What’s in your bag, Chaim Gartenberg?

12-02 22:00

What’s in Your Bag? is a recurring feature where we ask people to tell us a bit more about their everyday gadgets by opening their bags and hearts to us. This week, we’re featuring reporter Chaim Gartenberg.

There are two things you need to know about my life that explain a lot about my bag. One is that I commute roughly an hour to and from work every day. The second is that I like to be prepared for things.

What that translates to is a whole bunch of things to kill time on the subway, and a whole bunch of emergency chargers, headphones, and cables that I lug around with me everywhere — you know, just in case. Sometimes there’s more stuff if I’m traveling farther or have an event to go to, and sometimes there’s less if I forget something charging on my desk, but this is a rough average of what I usually carry around.

Côte & Ciel Coated Techno Canvas Flat Backpack

I got this Côte & Ciel bag from my dad a couple years ago, back when it was in much better condition. It’s big enough to comfortably fit my 15-inch MacBook Pro, and it has two zippers on the side that let it expand to fit more stuff. (They are always expanded; I carry around a lot of crap.)

It doesn’t offer much in the way of internal storage — just two cloth pouches on the front of the laptop pocket — but one of those pouches fits my Switch perfectly and is soft enough that I don’t constantly worry about the screen. The rest of the contents just kind of jumble around in the bottom.

The waxed canvas exterior is pretty good at keeping out most of the rain and crud from the subway floors. And for a touch of color, one of the shoulder straps is bright orange, which is nice.

Objectively speaking, it has probably seen better days.

MacBook Pro

This is my work laptop, a 15-inch, early 2013 MacBook Pro. It has 16GB of RAM, which I still manage to clog up wit dozens of Chrome tabs on a regular basis, but it’s almost impossible for me to imagine working on something less powerful or with a smaller screen at this point.

There are no stickers, because I get terrible sticker anxiety that I’ll waste all my cool ones on a laptop and then break it and lose them all. So mine is just boring plain silver.

Notebook and business cards

I like to keep a notebook and pen handy for taking notes at meetings or interviews, since it feels a lot more personable than hiding behind a laptop screen. I also keep a stack of business cards in my bag, but somehow I never have any when I actually need them.

iPhone X

I recently upgraded to the iPhone X. While I’d have liked to consider looking at some of the Android options around, I’m way too locked into iMessage, iTunes, and the iOS App Store ecosystem to turn back now, so iPhone it is. And as someone who likes cool, shiny gadgets (there’s a reason I work for a gadget blog), the iPhone X was probably inevitable for me.

HTC Stereo Headphones and Lightning dongle

These are my favorite headphones, the crappy pack-in headphones that came with the original HTC One (M7). I’ve written about my love for them before : they cost around $7 and the flat cords never, ever tangle. The pouch holds a second backup pair, for the likely event that the current pair I’m using gets lost or breaks mid-transit. Also stored in the pouch is a bunch of spare tips, for when I lose those. (I lose things a lot.)


I keep a minimum of two battery packs in my bag at all times: a larger 13,000mAh Anker PowerCore , and a smaller 3,350mAh PowerCore+ Mini . I also keep a Lightning cable, USB-C cable, and Micro USB cable so I’m ready to top off or sync literally any gadget I come across. And there’s also one of Apple’s 12W USB chargers in the event that I need to charge something directly from a wall (or recharge the battery packs).

Sunglasses and stuff

Contrary to what that case says, those aren’t Ray-Bans. They’re cheap, $20 prescription sunglasses I bought from Zenni Optical, but I like the Ray-Ban case. As someone who likes seeing but hates wearing contact lenses, I cannot recommend prescription shades enough.

The SIM ejector tool is useful to keep around in the event I need to swap my SIM out, or poke a hard-to-reach physical reset button. I used to keep this on my keyring, but it kept stabbing through my pants, so it was relegated to the depths of my bag.

I try (to varying degrees of success) to go to the gym a few times a week, which is why I keep a lock in my bag. The day we shot this was not a gym day, but there’s usually a plastic bag of shorts and a T-shirt and a water bottle crammed in here, too.

Sony RX100 MKII and SD cards

For day-to-day photography, I generally stick to my iPhone, but if I’m trying to take a nicer shot (especially in product briefings), I like to use my Sony RX100 MKII. It’s not the best camera, but I’m also not the best photographer, so that works out well. The microSD card adapter and card double as a backup SD card in a pinch, and I keep it all in a microfiber bag that probably isn’t the safest way to carry it around, but the camera still works.

Kindle Voyage and leather case

I like to read a lot, and while I generally prefer real paper books to digital ones, I can fit an entire library on my Kindle. The Voyage also fits perfectly in the back pocket of my jeans, which makes it incredibly convenient to use on crowded trains. The leather case is to protect the screen from, well, me. It is in bad shape, but the screen is fine, so I guess it works?

Nintendo Switch

The Switch is the single biggest reason I read less on the subway these days, and that’s just because it’s just so good as a portable console. Squeezing in a couple of minutes of Zelda or Mario on the subway crammed up against a wall is a great way to relax on a delayed train home, to the point where I’ve probably played more Switch games underground than on my actual TV.

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