What the world is in that bag?
July 13, 2005 1:13 PM   Subscribe

So I broke down and got a murse. What small essential things do I need to be carrying around with me at all times?

So far I have:
Swiss Army knife (missing toothpick)
The Collins gem edition of the SAS Survival Guide
A small toolkit
Duct tape
Notebook and pens
Green garbage bag
Needle and thread
posted by Capn to Grab Bag (67 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and some audio plumbing, a headphone to headphone cable, RCA cable, iPod USB cable, some adapters.
posted by Capn at 1:17 PM on July 13, 2005

What are you going to use this bag for? Are you a serial killer? Secret agent?

I've done the opposite and decided I don't have anything that is essential that i can't carry in my pocket. That's right folks, no more briefcase for this ordinary, middle-aged white guy on the metro.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:21 PM on July 13, 2005

A few tylenol for that headache/heart attack.
Mini toothbrush/paste.
A pair of those teeny folding scissors.
Lip balm.
posted by stray at 1:23 PM on July 13, 2005

I hate that word. If it's a purse, just call it a purse. Anyone gives you any guff about it, just give them your best deadpan stare and make it their problem.

My purse contains: pen, notepad, phone, spare sunglasses, box of altoids, book of matches, nail clippers, chapstick, and usually my camera.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:31 PM on July 13, 2005

Iodine tablets?
posted by ruelle at 1:32 PM on July 13, 2005

Well, if you have to ask, why carry it?

Assuming you don't have any specific requirements of an occupation or otherwise (like, being a dad), here's some suggestions:

Wallet (I hate sitting on my wallet)
PDA or sub-sub-notebook, if applicable
Keys (to get back in office) and cellphone stay in pockets
Some form of wipes. Baby wipes, Barbecue towelettes, whatever (they're not just for kids!)
Tissue, along the same vein.
USB drive, if the iPod doesn't work without Itunes (I don't have one, I don't know)
Lip Balm
Business cards
Various pills (pain relief/anti-inflammatory, others as prudent)

I wish *my* most important thing to carry were iPod cables...

On preview, got beat to the pain and lip relief.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 1:32 PM on July 13, 2005

If it's a heart attack, you should have aspirin, not Tylenol.


Seriously, though, I can carry everything I need in my pockets. Though keswick might be on the right track.
posted by trevyn at 1:37 PM on July 13, 2005

I'm more with Pollomacho on this one, though it's really a personal preference/need sort of thing which way any one person goes on this. There are a few things I always carry in my pockets. I don't need them too often, but when I do, I'm glad I have them.

a pen
lip balm
nail clippers (I'm prone to hangnails)
USB flash drive (at least while I'm working - I'm a computer tech)
"Hipster PDA", or whatever you'd like to call it. I don't use it as a PDA as much anymore as I used to, but it's still handy to have some scratch paper.

You might also want to have:

the/a book you're currently reading
small flashlight
cell phone headset
mace? or at least a whistle? Depends on your travel habits and areas, level of self-defense ability, etc.
cheap sunglasses ('cause they'll probably eventually break in the bag)
super small pack poncho type thinger for sudden rainstorms
etc etc depending on personal needs, also what others have said (on preview)

Also google bugout kit / bugout pack for ideas for more along the lines of your SAS guide...
posted by attercoppe at 1:39 PM on July 13, 2005

Of course, keswick's most excellent answer got pulled. I really don't like seeing things disappear around here. >:(
posted by trevyn at 1:39 PM on July 13, 2005

Yea, I also hate the "murse" name, call it a purse, and if anyone gives you any problems, hit them with your purse.

I carry a computer bag, and in it is:

my work notebook
my sub-notebook
pen drive
holga (never know when you're going to need a camera)
computer (duh)
a magazine (for the toilet, heh)
lip balm
plastic bag
and a bunch of other stuff (it's a big bag)
posted by splatta at 1:43 PM on July 13, 2005

Waterproof matches or a lighter? Incredibly mini keychain flashlight/LED light? Very small camera, if you don't already have one around? Handkerchief?

The one absolutely essential thing I carry is a package of Powerbar gel (one of the caffeinated kinds) for when I'm low on food or if I have a serious caffeine headache . . . It's not something you'd eat as a casual snack every day (and be SURE to drink water with it!), but it's easy to carry and might just save a life sometime. Even amazon.com sells several different brands & flavors of them.
posted by oldtimey at 1:50 PM on July 13, 2005

I have a purse (I'm a man, and I refuse to hide behind a portmanteau (pun not intended)), and when I carry it, it usually contains:

* Everything that normally goes in my pockets (wallet, phone, keys)
* Pen
* Gum
* Chapstick
* Tiny bottle of hand lotion
* Digital camera or spare film and photolog index card

Keep it simple, ultralight style. You don't want your purse-shoulder hurting after a long day at the salon.
posted by Plutor at 1:50 PM on July 13, 2005

Response by poster: Of course, keswick's most excellent answer got pulled. I really don't like seeing things disappear around here.
Can someone who has it cached email it to me? I promise not to get my panties in a bunch.

Well, if you have to ask, why carry it?
Of course I have it to carry around the crap I'm carrying around (book, iPod, phonebook, etc). What I'm asking is what other sundries it is good to have. Some great ideas so far, please keep em coming
posted by Capn at 1:50 PM on July 13, 2005

I've got one made by Tumi that I've been using for a while.

Right now it's got :

Two mobiles
Digital Camera
Bluetooth headset
Emergency credit cards

And chapstick in the chapstick holder. GalPal keeps wanting to put crap in mybag when we're out and about but so far I haven't given in.
posted by Mutant at 1:51 PM on July 13, 2005

What's it look like? I'm curious.

And yeah, PLEASE just call it a purse. You're not fooling anyone by using that dumb "murse" word.
posted by agregoli at 1:55 PM on July 13, 2005

It's not a man bag, but I carry a soft leather briefcase (with shoulder strap).

micro/retractable ethernet cable
usb-miniusb cable
pens, *pencil*
lip balm
AAA, AA batteries (recharged)
micro umbrella
*lighter* (when you need fire..., you *really* need fire)
micro contacts case (pre-loaded with solution - I change it whenever I remember to)

And I carry a swisstech microtool with pliers and (micro-) screwdrivers as my keychain (it can open bottles), flip phone (for timekeeping), intellistick USB drive in my wallet, and always have a folding pocket knife in the small of my back. I often carry a pda (with a pen/stylus).

Does your swiss army have a corkscrew?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 1:56 PM on July 13, 2005

related AskMe
posted by Zed_Lopez at 2:01 PM on July 13, 2005

credit cards and keys.

i can count the number of times i've needed a penknife or "tool" when unprepared on one hand - and then there's always been some geek nearby to borrow from (makes their day - validates the weight they've been hauling round for months and makes them feel wanted).
posted by andrew cooke at 2:03 PM on July 13, 2005

Mine: Wallet, camera w/lens, book d'jour, migraine meds, keys, ipod shuffle.

What little room I have left is used up by stuff my s.o. doesn't want to carry - keys, lip stuff, wallet.
posted by btwillig at 2:08 PM on July 13, 2005

I have two bags that I carry, although not at the same time.

My everyday camera bag is a Domke f-5xb which contains:

hipster pda (a bunch of 4x6 index cards)
50mm 1.8 lens
D70 with either a 12-24mm or a 28-85mm
memory cards
pocket knife
timer / alarm from Polder

My everyday non-camera bag is a Tom Bihn Medium Cafe Bag which contains:

hipster pda
usually a magazine
sometimes a hat
posted by bshort at 2:12 PM on July 13, 2005

Response by poster: What's it look like? I'm curious.
A little like this but not really. I may post another axeme in a week with some pictures, because I'd like to know what army it's from and what it's operational role was.

andrew cooke, then shouldn't you be encouraging me to carry all this junk around, so people like you can avail themselves of my Batman-like utility?
posted by Capn at 2:18 PM on July 13, 2005

Not to be an ass, but the whole point of Collin's book is kind of negated by you carrying it instead of a litre of water, 3 king sized bags of M&Ms, spare keys to your house and car, and a dollars worth of quarters (enough change to make 2 calls).

If you really want to go the survival route, a smoke hood and at least one of these things.
posted by 517 at 2:18 PM on July 13, 2005

I carry a small bag (I'm female) but would love to be able to fit all these things in my pockets:

Swiss Army Knife
lomo (similar to Splatta's holga reasoning)
small digital camera
lip balm
cell phones
pill box (anti-vomit, sedatives, tylenol, advil, vitamins)
rain hat
usb drive
balance bars
posted by superkim at 2:22 PM on July 13, 2005

Why do people sit on their wallets? Don't you have pockets in front?
posted by grouse at 2:27 PM on July 13, 2005

Hey Capn - check yer murse. I think you lost your Swiss army Knife - I got it here in New Zealand.
posted by TiredStarling at 2:32 PM on July 13, 2005

Why do people sit on their wallets? Don't you have pockets in front?

I just recently fixed this problem, by putting my keys on a carabiner and attaching it to a belt-loop. Otherwise, it was hard to fit cellphone, wallet, and keys all in the two front pockets.

My partner says it makes me look like a janitor, but I think that's cool. :D (Better than carrying a purse, anyway.)

Leatherman? I always find myself using pliers.
posted by trevyn at 2:36 PM on July 13, 2005

There may be some good suggestions here. Personally, I'd try not to get too carried away.
posted by ktrey at 2:42 PM on July 13, 2005

Don't forget a Glock.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 2:55 PM on July 13, 2005

posted by undertone at 3:00 PM on July 13, 2005

...balance bars...

What's a balance bar? Sound like a collapsible circus contraption. I am genuinely curious (and admiring, if it turns out to be wire-walking equipment).
posted by bonehead at 3:01 PM on July 13, 2005

Why do people sit on their wallets? Don't you have pockets in front?

Yep. Keys in one, phone in other. Gets crowded with anything else, though god know I do it often.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 3:03 PM on July 13, 2005

posted by 517 at 3:06 PM on July 13, 2005


Girls can carry murses too. Goddess knows most purses are way too girly for my taste.

Oh, and right now I wish I had one of those little eyeglass repair screwdriver kits.
posted by matildaben at 3:24 PM on July 13, 2005

I just recently fixed this problem, by putting my keys on a carabiner and attaching it to a belt-loop. Otherwise, it was hard to fit cellphone, wallet, and keys all in the two front pockets.

Cargo pants! You can even get ones with two pairs of pockets down the legs, making for a total of 8 pockets on the pants. The purse is nothing beside the pants.
posted by breath at 3:26 PM on July 13, 2005

The word is satchel. Perfectly good word, means exactly what you describe, been around forever, requires no explanation.
posted by cali at 3:44 PM on July 13, 2005

I can't work out how other people can tell you what essential items you need. I think your list looks pretty good already.
posted by fire&wings at 3:46 PM on July 13, 2005

I hate carrying things in pockets.

Also, I bought the smallest bag I could manage with, because of a bad habit of accumulating stuff. Nobody needs to be carrying three copies of the New Yorker around with them on a day to day basis. The bigger the bag, the more junk one can find to fill it. Just an observation.

In my manageably small bag: wallet, datebook/addreses book, Moleskine notebook, hand goop, pens, keys, inhaler (I'm asthmatic), tweezers, nail clippers, lip goop, dental floss, ibuprofen, emergency thin maxipad, antihistamine eyedrops, small hairbrush, emergency bandaids, emery board.

I never realized until I saw it written out in that way that it sounds like I could open my own pharmacy.
posted by jokeefe at 3:47 PM on July 13, 2005

Don't forget a Glock.

Just for the record, there's a MeTa discussion of this thread.
posted by mediareport at 4:00 PM on July 13, 2005

Jokeefe finally mentioned it, and I think it is one of the most useful things I carry: floss. Floss and a little mirror, to check to see if you've got stuff stuck in your teeth. I like to carry one of these because they are little and flat, and you can use them with one hand while you hold a mirror with the other.

The other thing I don't leave home without: birth control pills. For a man, maybe condoms would be more useful.
posted by Nice Donkey at 4:15 PM on July 13, 2005

You might find inspiration in the whatsinyourbag Flickr tag.

Personally, I carry... let's see... several library books, a notebook, lighters, camera, mp3 player, cellphone, GameBoy (and games), headphones, various adapters/chargers/batteries/etc., sunscreen, aspirin, bandana, cap, flashlight, multitool, glasses repair kit, lens cloths, pens/pencils/Sharpies, candy and lip balm. I'm probably forgetting something, but you get the drift.
posted by box at 4:18 PM on July 13, 2005

The Tilley Kangaroo Pouch is what I carry, but my wife says it makes me look geeky.
posted by Araucaria at 4:24 PM on July 13, 2005

Ditch the Swiss Army (Victorinox, I hope?) and gitcherself a Leatherman for that there bag.

I used to be a Swiss Army man myself, but my Leatherman Charge XTi is just so more...well, useful. And manly, come to think of it.

Aside from that, a good windproof, torch-type lighter.
A couple of granola bars.
A water bottle (freshly pulled from the fridge when I leave home).
An extra dose of my daily drugs in case I forget in the morning.

I heft around a backpack all the time with my TabletPC and all the other junk that a geek needs.
posted by SlyBevel at 4:32 PM on July 13, 2005

As a woman who carries a large bag, I suggest to just go through life and see what you need. Make a mental note of it, and then put it in your bag when you get home. You might think certain items are useful, but they might not end up being useful, and you'll end up carrying a bunch of useless junk.

I think it's good to carry around whatever book you happen to be reading. If you get stuck somewhere with a couple spare minutes, you can keep yourself entertained.
posted by elisabeth r at 4:44 PM on July 13, 2005

I prefer backpacks. Especially my 2x3 foot canvas thing in which I usually carry a screwdriver, an 8" adjustable wrench (I always have to adjust something on my 10-speed), a water bottle and a couple of books. I reckon it's better to have more space than I need than to find I have too little.

But no Glock; my girlfriend won't allow it.
posted by davy at 5:33 PM on July 13, 2005

I meant Aspirin way up there at the top, not tylenol. Doh.
posted by stray at 5:43 PM on July 13, 2005

I resigned myself to carrying a purse in 6th grade when started needed to carry my asthma inhaler with me, and then the situation worsened in college when I got an epinephrine shot to keep with me at all times for severe allergies. (That's something you definitely can't keep in your pocket.)

Although I have accepted my purse-bearing, I warn you of the dangers of ever-increasing purse size. Notice how teens and twenty-somethings can get away with a little clutch purse, but your grandma carries a whole duffel bag on her shoulder. Expect the same thing to happen to you as your list of "necessities" gets longer and longer.

Today I am a full-sized purse wearer, and I long for my tiny-purse days. But there's no turning back now.

Beware the addiction . . .
posted by intoxicate at 6:29 PM on July 13, 2005

Resuscitation mask ("CPR shield").
Nitrile or latex exam gloves.
Clean bandana.
posted by goetter at 6:40 PM on July 13, 2005

I carry a Mountiansmith "man-purse" or satchel, or possibles bag or whatever.

It can be a shoulder sling purse, a double handle grab purse, or a butt-pack. Lots of pockets and ways to strap on more stuff. Awesome gear works well.

Contents are listed in the metatalk thread.
posted by Balisong at 7:51 PM on July 13, 2005

I'm glad that standard issue for going outside isn't a gas mask, or even a dust mask, in this day and age.
posted by Balisong at 8:10 PM on July 13, 2005

As a bag lady, let me just add:

moist wipes!!!! (Already mentioned once, but needs emphasis. Screw that gel stuff.)
bobby pins (always seem to come in handy)
mini address book with essential names and #s
calling card (just in case)
$1.00 in quarters (just in case case)
mini bar soap
posted by crapulent at 8:50 PM on July 13, 2005

oh, did anyone say floss?
posted by crapulent at 8:52 PM on July 13, 2005

Here's what's in mine:

Laptop + power + headphones
Plastic sleeve for loose papers
MP3 player + spare aaa battery
Small notebook + various pens
Dry erase maker (has come in handy often)
Sunglasses + softcloth
Various books
Keys + wallet + cellphone
Sometimes a sketchpad + pencils

I call it a satchel, cause it's bigger than a purse. Anyway, I would never call it a purse for the same reason I'd never call my underwear panties. When people insist it's a purse, I insist it's my man sack. My leathery, black man sack.
posted by Hildago at 9:03 PM on July 13, 2005

Don't forget a portable defibrillator.

I don't know of an AED small enough for personal carry. /straight man
posted by goetter at 9:22 PM on July 13, 2005

And when your addiction goes beyond what you can carry, you'll need a Zuca. Very "in" these days, so I hear.
posted by Joleta at 9:34 PM on July 13, 2005

I am confused. Why do you got a male nurse to carry around?
posted by keijo at 10:15 PM on July 13, 2005

sorry, why have you got, I don't know what I am writing this morning.
posted by keijo at 10:39 PM on July 13, 2005

this is what I carry:

- folder with whatever documents I need at the time
- composition notebook
- pens and pencils and erasers and such
- a snack (granola bar or something)
- ibueprofen
- a nintendo DS
- a condom
- a leatherman
- a flashlight
- earplugs
- lint-free rag

basically I try to keep only massively useful things on me. altogether, it's actually a pretty light load. I plan to add a flask to my collection once I locate a cheap one at the flea market.
posted by mcsweetie at 11:04 PM on July 13, 2005

oh, and the latest issue of tape op magazine.
posted by mcsweetie at 11:05 PM on July 13, 2005

My DJ Bag contains the following:
  • Wallet
  • Keys
  • Inhaler
  • PDAphone
  • Small Work cellphone
  • Cereal Bars (on-the-go snacking)
  • Small bottle of Listerine
  • Business cards
  • Pen
  • Small Moleskine
  • Kenneth Cole Reaction Cologne

posted by chota at 11:25 PM on July 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

Condoms + lube.
(because risky sex is worse than missing sex, but only just)

Apparently the average person answering here is either married, or not used to getting any unexpected.

Thanks for carrying a bag. I have a life of resenting the notion that purses are for women. I got in the habit when hitchhiking as a teenager, then again when commuting the Long Island Railroad.

I carry a small plastic bottle of 90% isopropyl. Good for cleaning different things, disinfecting, and igniting. Sold as "Swim Ear", for countering water in the ear.

I like a larger bag that can include things like 2-litre water and a sweater, whether I include them at any given time or not.

I don't put things in this bag that would be disastrous if someone snatched my bag. My passport is NEVER in there, nor my wallet. My cellphone is on a lanyard around my neck (common in South Africa), hidden inside my shirt. My camera is on my belt. Keys in pocket.
posted by Goofyy at 11:27 PM on July 13, 2005

I don't carry a purse, and I'm a lady.

Instead, I swear by cargo pants.

Here's what I end up carrying:

Keys, with USB drive and little pill holder attached, with Tylenol and Claritin in it. Can't use aspirin or ibuprofen; asthma.
lip gloss
Tiny container of shea butter
cell phone

If I need to carry anything else with me, I'll just take long my waterproof messenger bag (orange, not sold anymore) or an old rice bag.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:33 AM on July 14, 2005

Hmmm, I wouldn't worry too much. It takes about a week before you figure out a murse is far more trouble than it is worth! But then, from the murse I gravitated to a one shoulder backpack, and now have a large two shoulder pack. My pack is a portable office and what I enjoy is that fact that everything I need is there, ready to go, albeit when I found myself in for a stint in a wheelchair, I "needed" far fewer items!
posted by phewbertie at 1:40 AM on July 14, 2005

With a title like this, you'd better be sure and carry some Ludacris, just in case . . .
posted by tr33hggr at 6:30 AM on July 14, 2005

Everyone, whether you carry a bag or not, should carry Shout Wipes. They can get just about any stain out of just about any fabric (marinara out of khakis, red wine out of white linen shirts, etc) without a washing machine. It's better than carrying a change of clothes, and it's a lot better than sitting at your desk for 6 hours with spaghetti sauce on your pants.

It's one of the few non-money/ID things that I keep in my wallet.
posted by idlemind at 6:54 AM on July 14, 2005

Please, for the love of God, don't put your Glock in your murse. If you must carry, don't put it in a bag that someone can easily swipe. You'd never be able to use it in time to stop anything anyway, if it's in your bag. And it would fill up the whole bag!

I've taken the opposite approach, and carry everything I want in my pockets or on my belt. To make this work, I get the smallest items I can or I get one thing that can do the work of a bunch of other things. For example, I used to carry a phone, a PDA, a camera, a pen, and a USB drive. Now, I carry a PDA camera phone with a pen for a stylus and a 1GB USB/SD card inside it. It takes crappy pictures, but they're usually good enough.

If you're going to carry a larger bag, you can put all sorts of crap in it. For example, in my shoulder bag (which I use for carrying my laptop) I have my checkbook, stamps, the smallest folding umbrella I could find, etc, etc. But you really don't need to have all that stuff everywhere you go.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:59 AM on July 14, 2005

Less, and less, and when I can get away with it, nothing.

I used to pack a bag with everything that I thought would come in handy, pass a bored moment, mean that I could catch up with writing or find that important document just when I needed it.

So, in it used to go: laptop, sometimes power charger, fiction manuscripts to revise, about fifty pages of stuff I've printed off to read at some point, moleskine, umbrella, another moleskine, pens, mints, ibuprofen, antacids, two usb sticks, name badge, ipod cable, phone to usb cable, antihistamines, mini radio, batteries, food.

In my pockets went wallet, ipod, phone, change, keys.

Then I trapped a nerve somewhere that resulted in pains down an arm, pain in a shoulder, and a posture that looks like half of me is shrugging when the other half is not. I'm convinced that lugging the above about in a bag which slung over one shoulder is responsible, or at least made it much more likely to happen. I walk everywhere, so it's not like the bag's on a car seat half the day - where I go, it goes. So I'm trying to lighten the load, and carry as little as I can.

It's easier in colder times, because a coat gives me that many more pockets - but it's shirtsleeve weather now, combats aren't an option for me at work, and if I stuff everything into my trouser pockets I look like I have herniated badly. I probably ought to try a backpack rather than a shoulder slung bag, but I'd need to find one that doesn't look odd when I'm dressed for work, and doesn't lead to the sweaty back of doom.

So carrying lots of stuff about appeals to the hoarder in me, but not doing myself an injury appeals too. So be careful what you pack, and how you carry it, if you are carrying much.
posted by reynir at 8:22 AM on July 14, 2005

Cargo pants bulging with crud? Keys on your belt loop? I guess fashion takes a backseat with this group :)
posted by splatta at 12:58 PM on July 14, 2005

« Older Informercials   |   web design simpleton Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.