Andrew's Gear Bag

When it's time to hit the road and cover events for the best Android site in the world, Andrew takes quite a bit of gear with him

It's been a good bit of time since we ran a "gear bag" series to show everyone what kind of gadgets and gear we carry around. And with a couple of events — IFA and CTIA, at minimum — lined up in the next couple of months, we figured now was as good a time as any to revive this series. While not everything here is Android, nor is it brand new and flashy, we think it's always fun to show everything we're using to keep this awesome site running every day.

Read along past the break to find out what's in my gear bag in August 2014.

Timbuk2 Messenger and Camera bag

Bag: Timbuk 2 Messenger and Snoop Camera Insert

After a couple years of using a basic canvas messenger bag, I decided to plop down a little money on a good all-around bag that would also serve me well when I'm traveling for work. I decided on a Timbuk2 Classic Messenger (the new model for 2014) for numerous reasons, not the least of which being the lifetime warranty and the fact that I already have Timbuk2 Copilot luggage and love it.

The bag has several great features, including an adjust-on-the-fly shoulder strap, dozens of pockets and pouches, adjustable tie-down straps and a great-looking exterior. I particularly like the small "stash pocket" that's accessible with a zipper even while the bag is velcroed and clipped closed, as well as the ability for it to drastically change size depending on what you need to haul around.

It's been an incredibly durable and reliable bag for me, and I'd recommend anyone get one. They come in sizes from XS to XL (I have a large), depending on what you need — and you can even customize the colors and layout completely if you want.

Timbuk2 Snoop Camera Insert

Part of the reason for choosing a Timbuk2 messenger was the ability to pick up a Snoop Camera Insert that's made to work with the bag. I went and got a "medium" insert (smaller than my "large" bag) to give extra room for other things, and it's been a fantastic decision. The self-contained bag holds my camera, video camera, two extra lenses, battery chargers and cables, all with a little bit of room to spare. The dividers inside are velcro and customizable, and the entire inside is an extremely soft cotton material to keep everything safe. It zips shut and is completely contained, meaning I can easily choose to make my messenger a camera bag in an instant.

Nexus 5, Nexus 7 and HTC One M8

Phones and tablet: Nexus 5, HTC One M8 and Nexus 7

There's a good chance at any given time that I'm carrying two phones with me, but when I travel for events it's an absolute no-brainer. My two go-to devices at this point are the Nexus 5 and HTC One M8 — though the Nexus 5 is currently incapacitated running the Android L Developer Preview. I like most everything about the M8, and am currently carrying it as my primary device, though the camera has me wishing for more. I also can't stand how loud it is when it vibrates, so I often have it stuck on silent mode — but those two issues aren't enough to have me carrying something else. I'm using the Incipio NGP Impact Resistant Case with my M8 because it's simple and durable.

As for service for these devices I have two lines, one with T-Mobile (prepaid $30 plan) and another with AT&T (GoPhone $60 plan), which gives me network diversity when traveling. If one's not working, I swap to the other. Luckily with the Nexus 5 and M8 I can easily use either carrier, giving me ultimate flexibility.

Karma Wifi HotspotFor triple data redundancy, I still carry a Karma Wifi Hotspot that I got in for review back earlier this year. It runs off the Sprint WiMax network (I know, hilarious right?), but that's precisely why I like it, actually. The speeds aren't great (10mbps down / 1mbps up), but they've been amazingly consistent in any major city I've been in because nobody is really using WiMax anymore. Best of all it's pay-as-you-go data, and you get free data for letting other people use it, so it's something I can keep around and not worry about paying a monthly fee for.

On the tablet side, I still have my trusty Nexus 7 in a stylish DODOcase Durables Sleeve. I don't usually carry it with me when I travel unless I'm otherwise traveling lightly and don't mind the extra bulk of a tablet. When I do bring it, it's great to have on flights when I don't need to get work done on the laptop. I have a 32GB Wifi model, and I think if I were to go with an LTE model I could actually have it replace that second phone I often carry around. Something to think about.

Andrew's camera gear

Cameras and equipment: Olympus E-PL5 and Panasonic HC-V720

I started getting into photography with an Olympus E-PL1, so having never learned with a "proper" DSLR and viewfinder, when it was time for a new camera I decided to stick with a mirrorless system with the E-PL5. This is a fantastic little camera, and produces amazing pictures considering its size, weight and price tag. It has fast focus, great burst shooting and is compatible with a whole range of inexpensive and diverse lenses. I've yet to find anything that I need to do that the E-PL5 can't accomplish.

As for lenses, I primarily have an Olympus 25mm f/1.8 on the camera, as it's a fantastic all-around lens with extremely crisp image quality (being a prime lens certainly helps) and fast focusing. I specifically got the 25mm as it's a perfect zoom level for hands-on photos. I also carry an Olympus 40-150mm zoom, which is great for press conferences and liveblogs. My only regret with this lens is not getting the more expensive 14-150mm lens, as it requires me to carry my 14-42mm kit zoom lens to fill the gap — but hey, it's about one-third the price of the 14-150mm.

For several months now I've been carrying a dedicated video camera, the Panasonic HC-V720, for events, and it's made a world of difference when it comes to consistently getting good video that can be processed and edited quickly. While the video capabilities of my E-PL5 are high (and it has a higher ceiling of what's capable), nothing quite beats a dedicated video camera that has smooth zooming, great autofocus tracking and is easy to handle when you're out shooting video of devices on your own. I really don't want to go back to shooting quick event videos with my micro four-thirds camera.

You'll also notice that small red plastic thing in the picture — that's a Striker Simple Sucker, an $8 little doodad that sticks to phones and props them up for pictures on tables. It's a small thing, but it's almost as good as an extra set of hands sometimes when you're trying to take good pictures in troublesome lighting conditions.

MacBook Air

Laptop: MacBook Air (13-inch)

Just like the rest of the Android Central (and most of Mobile Nations) staff, I work on a MacBook Air. This is a 2012 model 13-inch Air with a Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM, and it still serves me well for everything but heavy video editing (of which I do very little). It's durable, light and extremely reliable for me, and I've yet to have any serious problem with it in either hardware or software. I figure I can go about another year with this machine until I upgrade to a new one when they're refreshed in 2015 — at that point I just hope Apple's stepped up to a higher screen resolution on the Air line.

I protect my MacBook with a Targus neoprene laptop sleeve, which primarily just sits in my messenger bag. It's sturdy, protects the laptop well and while it's lost a bit of that "new" look in the last six years (yes, six years) I've had it, it's still working great.

Samsung Level In headphones

Headphones: Samsung Level In earbuds

I picked up the Samsung Level In headphones a couple months ago, and have reviewed them since. At $149 they're incredibly expensive considering that they're only marginally better than earbuds that are one-third the price, but since I have them I continue to use them on a daily basis. They're solid, sound great and are the go-to pair I carry around.

Vaultz bags, battery and hotspot

Cables, batteries and accessories

I try to keep my set of cables, chargers and accessories to a minimum when I know I have to carry everything I bring, but of course there are some necessities. I have mesh zipper bags that hold all of my assorted cables and accessories, along with USB cables, chargers, an external battery and a hotspot in my bag at pretty much all times.

Vaultz Mesh Bags

Vaultz Mesh Storage Bags

I ran across these randomly on Amazon when I was looking for a travel storage solution, and they've turned out to be fantastic. You can get a four-pack on Amazon for under $12, and they include four different color-coded sizes for all of your organizational needs. They have a single zipper that goes diagonally across them to give you complete access to anything you put in there (perfect for random cables), and have a clip on one end so you can secure them inside of luggage.

I use the smallest (yellow) one for my camera bag to hold all of my camera-related odds and ends, the larger (orange) one in my messenger to hold cables, chargers and an external battery, and the two largest ones (red and black) to hold the big things like extra bundles of cables, big external battery chargers and less-used items.

If you want to be organized and never have to worry about losing small items when you travel, pick up a set of these bags.

Cables and battery

Wall charger, USB cables, ethernet adapter, TYLT battery

I find it important to have a set of gear that stays in my bag at all times that is completely separate from what I use daily at home and at my desk. I have a mesh bag — that stays in my messenger bag 100 percent of the time — that has two USB cables (I particularly like these Ventev flat ones), a single wall charger (a small Samsung one), a Thunderbolt ethernet adapter, a flash drive and a TYLT Energi 5K external battery. The full list of what's in my messenger at all times:

  • Two USB cables
  • USB wall charger
  • 4GB flash drive
  • External battery pack
  • Hotspot
  • Old-fashioned pen and pencil
  • Water bottle

I'm considering swapping to a USB wall charger with 2 ports on it, but I love having a tiny wall charger and never find myself having to rapidly charge two devices at once while traveling — and considering I can just plug into my laptop it never seems to be a problem. When I need it I get a power bump off of my TYLT battery, which at 5000mAh strikes a good balance between size and functionality — and it can charge two devices at once (including tablets) if necessary.

Camera gear

Extra camera gear

Along with the basic two cameras and three lenses, I also pack along a mesh bag full of other camera goodies. I may or may not have every single thing here on me depending on the size of the event, but in most cases any time I have my cameras, I have this stuff, too.

  • An extra lens cap
  • An extra camera body cap
  • Proprietary camera USB cable
  • Proprietary video camera USB cable
  • Camera flash
  • Two extra camera batteries
  • Three SD cards
  • Wired lavalier mic
  • Wireless lavalier mic system
  • Both camera chargers

Samson GoMic

Samson Go Mic

When we're traveling for events, we often need a mic for on-site podcasts, VOIP calls and (most importantly) video voiceovers, and the Samson GoMic has been the go-to travel mic for folks here at AC. It's a compact USB mic that has an integrated swiveling stand that's great for on-site video voiceovers and podcasts. The quality beats any built-in unit you can get on a computer, and it's drastically more practical than packing a full-sized podcast mic.

Is that too much to carry?

When I break it all down and spread things out, it feels like there's a lot there to keep inventory of and lug around. But really, there's very little there that isn't a necessary part of making travel as productive and easy as possible. In situations where I'm not carrying camera gear around my bag gets drastically lighter, but even with the full imaging setup in my bag, it's plenty comfortable to carry around on a flight and to my destination for live event coverage.

Over the next month or so the other AC editors will be showing off the tech they use every day and on the road, so keep watching in the weeks ahead. For a trip down memory lane, you might also want to check out last year's "AC on the road" features to see what we were using twelve months ago.


Reader comments

AC on the road: What's in Andrew's gear bag in 2014


I want a MacBook Air. I don't need a MacBook Air.. But I most definitely want one. Also normally I am not a fan of those phone skins, but that red on the white Nexus 5 looks quite nice.


I want a Windows 8.1 machine with a touchscreen in the body of a MacBook Air.

Posted via the Android Central App

Yeah, but that price makes it way out of most people leagues.

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True, but they are over the price of a MacBook Air entry level.

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I'm still rocking a Asus zenbook prime with dedicated graphics it's still awesome after 2 years

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What skin is it? Normally not a fan either but I agree it looks cool, almost looks like a case on the (tiny) photo.

Bag: AE rucksack

Phone: RAZR M

Laptop: HP Split X2

Misc: Large Ruled Moleskine
1800 mAh portable battery

This is the bag of a minimalist folks

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Couldn't pay me to use a disgusting apple product. I would use a commodore 64 before I would use a Mac... Straight principle ! Yuck no offense Andrew .. Okay maybe a little. Lol

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Well, he clearly doesn't like apple products. Is that not reason enough to avoid buying them?

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No they're not. Apple and Commodore were direct competitors in the 70s and 80s. Commodore now makes Windows machines. They have never been the same company.

I use both daily at home and work. I have used so many versions over the years and I will pick a Mac every time. Though I am quite fond of my surface pro, it's more for fun and tinkering rather than doing work.


If you're totally committed to an Apple ecosystem then Mac's are great otherwise it can be somewhat problematic and expensive. A perfect example is Itunes on the Mac is a very nice piece of software while on Windows it is a bloated mess that is only used if you have some other piece of Apple hardware (iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc). Windows has served me very well for 2 decades and gives me a lot more choice and expandibility than I would on a Mac. I don't think it has been less reliable or less productive and if you use Office then Windows is really the only choice as the only thing less supported than Office on the Mac is Google on Windows Phone.

I used to use exclusively Windows computers and laptops, but call me a convert. ☺ MacBooks just work and my Android devices connect to it without issue. All the Google services work seamlessly too. Watch any Google event, and you see MBPs in the background. Also, go to the Googleplex, and you'll see employees use it on the daily.

Posted from my Nexus 5 via the cooler than cool Android Central App

Great write up! It's great to see the gadgets of choice for you guys! I also get to find out new cool gadgets like the mesh bags and usb mic. I'm going to check out the timbuktu bag for myself. I didn't realize you can customize it as you said. I might pick one up.

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Yup, costs a little more to customize but you can have a unique bag that nobody else does. It's not just colors either — you can change the pockets and layout inside as well.

Three comments. One-That HTC looks huge next to the Nexus 5. Two-I have not found another device in which I like the size/screen ratio etc as the Nexus 5. Three-Thanks for the tip on the mesh bags! Just ordered a set! Just what I need to lug all my chargers, cords etc.

Thanks Andrew!

Yeah the thickness of that case definitely makes the M8 look quite a bit larger, when it's already larger than the Nexus 5 w/o a case. It's a nice case though — and it helps me hold onto the dang thing.

It's kind of a neat idea. Wish it was LTE (or even HSPA+ at this point), but it's hard to beat the pay-as-you-go idea for a third data connection. And the free data for sharing is kinda cool as well.

Yea that's awesome. If they make something in the future with the same idea but lte or hspa+ support, I'll be all over it. I'll buy a bagfull for everyone lol

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Not sure on the company (possibly dBrand or slickwrap), but it's a carbon fiber skin. Basically peel and stick skin that protects against scratches and adds a bit of color and texture to a phone. You can Google "carbon fiber skin Nexus 5" and get a bunch of results!

Typed on tiny keys just for you

Hm that look pretty good.

I have this one from Ventev that has 2 USB ports and flip-out prongs. Just barely larger than the one you linked there, and I'm just not sure it's worth it. The reason why I use a tiny 1 USB port one is simply for size.

When I'm traveling somewhere and bring my rolling luggage, I have a surge protector that has 3 wall outlets and 2 USB ports — I pack that as my only charger.

Haha i used to use that one as well. There is an pretty distinct size difference side by side, but it might not be worth it in the end for you. The lime fuel is just under 2 inches in height, where as the ventev is 2 and 3/4 inches. The width of the lime fuel is also smaller but not by much. But obv your call.

Also do you have a link to the surge protector you are referring too? That's a pretty clever item to have so you don't need to carry around more usb wall chargers, just cables for big trips. Less to worry about while traveling.

And those mesh bags are a great idea. I always fumble with cables in my bags, be nice to have something to put them in.

Also these reads are great. Its cool to know what people are using day to day. Keep it up AC.

Thanks for the reply back. I remember seeing that one on Amazon while window shopping. Its a great idea to have one on big trips. ill be sure to pick one up if I do any serious traveling.

I always look forward to this time of year when these gearbag articles are posted. :)

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Dig the 3/4 mirror less camera. I've got a Sony Nex 5R, and highly recommend mirror less for people that aren't pros. Also, just want to get in the first prediction that Jerry has a shotgun and moonshine in his bag.

Love my Timbuk2 Messenger bag (TSA version I believe). Tons of pockets for my binder, pens, backup glasses, earphones, portable charger, Nexus 5 and 7, and my MacBook Pro (15“). Thanks for the tip on those storage bags too! That'll help store my plugs and such better.

Posted from my Nexus 5 via the cooler than cool Android Central App

I actually really enjoy these. Its interesting to see the different set ups and preferences of each writer. I always find some new stuff to check out. That timbuk 2 bag seems great. Unfortunately its a little out of my price range. Any others similar but for a little less? I know you get what you pay for. I would like to bring my nexus 7, laptop and my extra peripherals with me. I just want them all together.

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Messenger bag or Backpack style? I don't know much about messengers because I prefer backpack (I have a bad back, can't have all the weight on one side) but I really like the High Sierra Tactical backpack. I use it, with an HP 15-g019wm Shield Tablet, and my laptop charger, and two apple wall warts, a 3ds and it's charger, and I still have room for two to three textbooks. Found it on ebags for $50

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The Targus Maxus is also a great bag I used to have. It was actually too big for what I needed, but is full of pockets and easy to organize. But be warned. It's big. Although the laptop area only fits a 15.4 inch. I think both of these would fit your needs if you're looking for a backpack. Again, I don't use messenger bags, so if that's what your looking for I'm sorry I couldn't help. I recommend eBags to find stuff at decent prices although there are other sites. I just like how specific you can break down a search by criteria, you can almost have it find you a "perfect" bag.... If they have it. I still have the Targus, but it's for trips now, and the Tactical is my daily bag.

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Thanks for the tips! I will check ebags. I am a field technician so I have a lot to carry with me. A backpack is definitely ok.

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Oh, your welcome, and I seemed to have had a brain fart. Targus Matrix is the second bag. Sorry for the misinformation.

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Thanks Andrew for giving us a peak at your edc, I have been fascinated by the setup that people like to carry. I ordered those interesting mesh bags

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This could be the best EDC article I've read. Lot of products I'm unfamiliar with...but will be checking out. Thanks, Andrew!

Hey Andrew some great tips especially those mesh bags for cables & little stuff u don't want to loose. I have a tip 4u, that TYLT charger u have, it's only 5000mah & it costs $70 bucks, that's a lot of $ for the amount of power. I think I get it because I have a TYLT wireless charger that I got on one of there sales so the price was more then fair & they are good looking products. But if u want a great deal with a Co. that has great Cus Ser. ( Not affiliated in any way) I found Anker to be really good,I just picked up one of there intelligent External battery packs, 12000mah for only $45 bucks. It has 3 usb connections, & it fits in the palm of your hand, just my quick tip.