Tactical Bag

Tactical Bag

For a while now, I’ve had the same backpack. It’s been my trusted bag for everything: work, travel, day tripping, etc. It carries everything I could think about needing and then some. But with some changes in my needs, I started realizing that for some situations – like going to my 3rd office that is known as Chipotle – it’s way more than I need. I need something smaller on the weekends when I’m not lugging my work laptop around.1

I needed something smaller, compact, focused. I needed a tactical bag.

So in my quest, I started thinking about what I would need for a trip for personal life, excluding work from it completely. I started developing a list of what I would need at any given time while on the go, and I was intentionally thinking of what I really needed for a day run anywhere I was going. I had some other needs as well: I wanted it to be as small as possible, have some RFID shielding, and also provide some anti-theft options. I did a lot of searching, and even asked Seth – the man who has a bag for damn near anything – about what he uses for this purpose. He had recently picked up the Pacsafe Vibe 325. It looked like a great bag, but it was a bit more than I wanted to spend.2 But when I looked for that bag on Amazon, I found a few other bags that caught my eye.

After a bit of sifting, I ended up finding the Travelon Anti-Theft Urban Sling Bag. While it doesn’t look tactical the way a GO RUCK bag does, this thing just screams urban tactical. Even though this is a small carry, it’s large enough for me to overpack it and get a lot inside of it. I ended up getting black, even though there is a gray option I might have liked more, because it blends seamlessly with the zippers.

Inside Pockets

There are a lot of anti-theft details of this bag: there are locking zippers to keep the compartments secure as you are moving around; the bag and straps have reinforced, anti-slash materials to keep the bag from being cut off my body; and the area for cards/passports are RFID shielded. These features make it a great bag for going around town, traveling to a big city via plane, train, or bicycle. I can even put a water bottle or Yeti tumbler on either side for travel.

EDC Bag 2019
This bag holds more than I thought it would.

With this bag, I’m able to fit most of what I carry on a normal basis. In the bag, I have:

  1. iPad Pro 11″ with Smart Keyboard Folio and Apple Pencil
  2. Anker Wall Charger with USB-C and USB-A ports
  3. Cord organizer containing: Anker Powerline+ USB-C to USB-C cable, Anker Powerline+ USB-C to Lightning cable, Apple USB-C to Lightning cable, and the Satechi Mobile Pro Hub3
  4. Airpods
  5. Foldable Wallet Stand
  6. Glyf by Studio Neat
  7. Joby Gorilla Pod
  8. Magnetic Flashlight4
  9. Knife
  10. Pen
  11. microfiber cloth
  12. A collapsible, reusable grocery bag in case I need increase my storage in an emergency, similar to these
  13. Glasses case – usually carried on the side
  14. reduce Water Bottle
  15. Personal items: Passport, corporate AMEX, a Visa gift card (for emergencies only), Kleenex, Boogie Wipes, Purell, Carmen lip balm, nail clippers, and flushable wipes

That’s a lot for me to carry on any given day; I don’t carry all of the items all the time, but it’s nice to know that I can if I want to do so. And while my goal of this bag was to be light-carry, this bag makes all of this feel minimal when I’m out and about, even when it’s packed full.

I really love the way this has turned out. I wish I could use this all the time, but there are some things that I do need to carry during the weekday which force me to use my backpack. There is, however, a clear delineation with which bag I grab now. But for the times where I need to be minimal while still being dangerous, this will be my go-to tactical bag for the future.

  1. Funny thing is that I decreased the weight of my work laptop by 4 lbs, but yet I still find carrying the thing a pain in my ass. 
  2. He got it for free based on his REI dividend. 
  3. This was a Secret Santa gift given to me by my cousin. It’s monogrammed on the front as well. It’s perfect for what I need. 
  4. I got this at a local store. This is the best approximation of what I have. Cannot say I recommend it because I didn’t buy this exact one, but it’s similar. YMMV. 

Piques of the Week: Volume 15

It’s been a bit since I’ve done one of these, but I wanted to share some of the things that have been piquing my interest as of late. I’ve made some good purchases on a few times, and wanted to share them.

iPad Case with Pencil

For a long time, I used the Logitech Create. Then I switched to the Smart Keyboard, as it made more sense to me. I purchased a back cover that I thought was ok, and then a magnetic pen holder. But… I really missed how the Create was able to hold my pencil for the few times I use it. Based on my Amazon search history, I ended up finding a new iPad Case w/ integrated Pencil holder. And it’s really what I wanted in the first place.

The case provides a rubberized surround, which integrates the Pencil holder. There are two small cut-outs on the back side of the Pencil, so that I can remove it quickly. Once I’m done, the Pencil is secured, nearly encapsulated by the rubber. It also has a cutout for the Smart Keyboard attachment, and doesn’t interfere with anything. This is by far the best combination I’ve used for portability and mode switching. I also know that there are cases like this for the other size devices, so give those a look as well if you’re not using the 9.7″ like me.

Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Microphone

When I started in to my podcasting life, I had purchased the recommendation de-jour for a microphone: the Blue Yeti. And that mic has served me well for a while. But one thing that has been a problem for me as of late has been the recording device that I use, a gifted 2009 Mac mini. It’s an ok device for this purpose, but it’s getting a bit long in the tooth.

So, in a quest to simplify things, I wanted to mirror the setup first mentioned by Jason Snell on Six Colors. This idea of recording on iOS only really appeals to me, as I don’t edit on a Mac. So I set out on my quest to start this process now. I sold my Yeti and picked up the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB/XLR Microphone. While I haven’t recorded an episode yet with it, I have done multiple sound tests. And it’s on par with the Yeti for quality, but it has one benefit for where I record: a reduction in background noise.

I’ve changed my entire setup now, which is great. I need far less around me, and I’m happy about it. I think the recording will sound better on my end overall, and I’ll be happier using it. I did encounter a bug where iOS is not letting me use the mic for FaceTime or Skype calling. This was possible before, and is a bug that has been introduced in iOS 12. I’ve sent in reports on it, and I hope it gets fixed before release.

Newer Boom Arm

In the change of microphone, the weight has decreased significantly. And now that I don’t need foam around the mic like I did before, I wanted to try it on a boom arm. I picked up the Neewer Boom Arm and bought a shock mount for it as well. It’s up and out of the way when I don’t need it, but it’s right there when I do. I would have liked a slightly longer arm, but it does the job well for being inexpensive.

All of this stuff is really driving towards making an iPad-only life a reality. There’s really only one thing preventing me from going that route forever,1 and I can’t wait until Apple makes it possible. I even picked up an iPad stand based on another recommendation, pairing the iPad with the Magic Keyboard when recording. This puts the iPad right at eye level, which is better than constantly looking down. The whole thing feels like an overhaul for me, without costing me a ton of money; the only purchase left is the Zoom H4 recorder, which I can wait on for a while. This setup – even though it may not seem simpler – makes me feel like I’m headed in the right direction.

  1. I need a way to upload external mp3 files into my iCloud Music library. I can only do this in iTunes on the Mac currently, and I don’t want to spend $$$ on a new one. 

Loss of Function

When apps change…

There are millions of apps on the App Store. I've downloaded more than a few of them. But there are a handful of apps that have really made an impact on my daily use of my phone, and an even smaller subset that I flat-out require. But what happens when things change? What happens when these beloved apps of mine switch hands, pivot to do more or less, or worse — go away?

Well, I try not to panic.
Continue reading “Loss of Function”