What good things come in little packages?
January 4, 2013 6:12 AM   Subscribe

What are the very small things you carry around that pack a lot of functionality into a little space?

I continually strive to lighten my load of everyday stuff. Things I do to achieve this include: carrying interdental toothbrushes instead of a pocket toothbrush, carrying those flat Listerine breathmint leaves instead of gum or boxed mints, and so on. A pocket toothbrush that's only 1/2 to 3/4 the size of a normal toothbrush doesn't really seem like a spacesaver to me, so although those things have their place I'm talking smaller than that.

I go on YouTube and look in the "what's in my purse" section and I seem to be in a minority. I watch in amazement as one girl after another pulls increasingly bulky items out of a purse that, by itself, weighs at least 2kg empty. These girls pull out packs of gum, rolls of mints, more redundant packs of gum, little shopping bags with junk jewelry that they bought and forgot about, half a dozen lipsticks, a wallet the size of a small encyclopedia, one shoe, a paperback copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, a bonsai tree, a portable record player and a representative sample of 50 or so albums from their vinyl collection, and a vintage Bakelite telephone circa 1942. These people simply are not in the same mindset as me, so it's hard to really learn from them.

Then there's the EDC videos, which seem to mostly be about firestarters, water purifying, and paracord. I think these things have their place, but I live and work in an urban environment and I'm not quite into preparing for the zombie apocalypse right this second (points to anyone who can make a genuine case for my doing this though). I'm more likely to need chopsticks for putting my hair up or eating ramen than for staking a vampire, as far as I know anyway.

What good things are there that actually do come in little packages? Little enough to be worth carrying around in my purse day after day?
posted by tel3path to Grab Bag (84 answers total) 142 users marked this as a favorite
My Leatherman. The one I have isn't the smallest, but gets used by me, my husband, friends, and coworkers a lot.
posted by kellyblah at 6:16 AM on January 4, 2013 [6 favorites]

I carry a Kindle, a swiss army knife with scissors, and my keyfob is a small (thumb-sized) LED flashlight. Sometimes I'll throw in a Lara bar for a snack. I also carry a thin wallet with an ID, a debit, a credit, and my insurance card. I usually don't need the other cards.
posted by mochapickle at 6:17 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I carry a Utili-key: fairly usable screwdrivers, small knife, etc. that looks like a house key.

Also a USB drive can come in handy. You can set it up with portable apps, reference documents, etc.
posted by exogenous at 6:18 AM on January 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

I used to have a lot of trouble with paraphernalia accumulation in my purses. I'm much better at purging now.

My majorly-used item is an altoid tin filled with first aid/useful items. It has hair elastics and bobby pins (which I can never find if they're just floating around), band aids, safety pins (surprisingly useful) and a few ibuprofens/Tums. Also good for saving lost buttons or other small things that I would lose within the bag's shadowy depths.
posted by Paper rabies at 6:18 AM on January 4, 2013 [14 favorites]

I have a small silk pouch, that holds my lucky charms/totems. It may seem extraneous, but I feel better.

I also carry a small bottle of chewable 81mg aspirin. In case someone is having a heart attack.

My EpiPen.

You know what they say, the bigger the bag, the bigger the crazy.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:21 AM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

My left cargo pocket has a Leatherman Micra, a Four Sevens LED single AA flashlight, a Sharpie, a ball point pen, and half a dozen earplugs. My right cargo pocket has my iPhone and a lens cleaning cloth. My left pants pocket has a handkerchief and my wallet. My right pants pocket has spare change and my bike key.

I rarely need to reach beyond my person for things I need.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:22 AM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would totally second the Utili-key. For such a tiny thing I find my self using it more then most any other tool I have, probably because since it's on my key ring I just about always have it on me.
posted by Captain_Science at 6:29 AM on January 4, 2013

Zip ties.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:30 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just (like not five minutes ago) repaired a co-worker's glasses with the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife Classic that I keep on my keychain.
posted by workerant at 6:31 AM on January 4, 2013

I carry a Leatherman Micra and a Fenix E01 flashlight on my keychain. They're both tiny buy amazingly useful. I use the Leatherman at least once a week and the flashlight comes in handy all the time as well.
posted by bondcliff at 6:32 AM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

A little lipstick sized flashlight.
posted by sanka at 6:33 AM on January 4, 2013

My iPhone.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 6:33 AM on January 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

This wallet and my fisher space pen.
You will see that the taxi wallet is indeed smaller than a small encyclopedia, and the pen is tiny and writes well in all condtions.
posted by BostonTerrier at 6:36 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Babywipes and a sunblock stick.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:38 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

A small (~3x3) microfiber swatch for daily or more cleaning of my phone screen and glasses (I hate smudges). Why have nice things if they are always dirty?
posted by waving at 6:38 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lipstick that doubles as blush
A length of string (most often, this is used to play string games.)
A whistle
Ear plugs
Four bobby pins and two hair ties attached to two safety pins
A Swiss Army Knife (most often used bits: eyeglass screwdriver, knife, bottle-opener, pen, tweezers.)
Applicator-less tampons instead of those giant applicator ones. Applicator-less tampons take up at least half as much space, if not less.
posted by punchtothehead at 6:41 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Some form of leatherman and an iPhone, as mentioned above.

I have a Field Notes notebook - after failing to use a moleskine for years (too large) I use this all the time.

An olloclip to go with the iPhone.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:45 AM on January 4, 2013

Sharpie minis
posted by hmo at 6:47 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

My iPod touch, in my wifi-everywhere city, is the reason I don't need a bag most days at all.
posted by mdonley at 6:51 AM on January 4, 2013

I have a little 18-month planner that's about 4.5"x6.75" and has an attached elastic for closing it up. I love it, it takes up hardly any space, can fit in my coat or pants pocket, and the format is easy to use. It's called the Monthly Posh Planner and you can find it pretty easily on Amazon or what have you. Be aware that the Monthly/Weekly Posh Planners are much much bigger so be careful about what you are ordering.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 6:51 AM on January 4, 2013

A half-sized pen and the cheapest teeny spiral-bound notebook I can find at the grocery or whatever other store I happen to be in. Taking notes on paper is still the easiest way for me to remember something.
posted by xingcat at 6:54 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Gerber Shard
posted by jquinby at 6:57 AM on January 4, 2013

The cuticle clipper from the Tweezerman Mini Nail Rescue Kit
Lip balm
A couple of hair ties
A cleaning cloth for glasses and touchscreen devices
posted by neushoorn at 6:58 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have nail clippers that fold down about as flat as the thickness of two credit cards, that have a pair of tiny yet perfectly functional tweezers and a tiny nail file. Alas, I got this at the Narita airport and the brand name has worn off so I can't tell you where to get one.

I will leave it to you in my will though.
posted by elizardbits at 7:02 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I also have these weird little LED flashlight thingies that have an elastic band to attach to your finger like a ring. I don't even know where they came from or what they are doing in my bag but they are pretty neato.
posted by elizardbits at 7:04 AM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I carry two small knives, one the swiss army (The Classic) on my keychain which otherwise has 4 keys on it, the other the Queen Cutlery Whittler. The swiss army I use primarily for handling vicious hangnails. The Whittler for odd cutting and utility jobs.

I also carry the iPhone 5, which isn't small, especially in its Otter Box Defender case but it is Sooooo Very Versatile for a geek.
posted by kalessin at 7:04 AM on January 4, 2013

Best thing in my bag? A former mint tin (about the size of Altoid minis), which contains about 6 ibuprofen (cramps, headache), 1 aleve (general soreness), 2 benadryl (husband's stupid allergies), 2 claritin (my stupid allergies), and maybe a sudafed or tums or pepto-bismol tablet. Refill as necessary.

Also, a 1oz sunscreen for when I forget I'm going to be outside.
posted by aimedwander at 7:05 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Chapstick. Good for lips, cuticles, and papercuts.
posted by cranberry_nut at 7:18 AM on January 4, 2013

Anywhere that sells higher-end make-up has tiny plastic containers, so they can fix up wee product samples for customers to take home. Next time you are in a Sephora or similar (or if you wouldn't set foot in etc etc, send a friend?), get your hands on these -- you can just ask to try whatever and bingo, a tiny container -- stockpile these a bit and decant whatever's in your purse that can be decanted into the mini containers. They are first-rate pillboxes, and also hold just-right amounts of lotions, balms, powders, etc. Lightweight, stay put in the bottom of a pocket in the purse, don't take up space, and yet you can cram your personal drugstore in. I have never had one open when I didn't want it to, too.
posted by kmennie at 7:26 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm a guy, so what I carry goes in my pockets, not a bag:

- Keyring with 1 car key, 1 bike-lock key, 1 house key (I changed all the locks in my house to work on the same key), 1 utilikey, and one of these AAA flashlights.
- iPhone. Most stuff that might get written in a notebook goes here. Once in a while I'll carry a small Moleskin when I know I'll need to do some rough jotting.
- One of these extremely thin wallets.
posted by adamrice at 7:29 AM on January 4, 2013

A brick of 25 or 50 tape strips (packing tape) about 2"x6" each. I can seal up a package, yes, and also fix stuff temporarily, and be a good samaritan for someone who is about to get ripped off at the Post Office (where "we only sell tape by the ten-dollar, three-foot roll").

My wife made me a velcro-shut pouch for my iPad out of the same fleece as a baby blanket. I can fold letter-size papers in half and tuck them in alongside it before a meeting, plus my think planner, and go somewhere without my bag. w00t!

I also have a spork in my bag that I use several times per week.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:41 AM on January 4, 2013

Tampons are surprisingly good for lots of things. If you're somewhere without toilet paper, you can pick apart/unroll a tampon and use that. The string can be used as floss in dire stuff-in-teeth emergencies. (Uh... so I have read.) If you are a person who carries around several tampons and likes the non-applicator variety, the Moxie tin is really useful for keeping them corralled in your bag.

A reusable shopping bag takes up very little space and is immensely useful. I like Baggu bags.

I usually carry around a one-ounce tin of Nivea creme - they're cheap and dinky, a little goes a long way, and I've never had one come apart, leak, or spill on me.

I also have a tiny colored pencil set. It's mostly a novelty, but might come in handy if you're ever stranded in a coloring book factory?
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:42 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have portable Purell attached to my bag. In an average day I'll use it to clean newsprint off my fingers and then sterilise my hands when I've touched the poles on the train on my way to work, and a tiny dab is also really good for cleaning my specs (in conjunction with the square of kitchen towel I always carry too).
posted by essexjan at 7:42 AM on January 4, 2013

Oh, I have a case on my cellphone, and it's big enough to tuck one or two bills of emergency cash inside, so if I end up a bit short of cash or have my phone but not my wallet, I've still got money.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:46 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I like to carry half a dozen tissues, a pen or two, a small notebook, a vanity case that has makeup basics, a compact, ibuprofen, hand lotion and a little manicure set in it, and a compact umbrella.
posted by orange swan at 7:50 AM on January 4, 2013

Yeah, I keep an emergency $20 and my shitty $200 limit credit card tucked between the back of my phone and the squishy rubbery case.
posted by elizardbits at 7:53 AM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

This iPhone case. My purse has more things in it, but that case can carry everything I absolutely have to have with me. (Phone, driver's license, credit card, even a key if I take one off my keyring.)
posted by MsMolly at 7:55 AM on January 4, 2013

Tissues -- not glamorous or obscure, but definitely the most useful thing I carry around and the thing I miss the most when I don't have any. Good for blots, snots, and wiping down tots.

Every now and then I think about transitioning to handkerchiefs, but while I like their green-ness and the opportunity to embroider something clever on them, I am not down with carrying around used hankies in my purse all day.
posted by apparently at 8:14 AM on January 4, 2013

Kindle is probably obvious, but as someone who read nine books on their last fortnight-long holiday, it really does save a lot of space.
posted by mippy at 8:14 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've got a swiss army knife with serrated blade, and attached to that is a mini LED flashlight and mini USB key. I use all three of these things regularly, and always have them in my pocket. When I carried a notebook I also kept a pocket pen, which I used all the time, and considered keeping even though I use my phone to replace my notebook, but I figure if I don't use it at least a few times a week, it's not worth keeping on my person.
posted by markblasco at 8:31 AM on January 4, 2013

The travel-size section is great for treasures like this. I have a small round plastic pillbox to carry some Aleve, ibuprofen, and a day's worth of my husband's meds for emergencies. Small flat cases that hold a few bandaids. A travel soapdish to hold all manner of small things (mine holds nail clippers, eyedrops, earplugs, ponytail holders, q-tips, a tiny round reel of dental floss, and the aforementioned small bandaid case). A tiny tube of hand lotion.

Other things I have in my purse: a pen, a Flip & Tumble reusable bag, a ziploc of baby wipes, a handkerchief (get a dozen so you can have a new one everyday), my keyring which only holds my car key, house key, and swiss army knife keychain (I recently pared down my keys and it is so awesome), iPhone, and a tiny zippered pouch that holds my credit card, debit card, drivers license, gym membership, and emergency $20.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:42 AM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Adding to the drug list: real pseudofed and Imodium.
Also a sharpie with a few yards of duct tape wrapped around it, a few paper clips, bobby pins and yamaka.
posted by Sophont at 8:44 AM on January 4, 2013

A Leatherman Micra replaced the Swiss Army knife on my keychain long ago, but also among the keys are basic nail clippers, which get used more often.
posted by Rash at 8:44 AM on January 4, 2013

Altoid tin with bandaids, headache and allergy & sinus tabs, 2 lactaid for my husband, antacid tablets a tampon (non applicator type), a hair pin, a hair tie, some gum, a safety pin, a needle and some thread thread and a moist glasses cleaning wipe in. It's amazing what you can fit in the tin and I hold it shut with a strong elastic band you get on broccoli now a days. You'll be amazed what you can fit in one of those tins and you only need one or 2 tablets etc to tide you over.

I've even slipped a few of twentys under the band when going out for the day and left my purse at home as it all fits in a jean front pocket with no worries.

With that a good penknife keyring I feel set for most anything. Though I am pondering getting a leatherman and some sort of small pen
posted by wwax at 8:45 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I cut the size of wallet by about a third, by switching from a leather wallet to a tyvek one.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:14 AM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

My husband carries a small pair of metal chopsticks that screw together from 2-3 pieces each. They have a tiny plastic case that doesn't take up much space in his bag, and he never has to say "dangit, I forgot a fork for this delicious lunch my wife lovingly packed for me last night."

I am a big purse person, but I do like using a small pouch or tin to corral bandaids, bobby pins, hair ties, etc. And I like the Tampax Compak (or whatever bastardized spelling of compact they use) more than applicator-less tampons, the tiny bit of additional size is worth it to me.
posted by hungrybruno at 9:21 AM on January 4, 2013

I have a Squirt P4 Leatherman. It is both incredibly useful and adorable!
posted by phunniemee at 9:33 AM on January 4, 2013

Cut down to a small purse, and half your problem is solved: if it don't fit, it don't make the trip.

My purse:
flat wallet (with the minimum number of cards in it)
one pen
lip balm
lip-balm-sized tube of Advil
mini-pen knife w/one blade, Phillips & flat screwdrivers, bottle opener
hand lotion (I save those tiny ones from hotels for this)

My car:
full-size screwdrivers
a roll of duct tape
dynamo flashlight (NOT battery-powered!)
paper towels
wet wipes
first aid kit
(all except the blanket and roll of paper towels fit in a small drawer under the front passenger seat)
posted by easily confused at 9:34 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, I cannot overstate enough the convenience of putting small things into a small pouch to put down inside of your bag.

My everyday bag is smallish messenger bag, but it's pretty sizeable: book, keys, water bottle, ipad, scarf and gloves, tissues, wallet, etc, etc. Little things like chapstick and hand lotion get lost in there on their own.

But now I have a little zippered pouch about the size of my hand into which I put all these random tiny things, and nothing gets lost anymore. Keeps the bag much neater, and there's no fishing around for stuff.
posted by phunniemee at 9:38 AM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Here's what I currently carry (in a Nomadic CC-06 pouch):

* A portable charger and mini USB cables
* Sharpie Twin-Tip marker with a bit of duct tape wrapped around it
* 10-sheet (give or take a few) pad of mini Post-It notes
* Small pill capsule with painkillers, allergy meds, heartburn tablets, etc.
* Sunscreen, body soother, and hand sanitizer wipes, an antiperspirant towelette, and a stain-remover wipe
* A couple of Band-Aids, an alcohol wipe, and a packet of antibiotic ointment
* A nail white pencil and a eyes/lips/cheeks two-ended pencil
* Bobby pins, hair elastics, safety pins, strips of fashion tape, spare earring backs, and a nail file in a snap-top vial
* CC cream, Rosebud salve, and Nivea creme decanted into hinged jars
* A couple of tissues
* Customized makeup palette

I also carry a small towel (also used as a lens wipe and hanky), a reusable bottle that doubles as a hot-water bottle and ice pack, an umbrella, and a reusable shopping bag in the largest of these zip bags; the other two bags are stuffed in as well.

On my keyring, I have this LED light (doubles as a flasher when biking), a flash drive, a carabiner that can open bottles, and a cash stash/utility kit.
posted by evoque at 10:29 AM on January 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

Dental floss is useful in small emergencies.
posted by annsunny at 10:30 AM on January 4, 2013

Leatherman tool and a Surefire E2D flashlight. That flashlight puts out a beam like a lightsaber and is designed to be used as a weapon if needed. Ever been on the subway and had it stop and the lights go out? You're gonna want one of those, believe me.
posted by blaneyphoto at 10:38 AM on January 4, 2013

I'm a big fan of nested bags. I carry a modest sized bag that carries all of my girl crap and inside of that, there's a lightweight clutch where the more essential items live and inside the clutch is a smaller pouch with the Most Essential Things I Cannot Do Without. The two inner clutches are open topped so I can just reach into them but can be zipped closed and I just grab whichever level of bag I think I need. I keep them inside each other because it's easier to find whatever I'm looking for. The key to this working is using a flatter structured bag so the clutch and pouch within stay upright and act as organizers. (Similar idea to a Pouchee only I just use off the shelf bags that fit together).

Useful items:
Leatherman Micra on my house key chain (which has been ruthlessly culled down to just the keys I need to get into the house. Car keys are on a separate keychain which is comprised by the car key and remote fob, ancillary keys such as to the storage shed stay at home.)

An IKEA paper tape measure, folded up and tucked into my wallet. Available free at any Ikea.

Dental floss card. It's the size of a credit card and holds a whole lot of dental floss. Given out as a freebie promotional item by some dentists.
posted by jamaro at 11:11 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

But now I have a little zippered pouch about the size of my hand into which I put all these random tiny things, and nothing gets lost anymore. Keeps the bag much neater, and there's no fishing around for stuff.
- phunniemee

I wholeheartedly agree with this. I made my own (it's about 7x4.5") for a trip I went on a few years back and it radically changed my bag organization. This plan also makes my switching between purses/bags/whathaveyou so much easier because all of my little necessities are in there, including:

- earbud headphones
- a travel pack of bandaids (winter only; my boots give me blisters)
- My YMCA card, a combo lock, headband and a few clips for the gym.
- lip balm
- a few single-packaged wet-wipes, purloined from various pubs whenever someone orders nachos or wings (these are amazingly useful)
- a teensy sewing kit in a tin
- travel-sized dental floss
- a teeny pen that I snitched from a hotel. I make most of my notes on my phone, but there are always times when you need a physical pen for something.

I love my pouch because it means that if I am on a plane or something I can toss my regular carry-on into the overhead bin and just pull out the pouch. It's big enough to fit bank and other cards and my iphone into it as well, but that's about it. It is also excellent for putting any bits of discarded jewelry as I take them off so that I don't find them all over the place in different bags.

Most of the time I don't really carry anything else with me at all, except my wallet and my phone. In the winter I also try to carry this kind of tissue pouch (for the cold-weather sniffles!) that I refill as needed, which saves space and the need to coordinate the purchase of those travel pouches from the store and is smaller.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:53 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Leatherman and iPad are primary.

In my man purse (a small, over the shoulder courier bag) there is almost too much stuff to list. I use it all. Much of it resides in two zip lock plastic bags, but some is in the pouches.

One bag has hygiene and health stuff ranging from tampons (super and regular) for frequently surprised lady friends, medical stuff and tooling (clippers, band aids, triple antibiotic goo, nodoz, ibuprofen, Q-tips, lip balm, toothbrush, floss, tissue....). Another has work-stuff (post its, pens, paper clips, sharpies, chargers, sewing kit, adapters, cables.....). The bag holds checkbook, flashlights (one with a laser pointer), sometimes pepper spray and a collapsible police baton, my iPad, a notebook, reading material, a lighter, a whistle and a compass.... just because i got them once as a gift and threw them in there.)

A lot of this stuff is multi-purpose. Floss, for instance. Some is illegal in certain places (pepper spray.) Most I have used many times. At my age, I can remember having said "I wish I had a ....." a lot. If that happens more than once, I usually address it. Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you, I have very few emergencies, which I define as something I am totally unprepared for. The bag usually stays in the car, though. It's not heavy, but I want it nearby, not omnipresent.

When I was an EMT, I carried a small collection of relevant supplies. If I am out on a job, I carry a Amprobe AM-160 multi-meter and a combination of tools weighing about a pound and a few jumper clips. The meter makes me a god as it opens up an entire realm of things I can measure and do. Also, there's a folding magnifying glass in there, too.

Boys love gadgets. Word.
posted by FauxScot at 1:34 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Essential stuff:

- Leatherman Juice! Not huge but not small, and the pliers always come in handy. Small enough to get put in front jeans pocket.
- small flashlight about the size of an index finger that clips into another front jeans pocket: there are smaller and more powerful, but this one takes AA batteries and those are more easily replaceable.
- teeny rolls of gaffer tape and duct tape rolled around pieces of straw and tucked into a jacket pocket. It's not pretty, but I've used gaffer tape to fix a broken bra strap and it's very nice not to worry about one boob popping out on the subway.
- phone in jacket pocket or next to Leatherman in front jeans pocket.
- small tough notebook for cards and notes etc with pen that fits in a back pocket - handy when the phone runs out of battery. ICE contact information in the back. There is a 4 gig microSDHC card taped in for data storage.
- tampons in another jacket pocket. Not only for myself, but inevitably there will be one time when a girl in the stall next to you will go 'DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY TAMPONS' and then you can put on the Tampon Fairy crown.
- cards, ID etc in one of those small card-carriers in other back pocket. Never regretting not using a wallet.
- keys hooked to a carabiner clip and attached to pants.
- lip balm.

That's all stuff I carry on my person pretty much day to day - of course I like to carry a book and cookies around with me in a backpack or something, but all of that small stuff above has made my life much easier when unexpected things happen (losing a contact lens in a dark theatre? BAM. Solved).
posted by zennish at 1:38 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I carry a large rectangular silk scarf tucked into a pocket of my purse. It's gossamer-thin so it weighs almost nothing, and it folds down to the size of a credit card. It is surprisingly useful! For example:
  • If I'm in a place with too much air conditioning, I can wrap it around my shoulders and arms. Because it's silk, it actually provides pretty good warmth.
  • It's not as warm as wool, obviously, but I've used it as a stopgap winter scarf when necessary.
  • I use it to dress up my outfit a little when I unexpectedly need to transition between work environments (e.g. from the classroom to a meeting with suit-wearing VIPs). The one I have is in an attractive but fairly neutral colour and pattern, so it goes with most of my outfits.
  • I've used it when travelling, to cover my shoulders/head while visiting cathedrals or other houses of worship.
  • In a pinch, I've turned it into a bag and carried things in it. (Nothing sharp or too heavy; silk is a strong fibre, but I don't want to risk tearing it.)

posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:00 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't carry a purse, but I'm always looking to keep my everyday bag light.

This cable from Monoprice is short and can function as a micro USB or iPhone/iPad (30-pin) USB charge/sync cable.

For years, since reading a tip somewhere, I've carried a simple cotton bandana. It can function as a napkin, a cloth for wiping up spills, a handkerchief/tissue, etc. It's smaller and lighter than a pack towel.

Oh, and a Tide to Go mini and/or a Shout wipe is useful for spills.
posted by maxim0512 at 2:11 PM on January 4, 2013

As a computer tech, a known-to-be-good netbook can do SO MUCH that my phone can't.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 2:26 PM on January 4, 2013

I am going to:

- take a £20 note and put it in between my iPhone and its plastic shell. Since I rarely take it out of that shell, it will be well placed as true emergency money.
- get some form of Leatherman or Swiss Army Knife or similar multitool. Maybe a UtiliKey or Gerber Shard will be enough in light of what else I carry? Not sure.
- consider getting the Taxi wallet - what are the dimensions? I like to keep my cash and my cards separate so that if I lose one I still have the other, but this tempts me
- consider adding a whistle
- order that olloclip, OMG I think I'm in love
- marry elizardbits so as to gain access to her flat nail clippers and LED flashlight rings
- tape strips!!! OMG!
- consider a spark? I'd have to wash it…
- consider the travel soapdish as a useful container for nonsoap items
- Flip&Tumble bag! Emergency cat toy!
- should I add a space blanket? too much?

For the edification of the community (as I take, I give) here is what I already carry:
- a Kindle (on my iPhone), also the complete works of Shakespeare on an app just to say I've got it mostly
- no scissors, but a pair of nail clippers in a mini kit, also a credit-card sized sewing kit which contains a blade; this has so far gotten me through most scissor-requiring occasions
- flashlight app on iPhone, also, a credit-card sized LED flashlight on a boingy keyfob, which however I am having trouble placing in a useful way as many bags have nowhere to attach it. (I keep one apart from the iPhone because of the time I needed a light to find my iPhone and also the time I needed one to check it for water damage). I also keep a credit-card-sized LED flashlight in my credit card wallet, but all this redundancy troubles me.
- debit card, credit card, car insurance certificate, first aid certificate, aforementioned LED flashlight, and small lemon-soaked paper napkin in a clear plastic wallet that is cut down from one of those clippy ID badge holders. Other cards are stored on an iPhone app, with varying levels of success.
- USB drive, but it's only 4GB, and I'm thinking of loading it up with portable apps or maybe I should get a bigger one? I have Dropbox on my iPhone, but it's full.
- the mini kit containing the nail clippers is held shut with a snag-free hair elastic.
- a small, British Heart Foundation-sold first aid kit which contains band aids as default.
- safety pins in mini kit.
- two painkillers in mini kit, not enough for a day but enough to tide me over till I can get to a shop.
- mini kit also contains, not Tums, but two Imodium… never needed them but if I do, I'll really need them…
- a polished rock so I will have something to do with my hands (no lucky charms).
- 300mg aspirin tablet added to first aid kit in case someone has a heart attack. I also carry these in the small Hello Kitty purse to which my house keys are attached.
- a multicoloured ball point pen
- flat Kleenex
- a flat leather change purse
- during warm months, a spray bottle of sunscreen; a slice of facial sunblock stick and an envelope of emergency SPF25 also in the mini kit
- some lip colour or other, which may or may not serve as blush; also, a natural-colored lip pencil with a sharpener cap in the mini kit
- no ear plugs, but white noise iPhone app plus noise isolating earbuds
- IFF required, 3 applicator tampons in dedicated case… can't imagine bringing myself to floss with the strings though… but you're right, the Moxie tin is adorable isn't it?
- very tiny notebook with mirror glued to the front
- small tin of lip balm SPF 15, with red food coloring stirred in - unfortunately these tins can be very difficult to open
- kmennie, you know what's even moar better than tiny plastic containers? Numismatists' coin capsules. Also, you can buy the little jars in bead shops.
- mini kit contains enough of my prescription meds for 1 day, snipped out of the pack and surrounded by just enough tinfoil for easy retrieval. If you take meds out of their original packaging they can deteriorate rapidly, plus they can be difficult for EMTs to identify what you might have taken if disaster strikes
- car keys with pouch keyring containing enough change for the most expensive parking meter I have so far encountered (GBP 13.50)
- one Envirosax bag
- mini tube of SPF 25 hand cream, though that's a luxury extra - the lip balm does the job, though it is unreasonably sticky
- hand gel tied to a ribbon tied to a lanyard
- mini kit has a mirror stuck to the top, and I carry loose powder in it in a pillbox in lieu of compact; also, a small flat brush to apply the powder, and a disposable mascara brush to comb it out of my eyebrows; also contains a toothpick and a sawed-off nail white pencil for cleaning nails
- a plastic rain poncho, rather than an umbrella
- a small ziploc bag, in case I need to use my iPhone maps in the rain
- mini kit contains soap leaves in a small plastic envelope
- duct tape wrapped around a piece of plastic
- card wallet contains a magnifying glass card, iPhone also has magnifier app

I was going to get one of those flat chargers for iPhone, but to me, that kind of de-romanticizes the portability of the iPhone. If I'm out and about for enough hours I use an external battery, but that's too bulky the rest of the time. What do you think? Add a little flat charger or not?
posted by tel3path at 3:39 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

And I have marked as Best Answer the ones that contain tips I plan to implement.

Oh hive mind, we are a genius. Does anybody have any more ideas? Microdots? Umbrellas with ricin on the end?
posted by tel3path at 3:47 PM on January 4, 2013

In my backpack, I've got flat-pack painters masking tape and flat-pack duct tape. The duct tape is great for, well, all the things one uses duct tape for. The masking tape is surprisingly useful for temporary labels on things and taping up notes and other things that you want something that can be more easily written on and is easier to remove than duct tape.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:52 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I often have a Victorinox Manager on my keychain, as it's like a Classic, but with a ball point pen and a real, very good Phillips screwdriver, something I find I need quite often.
posted by 2N2222 at 4:34 PM on January 4, 2013

The best tiny pen you can buy is the Fisher Bullet Space Pen. Closed, it's about 2/3 the size as a traditional ballpoint, opened, it's about the same length. The ink lasts forever, it's nigh indestructible, and inexpensive refills in various line widths and colors are readily available online.

As for the Taxi Wallet, I have one. It's the best front-pants-pocket wallet for organization freaks available. Super tiny and thin, but has lots of pockets and dividers. Mine has:

- 2 Credit Cards
- ATM card
- Driver's Licence
- Employee badge
- Loyalty Cards for 2 grocery stores and a pharmacy
- BJ's card
- Dentist card
- Medical insurance card.
- Week's worth of cash
- Week's worth of important receipts.
- Security key for my bike wheels (a special hex wrench... tucks right into the main cash compartment, I forgot it was there until I just looked.)
- Hold-out $100 for emergencies in a secret pocket. (Ditto! Would you look at that.)

And it fits in my pocket =with= my smartphone, and you can't tell it's there by looking. Exceptionally well made from high-quality leather and fabric. Mine's 5 years old and is as soft and flexible as the day I got it, with nary a frayed thread.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:03 PM on January 4, 2013

OH, and my wallet is 3.5" wide, 4" long, and just under 1" thin at the moment.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:11 PM on January 4, 2013

I stopped using wallets when I realized that I rarely carried cash outside of a banking envelope, and that all of my important cards (debit, bus pass, whole foods discount, license, student id, health insurance) fit well inside a business card case.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:16 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm sad that none of you people with Taxi Wallets have heretofore recommended them on askme, but I do like my Big Skinny wallet.

This stuff does what it says on the tin and I decant it into a tiny container instead of carrying lip balm, a moisturizer, a balm for minor flesh wounds, etc.
posted by clavicle at 6:23 PM on January 4, 2013

I'm sad that none of you people with Taxi Wallets have heretofore recommended them on askme, but I do like my Big Skinny wallet.

Umm. I have had a number of wallets made from a variety of materials over the years, but, in general, synthetic-shelled wallets start to stink after a year or so. They'll get damp somehow and start growing... stuff... and suddenly your wallet smells like B.O. or mildew or the back of an Army-Navy Surplus store. My wallet still smells like wallet after 5 years, which is a big bonus in my book.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:09 PM on January 4, 2013

If I only have my pockets, I carry the tiniest pocketknife I can find. It's useless for anything survival-ish, but terrific on a daily basis for opening boxes, prying at things, and whatnot.

If I expect rain, or have a bit more space, a ziplock bag to hide my phone in if I get drenched.

If I have a bit more space, I add the tiniest flashlight with a predictable battery; this usually winds up being a Tikka 2 headlamp, which was the geekiest thing I'd ever seen until trying one. At the very least, it lets me sneak into the house without waking folks up.
posted by talldean at 7:26 PM on January 4, 2013

Aluminun Waterproof Business ID Credit Card Wallet
(pro-tip -- they're not *really* waterpoof; don't go scuba diving)
These things cost almost nothing ($2.25 shipped), come in eight festive colors -- drivers licence, debit card, insurance card, a few bucks folded and tucked away, a key, some nitro tablets (in mine, probably not in yours) in a tiny plastic bag, a couple of band-aids.

Your "stuff" is safe, for the most part, debit card and insurance isn't gonna get all beat up.

I also carry a pocket knife, a key-ring (the one in the case is to get me in the door if I lose the keys, which I've done), cell phone. Quite annoyingly, under protest, it seems I must carry reading glasses.


For the most park, all this simple "carry nothing" bit goes out the window if I'm on the bike on any kind of real ride, I've a fairly good-sized pack loaded with tools and a fairly complete first aid kit, batteries for head-lights/tail-lights, sunglasses hard case, etc and etc. I can't *stand* to not have tools to fix it if I'm out, I've not needed that full first-aid kit but it's there if I ever do.
For cleaning glasses / cell phone, microfiber is nice but go to a thrift store, buy a 70s silk shirt for a buck, cut it up 4 inch square for lens cleaning; silk sucks up oils and dust amazingly well, weightless, folds up to absolutely nothing, cleans with any soap, dries about this fast. I shove one of these squares in the coin pocket of my jeans, or tucked alongside my cell in my bike pants if I'm riding.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:25 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Absolutely definitely a spoon. It's one of those things you don't think you need until you use it frequently once you have it.
posted by aniola at 12:38 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I absolutely love this folding hairbrush. I've had one of these for 4 or 5 years now. It's so compact. Fits easily into a pants pocket. When it's in my bag, the way it folds up so snugly, it keeps stray hairs from getting all over the inside of the bag, and it protects the bristles from getting dirty from whatever else is in my bag.
posted by marsha56 at 2:02 AM on January 5, 2013

The coolest handbag space-saving thing I've found recently is something like this credit card sized USB stick. I keep it in a slot in my wallet, with my other cards, taking up almost no extra space, and yet when I need to transfer some stuff... voila! I have a USB stick on me!
posted by cantthinkofagoodname at 3:41 AM on January 5, 2013

Lots of pill cases recommended above, but I assure you mine is the best: Screw a chapstick all the way out of it's tube. Pop the bottom end of the tube off and use scissors to cut off the stick that goes up the center of the tube (but leave the little knob that holds the bottom of the tube on). Fill the empty tube with around ten Ibuprofen/Tylenol/aspirin. Cheap, holds lots, doesn't take up unnecessary space, fits in nicely next to my other chapstick/lipsticks, refillable, easy to open but not prone to opening accidentally... perfect.
posted by anaelith at 7:28 AM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Awesome. I keep rereading this thread and my eyes roll back in my head a little bit.

I think I might splash out on a Taxi wallet right now.

Friends, I must tell you what an adventure I had this afternoon at the drugstore. I dug around a little in the bargain makeup bin and I came up with a Bratz Lip Gloss Necklace for GBP 1.00. It doesn't claim to have a SPF, but I see that titanium dioxide is a good way up on the ingredients list, so I am going to use what's in there and then refill it with my usual SPF lip balm when it's done. It is now hanging outside my bag next to the hand-gel-on-a-ribbon and is much easier to open than the small round tins I usually use.

(Also, it has a mirror inside it but there is a picture of a Bratz character on it and I couldn't figure out why they'd negate the purpose of a mirror in that way. Then I realized you were supposed to see yourself as the Bratz character in the mirror. I wonder if I can scrape it off.)

(Uh. I just opened it to look, and I could swear that the character in the mirror has changed to one of the other Bratz. Mind blown.)
posted by tel3path at 11:25 AM on January 5, 2013

I got mine from here.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:22 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

ZOMG! Slap*Happy, I have snapped up an "imperfect" one at a sale price, and the shipping isn't going to cost me more than the wallet. That's just folded three items into one, for me. I'm having one of my "high on life" moments.

Having put some emergency cash between iPhone and case, I now have enough resilience to cope with the risk of storing, and therefore losing, cash and cards in one place.
posted by tel3path at 4:45 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you want truly minimal space, you should be able to find a flat packet of powdered aspirin somewhere. It fits in the cash or credit card section of my wallet and can literally save a life in case of heart attack.
posted by bq at 9:31 PM on January 5, 2013

A Leatherman inherited from my mum (no idea of the model - it's from the early 90s) is easily the best single thing I have with me all the time. It's a bit loose though so I'm looking to upgrade soon.

eBook (in my case a Sony eReader).

Moleskine and G2 pen (going to fill the Moleskine and move onto Field Notes or something less cumbersome, and I want to upgrade to a Fisher Space Pen too). I'm a comic collector so I always keep a folded A4 page of missing back issues in the rear pocket thing of the Moleskine, I guess that wouldn't work so well in a Field Notes. Whatevs.

My Nexus S Android phone thing is all right but that's another thing I want to upgrade soon too.

Small LED flashlight is always handy I guess. Don't spend more than ten bucks on one of these though unless you work underground or only go out at night.

Small toolkit for the car. Never used it yet and I dunno what good a dinky little hammer and bunch of allen keys would do me if all my tyres exploded in the middle of the desert and my engine fell out but, aw, the hell with you, guy, leave me alone.

I also kept an old mobile phone in the glovebox of the car in case of emergencies but forgot about it and it wasn't charged anyway and also now it's covered in melted gum.

For all those people putting medication in old mint tins - good idea, but if it isn't already obvious, make sure you keep the medication IN THE FOIL PACKAGING.

"Anywhere that sells higher-end make-up has tiny plastic containers, so they can fix up wee product samples for customers to take home. Next time you are in a Sephora or similar (or if you wouldn't set foot in etc etc, send a friend?), get your hands on these -- you can just ask to try whatever and bingo, a tiny container..."

Oh yeah those are great I have a whole bunch from Kiehl's, they are really sturdy and solid. You've reminded me, now I gotta find stuff to put in 'em.

Also, sorry, a lot of my answers have nothing to do with the question. But they're handy things in any event.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 9:18 PM on January 6, 2013

Okay, I have already followed much of the advice here. Most excitingly, I have bought an Olloclip second-hand, which I have secreted in Ruthless Bunny's silk pouch. Now I will be a real photographer! I will win the National Portrait Awards!!! No seriously, Oxford is a city of amazing views, and if I ever feel like taking a serious photo I'll be as well equipped as a casual non-photographer can be. I look forward to developing my iPhone photography skills in 2013. So. fun.

The trouble with the Olloclip is that it doesn't fit over even the thinnest case. I would have to take the case off to fit it, which means the cash in my iPhone case trick becomes a problem. I see there a lot of secret compartment cases out there, but they cost money and probably are really obvious anyway. So to stop the cash falling out when I take the case off, I ordered some A8 adhesive pouches. This *just* fits inside, and after trimming it so it didn't cover the space where the volume buttons go, I was able to squeeze my iPhone back into its case with the cash inside the pocket. The extra space taken up by the pocket meant that the case was putting pressure on the volume buttons, so I had to take a craft knife and shave the button apertures on the case so that they were that bit bigger. The phone is now fitting into the case just not quite perfectly, but I shook it and it seems to be in no danger of falling out. The good news is that it's now that bit easier to take the case off, whereas before it was quite an effort to pry phone and case apart. And I can use this trick with any £1 market stall phone case I want.

I didn't specifically ask about laptops but I did order a Cocoon grid-it and have tucked it into my Velcro laptop pouch. Especially with the enormousness of British plugs, I'm hoping to be able to use the Kate Spade laptop bag that I have which is perfect but only wide enough for a US plug. I also won't have to try to stuff stuff into bag pockets but will be able to keep things as flat as possible. I also got a flat wireless mouse which looks like the Apple one but is really just a shitty knockoff that I can lose, break, etc.

I am still squeeing at the thought of my slightly-imperfect Taxi wallet which is pink with a green interior. It will change my whole life, it will enable me to carry everything in a tiny evening bag, it will enable me to lose cash, cards, business cards, and tickets in one fell swoop so as to get stranded in the city after the tubes stop running. Except for the cash I hid in my iPhone! I triumph again. I can't wait for this wallet, seriously, perhaps it's a sign of some lack or deficiency in my life that I am so madly excited about a wallet. But when I had that obsessive crush on that guy who seemed like he might be interested maybe, everyone told me that it was a sign of repressed creativity and what I really needed was a hobby. Now that I'm obsessed with the Taxi wallet I assume it means I really need to get laid, but I knew that already. (And impromptu overnight stays are so much more convenient when you travel light!)
posted by tel3path at 5:55 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Okay, right. Having taken into account much of the advice here, I present Handbag 2.0:

Most everything is crammed into an organiser measuring 7.3" x 5.7" x 2.4"(18.5cm x 14.5cm x 6cm).

In the left front pocket:
- Car keys attached to a coin purse with enough change for the second-most expensive car park I've encountered (£12.50 plus a pound for luck; the most expensive was £21.50 but I think I might just pull my arm out of its socket trying to carry that much change). This is caching for redundancy in case RingGo or equivalent isn't available.

In the right front pocket:
House keys attached to a Hello Kitty purse keyring, containing a Vent-Aid, a pair of nitrile gloves in a relatively tough plastic pouch, and 2x300mg aspirin. I never leave the house without my keys, therefore, I never leave the house without this most basic of first aid equipment. When I'm at the office, and not necessarily carrying my house keys everywhere, I wear a neck purse with these items, along with my office keys and ID card.

In the inner pocket:
Top-opening case that used to be a Premier Inn grooming kit. It now holds my sunglasses. Top-opening for quick access, hard sides so that the sunglasses don't get mauled about. Also, it's possible to leave the top off if the sunglasses are too big, and they'll still be relatively safe if I'm careful.

An Alessi Minou handbag hook. Sticks up and over the edge for quick retrieval in a very packed bag, is nonmagnetic so doesn't cancel out my travel passes. Plus, it's shaped like a kitteh.

Taxi Wallet. THE WALLET THAT WAS GOING TO CHANGE MY WHOLE LIFE. Oh what an odyssey. The first one I ordered, on January 5th, wasn't here after a month. Called customer service, they said to wait a few more days and call again. I waited until February 15th, called again, and it turns out that since it had provably entered the US postal service I was SOL.

Searched high and low for a provider that could ship from within the UK. Settled on the expensive but well-reputed Orvis, tried to get 24-hour shipping, couldn't. A couple days later I got notification that my beloved wallet had shipped… from the USA.

A week later it arrived!!!1!! Come to me, my precious - oh. The closure for the change purse was broken.

Ordered another. IT'S FINALLY HERE and it certainly is an awesome wallet, but something of an anticlimax, after all that.

- the interior card pocket holds two bank cards, what few loyalty cards I carry (Superdrug because it's mirrored, my Salvation Army card which has to be physically stamped; also my first aid certificate and my car insurance certificate). Any other loyalty cards that have to be physically stamped, I either toss because I can't cope with the mental complexity of them, *or* if I'm such a regular customer it's usually because the place is near where I work, so I keep them in the aforementioned neck purse instead; which also holds my gym pass. Membership/library/whatever cards that don't have to be physically stamped, are encoded into the Thin Wallet iPhone app.
- the change purse holds change, funnily enough
- the receipt pocket is only big enough to hold receipts, but that's handy for business trips as I used to carry a dedicated pouch just for business trip receipts, and now they all stay in there out of the way without taking up extra space or my having an opportunity to forget to transfer them into the right pouch
- the top billfold holds folding money
- and the lower billfold holds a stray Wet One in an individual wrapping
- the middle pocket, which is supposed to be for business cards, does indeed hold two kinds of business cards, divided by the Oyster card holder that holds all my travel passes. The Oyster card holder sticks up for quick retrieval and fits back into the desired spot really easily. It also holds a laminated first aid guidance card (I also have a first aid app and a pet first aid app on my iPhone), and a Crimestoppers card which I keep because it has a magnifying glass.

All these items used to be distributed into 4 places, so I'm not sure if it saves space but it feels like an improvement. OTOH, I could also lose major portions of my life in one fell swoop...

Side pocket
1 freezy headache stick, which I also cache for resilience in the form of cold Tiger Balm in my mini grooming kit, but keeping this in the side pocket allows for quick access

Side pocket
- 1 multicoloured ball point pen with duct tape wrapped around it, per Sophont's example
- a small pencil, no eraser, which I acknowledge as a failing

I don't really use paper, but I carry it around for the sake of form. When I have to make notes I use the Notes app on my iPhone. I have, however, needed the duct tape once or twice, and the pen's as good a place to keep it as any.

Main pocket
- Very small daily grooming kit (a study in itself, not covered here)
- Etymotic earbud pouch with Veho earbuds, folded devil's horn style - these are in many ways better noise-cancellers than the Etymotics, which in any case split the insulation on the wiring after 5 months, didn't fit, and had lousy bass.
- a polished rock (something to do with my hands)
- small paper notebook about the size of a Field Notes book
- flat Kleenex pack, which I would like to replace with a stiffer-sided tissue pouch because the floppiness makes it difficult to pull out and put back in, especially when nearly empty. The aforementioned small grooming kit has an exterior pocket with one tissue in it for emergency quick retrieval, also.
- tube of eye cream SPF 15 (for hands, not eyes, but eye cream is reliably sold in purse-friendly tubes)
- default lip gloss with side mirror and interior LED light. If I'm wearing a different lip color that day, I swap it out, but it's good to have the LED light in case secret spygirl business rears its head at unexpected moments. I'm not really into lip color though - too high-maintenance. But I *am* equipped to wear it at a moment's notice.
- Envirosax shopping bag (holds 20 kilos)
- Topshop ballet flats with soles scored so that they fold up. Kept inside a folding shopping bag that folds into its own interior pocket; the shoes are in that same pocket so that it takes up the same amount of space as the folded bag. In the event that I do change into these shoes, the unfolded bag is big enough to hold even a pair of boots.

Left interior pocket
- credit-card sized sewing kit, augmented with a cardboard winder of different colored threads jammed inside it
- small ziploc bag in case I need to follow iPhone directions in the rain (this has happened, and water damage can kill an iPhone as well as invalidating the warranty, and the less you can look at the iPhone directions the longer you stay lost out in the rain)

Right interior pocket

folding cardboard opera glasses - for detecting unplanned operas in the distance. Never let an opera take you by surprise again!

Between interior pockets and detachable outer zippered compartment

plastic rain poncho - I hate umbrellas, but I have been caught in the rain when I particularly needed not to get wet; the rain poncho takes up less space and weight than an umbrella, and also leaves my hands free

Detachable outer zippered compartment

my least waterproof items, including:
- small first aid kit from Heart Foundation, augmented with vent-aid, nitrile gloves, aspirin, and a package of band-aids from St John Ambulance which has the emergency patient positions diagrammed on the package, and some Compeed blister dressings
- pad of tiny Post-its
- 4GB USB stick
- small zippered pouch with Olloclip inside

On a keychain that can hook to the zipper pull of the organizer, but which I prefer to attach to a boingy keychain and hook to a carabiner on the handle of the bag, I have:
- a Swiss Lite knife with LED light in case I need to see inside my bag in the dark (a spare battery is carried in my laptop pouch, which is not covered here)
- a triangular Thai silk keyring purse containing a very small bottle of hand sanitizer (can also be used for stain removal on the fly) and a cigarette-sized stick of petroleum-based lip balm with SPF 20. This can also be used to ward off shoe chafing.

The boingy keychain hangs inside my bag. The trouble with it is that it is so compact and lightweight that it doesn't do a good job of counterbalancing the thing I have attached to the carabiner on the *outside* of my bag, which is an Accessorize Dinkies mirror keyring with a mascara, a lipstick, and a cream blush. These are not intended ever to be actually used. I think makeup is a "set it and forget it" thing and that all that's needed is a blot-and-powder twice a day, as well as a concealer and lipstick retouch, and I have the equipment for all that in my aforementioned mini kit. I just… couldn't resist it, you know? These are the only items I'm carrying with me, other than the pencil and notepad, that I'm unlikely to actually use. Everything else has been needed at one time or another. Well, not the sewing kit so far, because I'm lazy and just use the safety pins and fashion tape I keep in the grooming kit. And not the first aid kit, but that's because I've been lucky; I actively hope never to use that - except maybe the blister dressings.

This all weighs about as much as a bag of sugar.
Maybe 2 bags of sugar.

Also in my bag, but outside of the organizer, I have an M&S collapsible water bottle, which I can gleefully report flattens down when empty in a most satisfying way. I don't think it can double as a hot water bottle, but it's beautiful as it is. Just… beautiful. Need a water bottle for your evening bag? This is the very fella for you. As long as you don't want to put water in it of course.

My phone doesn't have a specific place, but it's usually in my hand anyway when I'm out and about; or my pocket. It is an iPhone 4S and is loaded with such things as RingGo to pay for parking, a satnav, a journey planner, Google maps, expenses tracker, currency converter, the Bible, the complete works of Shakespeare, Angry Birds, all the usual essentials for every journey. The phone is in a modded case which has an adhesive A8 plastic envelope inside it, with £20 emergency cash. It's just difficult enough to remove the case that the cash really is emergency cash, but it's also just easy enough to remove that I can do so quickly when I want to use the Olloclip.

I only carry a spare charger sometimes, but I have one that plugs into the base, which I carry in a silk pouch if I'm going to be out for ages and using my phone a lot with no other power source. Question: If anybody knows where I could get a *good* solar charger, ecstasy.

I also have a very small one-night overnight kit which, again, is a study in itself and which I won't enumerate here.

That's everything that I carry in the bag when I'm not going to work or anything specific. If I'm going to a dance class I try to fit everything into a packing cube so I can carry it in the same bag. And of course my enormous great laptop pouch for work, with the neck purse carried in the pocket of the bag while en route to and from work.
posted by tel3path at 1:40 PM on March 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Update: the organiser weighs just under 3lbs.
posted by tel3path at 2:37 AM on March 8, 2013

More information please on: the organizer. The ballet flats.
posted by bq at 7:39 AM on March 8, 2013

The organiser is very similar to this one.

The ballet flats are the Topshop Vibrant. These are real, leather-upper ballet flats, with a thin rubber sole stitched on. As such, they are not intended to be durable, so the reviews on that page that are complaining that they didn't last - are missing the point. They are lightweight and flexible and are equivalent in function to flipflops.

To turn them into folding shoes, I took a craft knife and scored the sole diagonally and folded them into thirds.

The bag they go in is equally important. I had a V&A Firebird tote bag, which I'm not sure you can get anymore which has an inside pocket, and the bag folds into this pocket. The shoes go inside, you purse the Velcro closure together, and then the bag unfurls to hold your other shoes when you need it.

UPDATE: The Alessi Minou, which is brand new, has been moved to the left back pocket, with the sewing kit. It was pulling stuff out of the front pocket, or getting pulled out when I removed stuff from the front pocket. I rarely pull out the sewing kit and there's not much for it to get caught on, now.

UPDATE: the Accessorize Dinkies have gone inside the bag because they were driving me fucking nuts. Just try pulling a rolling suitcase between two moving train carriages while that obnoxious rattling thing sways from side to side, adding to the general instability. I've hooked it to the zipper pull of the organizer, where it will get battered by the general trials of life. Clearly it is not long for this world.
posted by tel3path at 3:44 PM on March 8, 2013

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