Lifestyle Tip #3: Have a Gear Bag

Image by Allie_Caulfield from Germany – 2010-10-30 Geeste, Moormuseum 032, CC BY 2.0.

On the subway yesterday, on the way into the office, I stole an appreciative look down at my constant traveling companion in my lap. It’s true: when I’m on the go, my gear bag is with me more often than my dog, my wife or my daughter. It comes along to work and on nearly every trip.

This isn’t going to be a blog about Things on Alan’s Person, even though we’ve already discussed my clothing and now my bag. There will be no Capital One-sponsored post about what’s in my wallet, because I don’t carry a wallet.

On a friend’s recommendation, I had initially started with a small company that custom-makes bags to order in California, but what I got was something late, overpriced, with parts missing and ultimately just a big open pocket without the right compartments for my gear. I cut my losses and sold it on eBay.

20160414_172621The bag I got instead is small and light, because I carry it over my shoulder when I’m walking or on my bike. It’s a Timbuk2, which I scored for a steal from Amazon last year. The story of what’s inside is more worth telling, though. My gear bag is my own adult version of the diaper bag you’ll find with nearly all parents of babies, or a self-service take on the Leviathan squired by Gary Walsh of “Veep” fame. It keeps me out of trouble and occasionally comes to the rescue of a coworker with a coffee stain or a seatmate with a dead battery.

It’s a great expression of my own take on minimalism: take only what you need. Be prepared for now, and for what life may bring you in short order, but don’t be weighed down by too many attachments.

For everyday use, the only things my gear bag doesn’t contain are my lunch container and my beloved travel coffee mug. I can add a suitcase or a backpack for a short trip out of town, or my gym bag when I need my running gear. Everything I need is there when I need it, and everything I don’t need stays behind. There was never a packing list of grand design. I imagine there are some things I’ve been carrying around since college, and others I picked up along the way. I unpacked it completely the other day, so I could take a picture of what’s inside.

gear bag

The rundown:

  • iPad Air with keyboard case
  • Lined notebook
  • Folders with paperwork
  • Occasionally, my work laptop (not pictured)
  • ChicoBags (2)
  • Extra business cards
  • Highlighter
  • Hair brush
  • Deodorant
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tide pen
  • Yin/yang stone that Lindy gave me years ago
  • Glasses
  • First aid kit
  • Daytime cold medicine
  • Tissues
  • Silicone earplugs (I’m a light sleeper.)
  • Mints
  • Headphones
  • Travel umbrella
  • Bike lights
  • Charger for two devices
  • Car 12V charger
  • Verizon portable hot spotfrom work
  • FreedomPop portable hotspot from home
  • VAAS battery bank
  • Lightning, USB micro (2) and USB mini cables
  • Grid-It (Note: This was an amazing discovery for someone who carries around a lot of similar, but loose items such as chargers and cables. It’s also useful for those who change bags often or carry many small personal-care items.)

So, what do you carry around town?


Also published on Medium.

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1 Comment

  1. So fun! I love a good pouch (or ziploc bag)to organize like items – cold medicine, first aid kit, ear plugs. You could use a second grid it-to hold non-electronic random items (highlighter, business cards, etc) if you don’t put them in smaller pockets already. I also find carabiners really useful for collecting things that otherwise float around a bag, like keys, chico bags, etc. You can then also use them to hold a chico bag of light stuff on the outside of your timbuk2 and still be hands free.

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