Skip to main content

What’s in your bag, Jake Kastrenakes?

Allergy meds and chargers

Photography by Amelia Holowaty Krales

Share this story

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Photo by Amelia Krales / The Verge

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 Circuit Breaker editor Jake Kastrenakes.

If I’m being completely honest, I mostly carry a bag so that I have a place to stash whatever book I’m going to be reading on the subway. I just don’t need that much stuff. But I figure, if I’m going to be carrying a bag, I may as well fill it with useful junk so that it’s there when I need it. So, here is my collection of bag, book, and associated junk.

Asos contrast leather satchel

Longtime readers may remember (though I really hope you don’t) my old messenger bag, which was basically an endlessly roomy ball of canvas. This new one is much, much less expansive than that, but I really like the two-tone style of it. Asos is great for cheap, well-designed stuff, but its level of quality matches the price. I’ve had this bag for about two and a half years, and as you can see, one of the metal clasps recently fell off. I tried to super glue it back on, but it just fell off again. I might try a second time. We’ll see.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (late 2013)

This is my computer, and it’s pretty great. There’s a bunch of wear and tear on the bottom, but I barely ever take it out of the office (it isn’t technically in my bag all the time), so it’s remained in pretty good shape. As much as I like it, I just bought the redesigned MacBook Pro for use at home, and now this model is suddenly feeling kinda chunky whenever I pick it up. I don’t know how a couple millimeters feels like such a difference.

Nexus 5X

This doesn’t actually go in my bag either, but it is on my person at all times. I love the color of this phone, and I love that it’s a totally competent Android phone that sold for the relatively low price of $379. But it has not held up super well. Day-to-day use is mostly fine, but the camera — half the reason I bought this thing — has slowed down dramatically, and I now have to wait through excruciatingly long pauses between taking photos while the last one is “processing.” The photos look beautiful, but I would really like to be able to actually snap one when I press the shutter.


I always have a novel, short story collection, or literary magazine in my bag so that I’ve got something to read on my subway ride to and from work. I finished up Victoria Lancelotta’s Far a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. I’d read her short story collection years ago and loved it enough to make other people read it, but I wanted to wait to buy her novel until I was really in need of something good. Now I’ve moved onto Catherine Lacey’s The Answers, which I’m enjoying quite a bit, too.

Cable + charger

I started carrying a cable with me at all times just in case I needed to charge my phone. At the time, I figured, how hard can it be to find a USB port to plug it into? Then I nearly got stranded in New Jersey. I’ve kept a charger with me ever since.

Pen + pad

I always keep a pen in my pocket and a few extras in my bag. Bic’s traditional pen is my favorite for a couple reasons: they’re reliable, but also, they’re super cheap. I don’t have to worry about losing them or handing them out. There’s almost always something nearby that I can write on, but if I’m going somewhere for work, this is the pad I’ll jot down notes on. I actually completely forgot I had this voice recorder in my bag, too. It’s kind of terrible.

Minolta X-300

Okay, I don’t actually carry this in my bag most of the time. But if I’m going on a trip somewhere, this is what I’ll bring. It’s an old film camera that my dad bought in the ‘80s with a 50mm lens on the front. I own a mirrorless digital camera, too, but I got tired of using it. I ended up taking way too many photos and then feeling like I had to sort through and edit all of them, which took the fun out of taking pictures. With film, I feel like I can only ever take single shot of anything, since every press of the shutter costs me. And yeah, it just looks better.

That said, there are some downsides to shooting film. For example, it took me multiple rolls of film to diagnose a light leak due to some worn-out padding around the loading door. I ordered and inserted replacements and think I’ve fixed it now, but it’ll take shooting and developing another roll to find out. Also, without fail, I will mess up rewinding film into the cartridge at least once per trip. But the shots that don’t get ruined look great.


First, I want to be very clear that I do not use the nail clippers in public. They are entirely for emergencies, and entirely used in private. Sometimes, there’s just a split fingernail you have to take care of. Otherwise, we’re looking at some allergy meds (it’s been bad in New York this year), potentially scientifically proven / potentially homeopathic cold drops that I swear are effective but also totally forgot to take the last time I had a cold, and various moisturizers. This is really what a bag is for.

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.

More from this stream What's in your bag?

See all 67 stories