What’s in your laptop bag?

Since my new laptop arrived I’ve been fine tuning my accessories in search of the developer-on-the-move setup. Here is my current contents complete with shameless Amazon Affiliate product links where applicable ;-)

Brenthaven Pro BackPack

My parents bought me the Brenthaven Pro 15-17 Backpack for Christmas. It has a great number of sections and compartments yet can still be thinly packed with the padding contributing to a comfortable wear. The only negatives are that the finish seems a little rough in places and that the rigid laptop protection area seems to be designed to hold a laptop almost twice as thick as a MacBook Pro despite claims of being ‘Designed for a 15.4″ MacBook and 17″ MacBook Pro’.

Of course the dream laptop bag would have an external USB port that would power and charge various devices within ;-)

RadTech sleeve & protector

I’ve owned RadTech sleeves for all three of my Apple laptop’s to date and they’ve all been excellent. Snug fitting, soft but hard-wearing and well-made they keep the machines clean and scratch-free. Now available in a multitude of colors but call me a traditionalist I’ve stuck with aluminum-grey. I also recommend grabbing a screen protector that sits between the keyboard and screen that doubles up as a cleaning cloth.

OCZ Rally 2 4GB USB stick

Another gift I received is the ever-useful USB memory stick for those odd file transfer tasks. The OCZ 4GB Rally 2 USB 2.0 Flash Drive can double up as a Vista ReadyBoost cache (providing you are booted natively, neither Parallels or VMware Fusion emulate it fast enough) and is housed in a small black metal enclosure the size of my little finger. Minor downsides are the easily-lost cap and the green led that casts an eerie glow over the geek at the keyboard.

Microsoft Wireless Notebook Laser Mouse 600

I’ve been using mice with laptops less over the years as my comfort with track-pads has grown and i have found myself without desk space for a mouse. The Microsoft Wireless Notebook Laser Mouse 600 works quite well however and the battery seems to last for ages. It is quite light and possibly a bit too small to be comfortable and if I was to replace it I’d go with something Bluetooth to avoid the dongle (which clips into the mouse when not in use).

iPod Nano

I purchased a iPod Nano 8GB 3G late last year after my 60GB iPod died. The device is incredibly small with a good battery life and fantastic display. Not convinced that the screen or control is suited for video or games but it makes a great little music player – I’m just hoping the flash models have a longer lifespan.

Philips Earbuds

These Philips HN060/37 ‘Noise-Canceling’ Earbuds are pretty good considering the price, size and battery life. Whilst they don’t cancel noise out the combination of the in-ear mechanism, volume booster and the active circuity does help suppress noise levels somewhat and I have found them particularly useful on flights. Some people find the high-pitched white noise the circuitry generates annoying and others find in-ear plugs irritating however. Personally the only problem I have with them is that the rubber pieces tend to come off and get lost quite easily but you can buy generic replacement packs from many airport/music stores.

My Book Pro 500GB External Drive

Leopard’s Time Machine combined with a Western Digital My Book Studio 500GB External Hard Drive provides me with a simple backup strategy that is lightning fast via FireWire 800 (800 Mbps) and still speedy over USB 2 (480 Mbps).

The Studio drive I linked to also provides eSATA support (couldn’t find mine on Amazon). It isn’t always in my backpack but does make a regular appearance.

Cables etc.

The bane of every techie’s life. Currently includes 1m USB extender, a USB to mini-USB cable that connects my TyTN, PSP, BlackBerry and Canon EOS 400D to my MacBook Pro and the Apple DVI to VGA adapter for presentations. The Apple-supplied remote also sits in there for exactly that purpose.


I like to keep a Moleskine pocket notepad tucked away, ruled by preference until they make a graph-paper version. This is normally coupled with a Pilot G2 at the moment which is comfy and smooth but takes too long to dry and is still too thick in the 0.38mm ’05’ version. Without sounding like a pen obsessive I’m going to try a Uni-Ball Signo Bit 0.18 next! There is also a nondescript mechanical pencil and large eraser.


Yes, there is still room in this TARDIS of a laptop bag for reading material. At the moment it is alternating between Designing Type, Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager and The Art of Intrusion all of which were Christmas gifts :)

That’s it! would love to find out what other people keep in their laptop bags and hear suggestions on some of my weak spots. I wish I could fit a full-size tactile keyboard in it but I guess I’ll live!


5 responses

  1. Avatar for steve

    The TechAir rucksack which I carry my 15" MBP around in is similar, the laptop pocket is double the depth needed for the super-thin MBP even though it was advertised as ideal for MBPs. Just par for the course I think, they don't want to exclude people with fat laptops ;)

    I'm a minimalist, my bag generally only contains the MBP, power leads, DVI adapter, Apple remote, a few sheets of A4 and a pencil. When I'm travelling further, it also has my 3G iPod (still going!) and has been known to have a T-Shirt and spare underwear stuffed in it when I've been on a short UK trip. It's an easy way to pad out the laptop pocket anyway ;)

    steve January 4, 2008
  2. Avatar for Richard

    Signo Bit 0.18 Cultpens are right, it is very scratchy, except on glossy/very smooth paper, not at all comfortable except for marginal notes in tight spaces.

    Pilot's G-Tec C4 is probably a better bet for extended fine writing.

    I usually find myself preferring a 0.3mm mechanical pencil however (provided I've got a good quality lead).

    Richard January 5, 2008
  3. Avatar for Kezzer

    I've found the iPod nano 3G can get sucked of its battery when playing the games on it though. It's a very decent piece of kit, I got one for my birthday last month along with one of the protecting cases which are impossible to get on ;)

    Kezzer January 10, 2008
  4. Avatar for Eddy Young

    My backpack is a SwissGear from Wenger (makers of the famous Swiss Army knife) and contains a pack of index cards, an iPod nano with Sony earbuds, a Nokia N800, sunglasses, a 32 MB USB stick, a SanDisk Micromate card reader, a 2GB SD card, and the usual cable stuff. Plus, the MBP 15", of course.

    -- Eddy

    Eddy Young January 14, 2008
  5. Avatar for Zack

    Alienware 17in laptop (I hate tiny screens) Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 8000 (bluetooth) mouse pad network cable paper notebook and pens a folder with stuff for whatever project I'm working on Jabra Bluetooth headphones (these were a Christmas gift and are great!) at least one book; usually either fiction or a computer book but right now I'm reading ChiRunning by Danny Dreyer

    Zack January 23, 2008