My bag is just about always on my person. Taking a phrase from Deviant Ollam, it’s my “solve most problems” kit. Just about anything I would need to do on a regular basis, I can accomplish with things in my bag, from charging my phone to fixing a computer (software or hardware).
I have a different kit designed specifically around my needs at school with nothing else in there, since I don’t carry my school bag outside of school. I can write a different post about that kit if anyone asks for it (its not that interesting) but outside of school, this bag is at my hip pretty much constantly.
I’ll include as many product links as I can find. If I miss any of them, feel free to reach out to me on any of my socials and I’ll try to find them.
The Bag Itself
Recently, I switched from a basic brown canvas messenger bag to what I can confidently call my endgame tech bag: the Peak Design Everyday Messenger V1. It’s got their MagLatch on it, which closes the bag securely while still allowing me to quickly open it with one hand, and it has foldable velcro divider panels to keep your stuff in the main pocket organized, both of which work great. The 15L is a great size for the stuff I carry and doesn’t look too huge when I’m carrying it.
My current laptop is an LG Gram 14Z980 with an i5, 8GB of RAM, and a 250GB SATA M.2 SSD, and an aftermarket 500GB NVME drive which I have linux installed on so that I don’t have to disturb the windows install on the original drive. I’m looking to upgrade to a Framework laptop in the forseeable future, but for now, the Gram is working just fine, although I’ve had some durability issues with the hinge, and the powder coat (if you’re looking at a Gram, I would go with the silver and not the White since the white powder coat chips over time).
As a right-to-repair advocate, the Gram was probably the most repairable modern laptop on the market up until Framework’s launch. Just 8 screws to get into the case, with user-servicable RAM and M.2 drives (including an extra, unpopulated M.2 slot, which I’ve populated with a 500GB NVME drive for booting linux from, like I said above). The easy repairability makes up for the hinge’s durability issues, since when the screws loosen, its easy to take it apart and tighten them again.
My tech pouch is probably the most important item in my bag. Well, it’s not one item, but a collection of items. It’s the only item in this kit that switches into my school bag when I’m carrying it. All the smaller items (which tend to be the most useful) live in here, including:
- Anker PowerCore Slim (1000mAh)
- Sennheiser IE-100 Pro Wired IEMs
- USB-C Wall Adapter
- USB-C to Lightning Cable
- USB-C to USB-C Cable
- USB-A to MicoUSB Cable
- Various USB A-C Adapter
- Ubuntu 20.04 Installer (both desktop and server)
- USB WiFi Adapter
- USB-C Ethernet NIC (came with my laptop)
- Ethernet Cable
- HDMI Cable
All of that is packed into a Mountainsmith Essentials Stash pouch.
I’m anti-Apple, primarily because I am pro-FOSS and a huge right-to-repair advocate. But my whole family are iPhone users, and I need to be able to be in their ecosystem. I use an iPhone 7 because I got it from my cell carrier for $1, and it’s still supported. I’ll upgrade when Apple starts putting USB-C on iPhone, my 7 stops getting updates, or when I can switch to Android (this is getting closer and closer since I discovered BlueBubbles, who I’ll be writing a
FOSS Feature on soon.)
If you’ve read the introduction on the Home Page or you follow me on instagram, you’ll know I’m an ameteur photographer. Sure, my phone has a camera, and I can get good pictures out of it in a pinch, but nothing will ever match the quality of a proper DSLR with a large sensor. In my bag, I carry a Nikon D5600 with the kit lens attached, a Peak Design Cuff to prevent me from dropping it, and a Peak Design Capture V3 mounted to the outside of my bag to keep it at quick access while I’m using it. When it’s not in ue, it just tucks right inside the bag, in a pocket fit perfectly for it using the folding velco panels.
I carry a cheap 48-in-1 precision screwdriver kit that I bought on Amazon for about $12, which is more than enough for the things I do with it. It came in a nice alluminum case and all the bits are held in with magnets. Honestly, the thing I do with it most is tighten the hinge screws on my laptop, but it comes in handy often enough that I don’t mind keeping it in my bag. The product was removed from Amazon, so I can’t link to it. If you have the money, I would spring for one of the iFixit kits, which I’ll be upgrading to in the near future.
My keys are actually one of the greatest tools that I carry. On top of the normal keys, I have a 16 GB SanDisk USB stick with a bunch of different utilities for Windows, MacOS, and of course Linux. I’ll probably do a dedicated post on that at some point, but I’m not going through it all right now.
The other important thing I carry on my keys is my YubiKey. For the uninitiated, a YubiKey is a physical 2 Factor Authentication key. That means that for most of my online accounts, not only do I need to enter my username and password correctly, but I also need to plug in this physical key and press a physical button on it to get in. It’s a great security measure, and I highly reccommend you take a look at the information on their website and from third-party reviewers to understand why that’s better than using SMS or a 2FA app on your phone, since I’m not a security expert and I don’t think I could adequately and consicely explain it here.
This is where we start getting into the boring stuff, but this is honestly one of my most used items in my bag. I carry an Energiser CR123 pocket flashlight. It’s bright, durable, and tiny. Exactly what I was looking for. The biggest downside to it is the stupid CR123 batteries, but they’re high capacity and high voltage in a small form factor, so I’ll get over it and keep an extra in my bag with the extra AAs and AAAs.
As I just alluded to, I keep a plastic bag of spare batteries tucked into my bag. A few AAs, a few AAAs, and one of those stupid CR123s for my flashlight. Nothing interesting, but worth mentioning.
First Aid Kit
I carry a small first aid kit on me. I’m not going to list everything (I’m not a medical expert, you’re much better off following a guide from the American Red Cross or a similar organization to figure out what you need to carry.) A couple notable things I carry in it are:
- CPR Face Shield - I’m CPR trained, and it weighs practically nothing, so I’d rather have it and never need it than not have it when I need it. Getting CPR trained is easy, and high-quality, early CPR is the single greatest factor to surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest according the American Heart Association. If you are able to, find a class near you and learn CPR, maybe you’ll save someone’s life one day.
- Spray Bottle of Isopropanol - I primarily use this for cleaning technology, but I don’t want to carry 2 bottles and I want quick access to it if I need it for first aid, so it lives in the first aid kit and I grab from there when I need it for something else.
I know they’re boring, but they’re one of the most used things in my bag. I wear a set of RayBan aviators, which live in the padded pocket just on the inside of the top flap of my bag. They’re lightweight, fold up thin, cover my eyes completely, and (I think) they look decent on me. I’d be lying if I said that my desire to get a pilot license didn’t contribute a little bit to my choice as well.
That’s just about everything I carry, and it’s enought to get me out of almost any tech-related pinch. I’ll update this post if anything minor changes, and I may write a new one occasionally when something major changes. Keeping with the philosophy of the bag, it’s enough solve most problems. As always, if you notice any errors or typos, let me know through one of my socials and I’ll correct it as soon as I can.
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