What’s in your gear bag? How do you roll portable?

by Fred

So everyone has one, some call it a purse, some call it a satchel, just just call it, “My darn bag.” fred’s bag

Either way, you’ve got one. You use your bag on the go. Most of all, you’ve got a bag filled with stuff you think is useful enough that if it all went down, you’d be the one swinging from the trees, able to make fire, and live high off the hog while the rest of us can barely remember how to talk.

To add a layer of transparency to this, I’ve started with my own daily dragger. Here is the list of what I keep in there and why. I can’t wait to hear what everyone else is lugging around, it’s always been a mystery to me.

First off, I’ve got a bag I’ve had for years here from Dana Gleason the former owner/creator of Dana Design bags from Bozeman Montana. Now he’s got a new company Mystery Ranch. It’s the best bag you’ll ever own, (I’ve got a Dana Backpack still as well, they’re bulletproof man!) Plus Dana himself is one heck of a guy, irrepressible and will always stand out in a crowd, (he’s about 6’5″ with a flaming red beard) you can’t miss him! They just make the best bags, period.

Now on to the internal goodies!





Of course, gotta roll with the iPod mini. Why do I bow at the altar of Steve? Well, they make a great simple unit. I’ve had it for a few years now, and, well, the mini and iTunes just work great. When a simpler solution hits, I’ll be there (why am I bothering to mention this?) I’ve got an armband from tunebelt, it works great, and is neoprene so I don’t worry about it at all.

I always keep a tape measure (that little black hexagonal thing) that has metric and standard units on it. You never know when you’ll need (also there’s a straight edge steel ruler there too) I have to measure stuff a lot.

You can see below my standard little folder, and if you look closely there are some time management sheets from my buddy David Seah, he makes the best time management forms on the planet and is a brilliant blogger!

You can see my pretty silver business card holder, and then another stack just snapped together with a clip. You always need to have them around, you never know who you’ll run into.

My wallet is by tokens and coins in Berkeley (I used to work there, shameless plug, it was free years ago). It works.

I keep two USB media fobs with me, they’re so much more wonderful than disks, yeah they’re both 128 Mb, but when do you need to download more than 256Mb anywhere anyway?keys

I’ve got the swiss key on my key-chain (get one, they’re awesome, just take it off before you fly anywhere). I’ve got a great house key, that when you go get copies made at the hardware store, get the handle that has a little red L.E.D. light on it. It won’t screw up your night vision, but kicks out enough light to find nearly anything in the dark (when

you’ll need it).

Yes, I’m mildly hipsteresque and take notes on a Moleskine with a space pen (special note, that one was from my Aunt who worked at Hughes aircraft, so it was at least directly space related to begin with). It’s easy to make a tape holder for your pen on the end of the Moleskine and I highly recommend it. Sure makes life easier!

For drawing on the go (I told you I was a designer, (it doesn’t mean I’m good at it!)) gotta have the double endedpens Sharpie, and I found a great pen called the Bic Duo (it’s the blue one) that’s both a blue roller and a yellow highlighter. I’ve got a great editing trick where I circle the items I need to correct in blue, then, when I’ve corrected whatever it was, I highlight over it and it turns black. Then whenever you need to see what you have left to fix, just look for blue!

You can see the glasses case for my Smith Toasters (don’t know if they’re still making them) but they’ve got dark grey, amber, and orange/persimmon lenses. Awesome for all sorts of driving and biking, just pop in the lenses you need.

The packet you see if a little energy mix, my buddy Jukka does, it’s the last sample I have. It rocks, he’s a good example for it, a freakishly in shape triathlete!

Finally, I’ve got my bluetooth ready LG phone, plantronics headset, and Palm Zire 72. I’ve had Palm Pilots for over 10 years now (yeah I started with the Pilot Professional and 1Mb of memory!). I don’t know what I’ll do for an electronic organizer next (hopefully it’ll be part of my phone (will it have a fruit logo on it? Who knows?))phone

Now it’s time for you to let us know what gets you from place to place!

12 reviews or comments

Mike Says: February 19, 2007 at 3:25 pm

Hmm, I’m to lazy to take all sorts of pictures, but I’ll give a nice list (it doesn’t require getting up from my chair ;))

– iPod nano
– cell phone (Motorola E815 although I want a Treo 700p)
– 2-3 thumb/flash/mini drives
– PSP and sometimes my DS Lite

Nothing else really besides school books; I know, it’s pretty boring.

Matt Says: February 19, 2007 at 9:09 pm

north face modem backpack
random usb cords
laser mouse
1 gig flash drive
duck tape
sharpie magnum marker
universal portable battery
Cat 5

Al Says: February 20, 2007 at 10:45 am

- Crap laptop
– 5 or so notebooks (paper variety)
– Lots of pens
– Some personal development book
– PDA/phone thing
– Business cards
– An assortment of memory cards

Marc Says: February 21, 2007 at 12:11 pm

- Point + shoot camera
– Phone/PDA
– bluetooth GPS (mainly because it lives in my pocket, not because I get lost that often…)
– 2GB USB Drive

Fred Says: February 21, 2007 at 12:51 pm

Sweet a response!
Marc: What kind of bluetooth GPS?

Flash drives seem the order of the day, I wonder how everyone really uses them. Do you guys just move files from home to work/School? Are they to move stuff between machines you are working on, or are they to bring new files to friends/co-workers?

Al Says: February 21, 2007 at 1:05 pm

My memory sticks are to fill up space in my bag, I hardly ever use them really.

Marc Says: February 21, 2007 at 2:37 pm

Yeah, the USB stick is just on me “because you never know when you’ll need it!”. I have some tools on there but truthfully these days I can email/ftp most things I need around so it’s not that useful any more.

The GPS is a holux GPS 236. Great piece of kit, it gets a signal *inside* the car glovebox, locks on from cold in about 20 seconds and has a 10 hour battery life.

Bookie Says: March 1, 2007 at 3:57 pm

I’ve had this bag since the dawn of time, or perhaps maybe around seven years. Which, for a bag, I mean. It used to be this vibrant sky blue kind of shiny material with a light pink inside but it’s a bit dull as you can imagine. It’s a sidebag and it’s enormous.
Inside, there is:
-Two small-ish notebooks, one for church notes and one for wedding notes
-an address book I made on the job
-my planner which is just a spiral-bound thing
-three tubes of chapstick, one of which is very nearly empty which is upsetting as it’s also my favorite
-one tube of hand lotion, Japanese cherry blossom
-my incredibly charming compact bible with a fancy gold edging
-a crochet hook, at the bottom
-halls spearmint cough drops
-my velcro one-dollar-at-walmart Batman wallet
-“The Four Loves” by CS Lewis
-nasal spray, 12-hour moisturizing.. I’ve been addicted since I was twelve. My nose may fall off.
-three pens – green, red, pink
-one clicky pencil
-a hello kitty compact mirror… what can I say? girly.
-a dollar store booklight
-bicycle playing cards.. except they’re see-through
-an enormous bottle of extra-strength headache relief
-my black Nintendo DS with a cover I made for it
-four games: Nintendogs dalmation, cooking mama, animal crossing and big brain academy. again, the girl thing.
-a tin shaped like an NES controller that contains mints
-some bacon shaped bandages
-a spoon
-“girl things”
-a lighter, although I don’t smoke anymore.
-half of a comb?
-a single claritin D 24-hour
-a single midol
-a rock.
-Oh! I’ve just found a rice-krispy treat.
-And finally, my cellphone, a pink razr because I’m that kind of girly girl

Ridiculous! I cleaned my bag while doing this. So thanks, this.

Al Says: March 2, 2007 at 9:57 am

Thanks Bookie, er how big is your bag, does it have wheels :) .

Kelly Says: March 18, 2007 at 7:26 pm

Well, here goes whats in mine

-screwdriver (I love unscrewing random things…..I know, weird)
-Watch (when I can’t find the cell-phone
-digi-camera (I’m an artist at heart!)
-cd player (yeah its big. And old-school, I suppose. But its music)
-Nintendo DS and Gameboy Advance (never know when a friend will want to play games with you!)
-2 mini hairbrushes
-travel size deodorant
-hand sanitizer
-small cd-case (12 cd-size)
-wallet (the essentials, id, bus pass, coupons, cash, pictures, business cards, mcdonalds arch card, guitar pick)
-Bus schedule
-House key
-one wet wipe
-2 perfumes
-5 lip glosses
-a pen
-a pencil
-a marker

Ta da. With a few band-aids, I’d be prepared for anything. I better go grab some!

john Says: March 27, 2007 at 12:32 pm

Together, at the time of inventory taking, the combined weight for everything listed in these three modular kits was 732g, or 1.6lb.I have since added a cliff bar and gum, and keep on the side a pair of glasses in soft unpadded pouch, a bandana/beanie combo (best 1.5 oz of warm ever – headgear and scarf/balaclava). Also in a folder I keep tin foil, waxpaper, chess board (pieces in ziploc), stickers, and google SMS flyers. I made a cardboard and bubble wrap and napkin-material sheath for laptop (sheath – quick extraction).

Minimus online story helped alot with the consumable kite, housed in a husky holdall pouch:

I used coin collector sheets to page out the smaller items here
consumbable bag: 205g

tylenol aspirin aleive motrin benadryl pepto idodine swab alcohol swab guaze pad bandaids neosporin q-tips burn gel petroleum jelly soap condom sewing kit lens cloth woolite lime packet brushup (they suck) folgers single serve coffee liquid bandage (the sharable kind) wetnaps insect repellant earplugs (tremendously useful for anything but ears)

grab bag: 170g
paper-sheathed aa and aaa batteries
eyeglass repair kit
bic mini
prototyping plastic
microscope (triple lens loupe)

pathcouli oil


this is a modified roll up tool kit that I picked up at walgreens and gutted. 357g

hair pin
safefty pin
sharpies )silver, black)
screwdrivers (x4, precision)
segments of coathanger
thick/thin solder
triangle file
duct tape
screws (lodged inside bottom part of duct tape)
wd-40 stick
sticky tack
q-tip again
tiny copper clips
travel dental ppoker (non dental)
tweezers x2 (thin/thick)
hot glue stick
double ended brush, clipped for short stiff bristles on one end


and finally, 1.2mm, 0.5mm point pens, .7mm mech bic pencil, .5 mm zebra metal mech pencil (to take apart if need be – once I used the metal tip as a bearing to fix a minifridge door) clipboard with cardboard taped to back (For boxcutting paper/plastic/whatever) hpda (index cards + binder clip) fine point sharpie….


Yes, I’m obsessed. I’m also really frikkin good at it.

Scott Says: June 21, 2007 at 10:45 pm

WHEW!! Now I don’t feel so odd knowing others carry a “life preserver” bag full of odds & ends. A buddy of mine recently commented on the contents of my bag saying “Dang!! What AINT you prepared for?!”
Well, I’m a known “Mister Fix-It” to family & friends, and I travel on AMTRAK/GreyHound thru Ca., Nv., and Or.(once thru Az.), quite a bit…….
So, in this old GAP brand multiple-pocketed messenger tote I carry;
paperback (600pg. or less)
2x 5″x3″ 50 page note pads, a small 1in.x1in. stack of post-its, and a couple scraps of sandpaper.
8 1/2×11 5 subject pocketed “BUNGEE” notebook.
purple-ink PENTEL R.S.V.P. ballpoint pen (fine).
PENTEL Twist-Erase 0.5 mechanical drawing pencil (+a small dispencer of 30 extra leads).
black 0.7 ballpoint pen.
LEXAR JumpDrive Secure 256mb flashdrive (contains doc. files of passwords for websites and such).
4GB PNY Attache’ flashdrive (for sharing/storing travel/visit photos).
small zippered pouch of various USB & other connector cables & AV/stereo adaptors, including a 15ft stereo headphone extension and “Y” adapter.
folding travel stereo-headphones and earbuds.
HP digital camera with 32mb and 4mb mem cards (soon to upgrade).
cheapo web-cam/digi-cam/vid-clip recorder.
homemade 4AA powerpack w/ interchangable tips.
Medium-sized pouch containing; PSP w/2x 1GB cards for the 750+ WMA’s of tunes + a variety of optional background images (I make bucket-loads of those as a time-killer) and some extra game saves, + a 32MB for main game saves, 5-8 various games, necessary charger, auto-adapter, and a combo external solar charged power-pack (homemade from yard accent lights, and will charge my other homemade listed above!).
Small pouch containing; GameBoy w/several games & charger.
32-CD case w/various PS2 & XBOX games, favorite DVDs, homemade vidclip/picture-discs, and various CD-ROM install CDs for digicam, PSP media convert, etc.
an old ever-dependable well-used Swiss Army Knife (some 15-20 flip-outs, like an American Express card to me!!).
small 3 blade pocketknife, and an average sized lockblade.
Leatherman w/case + accessories.
small antique brass jewelers magnifying piece in fitted leather pouch.
small handsewn case w/several jewelers & magnetic ended screwdrivers, 2 jewelers files, tweezers, X-Acto, 6in. metal rule, a few paper clips & rubberbands, 8 sized allen-key tool, and a compact cheapo 8ft. tape measure.
2AA MAGLite(3LED conversion) w/bicycle handle-bar mount attached.
turbo-lighter and stardard disposable lighter.
disposable 2LED clicker light (attached with velcro just under a conveniently accessible flap on the bag).
travel size bodyspray w/ extra refill.
flask of fav “sleep-help” beverage.
breath mints.
6 Tylenol Quik-Tabs, 4 Pepto chewables, a nearly depleted roll of medical tape, about a dozen QTips, & 2 small packets of Neosporin in a baggie.
a couple nutri-grain bars and 2 bottles of water.
Men’s deluxe personal grooming kit with a couple toothpicks, sewing needles, straight-pins, and a few feet of thread thrown in.
Plus 2 bandannas, 3 empty zipper pouches & a 2ft. length of nylon strap w/adjustable buckle for whatever need, and a beanie my momma knitted for me which serves as some padding for everything and has kept my noggin warm on some very cold stops during my travels!
Though it seems like a lot of stuff, the contents have proved to be invaluable MANY times over, and really aint a chore to haul around. Mind you, I take this bag camping as well, which this household happens to do at least twice a year.
A few years back I quit carrying a soldering iron and portable/rechargable DREMEL mototool (plus accessories) due to not being used much, as well as quite a few of the items John (above post) listed. Obsessed is alright friend, just remember to downsize if peeps start calling ya a tweak! LOL!!

Yeah, Life Preserver is a good name for these types of bags!

Invaluable tip for travelers!!!;
Kid’s cereals are fun to eat, and the free toys in them are PERFECT remedies for the ruccus you may encounter on your travels!! I usually carry a couple, and a HotWheel or 2 “Just In Case!” Kids love them and ya earn kudos with the adults as well, LOL!!

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