Why Do We Care What People Carry
For years, I have been very keen on exploring what people consider essential for work, play, and otherwise living life. I tend to believe that most people can learn a whole lot by watching what others us to accomplish great things. This can be as simple as a set of small tools or as complex as the toolset that a specialized engineer would carry to investigate a sophisticated piece of equipment in the field. What someone prioritizes on their person or carry bags can teach you a lot about their workflow and approaches to solving problems.
This post is about what I carry to solve problems or do things on a daily basis. This isn’t everything I would ever carry or need for every situation, and I regularly swap in and out items that will help me if I need to do something specific. I hope to capture my must-haves more than my edge case needs, and I hope this post can stay updated as I change what matters most as the years click by.
Maybe I will do deep dives into some of my personal digital workflows in further posts, because I think that matters even more than the physical objects I use, but that is a subject that will take me some time to really write down, so let’s just focus on what I use on a daily basis for now.
Front Right Pocket
I have carried a pocket knife since I turned eighteen. I typically rotate between four Benchmade models, all with their own purpose.
This knife remains my all-time favorite pocket knife. It is based on the Benchmade 705, which was one of the first AXIS lock designs. I first saw one when I was a teenager and wanted it so badly, but it was way too expensive for me to buy. For my 29th birthday, a collector reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to purchase a 706-02 for just over retail since he knew I had been looking for one for many years, and I immediately purchased it.
This knife is #29 out of a claimed “less than 75” made. There is some history with this knife, with a now-lost thread on a Benchmade forum claiming that many of these were destroyed by Australian customs when they were seized while being imported. I don’t know how true that is, but this is a truly rare and exquisite knife.
The blade is small at only 2.9", but the shape, with it’s crowned spine, and steel (S30V) makes for a fantastic knife for most daily cutting tasks. The scales are made of titanium with a ∞-like symbol milled into the scales and anodized in a beautiful shade of blue. A blue topaz gemstone is set in white gold on the left, or presentation, scale. Rounding out the design is a Damascus steel backspacer.
This knife has to be seen to be appreciated, and I like it so much I also own #42, which I paid an almost comically high price to own, and I plan to keep this in display condition while I daily carry #29. It is the perfect piece of pocket jewelry that won’t scare anyone and looks incredible.
This is a rare version of the 710, with an M390 blade and a crowned spine. I tend to think of this as the “big brother” to my 706-02. It has a slight recurve which can make it tedious to sharpen, but I find that M390 holds an edge for quite some time and it is not a burden to touch up every few weeks.
I also have a very old prototype 710 but it is in pretty bad shape, so I picked up this limited edition model to carry and use. It remains one of my favorite “large” knives, with a 3.9" blade. I tend to carry it when I am not in a professional setting as it can be intimidating to use around others.
One of my newest knives, I purchased this model on a whim because I absolutely love my carbon fiber 940-1, and always wished I could have a titanium version with the same blade and blade steel.
A limited run of only 2000 made, it’s not too rare that I don’t feel comfortable carrying it, but rare enough that it feels special. I have #1682, and have lightly modified it, preferring some blurple standoffs and thumbstuds to the original bright red pieces. The S90V blade takes a keen edge, and keeps it for a very long time. This is my least favorite knife to sharpen, however.
Not much to say about this knife, it’s a classic, classy, and cuts extremely well. I tend to carry this interchangeably with my 706-02 in the office or around town.
A very similar knife to the above 940-2001, I purchased this 940-1601 on a whim. It’s a Cabela’s exclusive limited edition of the 940 with D2 steel. The wood bolsters and carbon fiber scales are very classy and unique, but I do find myself being more careful with this knife due to documented cases of the wood bolsters cracking under harder use.
These are game changers, in my opinion. I am particularly diligent about wearing my sunglasses outside, as I am very light sensitive. After destroying several nice pairs of regular sunglasses via either scratching them or sitting on them, I decided to investigate some more durable options.
I came across Roav sunglasses on a Reddit thread while researching stylish portable sunglasses, and was instantly sold on the concept. With polarized lenses and a unique design, these sunglasses fold into a very compact shape into their own rubberized carrying case, about the size of a floss container. The sunglasses themselves are extremely thin, with a pretty genius hinge design that allows for twisting/crushing forces while remaining intact and unbent.
I like these so much I bought a second pair to give to my partner. They are effortless to carry with you in a pocket and are comfortable and adjustable to fit any head shape. I cannot recommend these sunglasses enough.
Front Left Pocket
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
I have used a Samsung Galaxy Note since inception of the original Galaxy Note (back when people still cracked jokes about phones with huge screens) until the Note 20 Ultra. With the release of the S22 Ultra, I decided to upgrade my Note 20 Ultra and pass it on to a family member and see if the S22 Ultra could claim the title of the Note.
It is functionally identical to my Note 20 Ultra in day to day use. I don’t have a bunch to say other than the fact that I really appreciate the display and cameras, and the battery life is on par with what I would expect, easily getting me a day to two days of usage without any charging.
Right Rear Pocket
Waterfield Clyff Minimalist Wallet
I used to prefer to carry bifold wallets, and used a leather bifold I was given as a gift for nearly 10 years before it was stolen from me at a grocery store in January 2020. I went on a search for a replacement and stumbled upon the Waterfield Clyff, which is a small card-carrying style minimal wallet.
I was interested in trying a wallet like this because as time has marched on, I found myself carrying cash rarely, and keeping physical receipts even more seldomly. I tend to carry two payment cards, one for my main checking account and one for our joint checking account which we use for household expenses. Additionally, at the time, I needed to carry a physical transit card for the Bay Area public transit. The Clipper services now work via NFT payment systems, but I do still need to carry my office keycard for the rare occasion that I go into the office these days.
I found that I didn’t really miss my old bifold wallet, and it was much more comfortable. It looks absolutely stunning, with extremely high quality full grain leather and subdued stitching holding the layers together. It has been through accidental soaks in the pool and rainstorms and looks brand new to this day.
I have several Waterfield bags (including one I’ll feature later in this post.) so I knew that I could trust the quality of the Clyff wallet. I am certainly glad I gave it a try. If I needed to make the decision to get a new wallet today, I would feel confident in buying another Clyff.
Left Rear Pocket
Lynch Northwest All Access Pass 1.5
I bought a pocket prybar a few years ago, and I really like having it available. I wish I could say I had a good reason to buy this thing, but in truth I bought it because of its beautiful anodization and the milled feather design.
I use this thing all the time. I use it to scrape stickers off, I use it to open bottles, pry up on something that I am working on on my bike or a piece of furniture, et cetera. I use it for everything I would rather not abuse my knife blade to accomplish the task, and it just looks great.
Sadly, I found out after purchasing this tool that the creator is anti-choice, deigning to use the funds from these tools to donate to groups wishing to remove women’s bodily autonomy from their control. I really regret ever giving Casey Lynch a dollar of my hard earned money, and I don’t recommend anyone else purchase anything from him either. Buy a cheap clone of this tool, and vote with your wallet.
They’re keys, that’s really all I can say about this. I have my YubiKey for multi-factor authentication on my keyring, and on a small locking S-hook I keep my locking skewer key for my bikes’ wheel locks.
Waterfield Field Muzetto
I have owned this bag since Waterfield released it as a “budget” option for their regular Muzetto in 2016. With thick, well made waxed canvas and full grain leather it feels and looks high-end and fits well with most attire and in most settings. It fits my 13" MacBook Air perfectly in its rear pocket, a tablet in the central cavity, and all the cables and peripherals I could need throughout any day of work or around the city.
The main compartment of the bag, with its bright orange Cordura liner, conceals a zippered pocket with some organizational features and pockets. I carry my portable SSD, cables, my laptop charger, and another USB-C charger in this pocket, and any various peripherals such as a mouse/trackpad or SD cards.
In the felt lined front pouch, there is a pocket for a phone, and another large open pocket for a notebook, e-reader, or other smaller objects like earbuds. The phone pocket fits even my S22 Ultra very well, and it is also designed to fit a United States passport which is what I use it for while traveling. I tend to keep my Kindle Oasis in the larger compartment for quick reading sessions while out and about.
I had wanted a Waterfield bag for many years, but the real reason I decided to purchase this bag is that these bags are all sewn, by hand, right here in my neighborhood. I was actually able to stop by Waterfield on Third Street in San Francisco (a 10 minute bike ride from our home) and even meet the people who made my bag. Waterfield takes care of their employees and the owner, Gary, is a responsive and kind person who will personally answer your emails and takes pride in what he and his team produce.
I have slightly modified the bag, deciding to remove the sewn on shoulder strap that originally came with my early Field Muzetto. I instead purchased a strap from Waterfield with swivel clasps and a shoulder pad to use with this bag, and it has been my absolute favorite daily bag since. It has flown tens of thousands of miles with me, and probably an equal amount of miles just walking throughout San Francisco.
Inside the Bag
There are some main objects that always stay in this bag even while at home. I won’t cover every piece of equipment I might carry to work or for a day out of the house, but I’ll try to cover the main pieces of gear that will always be in this bag if I am carrying it around
2020 Apple MacBook Air
I bought this out of necessity. My partner’s 12" MacBook that I had given her some years ago when I bought my 2017 MacBook Pro had finally died. The singular USB-C port had died which meant we couldn’t charge nor secure the data on her laptop apart from using network backups, and we needed a replacement pronto.
I went up to the SF Apple store fully intending to buy a 14" MacBook Pro to replace my laptop, but not only did they not have the specific model I wanted with expanded storage, they had no 14" MacBook Pros at all. The models with the amount of storage I needed were backordered for months.
This threw a major wrench in my plans, but the store did have an upgraded M1 MacBook Air with 1TB of storage, and the upgraded M1 processor. I purchased it on the spot and managed to migrate my partner’s data to my old MacBook Pro and save the day, and I learned to really enjoy the MacBook Air.
The biggest shock to me when I upgraded to this laptop is the battery life. Off a full charge, I have managed to work two consecutive workdays without plugging in a charger even once. It is truly astonishing how well this computer manages power usage. Secondly, it is silent. Fanless design is one of the main reason I bought my 12" MacBook years ago, and where the 12" model failed at thermal management, the M1 MacBook Air remains as cool as it is silent. It is a marvel of computer engineering in my opinion, and I cannot wait to see what is possible in the second generation of the Apple-made ARM processors. It is also very fast for daily usage, and quite a bit fast for most tasks than my i7 Intel-based MacBook Pro that it replaced.
I don’t really plan to keep this notebook for very long, as I am waiting to see what the next generation MacBook Air and MacBook Pro bring to the table this year, but I wouldn’t really jump to buy something new unless the M2 MacBooks are fundamentally game changing devices. The M1 MacBook Air is more than almost anyone without very specific requirements would ever need as it stands.
2TB Samsung T7 Touch SSD
This is my main data repository for storing large files like drone video, GoPro video from bike rides/tours, and other large files that I don’t need on my laptop at all times. I don’t like to store anything except what I am actively working on directly on the laptop if I can avoid it, mostly due to the fact that if anything ever happens to my laptop, my chances of data recovery are slim to none.
The drive itself is fast, slim, and the addition of a biometric sensor for decrypting the drive is a nice and quick touch that works without any software installed on the system using it. It can back up my MacBook in just a few minutes, and I keep a separate storage partition which is compatible with Macs, Android devices, and Linux/Windows PCs.
Samsung 10000mAh Wireless Fast Charge Battery
I got this for free with my Note 20 Ultra, and I mostly overlook the downsides of this portable battery. It can’t charge a device via the USB-C port on the battery (you must use the USB-A ports) which is extremely wack. It has Qi Fast Charge wireless charging built in, which is nice in a pinch though it will not charge my Galaxy Watch which is also wack.
For what it lacks, it is a solid, sturdy, and helpful tool to have with me. I was stuck with only this battery, a nearly-dead phone, and no other charger for 12+ hours during an emergency veterinarian visit a few months ago, and it kept me charging and in contact, which is what I want in a portable power supply.
Kindle Oasis 4G
In 2020, as the COVID19 pandemic gripped the entire world, I purchased my first new e-reader since 2010: my Kindle Oasis. I figured that if I were going to be staying home the vast majority of the time, I should invest my time in some more rewarding pastimes. This piece of technology quickly became my most treasured possessions, and the ease of use and ergonomic benefits of being able to keep a venerable library of books in a light packages allowed me to read nearly 60 books in 2020, and a similar number of books in 2021.
With the 4G connectivity, I am able to grab a new book or the morning newspaper while I am out bike camping, or standing in line at the store, or just enjoying myself in the park.
It’s tough, easy to read, and the battery life is more than enough for my usage. I tend to charge my Kindle once every 2-3 weeks depending on how much I read in the dark. With its warm lighting that can adapt to the sunrise and sunset, I rarely feel any eye fatigue and it has really helped me to read more consistently and read many books for pleasure and for my profession that I had been putting off for far too long.
Over time, I have spent a lot of time and money to iterate on what I use most often. It’s a constantly moving target to nail down what I feel I need on my person to respond to anything that might come up day-to-day.
I hope this has been helpful to anyone who may have found this post. It certainly became more dense than I initially wanted this post to be, but I found that through the process of examining every single object in my orbit that I was able to really evaluate my tools and workflow and gain a little more insight into my own process than I had considered before writing this.