Although we love a good home workspace, mobility is key for many of us and that requires a solid, well-organised, gadget-filled go bag. If you have yet to put one together, yours is a little lacking, or you just want to make a few updates, we've got you covered with plenty of strategies, suggestions and examples.
Pick A Solid, Reliable Bag
Picking a bag is tough. Do you want a backpack? Messenger bag? Both? Do you need to carry a camera, a laptop, books, papers, utensils, 15 lb. hand weights, shark fin soup, and asteroid samples? Whatever you're bringing with you, it's not going far if you don't have a bag that can handle it. While I've always liked varieties of the Incase Campus Backback (I'm currently using this one), and Tenba Messenger (for cameras), we're particularly fond of bags that are more versatile and can adapt to your needs. The UNDFIND One Bag and the Unit Portables system both allow you to trade pockets and flaps to quickly swap out the items you need. (They're also both very stylish in their own way.) There are, of course, plenty of other awesome bags out there. If you've got a suggestion for a great bag that you love, share it in the comments.
Fill It With The Necessities (And A Few Fun Things, Too)
A good go bag requires good things inside. Naturally you'll be taking your laptop, but it's everything else that makes it particular. If you've got your camera, you'll want to consider extra batteries, lenses, and flash storage. If you're taking a smartphone or tablet, you'll want to have cables for it. The primary devices in your bag will heavily dictate what else goes inside, but there are a few standard and a few awesome things you'll want to consider including as well.
For starters, a good flash drive is important. We love the LaCie iamaKey which can store up to 32GB of files in certain varieties. It's attractive and fits on a keychain, but it's not particularly fast. If you're looking for a flash drive with some added speed, picking up pretty much anything of the USB 3.0 variety will often offer much faster transfer speeds even over USB 2.0.
LaCie has their FastKey but it's a little pricey (although extremely fast). Although we haven't tried it ourselves, Patriot sells a relatively simple high-speed 32GB USB 3.0 flash drive for only $US50 (or $US90 for 64GB). There are others but most of them aren't exactly slim. (Most are pretty unattractive, too.)
Whichever way you go, a fast and spacious flash drive is key. You may transfer files online more often, but when a time comes that you need to make a quick copy a handy, fast flash drive is indispensable.
For additional storage needs, you'll want to grab a portable hard drive (or an SSD, if you can afford it). At the time of this writing, you can pick up portable drives as large as 2TB, which is pretty incredible. I'm still using a 500GB drive from several years ago, and that has served me just fine. If you like to archive on the go, edit video, want to keep a large portable media collection, or have other large space needs you'll probably want a bigger drive. If not, smaller ones can be had for a lot less money.
A solid go bag involves being prepared, and little makes you more prepared than having the right cables for any occasion. You'll want to pick some up for all your devices, but a good starting point is Griffin's mini cable set. They're tiny and take up less space than one normal-sized cable. Chances are you'll want something tiny when moving around.
I use these all the time and they're wonderful. You get mini-USB, micro-USB and iPod cables -- which is definitely more useful if you own an Apple portable device. If you've already got longer cords you want to use, just employ this dead simple cable shortening trick to make them more go bag-friendly.
If you're travelling, you'll probably need additional power ports from time to time and a good surge protector will do the job. While we've long been fond of this Belkin mini surge protector, it doesn't sit flush from the wall and can risk breaking when too much pressure is applied to it. Currently we're more excited about its slightly bigger brother, which lays flat against the wall and has three additional outlets. It's still pretty small and should fit just fine in any go bag.
What else do you need in your bag? You may want a cellular wireless router for on-the-go internet. For those of you who prefer a little analogue in their tech-friendly go bags, a good notebook and pen is important. Poketo has some of the coolest notebooks I've seen, but you're always safe with a good old reliable Moleskine.
Keep It All Organised
The contents of your go bag won't be particularly useful if they aren't organised. That means well-wrapped cables -- something cable wrappers like Apple Cores or even the endless versatile binder clip can help you with. If you've got a MacBook and want a better way to maintain your power adaptor, the Quirky Power Curl is a fantastic and relatively inexpensive way to keep those cords organised.
The best bag organiser, by far, is the GRID-IT. I've been using them for years and they're a fantastic way of managing all the small things in your bag, whether that's a bunch of technology, art supplies, or whatever. You can get them in all sorts of varieties and combine them with tablet and laptop sleeves for additional purposes. If you want your bag organised in a simple and elegant way, the GRID-IT is the way to go.
Your go bag is going to change over time, however, so it's important to remember to regularly audit what you do and do not use to avoid carrying a bunch of excess stuff around with you all the time. Go bags are only useful so long as you keep the most useful stuff in them and organised, so don't forget to ensure you're doing that every couple of months.
Got any other tips for putting together a killer go bag? Share 'em in the comments!