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What’s in your bag, Dieter Bohn?

Travel essentials

Photography by James Bareham

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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. This week, we’re featuring Verge executive editor Dieter Bohn.

It's been four years since I last published the contents of my bag, and in that time I've made a deep and heartfelt choice: stop carrying around so much crap, especially the heavy stuff. But I hate the feeling of missing that one thing so much that I can't pretend that I've fully Marie Kondo'd my everyday carry.

I also travel a lot more than I used to. So what you're looking at here is my travel kit. Some of this is stuff that won't make an appearance in my bag on my daily commute, but it's all stuff I need to survive a week in a mediocre hotel room. (RIP minibars, btw.)

Waterfield Staad Attaché

The first step in reducing the amount of stuff I carry is pretty obvious: get a smaller bag. I simply can't cram as much stuff into this as I could a full-on Timbuk2 messenger bag. I went with the Waterfield Staad Attaché because I think it looks great and has almost enough room for all my various wires and dongles and power adapters.

The latching mechanism on the flap is a so-called "ammunition buckle," and it takes a little while to get used to closing it one-handed, but you can get there. I've been using it for a little over a year now and it's holding up well, with some gunk on the waxed canvas and distress on the leather to give it some character.

MacBook and iPad Pro

I keep sticking with the MacBook (a late-2016 purchase) because I love how small it is and how nice the screen is. I've gotten used to the keyboard, and I clack away at it with enough gusto to vaguely annoy the people around me with how loud it is. It does mean that I have to live the #donglelife, but I generally can get by without anything but power most of the time.

As for the iPad Pro, it's mostly there for long flights and for entertainment in my hotel room. I am, in fact, able to get plenty of work done on it, but I usually don't. It's just convenient as a multi-purpose e-reader and movie-watching machine in strange cities. When I'm not traveling, it sits on my couch most of the time.

I do not know why I bought an Apple Pencil, nor why I carry it. Mostly it sits in a little silo in my bag, and I forget it's there.

Google Pixel XL and iPhone 6S

Both of these phones are likely going to be upgraded in the next week or two, but they're my daily carries. One is in my pocket and one is in my bag — and which one gets to be the main device depends on the day and my mood. I keep one on Verizon and the other on Project Fi so that I always have a couple of network options available to me when I need to tether.

I carry both because it's a big part of my job to know and use both, but I also often need to specifically use one or the other. Video apps on Android, in particular, are not good enough for some of what I need.

The iPhone 6S is inside Apple's silly battery case because it's old enough now that it can't be trusted to survive on its own. The Pixel XL is not in a case because I cracked the screen and yolo.

Anker Powercore 13000

My love for this battery is almost inappropriate. It's the perfect size for a back pocket, provides multiple charges to multiple devices, and just lasts and lasts. I do wish it charged via USB-C, but I survive. It even can be used to slow the battery drain on my MacBook (it can kick out up to 3A) in a pinch, which has been a lifesaver.

I've tried bigger batteries, and I've tried smaller ones. This is the one I keep going back to. Hashtag Goldilocks.

Sony RX100 IV

This Sony point and shoot is just a great little camera. It overachieves for its size pretty much all the time, and it convinced me that I usually don't need a DSLR or even a mirrorless for my photography needs. Of course, it's not as good as either of those, but I'm trying to protect my back here.

Honestly, though, I think there's a very high chance that this thing is going to get voted off the island pretty soon. I'm getting a Pixel 2 XL and very likely a new iPhone soon and both of those cameras are good enough for me, even for hands-on photos. (Don't tell our photo team.)

Nintendo Switch

I still love this little guy, especially when I'm traveling. It's so easy to sneak in a round of Rabbids at the airport gate or make an entire cross-country flight disappear while you hang in Hyrule. The Switch is still easily my favorite gadget that I've purchased this year (and I purchase a lot of gadgets). The ratio of dollars spent to hours enjoyed is just off the charts.

Finsix Dart-C power adapter

There are so many things I like about this power adapter. It can juice up both my phone and my laptop at the same time, because it has a built-in USB-A plug on it. It can fast-charge my Pixel XL. It's tall and thin, so it's easy to find a spot in a crowded powerstrip.

But it's also one of the earlier USB-C adapters, so it's a little finicky. I don't think it officially supports the USB PD spec, so every now and then I'll plug it into a random Chromebook and... nothing will happen. So I'm on the lookout for either Finsix to update it or for somebody else to make something better. Hit me up if you see something.

Juiced Systems BizHUB USB-C Multiport

This is my primary USB-C dongle, and it is a disaster. It has all the ports I want: HDMI, three USB-A ports, USB-C power passthrough, Ethernet, SD, and microSD. It should be perfect.

But it ain't, and I've gone through probably a dozen of these before I ended up just sticking with this one. The plug has a hard time staying securely connected. It gets stupid hot. The SD card reader is finicky. It sometimes doesn't pass through full power over USB so my computer charges more slowly when I use it.

This is the part where you ask me what USB-C dongle you should get and I tell you that life is suffering. And it's the part where I tell you that Apple, Google, and everybody else has absolutely failed in their duty to foster a good ecosystem of USB-C adapters to ease the pain of this transition.

I just don't trust this USB hub, nor do I trust any other I've tried. That's why there's one of those good old Apple USB-C to USB-A adapters next to the triad of USB-C, Mini USB, and Lightning cables. (Yes, some of these cables have velcro strips to wrap them instead of using the cord wrap method. Do not judge me, we all have our weaknesses.)


Beats X headphones

These are my neckbuds of choice, and I'm pretty happy with them. I mean not so happy that I won't complain that the battery life isn't as long as I'd like, or that they mysteriously work like garbage with the Pixel XL. (Other headphones have been okay with that phone.)

I also have an irrational hatred of the power button and power indicator on these things. It's the standard long-press thing, but it's slow, so you never really know what it's doing when you're wearing them. So you have to either take them off or crane your neck to figure it out. Maybe something else will work.

Apple in-ear headphones

Guess what! You still need standard headphones, even if your phone doesn't have a headphone jack. For me, it's Apple's in-ear headphones (not the standard earbuds, I’m not a monster), for which the audiophiles on our team have given me no end of grief.

But the reason I stick with them is I haven't found another pair that have a microphone that works as reliably with Macs as these. They might not sound great, but they're fine for video conferences and the microphone is good enough to record audio in a pinch.

Field Notes and Parker Jotter pens

Get your fancy pens out of my face, especially if they have caps. I don't use ink for art. I use it for taking notes. These are perfect for that: reliable and satisfying to use. Nice enough to feel like you're using a nice thing, but not so nice that you feel bad when you lose them. And hey, I could say all of those exact things about Field Notes notebooks.

I don't have anything interesting to say about my sunglasses. Sorry.

Inateck Felt Storage Pouch

Since my bag only has a few pockets, I carry all my ephemera in this little pouch. Objects inside include: ibuprofen, business cards, subway and building access cards, SD cards, and a spare camera battery. There's usually an energy bar of some sort in case I have to miss lunch, but I ate it before the photo shoot.

I love my little keychain carabiner because it opens bottles and also hangs keys inside my pocket, away from my phone. I also carry a PortaPow Data Blocker, too, in case I want to top up power on a USB port I don't trust.

Michele Doying / The Verge

Stop motion animation by Michele Doying

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