What’s In My Bag: 13 Business Tools I Can’t Live Without

what's in my bag

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Try this. Remove your laptop or tablet from whatever bag you carry it in and turn that bag upside down – then shake.

All sorts of things may fall out of your computer bag when you turn it upside down. I wanted to find out what items, gadgets, and junk were in my daily carry. A spring cleaning, if you will.

Now, as a tech reviewer, I’m routinely changing out the contents of my bag so perhaps it isn’t a fair test. Nonetheless, let’s take a look.

Here’s What’s In My Bag

Spark Earbuds From id America

I’ll be brutally honest. I never leave home without these because I can work in a wide variety of noisy environments, but some voices or noises simply penetrate through my physical “ignore filter.”

Slim Backup Battery

I have written about a lot of different battery backups and out of all the ones that I’ve tested the Anker Astro Slim2 (4,500 mAh worth of juice it stores) is always in my bag. The other one that I keep topped up in the office is the Digital Treasures flask style battery (13,000 mAh). I carry it when I need more juice for a tablet, iPad, or if I suspect a colleague might need it.

iPhone 5S

From Aio Wireless, now Cricket Wireless, (media loan) with a kevlar case on it from Evutec. And no, I don’t think the case would stop a bullet.

Samsung S3

From Ting (based on Sprint network) with a rubberized, Otter Box style case on it (my personal unit). If you want an a la carte cell phone plan, Ting is a serious contender for small business.

Dell Latitude Laptop

This is a total workhorse machine. (Remember, I said to remove your laptop before turning your bag upside down!)

Google Nexus 10

This is a tablet and I also carry a wireless keyboard from Kensington when I’m not carrying my laptop. I simply prop up the tablet and fire up this little keyboard.

Paper Notebook

Yes, I still carry a journal. I like to use a pen or pencil sometimes. But I will share that if I have an especially brilliant note, I take a photo of it with Evernote, which scans handwritten notes and makes them searchable. Bic pen. I gave up on fancy pens a long time ago.

Bracketron Cigarette Lighter Adapter/Charger

For tablets and smartphones while driving. They are well known for having a wide variety of adapters.

Two Different USB to Micro-USB Cables

For charging obviously.

LED Flashlight

Just in case.

Swiss Army Knife

With my name on it, from a dear Swiss friend. Because you just never know when you might need to rip into a new box while on your travels.

Pocket Toddy

This is for cleaning screens on all devices. The company sent these to me around the holidays and they are eye-catching designs. I have a bunch of others from Walmart, too.

Device Stands

Mine is a rather elegant stand that holds my smartphone or tablet upright.

All of this is carried in my favorite LowePro bicycle messenger bag. They make great bags. I’m far from a minimalist, but I think my daily carry is pretty light. It does get a bit heavier when I have to travel by plane, but not much.

I mention specific brands in my posts to save you time searching and that have consistently worked for me and that I like. (If not noted as a media loan, it is something I have paid for.)

So what gadgets and gear do you absolutely have to have on you throughout the day?

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TJ McCue TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

12 Reactions
  1. As for me, I cannot live without my phone and a USB connector. I can somehow find a computer somewhere. Those are the only things I need business-wise. And oh yeah, some of business cards.

  2. I have a Swiss Army knife that is also a valued gift. I have to remember to always take it out of my laptop bag before flying, so it does not become HSAs pocket knife!

  3. Nitiin A. Khandkar

    When I go for business meetings, I make it a point to carry the following in my backpack (in addition to my notebook of course):
    1. An encrypted USB drive with backup of spreadsheets/presentations I am carrying on my notebook.
    2. A good quality pen (“show-off” is important at times!)
    3. A good perfume (“Brute” is my favourite). Since I live in humid climes, I try to ensure I do not feel and look sweaty or smelly.)
    4. A pack of perfumed facial napkins (Wiping my face with these napkins makes me feel refreshed and energized.)
    5. A shoe-buff (my shoes must looked clean and polished).
    6. A small paper notebook, with the name and number of the person I am meeting, and the street address of the meeting venue. (If I somehow lose my mobile phone en route, at least I will be able to call the contact from a payphone).
    7. A few lozenges (so that my throat is “clear” when I speak).
    8. A small water bottle

    • Hello.

      Thank you for this one, I will use 1 and 6 when I travel for my next meeting.
      Safety first 🙂


    • Hi Nitiin A. Khandkar, Your points are awesome. Our present generation community totally missed the pen (both ink pen and ball point pen). My clients used salesintegra.com with laptop for the above purpose (Yes salesintegra.com can not replace the use of perfumed facial napkins)

  4. My iPad is an absolute necessity and goes with me and my iPhone everywhere. While the phone is great, it’s just a bit too small to do any real work.

    • Susan, I love having a tablet around during meetings and trips. They are so much more pleasant to view and read on, but I find that even the keyboard on my iPad2 or Nexus 10 are a bit humbug to do any serious work. I find myself using the verbal dictation tools or a separate bluetooth keyboard.

      • Have you looked at any 2-in-1 convertibles? I’m checking them out now, but can’t decide.

      • Hi Paul, I have seen a number of them, but don’t have one I could recommend yet. I think it is a great concept. I personally would probably lean toward a touch-enabled laptop and then a separate tablet, but that just fits my work and lifestyle.

  5. My Bose noise cancelling headphones. I’ve tried the in ear type, but they don’t work quite as well for me. And they have a good “tune out the world” look to them. 😉

    A digital recorder that I can later transcribe with my speech recognition software. Never know when that chunk of story or blog post will hit.

  6. If you want to ensure the safety of your personal belongings on your next big adventure, then get yourself one of the best anti-theft travel bags. You can store a lot of things in it without having to worry about your things to be stolen by someone.