What’s in My Bag, 2023

  1. 16” M3 Max MacBook Pro, with all the memory and storage. I went from carrying two laptops earlier in the year, a 14” as well to just this. I like the Space Black color because it’s novel but might go back to silver next time. Brand new so just a few stickers so far!
  2. Black Magic Mouse, steady and useful when I’m doing lots of emails. Looking to replace this, as it uses Lightning. At home I’ve been using the Mojo Pro Performance Silent Gaming Mouse because it’s wired and quiet when you click, so something wireless and quiet could be nice for when on the go… I do like the gestures of the Magic Mouse though. I’ll be testing out some new mice over the holidays.
  3. Universal Airplane Phone Holder, also good along with #4 for mounting an iPhone for using the Continuity camera or selfies (after taking that he said “please don’t go to jail”). Also super cheap, <$20 for two.
  4. Capstone Continuity Camera mount for MacBook laptops, easy way to mount your iPhone to your laptop to use as a webcam. Looks amazing, but a bit of a pain, which is why I’m excited about #6.
  5. Anker 655 USB-C 8-in-1 Hub. I use this mostly for Ethernet, but since everything is USB-C now I can also use this with either phone or the iPad. I seem to have bad luck with USB hubs, I’m always burning through them, but this one has lasted a while. This thing is heavy! I could go smaller/lighter here.
  6. Opal Tadpole webcam, this is the Opal product everyone has been waiting for. Quality close to iPhone at a smaller size, plugs in via USB-C so you don’t have to worry about connectivity or charging, doesn’t need any special software, looks amazing. Only fits a laptop though, not a bigger monitor. The way the cable works is really clever, great design.
  7. This is one of my most delightful new additions, a Pixel G1s RGB Video Light, it can cast warm light for a Zoom call or you can send it to a specific color to enhance the ambience of room for a party. It can rotate through a rainbow of colors. I ended up giving this to all my friends, and now when we’re in the same place we can instantly vibe out a room with two or three of these devices, and turn off any unpleasant default lighting a space may have. It charges via USB-C, natch. Hat tip: Robb Walters.
  8. UE Premier custom headphones. The best aural experience you can have. Invest the time in visiting an audiologist to get earphones and earplugs customized for your ears.
  9. Belkin Rockstar headphone splitter, great for sharing audio with others, especially if they have #8.
  10. Small USB-C to 1/8th inch converter, to be extra though upgrade to this one from Belkin with power.
  11. Rolling Square inCharge XL 6-in-1 Multi Charging Cable, nice compact all-in-one I’ve been playing with. They make some other interesting accessories. A 100w Swiss army knife of cables, and the thing they do combining Lightning and Micro-USB is so cool.
  12. Baseus has made a retractable 100w/5a USB-C beautiful cord. This is probably the one you’ll want to carry around. Someday it will replace all other cables when we achieve USB-C nirvana.
  13. Chafon USB-C multi-cable is my ultimate workhorse, what I use the most. It’s available at different lengths. I like the way the attachments can be moved around, but there is some fragility being entered at every connection so I like to travel with these not linked so they don’t bend or break.
  14. Tiny Miisso 6000mah battery pack with cables built in.
  15. Pixel Fold. I always try to have an Android device for testing and the pixel fold has been a interesting one, because I found myself using it in ways that feel like sci-fi. Reading a book on the Kindle where you can turn the pages it’s really nice. It’s just a fun tool.
  16. Pixel Buds Pro, they sound remarkably good. Airpods for Android.
  17. Airpods Pro, now with USB-C as God intended. I have a little robot on mine. Just amazing, and how great that you can buy them anywhere in the world. This is the first thing I’d replace if I lost it.
  18. iPhone 15 Pro, now that it has USB-C, my favorite iPhone ever. No notes.
  19. Maruman N196A Nemosine Notebook, great paper. I have a small Pilot Couleur pen tucked into the spiral binding. Both brands are Japanese and I think I picked them up on a trip there, probably at the amazing Daikanyama T-Site.
  20. OHTO Needle Point Knock 0.7mm pen, a nice daily driver. I was carrying around a Montblanc Heritage Egyptomania Doué ballpoint pen but I lost it somewhere.
  21. Notecards from Ugmonk Analog. I really enjoy everything they make, great company, I keep these on every desk as well. These cards are often what drives my day.
  22. Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition, finally with USB-C! I prefer the Oasis, but they inexplicably haven’t updated it to be USB-C, so I carry the Paperwhite instead.
  23. 11-inch iPad Pro, always great in a pinch. I have the pen in case I magically develop an ability to draw and the keyboard and alway-connected 5G makes this great for hopping on Slack or Texts.
  24. 35w dual USB-C charger, from Insignia I probably picked up at Best Buy. Here is a 40w Amazon alternative I recommend and usually carry. This is one of the items I give away the most, so I must have given away my Highsay version.
  25. Ugreen 100w 4-port compact charger, this is what I break out when I want to charge my laptop quickly.
  26. Belkin 37-Watt Dual USB Car Charger, I use this very rarely now but it’s great in a pinch, especially on older cars that have very weak USB ports.
  27. Epicka travel adapter. Nice that it has some built-in ports, but I rarely use them. I probably should switch back to the smaller and lighter Muji adapter.
  28. Still my favorite power cable: Baseus 60w. I tried the higher watt models, they didn’t always work on planes. This is a 6-foot extension cord and can charge a laptop directly. Really a joy. When they do an all-USB-C version I’ll probably upgrade..
  29. Apple Watch Magnetic Fast Charger, of course with USB-C
  30. This year, I’ve been focused more on my overall health. As I’m getting into the habit of moving my body everyday, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 has been motivating because it’s great at letting me know how much I don’t run. Jokes aside, I’m a data person so seeing the numbers of my habits have helped me optimize my goals. 
  31. A candle can make a space feel cozy. Though I don’t travel with my own candle, I like to have my trusted Rechargeable Candle Lighter. Light fire with USB! 
  32. Swiss Army Card, let’s talk about cool gadgets. I use every feature of this card on a regular basis during my travels. It’s incredibly compact and slim. I’ve had to reorder this card a couple of times because they will confiscate the tiny knife. 
  33. Petzl e+LITE Headlamp, as a former boy scout, I’m always prepared for anything including a potential blackout.  
  34. Lockpick set.
  35. Carabiner is always good to have on hand.
  36. You know, a Disposable mask is just good practice. This mask shape is my favorite and very comfortable. 
  37. Immunity Throat Spray was recommended to me by Paul Stamets. I’m not sure if it’s a placebo, but I haven’t gotten sick. Thus, 3 sprays twice a day will keep the doctor away… for me at least. 
  38. Lately, I’ve been curious about the quality of air. I carry the Aranet4 CO2 monitor to gain insight about different spaces. Higher CO2 literally makes your brain slower!
  39. Winter is coming… BioDerma Chapstick is my go-to for dry lips. 
  40. I must admit I don’t really eat the mints from this Marunao Mint Case. However, I have a high admiration for this elegantly crafted case. It has a soft finish feel and a satisfying magnetic closure.
  41. Kikkerland Red Plaid Earphone Case is where I store my custom molded ear plugs. 
  42. SmartMouth travel packets was the best recommendation I received in 2019. It really tackles mouth hygiene well for all day freshness. 
  43. Cloth card holder / wallet, simple minimalist way to carry some extra cards and a few bills. I believe Tim uses one of these as well.
  44. WordPress ring.
  45. Sea2See Sunglasses. Sunglasses made from recycled plastic collected from the ocean. I discovered this from a goodie bag at the Brilliant Minds conference and have since purchased more to have it everywhere I go.
  46. Small plastic holder I got from my sister that helps me carry around stickers without them getting crinkled.
  47. Hermes business card holder. There are some occasions where exchanging business cards is a ritual. Also great to wedge it in a door jamb to keep it from autolocking. 
  48. Passport, never leave home without it. Always be ready for adventure! My passport photo is actually AI-generated, because, why not? We live in the metaverse.
  49. Eye Mask. I like these because the material feels nice on the skin and the wraparound is excellent for blocking out the light and some sound since it covers your ears. Great for sleeping or just needing a moment away from overstimulating environments. Similar one here (the version I have doesn’t appear readily available outside of Europe). 
  50. REI Goretex mittens. They’re shell liners, lightweight and water resistant. The ones I have are an older version and no longer in stock. Version 2.0 available. There’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.
  51. Gloves, nice in the winter but I carry them year round in case I need to carry wood or something. Also the fingertips have the conductive material that makes it touchscreen compatible for devices.
  52. This is a grey wool buff, which works as a scarf, a hat, or an eye cover if I’m trying to sleep. I tried this out because of one of Tynan’s also-great gear posts.
  53. Gore Thermo Beanie, my favorite feature are the slits by the ears for sunglasses. Kept my eyes and ears protected while in Antarctica with Tim. He and I recorded a podcast episode in our tent talking about our personal fears, bucket lists, and more. Have a listen!
  54. Aer Fit Pack 3 backpack, embroidered black-on-black with Automattic and WordPress logos. I upgraded this year from version 2 to 3, which changed some of the interior pockets a bit, and most notably added outside side pockets, which I have found super useful. This is the bag that makes it all work.

Not pictured: Flipper Zero, which was actually in my pocket and I forgot to put it in the photo. I have found this device really handy and fun to play with, just a delightful piece of technology.

Here’s what I was rocking earlier in the year:

I’m not going to label it all, just posting for posterity. It’s mostly the same except I gave up on carrying around the Airpods Max, the grippy tripod, and haven’t found a great disco phone light yet.

54 thoughts on “What’s in My Bag, 2023

      1. Under what circumstances have you used the lockpick set? I’ve got variations on a lot of your gear in my own travel laptop bag, but a lockpick set never occurred to me. I’m intrigued…

      2. Well you have to practice for it to be useful, but I’ve used it to open luggage a friend got locked out of, a drawer in an Airbnb to get a wine opener, and on doors to access networking equipment, usually to plug in my own access point.

  1. Watching that you still post in 2023 makes me have this question for you Matt: How much of an impact has it had for WordPress that you are actually a guy that blogs?

  2. The Aranet4 is great. I was shocked at the CO2 readings in my office. It’s a great reminder to open doors and windows.

  3. I enjoyed this post, though I don’t know how most of the tools work, but there’s an equitable mix of the old and new. Do you not ever stick a paperback novel in, or a backpacker guitar?

    1. I will grab a book every now and then, though I probably read the most on the Kindle. A backpacker guitar would be cool! I need to learn how to play more.

      1. Enjoyed the post: As for guitars, I recommend the Furch LJ (Little Jane) with detachable neck. Great little guitar that fits in its own little backpack. When detached, the neck is stored in the actual body of the guitar… …and most importantly plays like a real instrument, not a toy. (not associated with the company, just love the LJ)

  4. I always enjoy the what’s in my bag posts

    reading through made me think of a few things you might enjoy

    #39 – For chapstick, Marin makes skincare products that utilize glycoproteins that lobsters use to regenerate limbs. Young company, based in Maine.

    #38 – If you want to go further on air quality and track particulates, Eve makes a great homekit device. Their app does a great job making all the data accessible.

    #50 – I got the Arcteryx version of your REI mittens as a gift last year and they are one of my favorite items.

  5. It’s been 5 years since you did one of these, Matt, and it’s great to see one, once again. Yours has inspired me to, annually, share my own – I love reading these kind of posts and getting ideas for my levelling up my own kit. Thank you!

  6. One thing that occurs to me is… do you put all the small items in your backpack loose or do you have some kind of organizer for it? I don’t think I could cope with all the cables and battery packs rattling around inside my Aer!

    1. I have tested out quite a few! I used to be pretty into headsets as well, mostly Sennheiser USB ones. I’ve found the new Macbook Pros have a very, very decent microphone built-in. I can use the built-in Voice Isolation feature to remove background noise, and sometimes Krisp.ai though I’ve mostly moved away from it as it’s been very buggy for me. The Opal also advertises a nice mic but I compared it much yet.

  7. I love this! Back in the day I used to scan the contents of my pockets every day and post them to my Geocities blog. Come to think of it, I probably scratched the heck out of that scanner. Oops.

    You inspired me to do this again on my blog. Thanks!

    *No scanners will be harmed in the process.

  8. Sorry if this comes off snarky, but it’s actually a serious question:

    What do you mean by having a disposable mask is ‘’good practice?’’

    1. I actually used to carry masks before mask mandates, I’d use them like they do in Japan when the air was bad, smoky, or I was feeling sick and didn’t want to spread.

  9. Great post! The details were very informative. I’m especially curious about the AI-generated passport photo you mentioned. Could you delve into the method and tools used for that?

  10. Good stuff. I also gave up on the Airpods Max. Too heavy and too much space. I like the anker chargers, but have never really done a proper comparison. Thanks to this post, I bought a couple of the retractable USBC cords. Those seem excellent. And your international adapter. I have never had a good solution for that problem. They’re all so bulky. I think I probably should buy Baseus 60 and see how it is. I use the Mogics Bagel, which has always been good. But only has 1 USBC. Happy travels in 2024!

  11. Thank you for the REI mitten shell recommendation. I’ve been looking for a pair of Goretex shells for a while, so when I saw what you were using, I ordered them up and took them on my first rainy run this morning. These will come in handy for years to come! Thanks again.

  12. There is no former in scouting. For anyone else searching for (flash)light, the answer is: “Petzl e+LITE Headlamp”. I’ve been trying some toques with built-in lamps, but have not been satisfied with the toque materials, so I’ll likely follow you down the headlamp path.

    The Xlear Natural Saline Nasal Spray with Xylitol, in your “rocking earlier in the year” picture, is magic!

  13. Super cool post Matt! Also wanted to say I loved your recent appearance on Tim’s podcast. Great way to start the year, especially since I am planning my own sabbatical after 5 years of working at the same spot (sadly my company doesn’t offer them). Funny that I naturally started feeling I needed one at year 5.

  14. I’m also a road warrior, less tech savvy and have only ever traveled with an IPAD. Contemplating adding a laptop for the road (more weight..ugh) Starting a docuseries/Blog in 2024. Is a laptop a must for that? What do you use to store content on the road or everything on your desktop? Thank you! The Tim Ferris podcast was yet again inspiring and informative..