What’s in Your Duffel Bag?

Since Dom asked, I’ll pull a Thomas Pynchon and write out some big honking lists of stuff to serve as characterization.

I had two bags at Orycon that were almost always with me. This might seem like a ridiculous amount of stuff for a weekend trip (and this doesn’t include the suitcase with clothes) but I was trying to be ready to be simultaneously well-prepared program participant and panelist; freelance interviewer/audio guy podcaster; and SF fan having a good time amongst his peeps. I might amend this list a little if I find new stuff unpacking.

First, the backpack:

14″ iBook (my main laptop for the last 2.5 years)
OEM charger for same
Cheap multi-card reader (essential for managing the CF cards I use in the Marantz)
Multi-USB cable, the kind with swappable plugs
iBook to VGA adapter
mobiBLU cube
USB cable for mobiBLU
spare in ear headphones
several SD cards
Kodak EZ Share digital camera
CVS Camcorder
Books (the Andelman biography of Will Eisner and a recent Bruce Sterling)
New issue of MAKE Magazine
Altoids (essential for interviewing people all day without grossing them out)
Seemingly non-working Lexar MP3 player
Miscellaneous bric-a-brac that has accreted in the bottom of the pack, paper clips and bits of crap

Next, the duffel bag:

Marantz PMD670 and shoulder strap
Charger for Marantz
Marantz AA battery adapter (8 required) for emergencies
3 Audio-Technica ATS35s lavalier microphones
2 1/4″ stereo to XLR adapters (required for the lavs)
2 12′ XLR mic cables
1 Radio Shack snowcone mic (same model I use in the regular podcast)
1 homemade mic cube
1 set of big over the ear headphones that are almost too broken to fit on the human head anymore
Assorted business card, pens and office supplies

I had considered and then abandoned a plan where I’d do the interviews with the snowcone mic for the interviewees and wear a lavalier mic for myself. I decided against that because then we might get weird sound differences between the two. Besides, by using the one mic and moving it back and forth, I could use DLR mono on my Marantz where it records two tracks, one regular and one attenuated by 20 dB. This way, if the regular channel gets overloaded and clips, you can use the other channel for that portion. Fiendish!

Overall it all worked and wasn’t that bulky to carry around. Switching from mic situation, which was lav for sit down interviews, snowcone for walking around, and internal condensor mic for panels, was the biggest drag. That, and continuously untangling cables despite having velcro cable wraps that should have kept it all together.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father.

9 thoughts on “What’s in Your Duffel Bag?”

  1. Wow Dave. A name check and a whole post. Wasn’t expecting that. Cheers for that anyway. Was very interesting.
    I sometimes think I’m stupid for carrying around some of the stuff I do, usb thumb drives, usb charger for phone, pda sync cable, so its reassuring to know others do too.

    Its cool you’re still using an iBook after so long. I always worry about my Powerbook getting damaged when travelling so I’m looking for a dirt cheap iBook to get.
    Are you running Mac OS on that or did you put a linux distro on instead. I guess you’re still running ubuntu on your work laptop or have you tried Fedora Core 5 or 6 again?
    You could do with some sort of plastic compartmented storage thingy for all your cables.
    I saw a cool idea on Flickr of using a plastic door shoe rack for storing all this guys cables and gagdets.

  2. Dom, it might be on the high end of stuff but it works for me. I do have a tacklebox that I use for the audio bits, but I’ve decided to stop carrying it on planes. It is just big and bulky enough to be a pain in the ass. For this, I opted not to bring all the various adapters since I have only once device to hook to. Keeping it all organized and accessible while on the road is an ongoing challenge.

    As for the iBook – the standard is not if what else is available is better but if what I have isn’t meeting my needs. As long as it is, I’m not in a hurry to upgrade.

  3. Dorothy, thanks to you for your interest and kindness. I think I’m set on gadgets for the indefinite future. I’m working on going ever lower tech and getting the use out of the tools I have. Happy holidays right back at you!

  4. Dom, I missed answering your OS questions. I’m running 10.3.9 on my iBook, never bothered to upgrade to Tiger. The work laptop is on Ubuntu 6.0.6. The old Thinkpad at home I had installed Ubuntu on, and I did the new distribution upgrade to 6.10 and it seemed to work just fine. In situations where I’m worried the iBook might get stolen or broken, then the Thinkpad is what I’d use. It’s 6 years old and that this point is essentially disposable.

  5. Thanks Ken, same to you. Bear in mind that this was specific to the convention. I’d be carrying way less than half of this on an ordinary type day. Being in an interview situation is what adds a lot of the necessary gear.

  6. LOL…note that the funny thing is that both of us can look at that list, and think “ok…way less than half of that. Not too bad at all for a normal day.”

    You should see me at DragonCon. All that sorta crap, and board games to boot. When I’m full-on (same thing, duffel and backpack), it’s da bomb.

    Hey. You never know what you’re gonna need…

  7. I’m with you, brother. It feels ridiculous to carry all that crap, and then you need something that you thought about bringing and you ain’t got it. That happened to me all the time during the days of the live radio remotes at Dragon*Con. I’d be trying to hook up something, and would need the one adapter I didn’t bring.

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