What's in your bag? is a recurring feature where we ask people to tell us a bit more about their everyday gadgets by opening their bags and hearts to us. Show us your bag in this forum post. This week, we're featuring Nathan Ingraham.
Compared to Dieter's bag, I go in the opposite direction when packing. I specifically try to bring exactly what is necessary to get the job done, and I use the smallest bag I can to help avoid overpacking. Sure, that could leave me open to disaster if my gear fails, but everything here has proven itself many times over. I've been trying to apply this mindset to every occasion I have to pack a bag: what exactly do I need for this trip? What redundancies can I strip out to save space?
This year, I decided to go with my medium cargo bag from WaterField designs — it's not a huge bag by any stretch, and actually doesn't fit my camera, but its small size means that I'm careful about what exactly I pack. It also has a variety of well-placed pockets for storing all of my various accessories, and the main laptop compartment is actually not hidden by the flap — this makes grabbing my computer much quicker. The bag is starting to look a bit worn after five years of use, but it's as functionally sound today as it was on day one. When I need my camera, it travels in a Lowepro Cirrus TLZ 15 holster, which I often throw it into my bigger Timbuk2 bag for longer trips.
13-inch MacBook Air (mid-2012)
Yup, it's the obvious choice, but I'm still continually amazed by how many boxes this computer manages to check: it’s thin and light but still has excellent battery life, a great keyboard, trackpad, and screen, and is much faster than most other computers I’ve used. Seriously, I hate my iMac now. Thanks, flash storage! I cut a good two pounds from my bag this year just by using this computer, and my shoulder definitely thanks me. The MagSafe adaptor and Ethernet dongle are “just in case” accessories — the MagSafe in particular was useful in our trailer full of older MacBook chargers.
Canon 50D / EF-S 15mm-85mm
This trusty Canon 50D and EF-S 15mm-85mm lens have shot probably 97 percent of the photos I've taken for this site. I also borrowed a 7D during CES to shoot video — but in my normal life, the 50D camera serves me just fine despite its age. The 15mm-85mm really hits the sweet spot in terms of focal range for nearly everything short of liveblogging — it's not as fast or quite as sharp as Canon's 17mm-55mm f/2.8 lens, but the extra range makes up for it. I left a few lenses home this time, but as I expected, I didn't need them.
iPhone 4S (Verizon)
I have conflicting feelings about my iPhone 4S pretty much every time I pick it up. I'm just plain tired of using iOS after many years with an iPhone, and Verizon's 3G speeds are laughably, shockingly slow compared to HSPA+ — to say nothing of LTE. Still, the camera continues to impress and delight me, the app selection is second to none, and it gets the job done in nearly every situation. (Though the slow data speed means it takes a good bit longer than I'd like.) I won't hesitate to replace it once my contract is finally up, though — perhaps with the next Nexus.
This tiny tablet serves a few purposes — it lets me scratch my Android itch, and it’s an ideal reading or movie-watching device while traveling. It's not so crucial to getting work done, but it's a good companion in the few bits of downtime at the end of a long day when away from home. That said, a tablet might not make the cut for the next big trip — I didn't use the Nexus 7 very often much at CES, though its light weight means it wasn't much of a burden on my bag.
Lets me get online anywhere I am. It's hard to put a price on that.
Notebook and pens
Having an analog backup is never a bad idea, though I would have preferred a smaller notebook for this event. I know I have one somewhere around my house, but couldn't find it in time. My dependency on dead tree material is at an all-time low, though — my next notebook will definitely be a tiny model that I can easily jam in a pocket and forget about.
Apple in-ear headphones w/ remote + mic
I've used the Apple in-ear headphones with remote + mic for some years now and haven't found a pair of earbuds that I prefer more, despite sampling a number of alternatives. Doesn't mean these are perfect by any stretch — the cord noise is a particular issue. However, they sound good, are comfortable, work well with my phone, and don't break the bank. The phone charger is an obvious when traveling for work. While my iPhone still usually makes it through a day with ease, big events are notoriously cruel to a phone's battery.
Collect 'em all! Still the best way to reliably and quickly share contact info, though I'm not very good at dealing with the ones I pick up afterwards.
Purely a luxury item, but this thing does an excellent job at killing time on flights, between layovers, and in the hotel. Going back to playing games on the tiny iPhone screen is a downer after spending time with this beautiful piece of hardware. The screen is great, and there are more than enough games to keep me busy. Completely superfluous, but it brought me more than enough fun to justify a spot in my bag. The days of dedicated portable gaming devices might be numbered, but the Vita remains my favorite way to game on-the-go.
The sun is notoriously bright and cruel after less than four hours of sleep.
Products to survive CES
Lip balm because Vegas is dry, hand sanitizer because Vegas is a germfest, Advil because Vegas causes headaches, and gum just because.