Spy kit
February 17, 2007 9:38 PM   Subscribe

What should I put in my spy kit?

I've come to the conclusion that, at every moment of my life, I should be prepared to launch into a James Bond-style spy adventure, because you never know when the world is going to demand that of you. Therefore, I have purchased a messenger bag to carry with me always, and now I need to make some decisions about what to put in it, as well as what to carry on my body. Keep in mind, everything I put in it must seem relatively innocuous, because I don't want to be rousted by the fuzz and have them go through my kit and realize I'm a superspy just waiting for an opportunity. But spy stuff that can pass a superficial inspection, such as pens with knives hidden in them, are all right. And I am in Minneapolis, so I can carry a concealed pistol around with me, so don't worry about that part of it -- I'll have my Walther P99 when I need it. But what else?
posted by Astro Zombie to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (47 answers total) 75 users marked this as a favorite
MeFi's own asavage once asked "What's in a Go Bag?" for Special Forces guys, and I thought the second answer had a great link that I've checked out for advice.
posted by frogan at 9:45 PM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Baby wipes.

No, hear me out. They will dab salsa off a white dress shirt and leave no trace, they can surely do the same for blood or plastic explosive residue.

Get the little travel pack. Sometimes they have Winnie The Pooh on them. Make it part of your cover.
posted by padraigin at 9:48 PM on February 17, 2007

Ha! Already got the baby wipes!
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:52 PM on February 17, 2007

Hand mirror. Good for all kinds of things - looking for bombs strapped underneath getaway cars, peeking around corners without being noticed, checking to make sure your enemy really is dead, signaling to your secret contacts, etc. And something upon which to offer your nemesis a line of blow or two, which is really crushed up 100% cyanide.

Silver cigarette lighter. Because that's just suave. Always kept in the inside pocket of your tuxedo of course.

Flask. Multiple uses - place to hide microfilm, poison, 100-year-old single malt scotch.

Metal file. For filing stuff.
posted by brain cloud at 9:54 PM on February 17, 2007

How about an LED hidden camera detector. Apparently it'll make hidden cameras 'flicker' when you use it. It looks sorta like an LED flashlight. (I wonder if you could make an LED flashlight that could do something similar...) Or perhaps an Ink pen with slow fade disappearing ink, that could prove handy when signing documents you don't really want to.

But, if you're going to be all James Bond... you'll need aspirin cufflinks. Those martinis can give you a killer hangover in the morning. Of course, one could hold aspirin and other cyanide... look at this way... no matter which one you take, you won't be worried about your headache.
posted by aristan at 10:03 PM on February 17, 2007

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:05 PM on February 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

A zombie with zombie repellent...

This one time, not at band camp, we had this new Australian shepherd puppy. On the table on the porch, we had two cans: one of flea spray, the other of don't-piss-here doggie repellent. Sure enough, one dark night puppy got a blast of doggie-b-gon and started tearing around the living room like a wild-eyed maniac dog... more so, even.

So anyway, AZ with zombie repellent should at least entertain the surrounding people.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:08 PM on February 17, 2007

Lock picks. Generally illegal to carry if you are not a locksmith, though. So become a locksmith.

Matches and Cigarettes.

Multitool, leatherman or swiss army. Make sure it has a phillips head screw driver.

Knife(s). I recommend Spyder-co.

Are you often searched by the cops? You aren't consenting to these searches, are you?
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:11 PM on February 17, 2007

Silly String
posted by niles at 10:13 PM on February 17, 2007

Dude, you need a satellite.
posted by caddis at 10:21 PM on February 17, 2007

posted by ikkyu2 at 10:32 PM on February 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

You need condoms for glamorous honey traps.

You need cards, probably with a PO Box or email address or cell phone number on them. They should read:

Zombie. Astro Zombie.

You can write things for people on them. They will improve your image. You can leave them at the scene.

You need a lighter for offering to smokers and to set things on fire.

String is always handy. So is duct tape.

But you know, always and everywhere, someone needs a pen. So have a pen on you.

On a practical note, have a small USB thumbdrive, for quietly coping important documents from unattended laptops. Make it a bootable linux drive for extra techie fun if you can. It should have Tor and an ssh client on it too.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:36 PM on February 17, 2007

A P-38 can opener. It's great for spy missions and inadvertant post-apocalyptic futures.
posted by bshort at 10:40 PM on February 17, 2007

Suicide Pill, cyanide not reccomended (it's not a pleasant way to go). Gun could work too I guess, but your captors will probably take it first...

Pocket Ref - Tiny reference, everything you'll ever need to know (quick! what rank is that gaurd? what angle does granulated shale pile at? Voltage drop in 20 meters of cat-5? Perpetual calendar! Magnetic declinations! Seriously, totally awesome).

LED microlight (photon makes a good one, I hear).

Swedish fire steel.

Deck of cards for encryption, amusement, quick source of income.

Compass! Preferably of the sighting variety.
posted by phrontist at 10:49 PM on February 17, 2007

Ultraviolet LED flashlight, for reading "invisible ink". (I carry one anyway, just because it's so cool.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:50 PM on February 17, 2007

I would recommend a Tide-To-Go pen or Shout wipes over baby wipes, if the intention is stain removal.

Get one of the pocket survival packs by Survivor Industries from Minimus. While you're there you can pick up all kinds of other minis... snacks, soap and personal care stuff, sample packs of OTC meds, etc. Perfect if you want to fly with your Spy Kit.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:06 PM on February 17, 2007

Oops, sorry... Minimus carries larger survival kits. (How ironic.) I was thinking of these from Equipped.com. A link near the top of the page shows their One-Person Pocket/Pouch Size Survival Kits which are a little larger than the mini kits, but still pretty darned small.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:17 PM on February 17, 2007


Right ... so AstroZombie can glide through air ducts and such, I assume.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 11:25 PM on February 17, 2007

Fountain pen pepper spray

An audio bug and an audio bug detector

A pen recorder / USB drive / MP3 player

Frickin' laser beams! (ok, maybe not)

Don't forget a money belt for secreting away those Krugerrands to buy off corrupt Canadian border guards or other officials.
posted by hackwolf at 11:39 PM on February 17, 2007

In lieu of lock picks, how 'bout bobby pins? I've used 'em before... they work! Also, Bic pens, which can be used to unlock bike locks.
posted by Brittanie at 11:41 PM on February 17, 2007

Sneakier Uses for Everyday Things has a whole section of the book devoted to making a stealth jacket full of gadgets for the spy on the move.
posted by fvox13 at 11:44 PM on February 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

everything I put in it must seem relatively innocuous

If you're going to carry a pocketknife, consider Benchmade's Mini Griptilian. I like it for two reasons: the safety provided by the Axis lock, and its color — mine is bright yellow, which says "tool" and pretty much eliminates the possibility that anybody will spot me opening a package at the post office and scream, "Ohmygod HE'S GOT A KNIFE!!"

If you're sneaking into buildings, there's an adage about how you can walk anywhere with a clipboard and a confident wave. If you're trespassing outdoors, an old trick is to carry a broken leash. ("Sorry, officer...the leash snapped and my dog took off running!")
posted by cribcage at 11:45 PM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Hmm. What about binoculars or a spyglass or some sorta night-vision dealie?
posted by furiousthought at 12:06 AM on February 18, 2007

For a flashlight, get a Zipka. Very bright, and compact for stowing. Also get a single red led light for surreptitiously reading without ruining your night vision. A night vision monocle would come in handy as well. You definitely want a handheld gps with at least built in compass and waypoint storage. A handheld device that connects to the internet such as a treo with tmobile's cheap unmetered internet.

Get a 2gb usb drive and pack it full of cracking utilities, and a few more for spares. I'd also carry a bootable cd-rom and floppies for the same purpose. A leatherman will serve to open computer cases and myriad other nefarious purposes. A lighter, toilet paper, diaper wipes, large trash bags, duct tape, tape measure, and carabiners are things that just plain come in handy whoever you are. Zipties serve as emergency handcuffs. Rolls of quarters can be handy in a variety of situations, not the least of which is nestled in your palm during a fistfight. I'm sure all manner of tiny cameras and bugging devices can be purchased, though I'm not sure about the legality of such. A set of bump keys on your keychain would likely pass a casual inspection. A screwdriver will open many car locks, and the leatherman should handle hotwiring.

A little out of scope, but I keep an emergency bag in my car with harness, helmet, 100m 10mm personal rope, webbing, some hardware for anchors, ascending/descending and belays, first aid kit, raingear, msr pocketrocket stove (comes out of the kit in hot weather) and about 2000 calories of food. A nalgene water bottle and tin cup that fits on the bottom is handy too. All stuff that could be handy in extremis.
posted by Manjusri at 1:46 AM on February 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Paper clip. Duh.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:02 AM on February 18, 2007

And here's my lame-o addition:
A nice paper pad, and a good space pen (or something like it) so you can draw charming cartoons of busses or bidets that will make the locals chuckle. If you can get your Pictionary skills up to snuff, you can endear even the nastiest rogues to your side, if only for a moment.
posted by maryh at 4:17 AM on February 18, 2007

Oops, the recorder is not disguised as a Bic lighter, it's just the same size. Damn. I wanted that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:36 AM on February 18, 2007


X-ray spray
lets you see inside envelopes without opening them.

Disappearing ink pen

Dissolving paper dissolves in liquid

Pocket lie detector

Reverse peephole viewer

Voice changer

Phone extension eavesdropping lockout

posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:52 AM on February 18, 2007

posted by thirteenkiller at 6:22 AM on February 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

This deja vu video camera would be handy for surreptitiously recording the assassin tailing you, or your route through the secret lab.
posted by adamrice at 6:52 AM on February 18, 2007

Strong mints. Because you are so going to lose your suave the moment you breathe the stench of eternal rotting death into the face of that hot chick with ambiguous alliances.
posted by ardgedee at 7:07 AM on February 18, 2007

dude, if you're asking this question, i don't know if i want you to be carrying around a concealed weapon
posted by uncballzer at 7:16 AM on February 18, 2007

Astro Zombie is the only person I'd trust with a concealed weapon.
posted by baphomet at 7:31 AM on February 18, 2007

A handkerchief, for use as a temporary glove when you don't want to leave prints, a receptacle for smothering agents, something to pee on and breath through when you detect poisonous gases, a "suave" signal for flagging down ladies in convertible roadsters, for wiping down surfaces, for applying pressure to gunshot wounds, wiping the beads of sweat from your brow as you defuse that nuclear device, the list goes on... Monograms are a nice touch.

A more versatile solution may be one of those tubular handkerchiefs (like they get on Survivor) that you can wear to avoid dust, keep your hair in check, etc.

I also suggest an international phrase book or a universal pictogram alternative.
posted by furtive at 7:47 AM on February 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Good suggestive, furtive, but I'm definately not going to flag down a lady with a handkerchief I've been peeing on.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:51 AM on February 18, 2007

I would say a sensitive tape recorder disguised as a cigarrette case.

Maps of secret exits from buildings, lesser known skyways, and other escape strategies.

Don't forget about effective disguises (i.e. dark sunglasses, change of clothes, makeup, a good wig), you do live in Minneapolis so it's very likely that you'll run into someone you know during one of your missions.
posted by deinemutti at 8:40 AM on February 18, 2007

Satellite phone for when the cell networks go down.
posted by TrashyRambo at 8:59 AM on February 18, 2007

A 'stash' container. You can get ones disguised as lighters.

For your powder.

You know -- powder.

And a flask, but not just any flask. Carry a stick, with two phials in it. One whisky, one poison.

And opera glasses, wrapped in a Playbill to offset suspicion.

Finally, lipstick. For your collar. You weren't acting suspiciously because you were spying, but because you were having a tryst.
posted by kmennie at 9:59 AM on February 18, 2007

Latex/nitrile gloves. A nice pair of thin leather 'cut resistant' gloves, too.

Manjusri already recommended zipties, but they're good for stuff other than improvised handcuffs.

A multi-screwdriver - it's amazing how many bombs and electronics panels are screwed down by torx screws.

Get a refillable mini spritzer/aerosol dispenser - fill it with ammonia. Spray it on bloodstains that you leave behind. Don't want to leave any more DNA evidence than you have to, right?

That copy of Wired that b1tr0t recommended? Roll it up and it's an effective truncheon/knife-parrying weapon.

Paracord. 'nuff said.

A mini rebreather - commercial models are likely too bulky for a messenger bag, but perhaps stow one in the trunk boot of your car.

... and the most important things for a spy - your brains and a healthy body that you stress test frequently to know it's limitations.
posted by porpoise at 10:37 AM on February 18, 2007

If you're going to carry 210Po, then do use that lighter stashcase, perhaps wrapped with the teensiest bit of lead foil. It's only an alpha emitter, so you should be able to get that through most security.
posted by bonehead at 10:43 AM on February 18, 2007

You need one of these.
posted by phaedon at 11:32 AM on February 18, 2007

"You need condoms for glamorous honey traps."

And if the OP is worried about wilderness survival, condoms can be used to carry water, balloon-style. Just make you've got the non-lubicated, non-spermicical kind. Nonoxynol-9 doesn't sound like something one would want to drink.

Which reminds me of a story, actually: When I was an undergrad, my then-girlfriend took a photography class where the teacher required all students keep unlubricated condoms in their camera kit, in case they lost one of those little plastic cans film -- a tied-off condom is water-tight and blocks light, making it good protection for a roll of film. Of course, some innocent freshman complained about a professor forcing students to buy condoms, so his department chair ordered him to drop the requirement.

My girlfriend still kept condoms in her camera bag, though. I don't know if she was a spy, but she sure was fun.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 12:24 PM on February 18, 2007

umm spy kit? You need extra wallets with extra drivers licenses and passports. Honestly this is th most important thing for a real spy. Bond was a terrible spy because he never kept a cover and never really secured assets (people to spy for you) which is what real spies do. Next up, get some of the face changing, voice changing masks the CIA uses.

After that you need every day items that are useful. Cigarettes and lighter are useful. Because it would allow you to start conversations with people you don't know. But in all honesty that lighter probably should double as camera, or get glasses that do. You'll need a camera that looks and functions like something that you always have a reason to be holding.

the only other things I can think of is a small amount of drugs which you could plant on someone to get them arrested.

Some GHB or similar to really knock someone out and have any male or female leave the bar with you with no resistances.

Everything else can be covered by a leatherman and a small computer.
posted by magikker at 1:03 PM on February 18, 2007

A tuxedo and a pair of swim trunks. Wear casual clothes and be able to fit in in any situation.
posted by Suparnova at 7:06 PM on February 18, 2007

Certainly a towel.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 7:23 PM on February 18, 2007

A third nipple.
posted by horsewithnoname at 4:18 PM on February 20, 2007

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