Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My new Bag

So, I decided to so a little building the other day. One of the things I really enjoy about my time as a firefighter and a security officer was the ability to “kit out”, to put all sorts of cool stuff on my person. By the time I was done with my nearly thee year stint as a security guard, I had a really nice mid-range kit for a belt, first air kit, gloves, baton, sidearm, cell phone… like I said… really nice, and it looked sharp too.

Well, this time, I took a lot of that philosophy and applied it to my new life as a commuting computer tech for Dell computers. Granted, in terms of risk, there isn't a   lot of overlap in what I faced as a security guard or a firefighter and what I face now. Still, preparedness is not something one just casts aside.

First of all, I wanted to show you a video. This guy has a ton of stuff on YouTube, and I've probably seen a lot of it, but not most. This video, entitled “bug out bag” is a really good starting point for me in this conversation. Now, let me be clear, I am not building a bug out bag, and I don’t want to. But the logic and the mechanics he puts into this are applicable to other, more “every day” situations.

Again, I'm not trying to copy this, or suggest that anyone else should. But the philosophy of "What do I need for what?" and "What might I need?" is very sound.

A good personal case in point; just the other day I was stuck in Oklahoma city with a flat Tire. Aside from being half an hour late to dinner with friends because of having to put on the spare, I was stuck down there overnight because the tire place didn't have my size tires, and I know far, far better than to put 120 miles (60 home and 60 back to work) on a donut  Since I wouldn't be going home, I had to swing by Wal-Mart and get essentials, just getting underwear, a T-shirt, deodorant and socks was close to $20 by itself.

Now, add to this the fact that I was also wanting to start walking again during my lunch breaks at work. Originally, I took a small bag with a change of clothes, towel and some toiletries. Then, when lunch rolled around, I would grab the bag, walk to the locker room change, take my walk, come back, shower, and then get back to my desk. Add to that the fact that the locker room is about 7 minutes from my desk, and you have a pretty tight hour there. What I wanted to do was have something that I could just grab at my desk, walk, and then come back to the locker rooms and shower.

This is really important for me now, because one of the byproducts of my recent fight with (and victory over) cancer was that I put on some substantial weight, and need to up my activity level so I can get back down to a healthier weight.

The Outdoor products Sports bag.
The back:. 

So, let start with the bag itself; I got an Outdoor Products bag from Wal-Mart. $20.00s, and it even came with a water bottle. The construction looks solid, and I liked the fit. I don’t envision this lasting me years, but it is lasts 24 months I think it will have paid for itself.

The cup (with extra straw)

Now, on to the water bottle, its’ actually pretty cool. Aluminum and plastic, I think it’s about 30oz size. And it even came with an extra straw. All together not bad. I drink out of it at work all the time, and so long as I don't want to put anything hot in it, I should be fine. 

Cell phone/MP3 player holder. 

On, and that little black cell phone case; it didn't come with the bag. I salvaged it off my old laptop bag, its durable as hell, and secures right on the strap like it belongs there. This is actually cool because I like to listen to audiobooks (or Podiobooks) sometimes. 

Drinks pocket

The open mesh pockets on the side hold the water bottle, and whatever else I want. On one side I keep my drink packets and the extra straw. I’m debating expanding my selection a little, maybe even stocking some food there… any suggestions?

"Cool stuff" pocket

The other side is my “cool stuff” pocket. The thumb drives are just useful, and the cord you see there is good for charging my Kindle and my cell phone, from a wall outlet or a computer. So I’m really happy with it. The USB cord there is for my (somewhat old) MP3 player. I used to wear my Leatherman on my belt, and still do at times, but with me in an office chair now, this is actually more comfortable.

Again, I’m thinking of adding to that pocket. They make little “survival” kits all the time, and I’m thinking of looking into those and either getting one or copying it. Nothing too major, but matches, a sewing kit… useful stuff  if I'm ever stuck away from home a few days.

Now, before we get into the back pocket, let me just say I collected most of this stuff while I was dealing with cancer. Chemo screws with your body enough (at least in my case) that you need to be able to take care of even minor cuts quickly, Trust me, they don’t heal on their own some times.
Back pocket
These are the extras left over from my little personal “micro-trauma” kit. The Ziploc is for modularity and to keep them dry.

All told, it’s actually some really useful stuff, but all basic. The syringes on the left are not hypodermic. They are topic, doses of Phenergan gel, a potent anti-nausea drug that save my hide more than a few times when I was on chemo.

The actual “first aid kit” was a Wal-Mart number, but I added a few things. Most notably are the scissors, those are surgical tools I got a hold of; sharp as a razor and tough as steel.  The rest is self-explanatory. I don’t go into the kit that much, but it’s nice to have it on hand, good piece of mind.

Topical Antibiotic
Yeah… this I keep separate and available. I've had too many infected cuts in my life to forget how much an cut hurts when you let it sit all night and build up an infected mass. Never again, I tell you!

I liked the main compartment here because it wasn't segmented out; just one big space for stuff, and lots of stuff at that.

Main pocket... Lots of space.
“What’s with the Ziplocs?” you ask. Well, they are actually serving two purposes. First, they are protecting my backup clothes. If I’m out in the rain, or if something spills on the bag or whatever, I’m not up a creek. Also, cloth likes to compress, but it also likes to expand again. Those bags keep the volume under control in a really good way.

Case in point. Those two bags pack down really small, but what you’re looking at here is a decent “around the house” outfit If I’m at some one else’s home. I wouldn't want to do a job interview in that, but at least I have a fresh outfit that protects  my modesty.

Toiletries. Simple stuff, really, but enough to mean the difference between “just making it” and being presentable at work the next morning. Now that I am growing my hair out again, I’ll probably need a small bottle of shampoo in the next month or two, and a shaving kit as well.

Oh! One last pocket.  Right now, that is actually kept clear of stuff. But again, if I’m at work and in my office chair, I can drop my keys in there, or some loose change. Also, when I’m showering I tend to empty my pockets into it as a middle point between old pants and new ones. Its not huge, but it will hold everything in all of my pockets, so I am not complaining.

As for the remaining volume, that’s what I call "working space". Right now I can fit another clean set of whites, a fresh shirt and a large towel in there without maxing it out. This is perfect for a change after my walks. If I were going somewhere else, I image I could fit a lot in there lunch, my camera, some books… whatever. Like I said, its not a small space.

And as for comfort, I’m really not complain. I wear it for my walks, and walk about 1.3 miles each day and it isn't unpleasant to wear, even loaded down. I guess mine weighs in at about 15 pounds with everything in it.  I didn't get everything at once... but I think everything in there (less the clothes) probably adds up to $100, give or take. But that list was cobbled together over a few years too. 

As for the whole thing, it’s still a work in progress, and will change as my life changes. I’m thinking about finding someone with a vacuum sealer and putting the chance in clothes into  one of those bags. Iit could probably cut the volume down by a third if I did that. Like I said, I’m also thinking about a small ‘survival kit” for one of the pockets, just for piece of mind. And I definitely want to take that drink pouch and maybe make it into a little micro eatery/snack bar.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Feedback?

1 comment:

  1. As for eatery, I would suggest maybe some breakfast bars, nuts, or dry cereal. Any of these things would likely last a while if you found yourself not snacking on them!