Our Portable Culture Portrait blog series features TOM BIHN Forum members, the bags they carry, and the items they carry in their bags. It’s inspired by our Portable Culture tagline. This edition features Forum member ceepee. The previous editions featured Forum members sea_otter3, NWHikerGal, widepipe, Rocks, JonC, cdh, Badger, haraya, imahawki, Amy, Perseffect, jujigatame and bchaplin.
What’s the most useful item that you carry?
I would have to say my phone just because it is the single most used item I own. It has a place in my Side Kick but is rarely put away.
By far the most used app is Messages (2.7 hours in the past 24 hours, apparently). But it’s also my planner, notebook, reference library (Internet), eReader, music player, camera, photo album, financial planner, it gets me outside most days (PokémonGo) and I can even use it to pay for my shopping ...... on very rare occasions I have been known to use it as an actual phone :)
I also never go anywhere without a flashlight, even in summer. It’s a well know fact that any dropped item will gravitate towards the darkest area in any given space.
Since my phone is also my camera, here’s a photo of my second most useful item instead ..... I attached a tritium fob to it so I can find it in the dark.
What’s your most treasured item?
I once spent several days scanning several shoeboxes full of photographs, before disposing of them to free up space. It wasn’t long after that I managed to completely lose them from my computer ...... no back-up! Years of ‘memories’ completely gone! However, despite the initial tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth, it occurred to me that I didn’t really look at them that often anyway. I subsequently realised that nothing (as in noTHING) is really indispensable. Whilst I certainly have things that I am very grateful for or that are really useful, I can’t think of one item that I would feel truly devastated about if I lost it or that I value significantly above anything else.
Although .... I’d be quite miffed if I lost my phone.
I’m also partial to having the odd tchotchke hanging from my bag, usually small fluffy critters, often a gift or souvenir from somewhere recently visited. These are probably the closest I get to items carried for purely sentimental reasons.
My Side Kick is currently sporting Fluffy the unicorn and an Ankh Morpork City Watch shield.
Which item do you use more often than you thought you would?
Probably my passport. For a few years, when I was young(-ish), free and single my work required (and paid for) me to travel and it was Fun! For some reason, as I got older I developed an aversion to flying, which eventually turned into a phobia. It was so bad, I bought a car so that I could drive home (to the UK) from my posting in Naples, Italy, rather than fly!
So, it’s quite surprising just how often I’ve found myself bimbling off to Gatwick Airport during the past two and a half years. Thanks, in no small part, to the TOM BIHN forum which introduced me to the friends that I had to initially overcome my phobia in order to visit.
I will also chip in here about the Moveable Feast. I was loaned one to try shortly after they debuted, I was a little skeptical. So, I was very surprised that my partner, who does most of the weekly shopping, made it his shop bag of choice ...... every trip, without fail. It has to be the single, most used Tom Bihn bag that we have ever owned. Sorry Ilkyway, it’s probably not coming back.
The only Tom Bihn bag my partner consistently remembers the name of!
What's in your bag?
Currently, my main EDC bag is the Side Kick. When the weather was nicer, and I would spend afternoons in the local parks or wandering along the River Thames, it was my Brain Bag. For air travel I will switch to my Synapse 19 (it fits under the seats easily and so eliminates some of the anxiety associated with flying budget airlines; namely the scrum for overhead space). When I’m traveling by car, I’ll also take my Mini Yeoman for extra rummage space. I’m looking forward to the arrival of my Travel Cubelet and expect that these bags will cover me for all future eventualities. It’s taken a lot of trial and error (and eBay listings!) to get to this point though.
The Fantastic Four.
My basic EDC consists of:
- Hand wipes
- Notebook & pen
- Battery pack
- Food (flapjack, cereal bar or other, non-melty, snack)
- Eating implements
- Packable bag (tote or backpack depending on what the bag of the day is)
- Essentials Kit: Plasters (BandAids), antiseptic wipe, pain relief pills, lip balm, nail clippers, tweezers, Victorinox Swiss Card, sewing kit.
All packed up.
Everything bar my phone.
If my plans for the day warrant it, I will switch the Side Kick out in favour of the Brain Bag and add the following items:
- Water bottle
- Extra snacks
- Extra layer of clothing
- Waterproof jacket
- Folding cup (for takeout coffee)
- Matador picnic blanket
- Handkerchief/screen cloth
- iPad Pro, Pencil and Smart Keyboard
- Aid Kit: basically an extended ‘Essentials Kit’ with a few extras like wired ear buds, extra cables plus adaptors, AA batteries and extra first aid stuff like Neosporin and bandages.
This doesn’t even come close to filling the Brain Bag. But the side compression straps allow me to keep everything cinched up nice and tight for a comfortable carry.
For traveling I’ll add the following to my usual EDC items. These fit in the outer pockets of my Synapse 19, leaving the main compartment empty. If I’m not taking my Yeoman, the main compartment is where my clothes fit. I should mention that I generally stay where toiletries and towels are provided:
- Toiletry kit (if I’m flying I’ll opt for solid toiletries over liquid)
- Charging kit
- Folding water bottle (replaces my usual stainless steel insulated bottle)
- Passport (if required)
Small Q-Kits make excellent places to stash a mini toiletry or tech kit, and they fit nicely in the side pockets of the Synapse.
In conjunction with the battery pack I carry all the time, the MU International folding travel plug and micro-USB cable is all I need to charge any tech I travel with. It fits easily in a small Q-Kit along with a spare AA battery or two for my flashlight.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I left the Royal Navy a little over 3 years ago and we moved to Abingdon (just outside of Oxford) so that my partner (of 17 years) would no longer have to commute between here and Portsmouth every day. I’m originally from a small town just south of Nottingham, where my family still lives.
After 22 years in the military, I left with no idea of what I wanted to do next. So, I’m currently calling myself ‘retired’.
I spend a lot of time reading, most recently I’ve been enjoying, and feeling very motivated by books on minimalism and downsizing. I also like to travel (actually, it would be more accurate to say that I like to ‘arrive’, the actual traveling part is not so thrilling).
I discovered TOM BIHN whilst searching for for a way to carry my (original) iPad, the first bag I bought was the original Cordura Ristretto.