What's In Your Bag?


I’m always curious to see what gear other web workers take with them when they’re on the road, so I thought I’d get the WWD bloggers to share the contents of their bags, and hopefully readers can weigh in with rundowns of theirs as well.

I’ve started by laying out what I carry. The requirements I have for my gear are simple: It needs to be durable and light enough for easier lugging, but powerful enough for me to be able to get my work done on the road.

The gear I usually take to conferences

The gear I usually take to conferences

The Bag

Having a decent bag is vital. It needs to be sturdy enough to protect your gear, while at the same time being lightweight and not taking up too much space. I like backpacks, as they are more comfortable and leave your arms free.

I have two great bags for my gear; my choice of which one to use depends on whether I’m taking my camera and lenses with me or not.

Crumpler Salary Sacrifice

Crumpler Salary Sacrifice

On the rare occasions I decide not to lug my camera, my bag of choice is the excellent Crumpler Salary Sacrifice. It contains a removable laptop sleeve that perfectly fits my laptop.

Most times, though, particularly when traveling to conferences, I will take my camera and lenses, so I need a bag that can comfortably and safely store all of my photo gear. Enter the excellent CompuTrekker AW from Lowepro. It’s sturdy and has movable, velcro-secured padded inserts to make compartments for all of my photo gear. It also has a separate, padded compartment in which to store the laptop, and a big pocket on the front where I can store other travel essentials. It’s a surprisingly roomy bag — even after storing all of my gear I usually have space left over for other stuff, despite it being small enough to meet the size restrictions for carry-on luggage. The “AW” in the name means “all weather” — the bag has a nifty rain cover hidden in the bottom so you can protect your gear from the elements. I took all my equipment, including my laptop, trekking around Sri Lanka in this bag and everything came back in one piece.

The Laptop

My laptop is the no-longer-available Dell XPS M1210 (s dell). It has served me very well, although it’s getting a little old (the current version is the XPS M1330). It’s a great little laptop because with a 12.1-inch screen it’s small and light and therefore very portable, but it’s also reasonably powerful and can do everything that I need it to while on the road. I have two 6-cell battery packs, so can get a lot of work done without needing to find a power outlet. Even though it’s been battered quite a bit, it’s proved to be a very durable machine. The only other bit of computer equipment I take with me is the laptop’s power brick.

When I get around to replacing this machine, I will go for another small, 12- or 13-inch laptop, probably a MacBook.

The Phone

I always carry my iPhone (s aapl). It’s great for those moments when I don’t want to pull the laptop out of the bag just to do some on-the-fly Twittering or quickly check my email. I always have to make an effort remember to take the USB lead, though, as the phone’s poor battery life means that it doesn’t last very long if I forget!

My photo gear inside my Lowepro bag

My photo gear inside my Lowepro bag

The Photo Gear

My camera is the Canon Digital Rebel XT (s caj). Although it’s a few years old now and the casing is quite worn, it’s still going strong. The lenses I take with me depend on what I’m planning on shooting, but typically for a conference I take my Canon 70-200mm f4 L zoom lens in order to shoot high-quality photos of speakers from a distance, and a large aperture Canon 50mm f1.8 lens for portraits and low-light photos. I have a Canon Speedlite flash for lighting. I also usually take a lightweight Manfrotto tripod that I can strap to by bag. Also essential — spare battery, charger and plenty of memory cards.

What’s in your bag?


Nancy Nally

You’re welcome Simon! I’m always curious to see what everyone else is carrying and I’ve spent a ton of time researching bags, so thought I’d share. :)

The webcam idea kind of was an idea born of necessity because my 5yo daughter has autism and won’t do the phone. The disembodied voice freaks her out! But we discovered if she could see Mommy via the webcam, then she’d talk to me. It makes it just a little easier to be away from home now that we’ve figured out a way for us to connect while I’m gone.

Simon Mackie

@Nancy thanks for the detailed comment. I really like the “reading bedtime stories via Skype” idea! Also, good point about the ethernet cable. When I’m traveling overseas I usually take one.

Nancy Nally

I’m self-employed as the owner of a news website for the scrapbook industry trade. I travel several times a year for work usually, between trade shows and other conventions that I work as press. Sometimes this travel involves flying and sometimes not.

This is what my kit looked like when I flew cross-country for my last trade show:
Dell Inspiron 15” Laptop & spare battery
Power cord with in-line surge protector
Logitech Webcam [for reading bedtime stories via Skype]
iPhone, charger, & external battery pack & headphones
Kodak point-and-shoot for HD video shooting
AA battery charger & extra batteries
Canon XS, 18-55mm, 70-200mm, & 50mm
SD card reader [to transfer photos from the cameras]
Olympus Digital Voice Recorder, external microphone, & spare AAA batteries [for interviews]
Ethernet Cable [some hotels I use don’t have wifi]
Western Digital My Passport external hard drive 120GB [for backing up on the go]

I’m sure I’m forgetting some things…but you get the idea. I haul a lot of tech!

I’ve just replaced my Dell laptop with a Macbook, which means I can stop carrying the webcam. I’ve also realized I need to start carrying my Manfrotto Monopod & ballhead to take full advantage of my SLR’s capabilities at an event.

I have to use a roller bag for the long convention days. No way can my back handle lugging all that stuff standing and walking all day, plus a backpack really doesn’t do much for your outfit!

When I got the SLR right before my last conference I bought a Kata Digital Rucksack backpack for flying that held both my camera equipment and my laptop. It is a fabulous bag and works wonderfully but no way could I carry it all day. So I tried using my Kensington Contour Balance bag with my usual camera bag – a Tamrac Adventure Messenger 4 – stacked on top. (It traveled empty in my checked suitcase, collapsed flat.) Unfortunately it kept sliding around and wouldn’t stay on top of the Contour bag even using the trolley strap. I ended up having to carry the camera bag on my shoulder all day, not good for my back or my style! I realized I would need a new solution for the next time.

I looked and looked, and I think I’ve come up with a solution that is affordable and will work to carry my camera and my laptop in a rolling bag for my next trade show in July. It is a $35 Targus rolling bag from Target that has a laptop compartment, plus a cargo area that is big enough for me to set my Tamrac camera bag in with the strap and the cover flap tucked underneath it. Basically, the camera bag will sit open inside the laptop roller, serving as a makeshift camera compartment for the laptop bag. The monopod will stand up in the rear compartment, sticking out the top next to the roller handle. (When I fly, it will be in my checked bag.)

I don’t have to fly for that show, but for the next one that I will have to, I will use my Kata backpack to fly with as my “personal item”, and use the Targus roller bag as carry-on luggage and pack the Tamrac messenger bag folded flat in my checked suitcase. Seems like a lot of trouble but it gets it all to work the best for me for the various functions at a cost I can live with.

Here’s the various bags I’m using –

Tamrac Adventure Messenger 4:

Kata Digital Rucksack:

Targus Rolling Laptop Case:


My bag is a Chrome Dually (with a cheap padded 15″ laptop sleeve inside), the black pre-aluminum macbook with 250GB HDD. I take at least the basic macbook power adapter with the extension if I think I’ll need it, plus the mini-DVI to VGA adapter and a microsoft bluetooth mouse. I only have a Nikon Coolpix S600 as far as cameras go, but I haven’t needed a spare battery yet as I can go week without having to recharge and I take at least 50 pictures a day. Of course, I always take my camera’s USB cord and if I’m feeling really creative, I’ll slip my wacom in the sleeve with laptop.

Seeing as I still have plenty of room, I can tote a book or two, Nintendo DS and a moleskin + pens to pass the time waiting for the metro.


The machine in the picture cost me about $1,400, if I remember correctly. My current machine cost about $3,000. Add in $4,000 for the software, plus an annual $600 upgrade fee, and you start getting into real money. I’m hoping steno machines will soon be replaced by multitouch panels with haptic feedback, and that some open source software will have a chance to edge in on the freakishly expensive proprietary programs, but those are both pipe dreams so far.


I’m a stenographer, and carry all my gear on my back, including a steno machine, laptop, UMPC, two tripods, and assorted other gear. Details here:


(I’ve actually switched things up a bit since that picture was taken. I’m using a slightly bigger steno machine now, but it’s got built-in Bluetooth, so I don’t have to carry around the wireless router or serial cables.)

My backpack is a Quiksilver Grenade II, and it’s absolutely fantastic. I don’t know how I lived without it.


For my regular “go-bag” – I use a Timbuk2 Eula bag – it has been discontinued – in black, with a pink logo.

Inside I have 4 pens of various types, a small notebook, my iPod (I ditched the iPod earbuds for JVC ones in various colors), Moto Q9c, a paperback book for reading on the train and while waiting in line, sunglasses and my small fossil wallet and keys. I use a carbiner for my keys, so I don’t lose them, and my Fossil wallet has a clear window on the back, so I can show my train pass to the conductors with no problems.


If you change your M1210 for a macbook you’ll find it very heavy. I personally went from a Thinkpad X60 to a macBook and the difference in weight is huge! Don’t get me wrong i wouldn’t go back to windows, i love OSX now, but the next one will be lighter.


Original white MacBook (1.83GHz Core Duo)
Power adapters for the MacBook and my iPhone
iPhone USB cable
Extra pair of iPod Earbuds
Elgato EyeTV
Elgato Turbo.264
First gen iPhone

The bag is an Incase bag with just enough room for what I have to take with me.

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