This is what's in Derek's bag

It's time to see what's in Derek's bag when there's a show to cover

So, I'm heading over to Germany for IFA next week with Alex and Richard, while Phil and Andrew are going to Vegas the following week for CTIA. It's going to be a busy show with a lot to cover, so I'll be bringing a lot of the gear to make sure we can cover everything as best as we can. It's a pretty full load-out, but I like to be prepared for whatever might happen.

So what's in Derek's bag? It's time to find out.

HTC One M8 and iPhone 5s

Phones: HTC One M8 and iPhone 5S

As Managing Editor across all of Mobile Nations, I find myself switching back and forth between phones on a nearly weekly basis. The iPhone 5s is a constant (it is the single most popular smartphone out there, I should be familiar with it) and my other line swaps between several devices. Presently, and likely for the duration of IFA, it will be the HTC One M8 (the Android version, not the new Windows Phone One).

As an American hitting Europe, my connectivity is little more complicated than for my UK-based comrades. I'll be paying out the nose for a Verizon international data plan on the iPhone, while I'll be putting a prepaid Blau SIM into the HTC One M8 upon touchdown in Berlin. I haven't yet packed my bag, so there's a possibility other phones could find their way into my bag with these two.

Apple iPad Mini

Tablet: iPad Mini with Retina Display

I'm not certain how much use this will actually see, to be honest. I intend on sleeping for the flight from Cincinnati to Paris, and probably the flight from Paris to Cincinnati. Sleep is very important to me. Since I've sent my Nexus 7 (2013) off to another member of Team Mobile Nations and I don't have any other modern tablet, the iPad Mini with Retina Display it is. It serves my needs.

Pebble Steel and Samsung Gear Live

Smartwatches: Pebble Steel and Samsung Gear Live

Yep, two smartwatches. But you won't ever see me wearing both at the same time. I'll have both the Pebble Steel and the Android Wear-powered Samsung Gear Live with me. I'm not certain which one will get the most wear, but it'll probably come down to whether it's the iPhone or the HTC One M8 that gets better signal (the Pebble being hooked up to the iPhone and the Gear Live obviously the M8).

It'll definitely be interesting to compare the Gear Live to the plethora of Android Wear smartwatches we're expecting at IFA, including the round-faced Moto 360 and the LG G Watch R.

Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Laptop: Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display (15-inch, mid-2012)

This puppy's my workhorse. My MacBook Pro might be two years old at this point and soon to be outclassed by next-generation hardware, but it's still my precious. Loaded up with a 2.6Ghz Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a blistering fast 512GB SSD, this svelte 15-incher is still a beast of a computer. And, oh, that display.

Sure, it's not the latest and greatest, but it does the job. That said, I'm seriously considering going smaller for my next computer, depending on what Apple does with the next generation of MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Either way, it's light enough and portable enough to do everything I need.

Olympus E-P5

Camera: Olympus PEN E-P5

Like Alex and Andrew, I'm a fan of the Micro Four Thirds mirrorless interchangeable lens system cameras. I've been using one model or another of the Olympus PEN line for several years now, currently the relatively-compact but still powerful E-P5. It's an utterly fantastic camera, with a crisp and large 16-megapixel sensor, buckets of manual controls, a sharp touchscreen, and it just looks sick.

Olympus E-P5 with lenses

I have a bunch of lenses for this camera, but I'll only be bringing a few with me to Berlin. The 17mm and 45mm f/1.8 Olympus primes are a must — they take gorgeous photos, and I'm a sucker for primes. But I'll also be bringing the beastly 100-300mm f/4.0-5.6 Panasonic zoom (that's to the crop factor of Micro Four Thirds it's practically a 600mm DSLR equivalent). I might also throw in the Olympus 60mm macro, though that might be getting to too much.

Microphones and wireless packs

The E-P5 is also my mobile video rig. That requires a but of hackery to make it all easily portable. It's all centered around a carbon fiber Manfrotto monopod. Obviously the camera's mounted on top of that, with an Olympus SEMA-1 microphone adapter in the hot shoe (that there's not a built-in line-in is the one part of the PEN series that just kills me). For the microphone itself I carry three options: a shotgun mic for picking up whatever's around, a wireless lapel mic, or a wireless handheld mic. I like options.

Olympus E-P5 monopod camera rig

Either way, thanks to the microphone adapter taking over the hotshoe on the camera, I had to find someplace else to do things like mount the shotgun or the wireless mic receiver. I used to have a bracket that put the camera to one side and the mic to the other, but that was just unwieldy. Now I use a small clamp that's mounted to the monopod, with a cold shoe mounted on that. It keeps things nice and compact.

Bang & Olufsen H6 headphones

Headphones: Bang & Olufsen H6

These are the best headphones I've ever put on my head, possibly the best thing period I've ever put on my head. When it comes to the quality of things, I go one of two routes: I'll pay crap prices for something I know is crap and accept it for what it is (e.g. Taco Bell), or I'll pay premium prices for the perfect thing. The Bang & Olufsen H6 headphones are the perfect thing, at least to my ears. The sound is supremely crisp and balanced, they're very light and incredibly comfortable, and like my aforementioned camera, the just look sick.

Are there headphones that sound better? Sure. Are there headphones that are more comfortable? Perhaps. Are there headphones that look better? Well, that's subjective, but that's a bet I'd take. It's headphones like these that make me hate how the word "value" has been co-opted to be synonymous with "cheap". Compared to equally-priced Beats headphones that are uglier, stiffer, and suffer from overwhelming and muddy bass, the Bang & Olufsen H6 headphones are a much better value. Value is bang for your buck, and you definitely get bang for every buck spent here.

Power: Batteries, cables, and whatnot

USB power pack and international travel adapter

Samsonite Converter/Adapter Kit and some generic USB charger

I've got this left over from a trip to Spain and Portugal a few years back. Being that I come from the United States and all of my gadgets have the US-style Type A or Type B plugs, an adapter/converter is pretty much a necessity if I'm going to be hauling all of the above gear to Europe. It works.

As my Mac has a dual-voltage power brick with its own adapter tips, this plug will be primarily occupied by a generic "Digipower" 4-port USB charger. It doesn't provide the most juice ever, but it will do the job in keeping things topped up.

To get everything plugged in, though, I'm a huge fan of retractable cables. They might not be as long or as durable as their manually-coiled cousins, but the convenience factor is simply too high for me to ignore. I'll have two each for microUSB and Lightning.

USB batteries

Gorilla Gadgets Uhuru 16,800mAh dual-USB battery

That's all good for when I'm back at home base, but what about when we're out and about? I'll have the juice with me in the form of this monster dual-USB Gorilla Gadgets battery. It packs 16,800mAh, which is good for recharging the HTC One M8 and iPhone 5s four times over… at the same time. It's pretty hefty, yes, but it packs a punch. Heck, it has more battery than my MacBook (which, frustratingly, can't take a charge off USB, so that's just a fun fact more than anything).

I'll also have as a spare (not carrying with me, but back at the room just in case) a 10,000mAh Satechi dual-USB battery. It's smaller, lighter, and still packs a wallop.

  • Buy the Gorilla Gadgets Uhuru 16,800mAh dual-USB battery: Amazon US
  • Buy the Satechi 10,000mAh dual-USB battery: Amazon US

The Bag: Timbuk2 Command TSA-Friendly Messenger Bag

I've gone through several bags over the past few years, but this one has been the one for the past year. It's proven durable and flexible, and it fits a surprising amount of gear. I prefer the messenger-style bags to a traditional backpack, and Timbuk2 makes some of the best around, but yet keeps them relatively affordable.

What I love about the Command is many-fold. The TSA-Friendly feature is the best I've seen done — the laptop compartment is hinged at the top instead of the bottom, so you can just unzip the compartment, lay it on the TSA scanner belt, and then grab the handle and walk away when it comes through the other end. The strap is comfortable and easily adjusted, the main compartment isn't cluttered with a dozen meaningless pockets, and there's a dedicated laptop charger pocket underneath that's easy-to-access and big enough to fit even the largest.

Like Andrew, I threw a Snoop Camera insert a size smaller than my bag inside so I could easily haul my camera gear, and yet have some extra room inside.

The only thing that frustrates me about this bag is the mostly pointless pockets on the front (they're so slim I can fit a phone in one and then the rest are rendered useless) and that it's not available through Timbuk2's custom program. I'd gladly pay extra to get this same bag (though I might go a size smaller now that I know just how much you can fit in these bags), but with a waxed canvas exterior and bright orange interior liner. Maybe someday, but for now, this is the bag for me.

That's a lot

Yep. Covering a show right takes a lot of gear. What I take with me varies depending on the show and is constantly being reevaluated, swapped out, upgraded, streamlined, and tossed out to start all over. This is what I'm using in the here and now, and what will be going with me to IFA.

Is this the very best equipment out there? Nope. But it all suits my and Mobile Nation's needs, and compliments what my comrades are bringing to the shows. I like versatility and being prepared, and all this gear helps be do just that. I just hope I don't break my back in the process.


Reader comments

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


And these guys are using fairly lower end m43s, relatively speaking. If you want to do heavy video work, look into the GH line by Panasonic, those cameras do outstanding video. As for stills, Olympus tends to pull ahead due to things like in body stabilization.One of the best features of m43 isn't even the native lenses. If you are willing to carry a large lens and a speed booster, you can get some amazing focal lengths.

iPhone 5S the single most popular device out there? lol No. Just no. If it was, iOS's marketshare wouldn't be dropping like a bird that's been shot out of the sky.

Oh come on. I am a huge Android fan and is my preferred platform and absolutely have to say this statement is true (for better or worse). While Samsung might be the biggest Android OEM but I would be willing to bet that the ip5s outsold the S5 by a good 10-20 million. The first 3 days of iphone sales saw 5m+ go off the shelves.

Now if you want to compare platforms, Android wins. Individual sales, not so much

You are correct. I always check people out and see what phone they are using and I would say its Apple at least 4 to 1.

Posted via Android Central App

In US, outside US, Apple is Meh. Apart from teenage girls I rarely see them. However yeah it is the single best selling model.

Not sure where you are hanging out, but when I go shopping or after work stop by a bar for happy hour iPhone is all I see.

Posted via Android Central App

Single most popular device. Didn't say platform. But when you compare any one model of smartphone, the iPhone 5s will come out on tops in sales.

Also, let's not confuse arguing about marketshare with arguing about unit sales. Apple's share isn't plummeting, but their growth is being outpaced by Android, especially so on the low-end. Apple is selling more iPhones than they ever have, and Android makers are also selling more devices than they ever had — they just so happen to be selling more Android phones than iPhones.

Ditto, sometimes people think the U.S. stats are all that counts, but their heads are stuck into the sand or up their other end. Android rules the world stats and continues to do so.

Android Central and you don't use an Android for your Daily Driver?

Kinda like someone who puts on a show about Chevrolet and they mostly drive Fords and are a sacker at your local grocery store.

Where is the expertise in that!

Couldn't be bothered to read, could you? It's ashame, really. Mostly what's wrong with the world today. Laziness, or illiteracy (which, let's be honest, is due to laziness). Derek is the Editor of Mobile Nations (featuring sites such as: iMore, WPCentral, and Crackberry) not just Android Central. So it's perfectly within reason for him to carry and be familiar with iPhone. Hell, if there's anybody at this point that could make use of a dual boot Android/Windows Phone HTC M8, I daresay it would be him.

In fairness to him even the AC guys seem to pack more than their fair share of iOS devices. That's pretty damning really.

You're right, how dare they be familiar with other platforms and thus able to write about how Android *actually* compares and not to some caricature of iOS or BlackBerry or Windows Phone.

Posted via Android Central App

I wonder what the whole article was for when this man allowed me to glean all the info from it without reading. I'm assuming there was an iPhone on the list yes?

I read the article guys chill. I want to get one of these cameras, but I'm Jon Snow so you know how much I know about them.

Posted via Android Central App

I get that you're a techie. But why travel with two watches? And the ipod touch and the iPad? You should be fine with just the laptop and phone...

Congratulations! You just figured out that everyone is different! How does it feel to know that we're not all like you!?

Is it bad that I travel with 2 laptops, 80brazillion cords, 2-3 phones and at least one tablet?

I might have to write my own "Tech bag" article.

What does a "Brazillion" cord do exactly? Lol. We may have to take to the forums to post readers bags. At least we could post photos there....but none of our stuff has that bitchin' AC decal! But I digress. ..

Brazillion cordS

One for each phone, one for each laptop, a few others.....

I know...they should just give out decals when you hit a thousand posts...

"How many is a Brazilian?"
George W. Bush, circa sometime after he was born to now.

Posted via Android Central App

Aww, I don't have enough tech to make a bitchin bag like the rest of you'll. Imma broke college student :(

Posted via Android Central App

He answered that. One is tied to the iPhone and the other the HTC.

Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 via Android Central App

I get that you're not someone that actually reads the article, but why write a comment? And read it over? And hit send?

Posted via Android Central App

AC y'all should run a contest where 3 lucky winners can win 1 item out of your travel bag

Posted via Android Central App

Right? Dats a sweet MacBook, I'd take it. And a current Apple device so I can play with Yoshimite (don't know how to spell it, don't really care) and 8

Posted via Android Central App

Lol, "Congratulations, you've won this speck of dust from my bag. Hope you enjoy it"

Posted via Android Central App

You can be familiar with an iPhone without paying for unlimited data, and taking it on your travels? Sounds like your daily driver to me or your wasting yours or Android centrals money in running two phones.

Posted via Android Central App

In a place where WiFi is spotty and you'll be using one or both of the phone heavily, it makes sense that he would have unlimited on both. And why to you care what he does with his money? Why do you care what phone he uses? Would you be pissed it he had an ipod instead of a galaxy player? If he uses a Web browser that isn't chrome? He works for Mobile Nations. As a reminder that is an umbrella that covers Android Central, iMore, WpCentral, Crackberry, (and the connected device thing I can't spell). The point being he will need to be familiar with multiple ecosystems, and use them enough to be objective. He also uses an iPad, and is getting surprisingly little flack for that. The 5s is the current best selling mobile device. I would not be surprised if everyone writing for Mobile Nations had one.

Posted via Android Central App

And also, he took it on his travels, because it is a world phone, you will likely not find a phone with better service options world wide. It's the phone nearly every carrier wants to carry, and they don't do stupid exclusive variants of it that only work in certain regions. Like people that use Apple products say... It simply works.

Would you like more reasons? It connects with his iPad and Mac better, and he probably won't have to deal with random crashes and general fussiness. And he also won't have battery issues with those huge banks he carries as well. Hell, I'd probably use a 5s exclusively if I was I'm his shoes. I don't have 2 Z30's to find the one with the best connectivity. Don't expect him to have 2 M8's to do the same.
Posted via Android Central App

As far as the backup batteries go you mentioned that you wish you could charge your laptop with it. I have an Energizer XP8000AB battery and it has a higher voltage outputs (9v-12V and 16v-20v) designed specifically so it can be used to charge laptops. It's only 8000mah so it is a bit lower capacity than the ones that you have but it still might be worth looking into.

The only annoying part is that you have to charge it with a huge power brick since I am assuming it it runs off of higher voltage batteries. But the nice thing is that it recharges very quickly especially compared to the ones that recharge via USB so to me it is a fair tradeoff. Also for what it's worth they do have a higher capacity 18000mah version. But I have never used that one so I can't personally recommend it, but it might also be worth looking into.

That Azden wireless mic kit is god awful! I'm sorry you use it.. But I understand a good wireless mic kit is expensive and the Azden is more affordable. I tried this for work and just couldn't to it... too much noise. Hope you can eventually upgrade to something a bit better.

B&O Headphones are da' stuff!  I used to sell B&O equipment and still have a couple of phones at home that use the same speakers in the handsets that they use for they headphones.  Phenomenal!

I am very impressed with your choices and approach Mr Kessler. I used an adapted monopod for video plus audio extras, when I was covering conferences. A lot of the kit has evolved now, but speed and flexibility remains the key issue. Your B&O headphones look nice. They have to tell you the truth, exclude distractions and STAY ON when you move. Rare qualities. Lovely prime glassware. I hope your having a good shoot.