Mobile office

Some people, especially people on the internet, love to know what gear you use, so as an easily digestible piece of written content: here’s what I carry when I am out of the office.

Because I’m writing this at the weekend, I’ll start with my weekend bag, which I like to think of as my writer’s bag:

I use a Visconti messenger bag and the usual contents are pictured below:

Weekend / writing

Everything about my weekend bag is getting down to the minimum viable amount of things to get any amount of writing or sketching done should I get a free block of time. My primary writing device is my venerable iPad Pro combined with an absolute star of a travel keyboard. The K380 is perfect for my needs: it syncs with my iPad with no fuss, and it works happily with my MacBook Pro regardless of whether it’s booted into OSX or Windows 10. The included set of AA batteries lasted about 10 months, and it’s survived one decent coffee spill and a pretty significant drop onto a hard floor so it definitely counts as rugged. As backup, I’ve got one straight up Moleskein notebook and one pen, and for keeping my fingers busy when I’m thinking (procastinating) I carry my Qiyi Warrior 3x3, which is a cheap-as-chips intermediate speed cube.

Aside: I am by no means a speed-cuber: my average solves take about 90 seconds, but the stickerless Warrior 3 is about half the price of a Rubik branded cube, and much faster, quieter, and lighter.

Ever present in my bag is my Frank Green travel cup, which I adore. I think they’re pretty damn stylish, they’re fully recyclable, you can configure your own colours, and replacement parts are available at prices not designed to gouge your eyes out. Oh, and you can open and close the drinking hole with one hand, which is extremely helpful.

If I’m travelling and will need my laptop, I carry a Thule Stravan rucksack, which not only accommodates an abundance of gear, it comes with dedicated storage for my MacBook Pro 15”. My bag is a very fetching shade of purple which I can’t find any more, but the cobalt blue in the link is a good enough match. It also has a dedicated iPad sleeve at the back which fits iPads up the old 9.7”. size. I love it, and I’m even minded to buy a pre-emptive replacement for mine at the price in that amazon link, because I paid about twice that when I bought mine back in 2015.

The contents on a typical day are below:

rucksack contents

New items over and above the weekend bag are:

The extras (other than the laptop) are mostly based around going to meetings, hence the abundance of extra pens for marking up drawings, the business card holder and the battery pack. If I’m going to meetings my phone tends to take a hammering, either just via train travel or quite often because of tethering. I can usually get through a day travelling with my (now two and half year old) iPhone 7, but it’s touch and go by evening so I tend to use the charger if I get any downtime to top up.

I carry the USB mouse, because if I need my laptop, I’m almost certainly going to be using 3D modelling software or plain old 2D CAD. Good as the trackpad is on that 15” Pro, it cannot hold a candle to a mouse with a scroll wheel that doubles as a third mouse button for panning in either of those cases. I could have splashed out on a wireless one, but they’re heavy, and I’d need to carry spare batteries.

The knife is just one of things you never know when you’re going to need, but I’ve lost count of the amount of times it’s come in useful. I’ve had it since I was about 18 I think; I can’t really remember a time as a functioning adult I haven’t had my Swiss Army Knife. The monocular is handy on sites for being able to look at construction details from outside of exclusion zones, or at height when you don’t have access. It’s not exactly essential, but it’s come to find a place in my travel bag, because the times I do need it tend to be when I’m out and about rather than at home or at the office.

Note: none of these Amazon links are affiliate links. I wouldn’t even know where to start setting up that kind of thing.