What's In Your Bag, Nancy Nally?


Most of the time, I’m hauling a bag for one of two reasons. Either I’m around town and taking my computer with me to get some work done, or I’m traveling to conferences and events, something I do a couple of times a year.

Around town I carry more basic kit, of course: usually, just my computer, power cord and surge protector. But when I’m traveling, the kit gets more complicated.

The Bags


Yes, bags is plural. For flying, I use a Kata Digital Rucksack. It holds all my digital gear and still fits under the seat of a 757 for security and easy access. Once on-site, I use a rolling bag. (When flying, the backpack is my “laptop bag” and the rolling bag is my “carry on” item.) My current roller is a Targus, and will be until I find the budget for the Jill-E bag I covet. For day trips, I have a Timbuk2 Hacker bag, a vertical messenger bag that also has tuck-away backpack straps.

The Basics


The two devices that I take on the road are my 13” white MacBook (s aapl) and my 8GB iPhone 3G. I have to agree with Imran; I have also questioned my laptop choice. I was torn between the MacBook and the MacBook Air when I bought my laptop. Several times since when I’ve been toting the MacBook I’ve wondered if I should have chosen the MacBook Air instead. The iPhone has proven itself an invaluable purchase that I’ve never questioned.

The Gadgets

My bag ends up stuffed with all sorts of peripherals and extra gadgets. The line-up changes but a few are constants.

  • Surge Protector. I use a three-outlet portable surge protector by Belkin that also has USB outlets on it.
  • Portable Hard Drive. Especially if I’m taking a lot of pictures, I like to back up new files while traveling.
  • Ear Buds. Sometimes, I just want to plug in my iPhone and tune out while traveling.
  • Battery Pack. My iPhone battery pack by Kensington doesn’t get used often, but when it does, it is a lifesaver.
  • Ethernet Cable. Sometimes you get better access by plugging in (and sometimes, it’s the only kind of access available). Even in places that provide cables, I’ve encountered broken ones.

Other items (not pictured) include charging and power cables for my gadgets.

The Camera


Traveling with a dSLR really increases the amount of gear that I have to carry, as Simon described in his gear bag. My basic camera kit for traveling includes my Canon Digital Rebel XS with 18-55mm lens. Then there’s the battery charger, my SD card reader, a Spudz microfiber cloth and Nikon lens pen, and a Tamrac wallet containing extra SD cards and my back-up battery. Sometimes I’ll also carry my 75-300mm or 50mm lens.

My camera equipment is either carried in my Kata Digital Rucksack, a Tamrac Adventure Messenger 4, or in a Tamrac Aero Zoom 25, inside another bag. (Yes, bags is plural again.)

The Non-Gadgets

Nancys-NonGadgetsThere are a few non-gadget necessities in my traveling bag when I’m on the road:

  • Business Cards. Full-sized and mini Moo cards so I can make new friends and update old ones.
  • Moleskine and Pen. Sometimes nothing can replace pen and paper for scribbling quick notes. Yes, that flowery thing in the middle is really a Moleskine Cahier. I own a scrapbooking web site, so I decorated it.
  • Zip-Away Tote. It seems that I can’t go to an event without coming home with more than I started with. Hauling catalogs and swag is easy with my Timbuk2 Hidden Tote.

I’m on a never-ending quest for the perfect bag. What’s your road gear quest?



I’m a huge fan of “pocket dumps” in general, so this one’s right up my alley. I prefer a small Linux netbook myself, since the battery life rocks, they generally boot up very quickly (if they’re using a solid-state operating system drive), and they’re teeny-tiny (even the 10″ versions fit anywhere I want them to. I’m going to have to look into that timbuk2 hacker bag, it looks pretty solid and rugged. Looks like a pretty versatile loadout that can cover a lot of different situations with relative ease. I approve!

Sir Cake

My new favorite bag is the OGIO Epic. (http://www.ogio.com/product.php?product=509) It’s got tons of pockets and cubbies. It is the most useful backpack I have ever owned – I use it everywhere.

I am on the other side of the Macbook/Macbook Air fence. I love the thinness and illuminated keyboard, but sometimes the Air is just too underpowered for me. You can forget about doing anything with video – at least on the first gen Air. I think if I had another mac in addition to the Air, I would be a very happy guy. But as the only mac, I should have gotten a Macbook. When my apps start selling, I’m getting myself a 13 inch MBP. With the biggest solid-state drive they sell.

Simon Mackie

I have the 13″ MBP — it’s great, though it’s still reasonably heavy. If weight is a big issue, the Air may be a better choice, but for sheer portable computing power, the 13″ MBP can do everything I throw at it.


Your comment about the ethernet is exactly why the Macbook Air isn’t always the best travel option (it has no ethernet port.)

My brother almost flipped out when he thought he was going to have to pay for wifi with his Macbook air at one hotel (luckily he had just picked the wrong wifi network and connected easily after that.) But it made me think that maybe I should stop drooling at the sight of the Air and be happy with my 13″ white Macbook.

I recently bought a Chico Bag for groceries that’s a cheaper option ($5) to your Timbuktu hidden tote. The chico bag is definitely going on my next trip (this last trip I had a bottle of wine I purchased that tried to break through a cheap plastic bag as I was walking around and I couldn’t easily just take it back to the hotel.)

My Kensington laptop bag is similar to your Timbuktu bag in that it has both the shoulder strap and the backpack straps. But backpack straps can be hidden away though and looks like a nice professional messenger style so I’m a bit upset that it looks like they don’t make it anymore (I’ve had this bag for 10 years and it’s just now starting to come apart.) Timbuktu’s site doesn’t show that bag you have in black either or else it would be in the running for replacement bag. :(

Nancy Nally

Yes the lack of built-in cd drive and the ports is why I didn’t buy the Air. But sometimes I still wonder when I get tired at an event of lugging the MacBook if the trade-off would have been worth it. The MacBook is my primary computer, so probably not, though.

Nobody around here offers anything cool like that for groceries! We just have really flimsy ugly things at places like Publix. No way I’d want to haul heavy stuff in one of those bags for half the day at a show! One of my favorite things about the Timbuk2 bag is it has a nice wide shoulder strap for carrying heavy stuff comfortably.

I am sad to tell you that Timbuk2 is in the process of discontinuing the Hacker bag. :( It looks like I snagged one of the last black ones. Maybe they will introduce something similar to replace it soon.

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