December 12, 2014

Axial Mini Messenger
Everything carry

I enjoy setup posts, what’s in my bag, the everyday carrys, that sort of thing. They tell me what works for people, and that gives me ideas as to how I can improve my own productivity by tweaking my gear. Also, I guess I like to read about gadgets and stuff.

One thing I’ve been thinking about is how much people carry around. The backpacks are filled to the brim, with sensible things (usually), but a lot of them.

Here’s a bag’s content that I just made up:

  • Everything lives in a Goruck-something, or a Tom Bihn, or whatever
  • Macbook Air in sleeve, and a Magsafe charger
  • A mouse for the Macbook
  • iPad with Lightning cable and plug
  • iPhone (in my pocket)
  • Intous stylus for iOS devices
  • SD card reader for iOS devices
  • Twelve South Compass stand, for the iPad
  • USB battery (for charging, obviously)
  • Gamepad for iOS and/or Mac, for those old school gaming sessions
  • Fujifilm X100, and an extra SD card if the one inside gets full
  • USB stick, just in case
  • Business cards, in a nifty little case
  • Moleskine notebook, with some post-its for quick notes to pass out
  • A couple of your favorite gel pens
  • Pocket knife
  • Multitool for those emergency repairs
  • Headphones
  • Cloth of some sort
  • Gum and cough drops
  • Alcogel and tissues
  • Pocket change
  • Water flask, preferably something that comes from army surplus

Sensible stuff all, but a lot of things to carry around. How much use will these things get, on average, per time you leave home with your bulging bag? Not much, I’d wager.

Take the Intous stylus for example. I’ve got one and I love it, it’s great for a lot of things. I used to keep it in my bag, in it’s case, and never ever pick it up. I had it with me on every foray outside the home or office (and inbetween) for a year, without using it once. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t use it plenty during this time, only that I never did when I was out and about.

Or take the Fujifilm X100, an intriguing camera that warrants a way better photographer than I. It sat in my bag for a shorter time, unused, but I always hoped I’d get into the habit of using it, instead of snapping less dynamic photos with my iPhone. The only reason the X100 was less long-lived than the Intous was that the camera is both heavier and bulkier.

I’m not saying there aren’t times when all these things are useful, I’m just saying these situations are far apart, and rarely coinciding. Carrying around your office in a backpack is the equivalent of having your cargopants full of nice to have tools. It’s a good idea in theory, but makes less sense in the real world. Unless you’re actually backpacking, and your life’s in your bag, with no home or office in sight, in which case none of this matters, and you should probably consider adding quite a few more things to that bag of yours…

Here’s what I do carry when I’m out on the town. I usually loose the keyboard and the stand if I know I won’t be out for more than four hours.

  • I use the Axial Mini Messenger from Modern Industries
  • iPad Air 2, with Smart Cover
  • Twelve South Compass 2 stand
  • Logitech Easy-Switch bluetooth keyboard
  • A small pouch containing a Lightning cable, an USB wall socket plug, a small screen cleaning cloth, and some pocket change
  • A notebook, preferably thin and softcover, but it depends on what I’m working on at the moment
  • A Pilot G2 gel pen
  • Alcogel and gum, as well as a few tissues, although these things often go in my jacket
  • Possibly a water bottle, 25 cl or so, but more often than not I skip that
  • And the iPhone 6 model I fancy at the time, in my pocket

This weighs less than a kilo, and I can use the Axial Mini Messenger bag with room to spare. If it’s cold outside, I’ll add a Buff, and I can even fit a thin sweater in there, although that’s pushing it. I never bring my Macbook Pro unless I’m traveling.

Whatever you choose to lug around during your day is up to you, obviously. The important thing is that you feel that you’ve got what you need. There’s a sense of security in bringing things for every conceivable situation, and you get rid of the worry that you’ll be lacking something. However, there’s also the feeling of clutter, and the fact that you’re carrying around things you might not use for months. Somewhere there’s a fine line as to what you should bring, you’ll just have to find it.

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere. There is also a newsletter.