(I’ve got to admit, this post is inspired by Cortex #2) As a system administrator who needs to work on site at multiple locations, having a good everyday carry bag is a necessity. The bag needs to contain everything needed to do the job, but should also be light so carrying it around isn’t a burden.
My bag has seen a lot of variation over the years and the stuff I carry has moved from Firewire to Thunderbolt and from dock connector to lightning, but one thing has been stable: the bag contains cables to carry data, to power devices and to take notes.
I consider the bag a Go-bag, which means that, aside from my Mac, there’s nothing in the bag I need to use at home, or need to use at the office when I’m at my desk. Both my desk and my home have all the necessary cables and hard drives available so that what’s in the bag is used exclusively when I’m on the road. Thanks to this, chances of forgetting something at home or at the office that I need while working on another locations are practically zero.
Here’s a list of my everyday carry:
- MacBook Pro Retina 13″: in my opinion this is the best Mac Apple has ever made. It’s powerful (thanks to its 2.8Ghz and 16GB RAM), light and has a wonderful battery life. The battery life is so good, I don’t even have a charger in my bag these days. Although the fact that every location I visit for work is an Apple Store with multiple chargers availably may also be a part of that equation.
- iPhone 6 Plus: there’s also an ultra-light everyday carry version of my bag: it’s the iPhone in my left-front pocket. I can leave the bag at home if I want to. But I never leave without my iPhone.
- Earplugs: custom made for my ears and perfect in noisy environments like server-rooms or trains.
- Pencil: It’s one of the best styluses I’ve tried and I use FiftyThree’s Paper a lot to draw schemes or sketch out a setup.
- 256GB Hard Drive: this SSD drive contains installers for recent versions of OS X, combo updates, iOS installers, and all other software I need on a daily basis. I update it every month with the newest available updates. Encrypted. Naturally.
- 32GB SanDisk USB Stick: this little USB 3 drive also contains Bootable OS X installers and an OS X Diagnostic Image. It’s a bit redundant since I already have the hard drive but it’s so small I still carry it with me.
- Screwdriver with different heads for server racks, hard drives and Macs.
- PowerBeats Wireless Headphones: great sound, acceptable battery life and did I mention: wireless?
- Adapters: Thunderbolt to Ethernet, Thunderbolt to Firewire, Lightning to HDMI, Lightning to USB, Magsafe 2 Adapter, Apple Power Adapter 12W. I put them in a separate little bag for easy retrieval.
- Mophie Powerstation XL: It can recharge an iPhone seven times before it runs out of juice. And the micro-usb cable not only charges the battery pack itself, it also charges my Beats and iPhone via Apple’s micro-usb adapter.
- Cables: Flat CAT6 Cable, USB 3 cable, Thunderbolt cable, lightning cable, Apple Watch charging cable. I hope Apple someday will release an Apple Watch charger that just connects as an adapter to a regular micro-usb cable, spares me another cable..
- Field Notes: Even in a digital era analog notes are useful. It comes with two black pens.
- Business cards
- Stupid little two factor bank authentication tool
- 20€ note, for emergencies
- 60cl water bottle
The bag is an Ugmonk messenger bag. I bought it almost two years ago and I haven’t used another bag since.
It has two big internal compartments —one for the Mac, one for most of the accessories—, two smaller internal compartments I use for cables and the hard drive, and a section at the back that contains paper and pens. It’s waterproof and very sturdy and although it’s beginning to show some serious wear and tear I don’t see me changing to something else in the near future.