What’s in my bag? Space for Modules.

There are over 25,000 photos on Flickr which address the question: “What’s in my bag?”. People from all over the world show what they carry every day — and in what. What we carry partly defines us, so it is very illustrative to keep snapshots of the contents of your bag and see how it changes over the years. It is also very stimulating to see what other people carry — one might easily see something that helps one if ones own life.

So what’s in your bag? What do you carry and why? Do you need it? Do you need other things that you do not regularly carry?

Personally, there are some items that I almost always carry with me and other items packed as “modules” that I carry in special situations.

The things I almost always carry with me which are stored in the inside zipper compartment of my Timbuk2 Hacker bag. These are:

  • one or two packs of paper towels (you can’t offer someone else your used handkerchief)
  • sweets
  • breath refresher
  • a pastilles box with condoms (keeps the protection protected)
  • business cards (if I loose the carry bag or do not want to loose someone)
  • three pens (uni POWER TANK in black and in red, and a light pen)
  • refil mine for the black uni POWER TANK
  • a paper notepad (halved DIN A5 Clairefontaine notebook, also fits perfectly in the back pocket of my trousers)
  • a jute bag (for shopping to extend the capacity of my Timbuk2 bag, can be put over a shoulder)
  • spare battery for my DSLR, micro tissue to clean the camera lens, three SD cards (2 GB each) for my DSLR (needed when I take my camera with me and small and light enough not to mind carrying them all the time)
  • two plastic bags (usable in combination with the duct tape to rain-proof the DSLR)
  • earbuds (not only for my notebook but also for listening music in trains and planes)
  • ear plugs (for the times when I cannot shut out environmental noise)
  • slim box of matches (I do not smoke but fire is useful — for lighting candles)
  • folded DIN A4 paper with a slim pen (as a reserve in case I misplace or use up my paper notepad)

Additionally there are two items I almost always carry:

  • a small umbrella (usually in the open outside compartment, the weather in Tuebingen is not predictable for me)
  • a 0.5l bottle of water or energy drink (in one of the two open inside compartments)


Then there are things that I pack in additional bags to be carried as modules.

Module 1: Contact lenses and glasses module

I wear contact lenses most of the time — they take longer to put them in than wearing glasses but after they are on your eyes you can forget about them and they are not in the way like glasses. So this pocket-bag is almost always in my carry bag, containing my glasses in a box, a contact lenses box and cleaning fluid (travel pack size) and cleaning tissues for my glasses). It also contains a toothbrush and some condoms.

Module 2: Notebook module

I work digitally and use my private notebook for my academic work at the institute — mostly because I do not want to divide my work over two notebooks since I use my wiki for storing both private and work information. Also I use two programs that run only on Mac OS X which are critical for my work: Circus Ponies Notebook and Scrivener. Consequently I carry my notebook almost every day. Since the carry bag has a separate notebook compartment and the three additional items (power adapter, mouse, notebook keychain) are compact and relatively large, I do not use a separate bag for these items. However, I use a second skin for my MacBook even within the notebook compartment.

Module 3: Camera module

Since I love to take photographs I sometimes carry my Pentax K10D DSLR with me. To be more flexible I also carry and additional glass, meaning I can choose between the cheap but workable kit lens SMC Pentax-DA 1:3.5-5.6 18-55mm AL and my beloved portrait lens SMC Pentax-FA 1:1.4 50mm (older glass but perfect for portraits). The unattached glass is stored in a Lowepro 1S bag together with two additional SD cards (2 GB each).

Module 4: Overnight module

I do not mind basic accommodation, but I get cranky when I cannot shower and change my clothes in the morning. If I think that I might spend the night somewhere else I carry a bag with a pair of socks, shorts and a T-Shirt with me. The stocked bag is always in my cupboard and can be taken on a moments notice. (I do not need an extra toothbrush since my contact lenses and glasses module already has one, toothpaste and shower lotion I can always borrow, but I wouldn’t use another persons toothbrush.)

It is rare that I take all four modules with me, the bag becomes quite heavy then. When I go to work I usually take M1 and M2 (I wear my contact lenses at work and need my personal notebook since I do not differ between office projects and private projects and all my notes and virtually all my literature is digital). For photography I usually carry M1 and M3 (wear my contact lenses to take photographs which is easier than with glasses and need my DSLR with the second glass, this usually means that M2 is stored somewhere else, otherwise the bag is too heavy). When I go shopping I usually take only one or two jute-bags and the carry bag.

That’s what I carry but the question is, what do you carry — or want to carry. If you change what you put in your bag, make sure you keep it always well stocked with the items that you use up over time. Sometimes people want to change what they carry with them (e.g., they buy some chewing gum) but when it runs out they do not replace it anymore. Make sure that you have the infrastructure ready to replace items you use up. Get used to carrying them so that you replace them shortly before or immediately after you use them up.

M1: contact lenses; M2: Notebook; M3: Camera; M4: Overnight
1: Timbuk2 Hacker bag; 2: paper towels; 3: Pastilles box with condoms; 4: folded DIN A4 paper with a slim pen; 5: breath refresher; 6: business cards; 7: three pens (uni POWER TANK in black and red, and a light pen); 8: Paper Notepad; 9: refil mine for black uni POWER TANK; 10: sweets; 11: jute bag; 12: spare battery for my DSLR; 13: Camera to USB cable; 14: micro tissue to clean the camera lens; 15: duct tape; 16: three SD cards (2 GB) for DSLR; 17: earbuds; 18: ear plugs; 19: slim box of matches; 20: two plastic bags; 21: umbrella; 22: MacBook; 23: Second skin for my MacBook; 24: power cable for my MacBook; 25: Logitech MX 518 Gaming Mouse; 26: Kensington Notebook Cable; 27: Pentax K10D DSLR with SMC Pentax-DA 1:3.5-5.6 18-55mm AL; 28: SMC Pentax-FA 1:1.4 50mm; 29: Lowepro 1S Bag for a small lens; 30: two SD cards (2 GB) for DSLR; 31: socks; 32: shorts; 33: T-Shirt; 34: bag for socks, shorts, T-Shirt; 35: small Deuter bag for 36-41; 36: condoms; 37: toothbrush with travel brush box; 38: glasses in box; 39: contact lenses box; 40: contact lenses fluid; 41: cleaning tissues for glasses