co-op.
Lots of geeking out later I zeroed in on the ‘stout’ version of the Waterfield Designs Staad Laptop Bag. It was a big decision. I had to get it shipped from San Francisco where they hand make them out of angel’s tears and fairy dust. On top of the high price there was a further ~ £80 import tax. So, yeah, not cheap.
The good news is that 18 months later it’s still in one piece, it’s as practical as I hoped, it still looks great and I still love it.
- internal lanyard thing to attach keys
- 2 internal sleeves for laptop/iPad sized devices
- sizeable main compartment that can be easier accessed using a front zipper
- 2 smaller internal pockets
- 2 external zipped pockets
The external pockets are particularly neat. With the bag still on your shoulder you can swing it around and access the zip & pull something out. I keep wallet in one and shades in another.
The zipper access to the main compartment saves having to rummage about for things deeper down. The main sleeves are soft so they don’t scratch things and I’ve fitted up to a 15″ laptop in it (a Thinkpad x1 carbon, which is quite thin).
It’s almost perfect. The one criticism is the two little internal pocket are closed with velcro and that’s not very effective. It has been up-ended a few times, say falling off a chair, and the things in those two pockets have spilled out if the main flap is open and they were not closed properly.
I’ll just rattle through the stuff in the photo roughly top left to bottom right.
Sort of top row:
My wallet. A Time Manager International Planner Wallet. I used to be really into the TMI system. A big Filofax thing and a pretty good methodology behind it. I gave up on it years ago though, mainly because it’s analogue and OneNote rocks. Anyway, the wallet is ace and I still get a new one every few years when they wear out. Importantly it has a space for a notepad and can take a small pencil (both I can get from TMI cheaply) so I don’t have to carry a notebook, for that rare time I need to actually write a thing down.
A single folder with a few bits of paper or receipts and things. I keep this very clear and regularly empty it.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, i7 with 16GB ram. It can drive 2 huge screens and act as a full desktop replacement (it actually is my desktop at work). The flappy nature of the keyboard is a bit annoying but it’s light and very capable.
Laptop charger, also has USB power output.
Brolly, smallest I could find.
Sony digital dictaphone. Used in the car, normally when I’m listening to podcasts and I want to note things to remember.I have also used this when running to dictate blog posts!
‘Quiver’ pen holder, containing a Cross ballpoint and a mechanical pencil. The Quiver is meant to fit an A6 Moleskine but that got ousted as I was never using it.
Business card holder
Rechargeable battery with USB out.
Attached to the bag and right next to it:
Two reusable shopping bags, one from Onya as well as keys that I want with me, but don’t use much (car key and house key go in jeans pocket usually)
Sennheiser MM450 travel Bluetooth headphones. These are great, but don’t have permanent residence in my bag. They fold up and have a mic in so can be used to answer the phone.
The pouch and all the little fiddly bits:
The pouch sits in the main compartment at the base, on top of the brolly and charger. It is a Levenger ‘Bomber Jacket’ electronics hold-all. It’s made from soft leather and has a side zipped pocket and a main zipped section with cubby holes.
All the fiddly bits live in here:
- USB stick
- Boris bike tag and a tiny knife ‘key’ thing that also has a bottle opener on
- Some drugs, paracetamol etc
- Standard iPhone headphones (useful if listening in bed)
- USB plug with fold down contacts
- £20 in coins (for parking meters)
- iPhone cable
- VGA and HDMI leads for laptop
- Petzel Micro head torch
- Bank login dongle
- Eye shades and ear plugs. I regularly drive 3-4 hours from home to London or back, occasionally there and back same-day. These allow me a quality 30 mins recharge in a service station.
Missing from the photo (still in the car from my drive earlier)
- Small runners water bottle, 250ml, it has a good lid that doesn’t leak
- Knobby Bluetooth headset thing for phone
That sounds a lot!
But, it fits in the bag nicely with space for a thin jumper and my lunch.
The bag is not massive and weight is 4.8KG fully loaded. I don’t notice it on my back, though I can’t say I’ve gone trekking with it.
I always have it with me though I won’t normally have the laptop in there on weekends.
Time: 2 hours. Quite a bit of faffing, took longer than I expected.
This post is one of 30 I wrote daily during April 2016 as part of the 30 Day Writing Challenge.