backpack roundup

There are two products that I have a weakness for. Jackets and backpacks. I don’t know what that’s about, but I’ve seen some cool backpacks lately and wanted to share.

Madpax Blox Backpacks

Madpax Blox Backpacks

First the Madpax Blox backpacks from thinkgeek. I like the look of the multilayered blocks. Who know if the pack is designed well from a use standpoint though.

Galaxy backpacks

Galaxy backpacks

Next up the galaxy backpacks from sprayground.com. These guys glow in the dark, and might be the perfect accessory if you already have black milk’s galaxy leggings or galaxy shoes. Sprayground has backpacks in some other fun prints too, like bandana print and stacks of money. they even have one that looks like it’s made entirely of gold lamé.

Timbuk2 Uptown

Timbuk2 Uptown

Moving to the more utilitarian side of things, I noticed this week that Timbuk2 has a few new offerings. The Uptown backpack looks pretty sharp and has a nice array or storage options. They’ve also got a new Race Duffel that looks nice. However, it doesn’t look quite as practical as my OGIO Endurance 9.0, but the Timbuk2 offering is definitely the better price point.

Timbuk2 Race Duffel

Timbuk2 Race Duffel

So what am I using lately? For everyday, it’s the OGIO Module. It’s the perfect size. It holds two moleskines, my iPad and wireless keyboard, with a zippered storage on the front that holds an array of pens, chapstick, audio recorder, pill container, eye drops and usually some other junk. It is a great size for carrying on the motorcycle or the bike. Best bag purchase I’ve ever made.

OGIO Module

OGIO Module

I also have a couple of bags from Everki. I’ve had the Beacon for over a year now. It’s a great bag, although probably overkill for my uses. It is one of the few bags that will fit my ASUS G2P laptop. plenty of extra storage in two front pouches and two size, waist pouches. My only complaint is that the shape, placement and openings of the front pockets makes them kind of difficult to use. I also have the Urbanite vertical messenger bag from Everki. It’s a great bag, but was way too big for my needs. It has whole lot of storage options.

Everki Beacon

Everki Beacon

Everki Urbanite

Everki Urbanite

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My everyday carry and future plans

Surprisingly, my one previous everyday carry related post on this blog draws quite a bit of traffic. The whole concept of EDC as recently manifested in ultra expensive handmade tools is pretty interesting to me in a business sense. There are a lot of forums and websites devoted to this topic, and a lot of boutique crafters successfully charging a whole lot of money for their items, but it looks like established companies in this product area really haven’t caught on. I can’t help but wonder if they think its a fad, or if their product design life cycle is just so slow that nothing has hit the market yet.

Anyway, I figured the topic was worth revisiting. I’ve been ruminating over what I carry, and what might be more practical in the future. I also feel like the vast majority of EDC related sites only show ultra high end, “rich guy” pocket dumps. I can’t help but question the apparent number of people who carry only a gun, a $2000 pocket knife and a car key. I don’t know what kind of lifestyle they have, but it’s pretty far from my own. As such, I wanted to show my everyday stuff, which I feel is pretty average.

My "everyday carry"

My “everyday carry”

iPhone 4S. (not pictured) Currently enjoying it sans case after my Speck CandyShell case broke.

Black paw bag. I got this in Chinatown in NYC. The design is great, but the material kind of sucks. I was carrying a laptop in it for a while, but it was so heavy that it started tearing the material below the strap.

Notebook.

Moleskines. One is my sketch book, and the other is for miscellaneous writing.

Kindle 3 & Acase.

Keys. On my main key ring, I keep my car’s key fob, a house key and a key to my bike rack. On days that I take my bike, truck or motorcycle to work, this keyring is swapped with another that has a truck key, a house key and a garage key.

Chums chumois lens cloth. My glasses are all crapped up a lot of the time. I used to carry a microfiber cloth to clean them but it was hard to keep it clean enough to work well. I’ve been using this solution from chums for a while, and I really like it.

Second set of keys. This key ring holds 3 keys for my office, a key to my work locker and a key to my Mom’s house. Right now it’s attached to the lens cloth, but sometimes I keep this key ring on a carabiner.

Burt’s Bee’s lip balm. I got in the habit of peeling the label off these so I could Identify my own since the brand is so common.

Motorola S305 bluetooth headphoneI wanted the Moto S9 headphones for a long time, but the bad reviews of sweat damage turned me away. The 305 was a lot lower in price and has been great. They certainly aren’t audiophile, but they are good enough for using at work or during workouts.

Prisma marker. black

Micron pens. .03, .05, .08

bic atlantis pen. not fancy, but it is smooth. good for sketching and note taking.

Jimi wallet. I’ve been using these for several years. I first got one through a chase bank facebook promotion. It’s very practical for me. I prefer to keep it in my front pocket, while I keep my phone in a back pocket. The only weakness of these is that it features several “living hinges”, which eventually (like 2 years +) break.

San Disk Cruzer 32G flash drive.

iPhone headphones. 

Short iPhone sync/charge cable.

Usb mini/micro cable.

Umbrella. (not shown) this fits into one of the size zippered pockets of my bag.

Leatherman Micra. (not shown) This is sometimes handy to have, but I feel like many of the tools are extraneous or too small to be useful. When my motorcycle died recently, I tried to use the philips screwdriver on the micra to open the fuse box.. it wouldn’t and the tool actually bent. Pretty disappointing. I’m looking to replace this somehow.

Glasses. (not shown) I really hate wearing contacts. I got into the habit of using glassescrafter.com several years ago. super prices and they cut lenses better than most of the places I’ve used locally.

 

 

 

Future Plans:
My current bag based setup seems to be a pretty good basis to build around, but I’ve been considering other things. One idea I had was to focus on items shaped like pens, and use something like a Niji roll to carry them. The rolled up form would be a lot smaller than my current bag. Unfortunately I wouldn’t have room for rectangular things like my notebooks or kindle.

Niji Roll

Niji Roll

I’ve also flirted with the idea of going with one of the Maxpedition storage solutions. The “Neat freak” seems cool, but has bad reviews. The “Fatty” seems to be particularly popular amongst EDC enthusiasts. I think it might be overkill for me though, unless I was planning on some extended outdoors time or making a zombie survival kit. Check out this video to see how much junk you can cram in one of these packs.


Another idea I’ve been experimenting with is using a pocket protector as a sub-carry device. I can put my pens, flash drives and other stuff in it, and then put it in my regular bag. if I don’t need my notebooks, etc, I can just pull the pocket protector out and take it with me. I found one at good will that’s got provisions for connecting a lanyard to it, which seems kind of practical. I could see such a set up being really useful for collaborative projects like 48.2.

As far as items that I’d like to add to my carry, here are a few things I’ve been looking at”

NY-LA wallet. As fond as I am of my Jimi wallet, I’d really like to minimize more. The NY-LA from CountyComm seems to fit the bill.

Streamlight 65018. I already have this piece, given to me by my ex-father in-law, I just haven’t used it in a long time. AAAA batteries are kind of hard to find locally. The pen form factor makes this easy to fit in any of the storage solutions I mentioned above.

T Driver. As frequently as I use a phillips screwdriver, I figure I should have something of the sort in my carry that’s not as weak as the phillips head in my Leatherman Micra. Survival Resources has this T Driver that fits the pen form factor, but folds for more leverage.

Pocket square. This is something in many of the “rich guy” carries I’ve seen that I could actually use. My recollections of handkerchiefs are usually gross, rough fabric with dried boogers stuck to them. Lately though there seem to be a lot of pocket squares made of soft, quality fabrics that would be great for mopping the sweat off my brow.

Leatherman wave. I like the small size of the Micra, but it sure doesn’t offer much leverage. I also wouldn’t mind having a set of pliers handy.

Contact stuff. I have yet to find a conveniently shaped container of contact solution. Squat cylindrical bottles waste space and are lumpy in my bag. Why aren’t these pen shaped? Same for lubricant eye drops.

everyday carry

Lately I’ve become a bit enamored with the idea of “everyday carry”, as introduced to me by the site http://everyday-carry.com which describes the concept as such:

Everyday Carry, or EDC, generally refers to small items or gadgets worn, carried, or made available in pockets, holsters, or bags on a daily basis to manage common tasks or for use in unexpected situations or emergencies. In a broader sense, it is a lifestyle, discipline, or philosophy of preparedness.

I think this is particularly interesting to me because I’ve always been into the idea of having enough tools to do everything I might possibly need too, and I’m also into well designed objects. There are a whole slew of websites and forums dedicated to this topic, but I get the feeling that they are less about being prepared for unexpected situations, and more about status symbols and material culture addiction. (not that I’m knocking such things, it’s how we’re programmed)

A sample Everyday Carry from www.everyday-carry.com

A sample Everyday Carry from http://www.everyday-carry.com

As I read these sites and spec and source all these little tools, I have the drive to buy a bunch of junk; expensive junk. So now I’m questioning what would actually be useful, what’s use actually justifies it’s cost and what I’d realistically want to carry around in my pockets.

Seeing the immediate need for a pocket knife, generally for cutting open packages, I set out to find the “perfect” blade or multi use bladed tool. Not having the budget of most of the contributors of everyday-carry.com, I had to skip the pretty $600 blades. For a day, I really thought I wanted the Gerber Artifact.

Gerber Artifact

Gerber Artifact

as you can see, it has a pry tool, a philips screwdriver, a bottle opener, and the novel provision to use an xacto blade, which was ideal for me, since it performed the regular knife like function, but also could be useful for design work. I was ready to buy until I started reading reviews on Amazon.com, half of them describing the user cutting the tip of a finger off.

Simple pocket tool

Simple pocket tool

Thus far, I’ve only actually bought one thing, the simple pocket tool by TT Pocket tools.  ( http://ttpockettools.blogspot.com/ ) As you can see, it has several functionalities, although I initially just wanted it for a pry tool and a wire stripper. Thus far, the box cutter has also come in handy. I don’t know the full history of these things, as far as I can tell, such things originated with Atwood Knife and Tool, ( http://www.atwoodknives.com/ ) a hobby operation by a machinist with a passion for making small tools. His pieces are quite expensive ($60-ish for something similar to the above, which cost me $18) and exclusively limited editions.

I’m still on the hunt for other useful, but inexpensive tools, as well as a means of containing and carrying them all. I’ll post more on this in the future, as well as the involvement of so-called paracord in this EDC debacle.