Be prepared — it’s the Boy Scout motto and something I’ve taken to heart over the years in Japan. I like to be able to carry a lot of stuff if the need arises, and this Visvim Ballistic 20L backpack (see below) is like a bottomless pit. The internal frame (a hard plastic back panel) makes heavy loads easy to carry, and the side zipper makes it easy to grab my camera without having to take the pack all the way off. Here’s what I had stuffed in it during a recent trip to our New York HQ.
MacBook Pro 13-inch (Mid–2009)
Like the majority of the Verge staff, I’ve moved on to a 13-inch MacBook Air, but the Pro has been a very dependable workhorse for me for the past two and a half years. Sometimes I miss the 8GB of RAM I used to have in this thing, but the Core i5 and SSD in the Air are so fast that I hardly ever notice the memory constraint.
iPad 2 (16GB WiFi)
My new Air is so light that I don’t really bother composing on my iPad anymore, but I use it almost every day for reading on public transportation. iBooks only has the classics in Japan, but between Mr. Reader for RSS feeds, Kindle, Instapaper, iTunes U, and my New Yorker subscription, I consume a lot of media on it, and its big screen makes using dictionary apps and inputting kanji by hand really easy.
Nikon D90 and SB700
The D90’s low light performance isn’t the best, so I always throw this Speedlight in my bag whenever I grab my camera. I tuck the body in a toque (aka "beanie") to make sure I don’t bang it up too badly when I’m throwing my bag around, and while I do have a proper LowePro Nova 200 AW for my bigger lenses and backup body, keeping the camera in my backpack avoids announcing to everyone that I’ve got pricey photo gear on hand. The SB700 is really bright, and it's a lot of fun to play around with off-camera flash.
iPhone 4 32GB
I know, I know — all Apple everything — but this phone is totally indispensable for me. Lots of people argue that competing platforms are catching up to iOS in terms of the number of apps available, but until there are equivalents to The Wisdom and Daijirin on them I’ll be re-upping with whatever new device Apple pumps out every year. I haven't kept it in a case since my Bumper bit the dust six months ago, and I’ve never dropped it (knock on wood).
Logicool (Logitech) Bluetooth M555b mouse
The brand name's different in Japan, but the mouse is the same. No dongle’s a good dongle, and since I don’t game on my computer, this suits my needs perfectly. The free-spinning scroll is great for flying through long documents and web pages.
AIAIAI Swirl headphones
I love the design, the thick cables make them really difficult to tangle up, and the tips form a great seal in my ears. I can’t write when there’s a lot of background noise, so I rely on these and Mozart a lot when I’m working. The acoustics really lend themselves to bass-heavy hip hop and electronica, which suits me just fine.
Mintia mints, Hanko, Stylus, and Hakuba Lens Pen
Mintia Mints: The gentleman’s choice.
Hanko: People don’t use signatures in Japan — instead, everyone carries around one of these little stamps to "sign" documents. You never know when you’re going to need it.
Stylus: I love Note Taker HD and iAnnotate PDF for the iPad, and I put this thing to work all the time. The only problem is the friction from the mushy rubber tip.
Hakuba Lens Pen: One end is a soft brush for cleaning dust and debris out of your lens, the other is a concave microfiber tip for getting rid of fingerprints. This really comes in handy for getting junk out of my lenses, laptop, and other gadgets.
Elecom Wet Cleaning Tissues for LCDs
These are a great addition to a microfiber cloth for getting fingerprints off of devices before photo time, and they’re also handy for cleaning up orange juice disasters in your CES trailer. I beat on my gear a lot, but the LCDs have to be clean.