Small Backpacks, How to Pick

Why everyone should start looking at smaller backpacks, not larger backpacks.

I really like smaller backpacks (sub-18L) for a couple of reasons:

  1. They are less cumbersome to tote with you, and when it is hot they don’t cause as much coverage on your back, which in turn keeps you cooler.
  2. They force you to carry less, which means a lighter bag, and a happier outing. Carrying too much is a disease, next thing you know you’ll be saving all your files to your desktop.

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  • A Tale of Three Tablets

    Strengths and weaknesses.

    Picture for a moment the three leading tablets on a desk. On the left you have an iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard and a Pencil beside it, next you have a Surface Go, or Pro doesn’t matter, with a Type Cover and Pen, then at the right a Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 with the SPen and associated keyboard cover. They represent the state of the art of tablets made to replace laptops, or more generally “the future of computers”.

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  • The Gerber Dime

    An ok low cost multi-tool with an awesome package opener.

    Among the Everyday Carry (EDC) community there’s one stand out of multi-tools which everyone seems to own: Gerber’s Dime. Now, before you read any further we need to talk about the price of this little multi-tool because it is an absurd $16 on Amazon at the time of writing. So when it comes to things I talk about on this site, it would be hard to say this is not among the most affordable.

    But the Gerber Dime is also a very odd multi-tool. For one, it’s not super high quality, it’s not a piece of shit, but it’s not going to last a life time. It’s also tiny, to the point where it will be smaller than anything you think when you get it — taking up about as much volume as AirPods will.

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  • An iPad Future

    Last week I chatted with Tim Bradshaw of the Financial Times about the iPad, and more specifically how I use it as my only device and a bit of prognosticating about why more don’t use it. The article, if you can’t read it, gives a good overview of where things are. Of course, reading it, […]

    Last week I chatted with Tim Bradshaw of the Financial Times about the iPad, and more specifically how I use it as my only device and a bit of prognosticating about why more don’t use it. The article, if you can’t read it, gives a good overview of where things are. Of course, reading it, I have many more thoughts I’d like to expand on, so here we are.

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  • Adventures in productivity, notes, habit, and stuff like that

    The log of failure.

    A couple of weeks ago I talked about a shift in the way I am working on my productivity tools. For those who missed it, the crux was that I no longer felt like my systems were helping me to get things done. I love Things, but some how it had become a database of stress, instead of the normal tool it had been for keeping stress at bay.

    I turned to my buddy Shawn Blanc, and asked him explain his digital-analog system to me. After talking to him I bought a large Baron Fig Confidant, a little ruler from them (why not?) and set out to give this system a go. I also decided that I need to go back to a standard wake up time.

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  • GORUCK Price Increase — Some Thoughts

    My thoughts on GORUCK price increases and whether the GR1 is still “worth” it.

    It’s September, which means that on average the price of everything GORUCK sells is now 20-30% more expensive than it was last month. This is the first time a lot of the GORUCK stuff is going up in price, notably the GR1 and GR2. Because of this a lot of people have been asking for my thoughts.

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  • GORUCK Bag Organization Guide

    Way too many words on all the organization tools I have found for use in GORUCK bags.

    Note: this is a guide and thus much longer than most posts. Some gear in here was provided as review items, others were bought with my own money. See individual gear reviews on each to know which is which.

    One of the biggest knocks against my firm stance that there exists no better backpack than the GORUCK GR1 is: “but GORUCK bags have no organization at all and it is so terrible that one should not even consider them.” For those who have emailed, DMed, and tweeted me something along those lines, you likely received a very unsatisfactory answer: ’that’s what makes them great, they are a blank canvas for you to make them whatever you want.’ This is unsatifying because I don’t actually give any advice on how to make them what you want.

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  • Intention and Digital Tools

    Intentional software and intentional usage.

    I talk to a lot of people who often say a couple of things to me with regards to their smartphone/computer usage:

    1. I probably use it way too much.
    2. I really don’t think I am not that bad, so I don’t really need to curb my usage.

    Most people say both, roughly in that order. I’m guilty too. It seems that in society today, people with data plans and smartphones recognize that they likely use these devices far too much. But by the same token, the usage they deem to be too much is excused away by saying it is necessary for any number of reasons. Thus, at the end of the day, no one actually thinks they should curb their usage of devices because, well, they have really gotten rid of everything nasty in their own usage.

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  • SureFire E1B-MV Backup

    A new favorite light comes from an unexpected brand.

    I ran into a small issue a few months ago. While going through TSA in Seattle my bag was flagged for additional screening. It was the first time in quite a while that I had this happen, so I was really curious as to what it was that set it off. Luckily, the TSA person was super nice, and she explained there was a dense metal cylinder that they wanted to inspect. I knew what it was, it was my Reylight Brass AA light.

    That’s a beefy light, and she took a look at it, flicked it on and rightfully commented: “that’s a nice flashlight”. Goddamn right it is. But she also told me it was likely to get flagged more and more often now as it looks like it could be a gun part. Well, fuck. I had traveled with it before without issues, but TSA is constantly changing, so I was not surprised to hear this, and knew I should probably pull it from my travel kit.

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  • Digital Distraction

    Processing, not recording.

    I’ve written before about what now seems to be more commonly accepted knowledge: digital devices in classrooms, even if used for notetaking, leads to worse results and more distractions.

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  • Tool Roll from BOND Travel Gear

    I finally found a tool roll that is great, and not only great “for a tool roll” but is plain great.

    Note: this was provided for review purposes from BOND Travel Gear.

    Tools rolls are one of the neatest looking items you’ll see on gear sites. They roll up small, and then unroll on the workbench to an accessible system for getting at what you need. What’s not to like? In practice though, most tool rolls don’t live up to the hype. They often become quickly bloated, oddly shaped, and generally are more hassle than they are worth. One recent exception to this is the small tool roll from Triple Aught Design, but it is very small.

    And then I saw this tool roll from BOND Travel Gear and I was intrigued, because it seems like that small tool roll, but blown up to scale. What sets the BOND tool roll apart is that it doesn’t roll, it folds. I’ve found that this is a key difference, so given that, I’ve been testing out this tool roll on a bunch of trips.

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  • Thin Devices

    Let’s stop complaining about tech devices getting more thin.

    I saw a comment the other day about ’thin devices’, where the author was complaining about the compulsive drive of tech companies to make devices ever thinner. This is not the first time I’ve heard this, and can usually be heard each time an iPhone comes out with an ever thinner new model.

    The reason for thinner devices is rather obvious and is two part. The first reason for this drive is that thinner devices seem impossible. Go and look at either a new iPad Pro, or MacBook (Pro or not) and tell me they are not impossibly thin, and that’s even before you consider the amount of things you can do with these devices. If you are reading this on an iPad, stop and take any and all covers off of it and hold the device in your hands — really look at it and feel it — and you will immediately know the truth.

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  • Triple Aught Design OP1

    If you want an admin pouch, this is the one you want.

    In the world of MOLLE laden products there’s no shortage of “admin pockets” or pouches if you prefer. A quick search on Amazon will give you a plethora of options, but one of the best out there is Triple Aught Design’s OP1. I’ve long stayed clear of it as I thought it was either too small or too large depending on the reason why I was looking at it.

    I picked one up a few months ago to give a whirl, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by it.

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  • Piorama A10 Adjustable Bag

    A duffle bag, and backpack, which grows to carry any gear you throw at it.

    Note: This bag was sent to me from Piorama as a review sample.

    It’s been hard for me to miss knowing about this bag, it seems that the A10 Adjustable duffle bag is everywhere I look these days. It is an intriguing bag too: expanding to double the size, with both a shoulder strap and a backpack strap setup. I’ve also not read any bad things about the bag, so I jumped at the chance to test this bag, and test it I have.

    So far it’s been on three trips with me, and I’ve sent it through the bag hell which is checking it for a flight. Even after all of that, I still have a bag which looks nearly new, so let’s talk about this bag.

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  • The Tablet World

    There’s new tablet competitors out there and that’s good for everyone.

    There’s been a lot going on with tablets in the past few weeks, with a new Microsoft Surface Go coming out, as well as Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab S4 Tablet. Let’s take a look at all of this.

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  • GORUCK Kid Ruck Impressions

    Some initial impressions on what clearly is the best kid backpack you can buy.

    I got a KR1 – Kid Ruck in last week and had a chance to take a look at it. (Also, you might want to hurry, there are fewer than 40 left at the time of writing.) This is not a review, but rather my initial impressions of the bag, since I won’t have had enough time with it before the school year to weigh in on it more.

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