What’s in my gadget bag?
Since Gizmodo isn’t going to ask me that question anytime soon, and since I haven’t written a blog entry in all of September yet, I have decided to take matters in my own hands.
I carry the following in the pockets of my jacket:
- PalmOne Zire 72: far better ergonomics in practice than my previous Sony Clié UX50
- A pair of Maui Jim sunglasses (changed recently from a pair of Serengeti driver’s). The shades are polarized and mirrored to minimize glare, and have an incredibly flexible and lightweight “Flexon” nitinol memory-alloy frame. I got mine in bronze tinted glasses — they are also availabe in a darker neutral gray, but the warmer tint was more comfortable.
- A Sony-Ericsson T68i cell phone, somewhat dated but perfectly functional (this means a synchronized phone book thanks to iSync). It alsod provides my Zire 72 with Internet access via Bluetooth and GPRS.
- A PQI Intelligent Stick 256MB USB flash drive, small enough to fit in my wallet
- Three fountain pens in a leather case, a Montblanc Meisterstück (Aurora black ink), a Waterman Edson (Herbin Vert Pré green) and a S.T. Dupont (Private Reserve Naples blue).
My gadget bag is a Tumi expandable messenger bag. It holds:
- Contax T3: This diminutive 35mm film camera has a superlative Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 Sonnar lens. Compact digital cameras are based on small sensors with high levels of electronic noise, and are totally unsuited to low-light shooting in available light.
- A Pedco Ultrapod mini folding tripod with a built-in ball head. Small and light, but quite versatile.
- Leica Trinovid BC 8×20 binoculars: these ultra-compact folding binoculars have excellent optics and can be used by eyeglass wearers thanks to their innovative fold-out eyecup design.
- A Moleskine pocket notebook
- An Edmund Optics Hastings triplet 10x folding magnifier, with high resolution and excellent achromatic correction.
- An Alumicolor pocket architect’s scale, metric, of course, and a self-winding tape measure.
- A Faber-Castell e-motion mechanical pencil: its thick 1.4mm lead makes it glide across paper and its cigar shape is very ergonomic.
- Surefire L1 LumaMax LED flashlight: I used to have mini Mag-Lites, but these flashlights, derived from military and law enforcement versions, have much more power (two beam intensities) and an even beam without dark spots. Ideal for reading. The only downside is they run off Lithium batteries, which can be hard to find (but Surefire will sell them to you in bulk at a significant discount).
- Apple iPod 15GB, with either Etymotic Research ER-4P or Bang & Olufsen earphones. The in-ear Etymotics offer significant passive noise suppression (ideal for airplane use) but are dangerous to use in environments where you need to hear some ambient noise for safety reasons, like when you are in the street. Ordinary earphones like those supplied with the iPod don’t stay put, the clip on the B&O ones will keep them in place. They also have excellent efficiency and sound quality.
- Böker Orion Ti-Carbone pocket knife. The Boy Scouts were started as an imperialist means of youth mass regimentation, much like the Nazi Hitlerjügend, Fascist Balilla or Soviet Komsomol. That does not make their motto “Be Prepared” less apt, and a pocket knife is always handy. While at it, why not get a good looking one like this carbon-fiber and anodized titanium-aluminum alloy one? Just remember to take it out before a flight…
- A Socket Bluetooth GPS receiver. This tiny gizmo (smaller than my T68i) has a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery and will last over 6 hours on a charge. Combined with the free Cetus GPS software for PalmOS, it makes a decent handheld combo that can still be used with a phone. I have yet to look closely at navigation software for the Palm.
Somebody at Gizmodo clearly has a sense of humor…
I have altered my standard gadget bag configuration. The messenger bag is wider than deep, and does not hug the hips well, not to mention the weight. I now use a Tumi expandable messenger bag (apparently discontinued). This bag is deeper than wide, which gives it a low center of gravity and improves handling. The flap with magnetic closures looks hip, but is in practice more of a hindrance than anything (you cannot put anything substantial in the flap otherwise it stiffens and does not snap shut any more), and I am considering getting a Waterfield Designs Vertigo instead. The bag’s liner for expansion acts as a form of padding, which is just great as I now pack either a Leica MP with a 50mm Summilux-M ASPH or a Canon Digital Rebel XT with a 35mm f/1.4L.
Many gadgets from the bigger bag did not make the cut. The Edmunds loupe, Surefire flashlight, Faber-Castell pencil did. The regular Moleskine was replaced by the thinner notebook with a soft cover. The iPod — well, the only time I ever use an iPod is during long flights
For some odd reason people still read this post (perhaps this has to do with the EDC craze), so I may as well post an update.
I still use the Tumi Messenger bag for work, at least when it is raining. I have way too many bags and will use one or the other depending on the mood and how much stuff I need to carry. I have also taken to wearing Scottevest jackets, which have absolutely gargantuan capacity.
My EDC camera is a Fuji X100, that I keep in my jacket pocket. Excellent optics, high quality sensor. It’s bulkier than a Contax T3, but more versatile than the Leica X1 it replaced. I keep a Manfrotto Modopocket miniature folding tripod, although I have been testing a Gorillapod Micro 800.
I replaced the binoculars with a Leica Monovid, which is lighter, and for someone with a strong dominant eye, makes little difference.
The Moleskine was replaced with a Rhodia Webnotebook with dot grid pages. The dot grid is less obtrusive than squared paper, and the Rhodia paper from Clairefontaine is leagues ahead of the kind Moleskine uses. It doesn’t feather with fountain pens, for starters.
The Surefire L1 was replaced by a tiny Fenix E05 AAA flashlight with a nice floody beam that I keep on my keychain, along with a now discontinued Leatherman Squirt S4 (the scissors on the S4 are way more useful to me than pliers) and a minimalist PNY 16GB USB flash drive.
The iPod, Palm, GPS and cell phone were replaced by an iPhone 4 and an iPad 3. I seldom listen to music on the go, so the Etymotic ER-4P or B&W P5 headphones more often than not don’t make the cut.