If you’re like me, you have the contents of your laptop bag down to a science. Over time, you’ve figured out what items you need in the bag, and what items you don’t. (Although if you’re like me, your definition of "need" is a bit liberal). Inspired by similar posts on other sites, here is a look at what I carry in my laptop bag. At the end of the article, I’ll have some links to those other sites, where you can find similar lists by other authors. In the comments, let us know what essential items you carry in your laptop bag.
My choice of laptop bags is pretty boring. I use a Targus 17 inch laptop shoulder bag, which no longer appears to be available, but which is pretty close to this one. I also have a laptop backpack, as well as a rolling laptop case, but haven’t used either in over a year. Both were intended to replace the Targus case when I purchased my current laptop, but I ended up going back to the Targus, as it was an easier fit in overhead compartments on small commuter flights. I currently have the Targus stuffed to the gills.
I bought my current laptop in early 2008. At the time, the Asus C90S was one of the more affordable laptops that could be used to play games. The selling point to me was that it was billed as having an upgradeable processor (a rarity in notebook computers), but that has been a disappointment, as compatible replacement processors haven’t been forthcoming. The C90S came preinstalled with Vista, but I’ve since upgraded it to Windows 7 with no problems. I do own a Toshiba netbook, the Mini NB205-N311 Netbook, but that usually gets tossed into my suitcase or carry-on bag, not into my laptop bag.
Laptop Cooling Pad
My laptop can run hot, so as a precaution I use a Belkin Laptop Cooling Pad with it. This particular cooling pad has one fan directly in the cente, so it might not suit your needs if you use your notebook on your lap, with your legs together. I typically use it on a desk, or on my lap with my legs slightly spread, so it has worked great for me. It fits in the main compartment of my laptop bag, just under my Asus.
For those times when I need to share a single wired connection with my wife, or for those times when I’m staying somewhere that only offers a wired connection, I have the D-Link DWL-G730AP Wireless Pocket Router. Configure it once, and you’re set. I plug it into a wired connection and presto, I have my own wireless LAN wherever I go.
24 Disc DVD Case
While the world turns to the cloud, I still purchase physical copies of many games. As a result, I possess a big stack of game discs. To carry my discs with me, I have a Case Logic 24 disc CD/DVD holder. I have a soft case. I imagine a hard case would do a better job of protecting my discs, but I’ve been using the current case for years without issues.
Since I have the space, I pack a full-sized mouse. I currently haul the Microsoft Wheel Mouse Optical, which currently runs under $20. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles that my Logitech G5 has, but it has proven to be sturdy, and is very comfortable. The mouse wheel also works better than the wheel on my G5.
One item that I carry, but which I’m looking to improve, is a surge protector. I currently use a Belkin MasterCube, which is fairly small and has served me well. It is not the most compact surge protector available, though. I’d love to find a surge protector with retractable prongs, as the prongs are what get in the way the most when packing this surge protector into my bag. If anyone has an ideal solution, please let us know in the comments.
I also pack a Kensington Ultraportable Power Inverter 150, which provides AC power in cars, and on planes with Empower ports. I’ve only tried to use the Inverter on a plane once, and my recollection was that my laptop drew more power than the inverter could support. I still haul it with me, though, to use with my netbook.
Odds and ends
I like to be prepared, so I also carry various other cables and miscellaneous items. These include an ethernet cable, a mini USB cable, an iPhone cable, a pen, and earbuds. In the outside slot of my bag, I also toss in a legal pad (which doubles as a mouse pad on some surfaces), as well as a magazine or two. Depending on the trip, I also might carry my point and shoot camera, as well as my Seagate FreeAgent Go 500GB USB portable drive or a USB thumb drive. Because Carbonite and Dropbox allow me to access most of my files anywhere, however, I rarely find the need for external storage while on the go.
There you have it. That is what comprises the weight flung over my shoulder when traveling. This post was inspired by similar posts on other sites, such as ones by David Pierce on Digitizd, by David Pogue of the New York Times, and by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash, Kevin Purdy, Jason Fitzpatrick, and The How-To Geek of Lifehacker.
Most of the product links above point to the items on Amazon, using affiliate links. This means that we get a very small portion of any sale. We only use our affiliate links for products that we’ve tried and use (and in this case, all of these products were items we owned prior to 40Tech coming into existence). Thank you in advance for any purchases you make via those links.
Now it is your turn to share. What do you carry in your laptop bag?