How-To Geek

What You Said: What’s in Your Geek Bag


Earlier this week we asked you to share what was in your geek bag. We’ve analyzed the detailed responses that flooded in and now we’re back to share them with you.

Photo courtesy of Grid-It Technology.

On Wednesday we asked you to dump out your geeky bags, pockets, briefcases, and purses so we could see what you had stashed inside. Let’s take a look at some of the trends we found in the comments.

Cellphones and Flash Drives Galore


54% noted having their cellphone with them at all times. More than 10% had multiple phones and quite a few readers noted that they no longer carried a flash drive because they could use the large SD card in their phone instead.  Anonymous notes:

Cell phone with a 2GB Micro SD. (My Motorola W490 cell phone itself acts like a thumb drive or in a pinch I can remove the micro-SD and use it with the adapter in my wallet).

28% of you carry a flash drive with a significant majority of readers carrying an array of flash drives for different tasks. Reader Whiskey Tango carries the following USB and Live CD options:

Linux Live USB drive, Linux Live CD for those BIOS’ w/out a USB boot option, 2Gb drive full of every portable app you can imagine to just about anything, a security flash drive with only RKill and Mbam […]

Jon is taking his job as the Keeper of the XP Drivers seriously:

4 flashdrives – one with free apps for security, another with XP drivers, portable apps and live CD Ubuntu Netbook remix

Laptops, Netbooks, and Tablets, Oh My


When it came to bulkier tech, your bags are well loaded. 29% of readers carry a laptop and 10% carry a netbook with a big overlap between people who either carry both (either because of work or because they’ve taken redundancy to a new level).

Speaking of redundancy, many readers carried multiple devices that were capable (but didn’t necessary excel) at the same tasks. Many readers who already had computers or smart phones in their bags also had ebook readers. 10% of you carry an ebook reader which breaks down roughly into a third of the group for the Kindle, the Nook, and Sony ebook readers.

20% of you have a tablet tucked in your bag; 11% carry iPads, 9% carry Android tablets, and 1% carry both.

Peripheral Gear and Goodies


When it comes to accessories, peripheral gear for your big gear, and tools, you guys didn’t skimp. 6% of you carried an Ethernet cable for your on-the-go LAN needs (1% even had a dial-up/fax cable on hand just in case). 5% carried a mobile hotspot like the MiFi so they could logon from all their devices wherever they were.

Tunes help many of you get through the work day. 20% of you carried a dedicated music device (almost exclusively an iPod of some sort) and headphones while many of you simply used your phone or laptop as a media player. Rose noted that her bulky noise canceling headphones were worth every inch of space they took up:

My noise cancelling headphones take up quite a bit of room, but they’re definitely worth it. They also mean people are more likely to realize you can’t hear them as they’re quite obvious instead of someone getting angry because you’re “not listening”.

Photography played a big role, 22% of you carry a dedicated camera of some sort not even counting the cameras on your other devices. 4% of you carry specific accessories for photography like Lady Fitzgerald:

When I travel (in addition to what’s in my purse), I take a Canon SX10 IS camera, tripod, panoramic adapter, two smart battery chargers, 16 more AA eneloops, 16 more AAA eneloops, an external flash for the SX10 IS […]

Many of you carried all manner of tools too. 28% of you carry a screw driver set, 18% carry a knife of some sort, and 1% of you even roll with a soldering iron at the ready. Michael’s ready to make sure crappy soldering jobs don’t stop his work:

Various cables (lengths and types), spare WiFi router, cable tools, screwdrivers, wrenches, solder/gun/sucker (believe it or not, still use these fairly often, due to a design flaw with a locally used machine controller), spare set of reading glasses […]

If you want to check out the specifics of your fellow readers geek bags, hit up the comments from the original Ask the Readers post. Missed the original post but want to share your gear? Let’s hear about it!

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 04/8/11

Comments (17)

  1. rnncdn

    Very informative. One area I am hoping to learn more about is what to “carry” in my software tool bag. one reader commented:

    “Linux Live USB drive, Linux Live CD for those BIOS’ w/out a USB boot option, 2Gb drive full of every portable app you can imagine to just about anything, a security flash drive with only RKill and Mbam […]”

    It would be great for someone to fill in details of ‘every portable app you can imagine’ to help me set up my own bag.

  2. rev0

    i’m not sure but i think he meant :
    there’s alot of portable apps there :)

  3. Kerensky97

    PortableApps plus a SuperTalent 2GB Flash drive (STU2GPCN $10) on a keyring is a must!
    Add TOR and some SSH keys to secure a link back to your home router and you got a good secure travel kit in your pocket at all times.

  4. Charley Rouse :: EntrepreNerd

    Traveling to many different location as a Day-to-Day IT Solution provider means :

    ScotteVest: Highly, Highly Recommended !

    HTC Desire HD
    Diary (Yes I still use a mini paper diary)
    Mobile Wifi Hostspot (USB double connection cable for the HTC)
    Charge (debit) Card
    Business Cards
    Phillips/Flat screwdriver set (pen type to prevent “pocket damage”)
    2 x USB Keys (see below)
    Car/Motorbike Keys + Combined Led Torch and Mini-Magnifying Glass (for reading License and Serial Labels)

    Still have 3 pockets “spare” currently : )

    Backpack: (Wenger Computer Backpack W09389BK)

    11″ Notebook (Dell XPS M1210)
    Notebook Charger

    USB to Harddrive (3.5 & 2.4 IDE and SATA) Kit
    Ant-static Wrist Strap
    Cat 5e Cable(s)
    VGA Cable
    VGA to DIV adapter
    Standard Power Cable
    Double adapter for Power
    Console Cable (CISCO)
    RJ11 Phone Cable
    Battery Tester
    ADSL Line Filter
    Small container with assorted Screws and even Jumpers !

    Driver Packs
    Hirens Boot CD
    Drive Fitness Test
    All Versions XP on on CD
    All Versions Vista on One DVD
    All Version Win 7 on One DVD
    Apple DVD and ToolTech/Diskwarrior
    Ubuntu Live

    USB 1: 16 Gb Utility Kit
    Too many to list !
    Malware Kits
    Ninite Packs

    USB 2 : 8Gb OCZ ATV Drive (Fast!) for quick data transfer

    NT Offline Password Reset

    * 1 x Portable Toolkit
    though the main item used is a Phillips Head jewelers screwdriver
    * Head and Microphone set (Logitech have one with a Hardcase Travel Kit)
    * 500Gb Military Grade USB external Harddrive with Cable
    * Mini USB Mouse
    * USB Rollup Keyboard

    That’s what I carry.. plus the Boot of the NerdMobile has power supply, modems & routers, an LCD screen, etc…

    Plus DropBox, and a File Server at Home with VPN, RDP, Logmein, Tonido and Everything ( as an HTTP/FTP search solution.

    I believe that L.U.C.K = L abouring U nder C orrect K nowledge !

  5. One World

    Hey….you guys forgot to mention Liz with her handcuffs and riding crop!!

  6. Hamburger

    I wonder how many percentage of readers carry a firearm, tazer, pepper spray or some other self defense device.

  7. x3geek

    Even though with large memory card in phone, i carry 2 patriot xporters because of portable apps and any other data that i need to run from the drive. memory cards are optimized for sequentials read/writes so running portable apps off them is painful

  8. GaGator

    It’s hard to imagine getting by without our electronic gadgets, but keep in mind that
    if a genuine natural disaster or ? should occur, there won’t be any wifi, IPS access;
    even electricity & running water may be out.

    It’s easy to provide a few days’ minimums for food, shelter & survival in the trunk
    of your car. And yes, Hamburger, personal protection may be necessary if public
    order is interrupted.

  9. HBLady

    I just sat and read all these comments and I must say,I learned a lot and had a good laugh at some.
    They made my day!!!

  10. Rick S

    Charle Rouse has all the right stuff to repair anything that you could throw at him.
    Judging by the stuff he has in his geekbag I know he is an expert geek. lol.
    Guys like him rescue your info instead of just doing a reinstall.
    Good work Charle.

  11. Olde Geeke

    12 megapixel camera, a USB wireless 802.11 adapter, 25′ UTP cable, cell phone, (4) 249Mb USB drives with various (DOS, Linux, & Win) rescue and restore systems on them, (6) CD’s & DVD’s with the same, (2) SD – UTP card readers, (4) Sd 4Gb cards with Zenwalk Linux on one, plus an 8Gb USB stick drive just for transferring data. One UTP reverse pinout cable for direct communication between computers with N.I.C.’s. A USB to IDE adapter that turns any internal HDD into an external USB drive.
    (1) USB 4-port hub. (1) RGB cable and (1) HDMI cable. (3) various printer cables.

    Now I want the USB dual-sick that is essentially a comm cable without the cable, making data transfer between any two computers as easy as plugginh a USB dongle into each computer.

    Needless to say, I repair computers!

  12. Hamburger

    I agree with GaGator. I have a 72 hour kit in a backpack in each vehicle for ease of carrying and a roadside emergency kit besides that. We threw in a couple of extra MRES in the trunk of each vehicle as well in the case of having extra passengers. Extra water is in there as well which gets cycled out monthly.
    Charle Rouse has a kit that sounds a lot like my toolbag that I carry to clients house for service calls. Its always good to be prepared to do whatever you need onsite.

  13. EvilGus

    @Hamburger & @GaGator

    Don’t forget the tinfoil helmets

  14. Zibeb

    Thankfully, as an IT admin, I don’t need to take my tools anywhere since all my work is in house. Still, I take my laptop, power adapter, wireless mouse, Sony Style MDR-ED12LP earbuds, USB A > Micro cable (for my phone), 32 GB flash drive, Nokia N900, money clip, keys, and a textbook or two. My N900 acts as an MP3 player, Wi-Fi 4G hotspot, Camera, Internet Tablet, Portable Gaming Device, PDA, etc.

  15. Chris

    as per;;;;; Charley Rouse :: EntrepreNerd , I carry most of that stuff as well azs original win xp pro and Home CDs, routers, switches,etc, 500 gig wd usb drive,usb sound cards, pci sound cards, NICs,all of the tools that are required. And if the Job cannot be done onsite I advise customer/client thast it has to be taken away…..
    I have a steel briefcase and two cd folders , plus large plastic trunk/box in my boot, as well as assorted cables.
    Mostly just travel into clients house with briefcase…

  16. rogespeed

    old fashioned reading material or other passive activity – something to do while waiting for a long duration process to finish, better to look like a shirker rather than mentally retarded staring at the wall

  17. Vagablonde

    I feel so 1980’s I dont have or never have owned a cell phone
    Not that having one where I live would do me any good as there is no reception until your 30 miles down the mountain.ok ok I know most are simply horrified by this thought..on the other side it has its advantages..
    I have always carried a camera my hobby..thankfully they have gotten much smaller and lighter

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