Although I am a building-based school psychologist (which means I rarely leave my one building for work-related purposes), my recent forays into Edcamp organization, consulting, presenting, and grad school have me learning and working on the road more than ever before. While I’m on the move at school, I can do a lot with just my mobile phone, a pad, and pen, but traveling further afield requires more firepower than I can fit in my pockets. After many trials and more than a few errors, I think I’ve put together a “go bag” that ought to cover me in most circumstances.
After some hunting around, I settled on the Timbuk2 Command Laptop Messenger Bag. It’s billed as “TSA-friendly” due to the zip release that allows the bag (actually a very tight clamshell design – hard to describe; hit up the link for pics) to split open and lay completely flat for airport X-ray machines. This is apparently a big deal for people who travel with more than one device (e.g., tablet and laptop). I didn’t get it for this feature, but it’s nice to know it’s there if I need it.
Of greater concern to me was the bag’s build quality. I’ve had too many broken straps, holey compartments, and torn zippers on past bags, so all the reviews I read espousing the quality of Timbuk2 products definitely influenced me to shell out a little more for a bag that seems like it will last (the lifetime guarantee helped my decision-making process as well).
From a capacity standpoint, this bag looks and feels compact, but functions very much like a real-life bag of holding. Seriously, I have a hard time filling this thing, and it’s not for lack of trying. The laptop actually goes in a slim foam padded compartment on the rear of the bag, and the laptop charger brick fits into a compartment on the bottom of the bag, leaving the main compartment free to hold other items. There are pockets and zippers galore on this thing, but one feature I especially appreciate is the main flap closure – the flap is anchored by two aluminum hooks instead of velcro. That’s a very welcome feature for the guy who rolls into grad class 15 minutes late every week and would like to avoid the very conspicuous rrrrrrrrrip of velcro that further disturbs the class.
I purchased a Grid-It organizer to keep my cables corralled in my bag. Micro/mini USB, Ethernet, etc. – these are all cables I’ve found myself needing (and not having) at some point in the past few years, so I thought it would be good to warehouse some spares. The Grid-It keeps everything in one place and frees up the pockets and compartments for pens, notepads, Swiss Army knife, and other assorted handy items.
I tend to keep all my work accessible via services like Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive, but I keep a handful of USB drives in my bag mainly for emergency data transfer, but also to give away as needed. I get so many for free at various functions that I thought this would be a better use for them than sitting in a desk drawer collecting dust.
Table of Contents
Here’s a complete list of everything I’ve managed to stuff into this bag. Amazingly enough, the Command accommodates it all very well and doesn’t feel bulky or awkward at all. In addition to the basics (laptop, charger, phone, & iPod), this is what comes with me on my journeys:
- Grid-It Organizer
- Micro USB cables
- Mini USB cables
- iPod cable
- 4-port USB charger
- Ethernet cable
- Targus power strip
- USB thumb drives
- Swiss Army Knife
- Caffeine pills (I hate coffee)
- Migraine pills (I hate headaches, too)
- Spare wallet with consultant ID, emergency credit card, & dollar bills for vending machines
Do you keep a “go bag”, or do you have any must-have gadgets, cables, or thingamabobs I should add to my list of essentials? Let me know in the comments.