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Carrying Your IT Equipment With You? 128

dada21 asks: "As an on-the-go journalist, IT consultant, entrepreneur and blogger, I find myself with way too much stuff. About 5 years ago I started to downsize and cut back to just 2 PCs total (small laptop and PVR desktop), 1 PDA, and 2 cell phones (main and backup). The laptop goes everywhere (doubling as a great GPS center in the vehicle for those long road trips), the PDA does, too. Traveling with all 4 electronic devices is a mess of cables: power/charger, USB, and the like. Everything is light and small but the bulk of all of it adds up. I currently use a Toy Machine messenger bag but it just doesn't work when you're trying to shove a file folder, pen/appointment selection and a day-timer in it. I'll spend the cash, even if it is really expensive, for the convenience, speed and quality for a jack-of-all-bags that can handle the jack-of-all-trades. What bag is the best solution?"
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Carrying Your IT Equipment With You?

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  • already covered? (Score:3, Informative)

    by SecureTheNet ( 915798 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @08:34PM (#15258848) Homepage
    Granted it wasn't an Ask Slashdot, but this seems to have been discussed here already: 256&from=rss
  • by trs9000 ( 73898 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (0009srt)> on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @08:34PM (#15258851)

    I don't have no purse or nothin in my pockets and I still carry all my IT equipment with me, if you know what I mean.
  • If a general backpack wont do, grab some vanvas and adapt/make one for yourself. You'll learn something in the process, and you'll have exactly what you want.
  • Twisty Ties (Score:3, Informative)

    by 42Penguins ( 861511 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @08:46PM (#15258917)
    As most of the comments so far are of the "how big is YOUR equipment" variety, I'll shoot.

    You may be out of luck as far as a jack-of-all-bags. It all depends on how much mobility you want from your mobiles. Can you leave the phone/PDA and its charger close to the wall? Twisty tie the cord on the charger, plugs out for a nice, tight package. Maybe you could invest in retractable cords.
    If you have the cash, you could set up "modules" of wires. Need a portable wireless point for the laptop/PDA? Strap the router/power cord/cat5 cable together.

    My solution has typically been a compartmentalized cardboard box in the back seat of the car. 1/3 of it for network stuff, 1/3 for power, 1/3 for random widgets. Subdivide into network(PDA,laptop) and different power sources, mix, repeat. YMMV.
  • Redundant (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lucm ( 889690 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @08:50PM (#15258937)
    The laptop goes everywhere [...], the PDA does, too

    Why do you need a PDA if you have your laptop with you all the time? If you really, really want a small and clunky GUI for your address book or calendar, I'm sure you can find a PDA emulator somewhere.

    • Re:Redundant (Score:3, Insightful)

      1: Speed. From walking down the street with everything put away, one can get out a PDA and look up (whatever) faster than stopping, opening the laptop, probably brining it out of hybernation, and launching the application you need.

      2: Utility. A modern PDA doubles as either an iPod, a camera, a GPS, or all of the three.

      3: Safety. The most expensive PDA on the market is about $400. A geek's laptop is probably anywhere from twice to five times that expensive, and a fair bit harder to fix if broken, to boot
      • I agree with all of what you said except:

        The most expensive PDA on the market is about $400.

        A brand new Sharp Zaurus SL-6000 [] runs about twice that. Here's why. [] (Good thing I snagged mine for ~$375 used on eBay. ^_^ )

        Anyway, yeah, I agree (since most PDA's are $400 or less).
      • "2: Utility. A modern PDA doubles as either an iPod, a camera, a GPS, or all of the three."

        Get a smartphone that also acts as a PDA, Camera and mp3-player. They can also act as GPS-devices if you get an external bluetooth-GPS (which you could leave at the car). And drop that "backup-phone". So instead of having PDA, Laptop and two cell-phones, you would just have a laptop and a smartphone.
    • I was thinking he can ditch the big and clunky laptop, PDAs can do so much that laptops aren't that necessary. Besides, a PDA is almost instant-on, laptops are not nearly so quick.
      • You'd be surprised, actually. For me, my laptop is mostly for keeping track of everything I need, while the PDA just doesn't accomplish as much on the tiny screen. My PDA and laptop are very well sync'd (Bluetooth and WiFi), but they both are unique and separate entities. If someone needs to tell me something, I jot it on my PDA and follow-up on my laptop.

        My current phone (Samsung t809) works great but it isn't there yet. I'm awaiting the Nokia N80 to arrive to see if I can replace my PDA and phone in o
    • Re:Redundant (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
      A better question is why a PDA when you have a cell phone or in your case two? I use my cell for my appointments, surfing the web, watching tv, and maps, and making calls.
      Some of the Sanyo phones even have a good GPS built in. Or you could get a Treo and drop the PDA.
  • Have your house boy carry it behind you, generally 5 paces is considered respectful. Barring that, you can just have the limo driver deliver it to the place you are going while the throngs greet you upon making an appearance. That always gives me enough time to say hi and to have my stuff unpacked and booted up on my arrival.

    It really isn't so hard if you put your mind to it, why do you act so 'working class'?

  • STM (Score:3, Informative)

    by Achromatic1978 ( 916097 ) <robert@c[ ] ['hro' in gap]> on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @09:11PM (#15259037)
    I'm a big fan of STM bags []. I use the Large Loop backpack [] for my 17" laptop, with enough room to easily store (and organise) pens, wallets, ipod (with headphone hole, cellphone, camcorder, you name it. Plenty of pockets and such, and not just for the sake of them, but with specific purposes, and well built. I've also used their shoulder bags too, with good results.
    • yeah you can get these in the UK as well they are nice and I have one that has taken a bashing

      STM uk bags at Laptop:Essentials []

      but again it depends on what you want personally I have one strap metal, one strap flexible and a backpack


      John Jones
  • Mini-Laptop (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rlp ( 11898 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @09:15PM (#15259056)
    Have you looked at a mini-laptop - 1/2 way between a laptop and a PDA. For instance, the Toshiba Libretto is about 2 lbs.
  • I have a Tenba attache that I've used for several years. It has proven to be very versatile and durable. It has literally circumnavigated the planet with me on two occasions.

    • I love the quality of Tenba but haven't found a model I like. Which one do you have? It is possible that they've discontinued the better models, since I have seen interesting ones from time-to-time.

      Thanks for the info.
  • Crumpler (Score:3, Informative)

    by fean ( 212516 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @09:29PM (#15259140) Homepage
    Well, considering that most people have been recommending everything EXCEPT for bags, here's my $.02...

    I have a wonderful backpack that holds my widescreen 15" laptop, my D70 SLR camera, two extra lenses, power adapters, my PSP (even bigger than a PDA), and all the cables I need to hook up any of my electronics to anything else I might find (so many adapters and cables!!!)

    I HIGHLY recommend Crumpler [] Bags... I have one called (IIRC) Brian's Hot Tub, but sadly it doesn't look like it's for sale on their site (they have an australian site too, it might be there).... This bag is so big that when I load it up with everything, my girlfriend honestly couldn't carry it... I've had it for three years, and it's still in great condition, no broken zippers, no ripped fabric...

    I'd take a look at the messenger bags they offer, you can't get a higher quality bag, and they're aimed very squarly at people with digital lifestyles.

    They have little mini "digits"... they're like padded pockets you can attach to anything (PERFECT for cellphone/mp3 players, anything you need in access to in less than 10 seconds)
    • That is awesome, I'll order one tomorrow. I was hoping for a messenger bag made of more spandex than fabric, but this looks like it might work. The messenger bag has more panache (especially the one I linked to at Bluefly), which can gain points with the customers, but I think a backpack-like bag like you linked to would do fine.

      Appreciate the link!
      • Friends of mine have told me about Crumpler bags in the past, but after seeing the Parent post, I decided to check it out in detail. Like you, I need to carry Laptop + DSLR, w/lens, and various other bits of gear.

        As it turns out, the [] distribution center isn't too far from me. I rang up Jason there, and asked if I could come by to check out the bags in person. He said no problem, so I hauled my LowePro Slingshot and Timbuk2 messenger bags full of gear down. He unpacked me a Karachi Outpost, a
    • Re:Crumpler (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScuzzMonkey ( 208981 )
      Digital lifestyle or no, that site sucks. What is it that online retailers can't get through their heads about making it easy for people to see their stuff, and to give them money for it? As someone else already suggested, I'll be sticking with Tom Bihn [].

      • I agree, it's horrible design, I blame it on them being BOTH Australian AND Artsy. (I think the Australian part makes it a tad bit more fun than it would be if it was an American and Artsy... but retailer sites aren't supposed to be fun).

        OTOH, that Tom Bihn site is horribly ugly, and wonderfully usable.... Not that the Crumpler site isn't ugly, because it is...
  • One of these [] (which may only be available in Canada but I'm sure you can find an equivalant somewhere near you), one of these [] and a bunch of these [] and I'm good to go. The Carry-All has pockets for pens, passports and even one that fits every PDA I've ever tried. You can open a zipper to double its capacity and they're built like brick sh^h^h, uh, outhouses.
  • What bag is the best solution?
    An empty one.
  • Targus (Score:3, Informative)

    by crossmr ( 957846 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @10:04PM (#15259330) Journal
    Is there some reason you can't use this? CG650 []

    I use this for college and its incredibly roomie and will carry everything. Yes its not hip and european, but it carries a ton of stuff. I easily carry:
    antec coolign pad
    1/2 dozen CDs or so in the slim CD insert
    cell phone in the cell phone pouch
    USB mouse in the side pouch
    water bottle on the side
    2 textbooks
    a notebook
    several network cables
    a binder
    my lunch
    a stapler
    a calculator
    several pens and pencils
    it should easily hold everything.
    • I second the backpack idea. tegory=backpacksmessengersbackpacks&product=31141& [] I've got one of thier older backpacks that's similar to that one, and I couldn't be happier with it. After 2 semesters with my 15 inch laptop and a calc book or two I've seen no rips or tears, usually I go through a backpack every semester or so. Its reinforced like crazy, the straps have elastic on em and are extremely well padded. The top handle (usually the 1st thin
      • Mine has also stood up very well. I got it about a month into the first semester and not a single problem with it yet. The college gave us these targus euro-bags, but honestly they were garbage in comparison, at least for students. They could hold your laptop..that was it. You couldn't put in a text book, notebook, etc. Some students started carrying a backpack in addition to it, but no way was I going to drag two bags around. This was a far superior choice.
    • Hmmm, Targus - apropos of anything else, the first thing you do when you get a Targus bag is remove any and all visible branding.

      Targus is universally known as the "LAPTOP! STEAL ME!" brand.

      • or just don't leave it around ;) As far as I know we haven't had any trouble at my college at least with laptop thefts this year. The one I have has actually become more and more popular of the year, I've gone from no one to seeing at least 20 different people with that particular one wandering about towards the last month. thats just people who I cross paths with anyway.
  • Good question (Score:1, Offtopic)

    I think most of us find ourselves in your position. The fact is that today's world is technologically driven. People rely upon technology for critical communications, communications we're expected to be able to make today that, perhaps, five years ago we wouldn't have been. We're expected to have access to what you might term a digital hub, not, as Steve Jobs would put it, of the livingroom (for entertainment, for consumerism), but for our lives. We carry around cellphones, and PDAs, and MP3 players, and vo
    • The free market will sort this out in a much better manner than any government implementation can ever dream of, if the market demands it.
      • Yeah, just like the free market sorted out the American cell phone industry.

        That sound you hear is me rolling my eyes.
        • Which part of "if the market demands it" didn't you understand? The majority of the market has been fairly satisfied with the current solution. While you and I would like 3G (or whatever the current buzzword in cell tech is today) phones and services, Joe Sixpack is happy that he can get a free phone with a $20/month sub.
    • Re:Good question (Score:3, Informative)

      I'm not sure it's necessary. I thought it was around 20 years ago, but then I bought a Compaq Portable 1, and I've never looked back.

      The Compaq Portable actually solved most of my problems. It runs all the software I need, and I also carry around a cellular modem (plugs into any AMPS phone, has connectivity throughout the country thanks to the Federally Mandated AMPS mobile phone system) which enables me to dial into my computer system at home and access my files. I use a program called Kermit to transfer

      • I really like these "TSR"s. The flexibility they offer, along with programs using Borland .OVL files is nothing short of amazing. This has prevented many of my "diskette" shuffle routines. How does all of this work?

        As you may or may not have noticed, a diskette is roughly the size and shape of a piece of bread. And while you pop bread into a toaster, you insert diskettes into your computer's diskette drive. In fact, you'll find that some software even acts much like the common toaster. These programs fea
  • Not much of a bag suggestion but power supplies are indeed a pain in the ass. My phone can charge via the USB data cable so I take the cable with me to work and top off as needed. I suppose I could also just leave a charger at work but I don't have an extra. If I'm traveling and I'm taking the laptop it means I don't need the phone charger. That would apply to your situation. Not a big difference between the two but every little bit helps. I usually use a Gap messenger-style bag which has lots of pockets.
    • This is an great idea, and I wish it worked.

      My PDA is an HP iPAQ, with a proprietary power cable. I can charge it with USB but I still need a proprietary cable! My cell phone is a Samsung t809, with its own proprietary power cable (that no Samsung that I know of shares with it). Another proprietary cable. My GPS also uses a proprietary cable. I have no idea why these devices don't standardize on mini-USB (or is it micro-USB?) tha tmost cell phones use, there is more than enough pins to cover anything.
      • I thought Radio Shack was marketing some kind of "all in one charging solution" for this. I'm pretty sure I saw it advertized in airports two years ago. But I think it may have required purchasing a separate attachment for each unique cord, so maybe you've already looked at it and concluded it didn't meet your needs.

  • A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker (or IT geek) can have

    -- n
  • yea, backpack doesnt look as professional, but form follows function. spx?sku=310-6736&cs=19&c=us&l=en []
    It's got 7+ different pockets/containers to put stuff. I've found that it works wonderfully!
  • Like you, I have a large assortment of items I need to carry with me on a daily basis for work and the occasional play.
    After several years of trial and error and looking at bags, I found these: []

    I have the Python XM System with the 17" Powerbook sleeve. Everything fits perfectly in the bag, including laptop, AC adapter, assorted console cables to connect to my servers, file folders, webcam, you name it. The laptop sits a padded compartment separate from all the other items
    • I bought an Folee XL last week based on your recommendation and looking through the site. Wow does this bag kickass. Big, light, padded, tons of pockets, and sits well during my morning commute on the motorcycle. Can't ask for more than that.

  • Go "custom" or there will be a bag going to market shortly that is adjustable, carries everything, and is fairly custom. Check out or send me an email and I will fill you in more.
  • Left cargo pocket: Sprint HTC PPC6600 (Windows Mobile 2003 SE, 128M RAM, 64M ROM, 16M Flash, 512M SD, 256M/802.11b SDIO, MS Terminal Services Client, putty, and its a phone)
    Right cargo pocket: Backup cheapo Samsung generic cell phone
    Bag 1: Dell Inspiron 7500 (P3-750) dual booting Win2k and Linux with Cisco Aironet 352 802.11 DS card, Toshiba Portege 2000 (P3-750) on WinXP
    Bag 2: IBM Thinkpad 380XD (P233MMX) on Debian with Cisco Aironet 352 802.11 DS card
    Right ear: Motorola HS-850 bluetooth headset associated
  • You want to buy a sturdy leather (no frills, no compartments) laptop bag, and a sturdy leather (lots of frills, lots of compartments) video camera bag. Take them to your leather smith (can often be found at shoe repair shops!) and have him sew the backs of them together.

    It's not crazy, I've done similar things.
  • I have a different problem, I need a bag for traveling, something big enough to carry the gear that's too precious to check in during an airline flight, specifically my laptop and a big digital SLR camera. There are plenty of good laptop bags, but none of them seem to be large enough to carry an SLR too. And I hate backpacks.
    • LowePro makes Notebook/Camera bags... []

      I just bought one of their Tropolis 1250 backpacks, and they're extremely nice. LowePro has always made good camera bags.
    • You might find that this bag works for you: MEC Carry On Travel Pack [] I use one of these as my everyday laptop bag and for travelling. Depending on the location I'm travelling to, I'm usually good for a few days to a week with just this bag for my clothing + electronic gear (TabletPC, cellphone, PDA, iPod, GPS, batteries, chargers and a few cables) plus pens, business cards, etc. I know you say you hate backpacks, but the backpack straps do stow away neatly when not being used and it has a padded shoulder
  • The eBags Downloader backpack [] has served me well for over a year now. I'm in a similar situation -- I carry a ton of gear, as well as cables and spare batteries for everything. It's not perfect, but short of designing a custom-made bag to fit my specific set of items, I'm fairly happy with this bag.

    The two main compartments each have sub-compartments, including a laptop section with foamy padding. There's a decent sized pocket on the front (in which I store my iPod and PDA), two on the sides (good for a
  • It is called the rigid bag container, or briefcase. A briefcase with additional clip on adjustable shoulder strap for really long walks perhaps. A briefcase is nice and stout, locks, it is "professional business acceptable" looking, is a nice flat surface for a handy portable "table" to set things on, and certainly has enough room for what you are looking to carry. 15$ for a good sized one at most *mart brand department stores, plain jane aluminum. Spend what you want after that I suppose, virgin lizard l
    • You have to be kidding. I carried just my laptop on one bag with a shoulder strap, and had a lot of pains in the shoulder for the duration. For most of the techies using just one shoulder to carry all the stuff can be murderous, and this still doesn't solve the problem with the space (I haven't seen such big briefcases myself).

      The backpack is probably the best choice, most techiesh use it instead of anything else, last year I met Larry Lessig at an event here, and he was also using backpack, as was RMS and
  • These guys make a variety of bags for cameras, laptops, phones, etc. Weird website, but pretty good bags. They're an Australian company, I think. presumably they export to the U.S (where, I assume, you live ;-) []
  • by Delta ( 16579 )
    I'm *very* pleased with the Spire products: []

    They're great for use, and abuse. I've rolled over it several times rollerblading, with the laptop still on, and so on. Never any problems. I've had mine for 3-4 years now, and while it is showing slight wear, it seems to be good for another 3-4 years without a problem.

    You should peek around their site, and pay attention to the details, like the laptop room not being all the way against your back, so it's a very comfortable fit.
  • I use pen and paper for a large part of my job: Notes, ideas, tracking working hours, appointments. No cables, no empty batteries, no chargers, weights less than a PDA and can be bent without loss of data. What else does a PDA offer? A calculator - also offered by my cell phone, and my brain can also shuffle around some numbers. A phone book? In my cell phone, and more convienient. E-Mail addresses? On my laptop. "Pocket Office"? A full-featured office package runs on my laptop. MP3 player? On my laptop. Pe

  • Years ago - so many years that I don't remember exactly, must have been around 2000 - I got a laptop backpack from Spire []. I used it for daily commutes, travelling all across Europe, and generally carrying my laptop everywhere. It still looks like new (well, like new but *dirty*).

    These bags are so tough I was afraid the company was going out of business, they can't have that much of repeat buys that way. Really recommended. They have *huge* bags too.
  • Stitch some dividers into the most nasty-ass bag you can find, perhaps put a bit of upholstery foam at the bottom if you're clumsy. If you buy an $850 prada bag, you won't keep it for long. Your odds of being mugged for your laptop are inversely proportional to the amount you spent on the bag it's carried in. Anything that looks designed for the job is going to vanish the first time you doze off in an airport lounge. As a bonus, military-issue rucksacks are usually immensely comfortable for monster loads an
  • Come on. 12" powerbook and a phone (which can also be gps and pda, if you like). What else do you need?

    As for the bag, if you want to carry a load of fragile equipment in comfort and safety, ask a photojournalist. They've always had to do it, and to my mind the best equipment bag you can buy is a billingham []. You could fit everything in a Hadley [] and not even look like a geek*, or add an SLR and some clothes and it'll still fit in a 445 []. Mine is over 20 years old and only just broken in.

    *If that's a

  • I got a Powercolor X800 PRO with the backpack; []

    It's the "Assassin edition" some way down the page. The backpack is THE best laptop bag I have ever had.. it has a little soft pocket with velcro strap for the laptop, and plenty of space for my scanner (Canon N650U) and graphics tablet also (Wacom Graphire 3), document pockets in back, straps, shoulder straps, top handle, in the front are 4 pockets which fit my IRIVER player, digital camera, mobile phone, all my cha
  • There was a geek bag set posted late last year. I can't for the life of me remember what it was. But it sounds like you could use it, at least in addition to a good laptop case. It was a modular bag system that allowed to you carry it in any of a number of configurations, even James Bond style underneath a suit.

    Gah, and I was even gonna buy one and it's just out of my memory. Anyone?
  • When traveling for work, I frequently found myself packing two laptops, a printer, a switch or two and about a half a mile of cables, a couple of cel phones, digital cameras, disks, papers, tools and you name it. At the time, I would be hitting the road for a few days every week. Everything was as compact and as light as I could make it but it all still added up.

    One day I was in the grocery store and stumbled across the solution. This particular store had an area where they sold odd-ball stuff that you d
  • I highly recommend Maxpedition bags and kit. Everything is heavy-duty nylon which makes the bags very solid. They also have pouches and pockets for everything you need, and nothing you don't. []

    I personally have the MPB (MultiPurpose Bag) and it has served me well carrying my various electronic equipment for nine months of business travel in 13 countries. []
  • it totally depends on what you want one strap or 2 for a mac or PC do you want to carry a mouse as well ?

    check out laptopessentials UK store []


    John Jones
  • I love my saddlebag []. They also make it in black now, and Kensington also has messenger and executive bags now labeled under the "Saddlebag" name. While those may also be excellent bags, I have experience with the old-faithful -- the brown/black model. This was the very first laptop backpack (that I'm aware of).

    When I travel, I can easily fit two laptops, a multitude of chargers, cell phones, cables (including 25ft cat5), a mouse, a soda, camera, and some snacks. Easily, I can bring it to a weight that c
    • Btw, the inside has vertical dividers which are great for keeping files/folders/papers straight. I've been using my bag since 2000 without any signs of wear and tear. This bag has survived a year of full-time college, two years part-time college, and international travel (every 6mo).
  • This is what I use:

    Tom Bihn Super Ego []

    It holds my 17" Powerbook in a Brain Cell insert [], file folders, PDA, Cellphone, PDA (I know, I should just get a smart phone), and iPod with room for 4 large O'Reilly books to boot.

    He also makes some smaller ones that might better fir your needs. And backbacks if you want to avoid medical problems hauling all that stuff around
  • I built a customized messenger bag from Timbuk2: [] (Warning Flash Ahead)
    My Setup:
  • You can use some sailing tricks to make any bag you have seem bigger. Check out the following video of how to coil a line and you don't even need velcro or a twist tie. htm []

  • As long as you're willing to spend the money, this [] should be able to easily hold all of your equipment. That plus it self powered, too!
  • Just because they're Geek Tools doesn't mean you don't have the same set of problems as other people who use other kinds of tools. I use this bag [] and it's worth every penny. I beat it hard and it's as good as new.

    Also check out the Port Authority 2 [] cable kit. It's bit flimsy on build but for occasional use it works and takes the place of many other cables. I gave these as gifts to my clients for christmas. Shop around. Also, charge your phone and stuff over USB to eliminate one more transformer.

    Some p

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