- Buyer's Guide
How to Carry Better, According to our Community
Our Carry Classifieds community love to geek out on all things carry. From unearthing great brands, to finding better ways to carry. So we’re starting a new series drawing on their solid insights, experience and expertise. Gathering tips, knowledge and wisdom to share with others to help them carry better, whether in their day-to-day lives or on their travels.
Compartmentalize, be it pouch or organizer
Simply: I carry my office in a Knomo Knomad organizer: laptop, pens, chargers, mouse, cards, Kindle, business papers. Everything I need in one spot. And then I simply just place that inside my briefcase.
Since I work at home I don’t technically qualify as an expert on this issue. I am totally into carrying as little as possible though. So for when I do have to work outside of home, or give a talk or something, I have a pouch (Bellroy Classic), which is just big enough to hold what I need for my laptop and phone to work, filled and ready to go with a battery pack, backup hard drive, USB to USB C adaptor, an extra pair of emergency reading pince-nez glasses, Fisherman’s Friends etc. So I can just grab that and throw it in my backpack without thinking.
For me it’s about using the right size pouches for the right things and not stuffing too much into them. If you have to dig too much through a pouch to find what you need, it defeats the convenience point of pouches in the first place. You might as well have it all in the bottom of your bag. In my opinion, a bunch of small pouches are better than one massive one.
Make a list to trim down to your essentials
Most of us work in cities or developed areas, so it’s important to avoid falling into a ‘just in case’ mode when carrying. Just bring the essentials and buy those ‘just in case’ items when you need them. To help work out which items land in this category take stock of what you carry with a list and revisit that list in a month. The items you haven’t reached for in that month are obviously redundant and are most certainly ‘just in case’ items.
Keep flat items in flat pockets
This might seem simple but putting flat items in flat pockets has really helped me in keeping a smaller daily bag. Case in point: I wear a Bellroy Duo Totepack almost daily. It is box-shaped and the quick-access pocket’s volume is between the shell fabric adjacent to the wearer’s back and the laptop padding (also close to the wearer’s back). I used to keep my wallet, phone, and keys there until I noticed something poking me. I relegated the contents to another pocket and moved my Kindle to the quick-access pocket and it was immediately the right choice. Keeping lumps in flat pockets, especially close to the shell textile, creates a concentrated wear point if you ever lay the bag on that side and this could result in extra wear in the liner, deforming the bag’s sewn shape etc. Goodness, I could go on but that’s the point I wanted to make!
Any hooded jacket can be ‘packable’
This is a simple one, but I’ve always done it this way. If your jacket doesn’t pack into its own pocket, keep it compact by rolling it into the hood. Simple, but effective.
Bundle pack to save time (and stop wrinkles)
As a traveler, one bundle packing cuts down on wrinkles, and the ensuing time required to prepare for meetings once I arrive at my destination. That always affords me more sleep when I am fighting jet lag.
Control your cables (with this easy hack)
Cable wrap: Start at USB end. Wrap around four fingers until there’s a little bit left. Pass remainder through loop. Ta-da!
No suspension on your laptop compartment, no worries
If for whatever reason you bought a pack without a suspended laptop sleeve or padded base, and you cannot manage setting it down gently when you do so, roll up a sock of sufficient thickness lengthwise and stick it at the bottom.
Don’t be afraid to mod a great bag to make it better
Sometimes it’s as simple as finding someone with a heavy-duty sewing machine or a local outdoor clothing repair shop. If you love a bag, and feel it’s missing a key feature, add it if you can! Most of the time if done right it won’t void your warranty (always check with the manufacturer if this is a concern). My water bottle will never fall out again!
Invest in an extra strap
When traveling in winter with a full carry-on backpack and your jacket won’t fit, bring an exterior strap (like the DSPTCH Utility Strap, Add-A-Bag Luggage Strap Jacket Gripper from Amazon, or make your own). It’s cold outside but airports are hot, and your gate is always on the complete other side. If you don’t have a spot for a strap, but have a rolltop bag (and the space), you can put it under your rolltop or its strap.
Learn some bag packing basics for everyday
It’s pretty simple: pack your dense/heavy items closer to your back, lighter items farther out, lesser used items toward the bottom, and things you want to get to quickly/often on top or in outside pockets.
On adjustment for comfort: the first thing to learn when stepping beyond the mindset of saggy high school backpacks is to shorten the shoulder straps so that it sits more squarely across your middle/upper back, and then tighten the sternum strap across the middle of your chest to pull the shoulder straps out of your armpits so that the tension is more evenly distributed across your torso, along the length of straps (disclaimer: there may be different considerations for women that my experience doesn’t inform).
I’d also like to add that both of these may need to be tweaked when on a bike – heavier items are often less forgiving when pressed up against your back while you’re bent forward on a bike, so they may need to be moved outward in the pack, and you may want to slacken the shoulder straps a bit so that they don’t dig in when your shoulders move forward reaching for the handlebars.
Stay prepared (for $1.99)
Stay prepared for anything by packing a shopping tote like this $1.99 IKEA KNALLA. I added it to my travel pack when someone here shared the idea of “decanting” his bag if gate agents challenged his carry-on’s weight. It works for unexpected shopping at my destination too.
We hope you picked up some useful tips and if you’ve got a handy hint to share too, let us know in the comments!