[Gear In Review Podcast] GIR2 - Bags

Hosted by Reed Smith & Bobby Rettew

Welcome to Gear In Review. Learn more about how we’ll be bringing reviews, recommendations and insights around the many gadgets, gizmos, and widgets used everyday to capture and tell stories inside hospitals.

In the previous episode, we talked about what’s in the digital content communicator’s tool bag. Now it’s time to talk about the bags themselves. We’ll cover everything from day-to-day laptop bags, to pro size bags to bags that fit inside bags. We’ll talk you through what works for us and what might work for you. Bottomline, Reed and Bobby talk through some the bags they use and even how they have more bags than their wives. We hope you enjoy!

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Reed Smith:
Hey everybody, this is Reed Smith.

Chris Boyer:
And this is Chris Boyer.

Reed Smith:
And we are co-hosts on a show called Touch Point, which is a podcast that’s dedicated to the discussions on digital marketing and online patient engagement strategies, not only for just hospitals but health systems and physician practices.

Chris Boyer:
In every episode, we’ll dive deep in a variety of topics on digital tools, solutions, strategies, and other things that are impacting the health care industry today.

Reed Smith:
And while you listen to this show we would certainly love you to check out ours.

Chris Boyer:
All you have to do is swing on over to Touch Point dot health for more information and also some of the other shows that are featured on the Touch Point Media network.

Reed Smith:
And welcome back to Gear in Review. I am Reed Smith, and joined always by Bobby Rettew.

Bobby Rettew:
How’s everybody doing today?

Reed Smith:
Awesome. Awesome. Well, we are back for episode two. On the first episode, we obviously talked a little bit of an overview about what’s in the bag, some of the basic things that you carry, get asked about, and all that kind of good stuff. And so we thought none a better place to start than actually what you carry it in. So this episode, obviously if you’ve downloaded it you see that we’re going to talk about bags. So this is a fun one. I have a ton of bags. I’m not really sure why but I do. I have a lot of bags.

Bobby Rettew:
Yeah. I think my wife, Sarah, looks at me and goes, “You have more bags and shoes than I do.”

Reed Smith:
Yeah. Yeah. We should do an episode on shoes. That’s kind of equipment. I mean, you’re going to stand a fair amount and stuff, so.

Bobby Rettew:
Dude, I buy Cole Haan shoes and Nike shoes. And I have different types of Cole Haan shoes for each type of video shoot.

Reed Smith:
Yeah. See, exactly. All right. So I’m going to make a note. We’re going to talk about shoes at some point on this.

Bobby Rettew:
Yeah. We’ve got to do that.

Reed Smith:
I’m not sure if that’s technically a gadget but it kind of is. It’s part of what we need for work. I wonder if I can take them off my taxes?

Bobby Rettew:
Probably could.

Reed Smith:
Anyway. Everybody just keep that to yourself. We’re not going to talk about that. All right. So real quickly before we jump in, categorically speaking, all right, we’ve got a couple of things and I want to outline this real quick before we get too far into it so that everyone knows what we’re talking about here. So we’ve got everyday bags. Again, probably more what the folks listening, myself, carry. Hold a laptop, a few things, whatever, and so we’ll come back to that. Then you’ve got more of kind of that every day plus. Maybe it’s just a capacity thing, holds a little extra. Really, then, you kind of move into that pro realm. Probably more of what you carry, what you travel with, for example. And again, we’ll get into that.

Reed Smith:
There’s bags that go inside of other bags. And not to spoil the big surprise there, but we’ll talk a little bit about that. One thing that we’re not going to talk about today that we’ll get to eventually are bags that, they’re manufactured, specifically they’re used to carry a certain item. They probably came with the item. So you think about things that carry drones. Maybe they carry larger video cameras or lighting, those types of things. We’re not really going to get into that. So you think about the hard shell Pelican case kind of stuff. Or maybe you’ve got the one that comes with the foam that you can pull the pieces out of and it fits certain pieces of equipment. So, again, another topic for another day but that’s kind of on one of the specialty use spectrums. So maybe let’s start with every day. What do you carry on a daily basis?

Bobby Rettew:
So I kind of live in this world where I have two laptop bags. And right now I’ve moved into the most portable way to walk into a professional meeting with a laptop, a mic, and my iPhone, and basic stuff to do things. And so I have a leather bag that I got in Florence, Italy when I was over there, and it can hold my 12″ MacBook, my little Shure mic, my MV88. It can hold a hard drive and a couple other little items and it looks super awesome. Everybody wants to know where I got the bag and I’m like, “I spent 2000, 3000 dollars on it.” And they’re like, “Oh my gosh, that’s a lot of money.” And I’m like, “That’s the plane ticket and all the other stuff that [inaudible 00:04:32].”

Bobby Rettew:
But it’s great because it’s small, it’s portable. I like to put bags, not on my shoulder, but I like to wrap it over so it hangs on my back. You know that one strap? So I can walk and use both hands. And that’s how I pick my bags. This bag is perfect. It allows me to the thing and it’s super awesome.

Reed Smith:
So a couple of features that I like. The current one I’m carrying primarily holds my laptop. I can also put an iPad in there. It’s got a few other pockets for field notes or moleskins or pens, maybe note cards, business cards, cables, all that kind of stuff in a few different pockets. But a couple of things… the current on I have is made by Topo Designs and the interior of it is bright yellow. Really helpful because everything else is black that I put in there, pretty much. And I can see what I’m looking for, especially on an airplane or something like that.

Reed Smith:
The other thing that I think is an interesting feature to keep in mind is if you do travel a fair amount or you find yourself in airports and you take a carry on bag, if there is a way that you can slide it on that handle where you can wheel everything together – if that makes sense – for your roller bag. That’s helpful because there’s been a couple of times that I’ve had a bag that either didn’t have a handle or didn’t have a strap or whatever. And it was fine most of the time until you traveled. So, again, you’ve got to think about where you’re going to use it or what you’re going to use it for. But for the most part people are carrying a laptop and a handful of other things around with them, right?

Bobby Rettew:
Yeah. And so my small leather bag – and I don’t mean to belabor the point but to your point – it has certain functions for stuff. It’s big enough that it carries all my things but it’s small enough if I’ve got to sit in the car with someone else I don’t feel uncomfortable holding it. And so I’ve got my moleskin. I carry a receipt folder so I can keep up with my receipts. It’s got to have a pen thing. The one thing I do like about this bag is that it’s got one separate file folder zipper area, that I can zip up, that I put all my daughter’s drawings and stuff so that I kind of protect them, so it doesn’t get mixed up with anything else.

Bobby Rettew:
And it’s got a big enough front pocket that I can just throw my sunglasses, and the bag within a bag with all my cables in it. So it’s perfect size and also I love the strap and I love the handle on it. The handle, to me, is very important. It’s comfortable in the hand.

Reed Smith:
Yeah. No, that makes a ton of sense. So that’s probably going to be what most people are carrying, right? I mean, it’s something to carry the laptop back and forth to the office. But I would say make sure it has enough room in there for cables, whether they’re a bag within the bag, or they’re just loose in the bag. But you’ve got a place for earbuds, you’ve got a place for cables. I’ll tell you another little device I like to keep is a headphone splitter so, [inaudible 00:07:53] if we’ve recorded something or somebody needs to hear something, you’re not sharing a pair of earbuds. They can plug their own earbuds in and that kind of a thing. You end up on the airplane with a colleague and they want to watch the movie on the iPad or whatever, that kind of thing.

Reed Smith:
I think it’s handy even though maybe it’s not an every day thing, that there’s room for an iPad plus a laptop, depending on what you’re doing, especially if you’re traveling or something to that effect. I think that’s super helpful.

Bobby Rettew:
And then I’ve got a little bit bigger laptop bag because I have a separate MacBook Pro 15″, right? It’s my powerful, maxed out, every possible high speed gadget built into that thing. That’s my media creator tool, right? So my laptop, the bag for it is bigger. And what I mean by bigger is that it has enough room for the 15″. The one that I use right now is made by Vanguard. And you know how you talked about the yellow inside? This one has orange inside and it’s a black bag, so it’s easy to find things. Of course, I like orange [inaudible 00:09:10]. But to your point, the thing I like about it too is that it’s got the sleeve on the back that you can put over your carry on bag, your suitcase, that you can sit it on top and it slips right over the handle.

Bobby Rettew:
And it has a cover, like your typical bag that you just open the flap, that you open up and when you look in it it’s got a compartment in it for the laptop. But the most important thing for the laptop holder, for me, is it has foam around it, so if I drop my bag it doesn’t destroy my laptop.

Reed Smith:
Yeah. I think that it’s great and somebody may have a favorite bag out there, like I’ve got a great leather bag that my wife gave me when I graduated college, which at this point was almost pre-Internet, but anyway… So it wasn’t made for a laptop, right? It was made for some file folders. Who in the world does that these days? I don’t know. But I can still use that bag, I just have to go get one of those neoprene sleeves or something like that to kind of insert in there to carry the laptop in the bag or what have you. So that’s cool. So you’ve got the every day. You’ve got the every day plus, if you will. So if you know you’re really going to be doing some power editing or need to do some editing or you’re going to be somewhere all day long, you don’t want to get too far away from that production side of the equation, you’ve kind of got that bag, right?

Bobby Rettew:
Yeah. And the other thing, not to belabor it but, it’s an expandable bag so I can open up the zip and it can double in size quickly. So I can add multiple hard drives into it, portable hard drives. It’s got a place just for your iPad to slip into a slot. So it’s got enough room for cables. It’s got a special zipper area for your thumb drives. And then it’s got a media card holder. So it’s literally dedicated to media cards that you just slip it right in these pockets and it velcros down so you can’t lose it.

Bobby Rettew:
And then it’s got a rain cover built into it so that I can pop it out real quick and cover all the electronics, which I love a lot. So I can make this bag as small or as big as possible. And the key for that is that it can still fit underneath the seat of an airplane. So when I travel I can stick it right at my feet if I want to.

Reed Smith:
Yeah. And I think that’s really important. So, again, understanding why you need a bag, where you’re going to use it, how you’re going to use it is all really important. So what kind of gear you’re going to put in there. It’s one of those things that you bought the bag and then later on you buy the 15″ laptop, it may not fit. It’s going to be super tight depending on what bag you got and things like that. So, again, a lot of it’s personal preference like a lot of this stuff. But I do think securable pockets, whether that’s Velcro, zippers, whatever it may be, the bright colored interior; those are all things that you don’t think a lot about until you start using it.

Bobby Rettew:
Yeah. The one thing I do do not like about this bag, that I could probably solve pretty quickly, is the strap. The strap has a special cover over the strap that puts on your shoulder to kind of cushion it. And the strap always crinkles up, it wraps up, and it drives into my shoulder. So that’s one downfall. I’m always about comfort. I don’t want it to hurt my shoulder when I’m carrying it, but that’s another personal preference. But we can put links to all this stuff up for people to look at to see what we’ve got.

Reed Smith:
Yeah. We’ll have some links in the show notes, especially based on the recommendations and things like that. All right, so, the other one that I think is becoming more popular that people don’t think a whole lot about. Guys out there have done this for years. And what I’m talking about is a shaving kit, but is a bag that goes inside of another bag, right? So you think about your overnight bag and you’ve got that shaving kit with your razor and tooth brush and all that stuff. My wife, for example, has the makeup bag or whatever it is. You’ve historically had bags that went inside other bags, we’ve just never done it much with our gear, so to speak, and gadgets and things like that. So what do you use? You’ve got a bag inside of a bag. What’s in it?

Bobby Rettew:
So this is one area that I did spend a lot of time researching, is that I carry lots of cables. And what I mean by cables is, it’s not just the power accessories. It is an audio cable. It is a VGA cord connector to the laptop. It’s the iPhone – you know how they took the earphone plug out – so it’s the converter from that to an audio cable. It’s every possible cable that I could need for presentational purposes or video purposes or whatever it may be. And so I really love ThinkTank has these cable management bags that are probably I would say eight inches – some could be as small as six inches by two inches – and they zip up. And they come with these little zip ties, expandable zip ties, that you can wind them up, put them in a bag, and it’s clear so you can see what’s in there on one side.

Bobby Rettew:
And then it does a really good job of fitting into my bags. If I put it on one side of that area of the bag I still have room to put my moleskin on the other side and I can put a business card in it. And so I like them because it allows me to put my connectors, everything for the laptop, inside one place. How about you? What do you use?

Reed Smith:
Yeah. I use something kind of similar. Those that know me, I tinker and build and do some different stuff, and I’ve gotten into leather working over the last several years. And so one of the things I’ve done is I’ve actually created or built kind of my own. So whether they be cable ties or I like what, historically, people thought of as a tool roll. Or you see people with knives in the kitchen. They go in the sleeve and then you roll it up kind of a thing. So I’ve done some things like that that works pretty well. I will say the downside to kind of the tool roll, if you will, is you have to unroll the whole dang thing to get to some stuff, right? And so on an airplane that’s not terribly convenient, whereas if you just had a small zipper bag it’s much easier to just hold that, unzip it, reach in there, pull out what you need, that type of a thing.

Reed Smith:
So, again, I think it depends on how much stuff you need to put in there. I know people that use a Mac laptop, you’ve got kind of the brick that’s kind of the power adapter piece, so that’s going to eat up a fair amount of room. The cables aren’t terribly large and then, too, if you have some of the newer Mac laptops and you’ve got the USB-C ports, well then you need a dongle for everything. So you’re going to have three or four of those. And then you’ve got the ones for your IOS devices and things like that and so it kind of depends. And if you give a lot of presentations maybe you’ve got the little clicker for your PowerPoint slides and those types of things. And so I think those are all things that stay in my bag that are in another bag. And then I kind of add to it with some of the hard drives and stuff like that.

Bobby Rettew:
Yeah. And I also use that ThinkTank management bag inside the bag for things like little tools. I’ve got to have small, little screw drivers, like Philips head and flat and special star-shape for different photo. And also, just to be honest with you, I’ve broken the dadgum screen on my iPhone so many times that I know how to flip it out now. So I can order something, I’ve got the tools, and I can fix it quick. So I keep all that stuff in a little bag along with a lens cleaner that I also use to clean my screen on my laptop. So I keep that stuff in a little bag.

Reed Smith:
Yeah. All right. So let’s talk a little bit about some recommendations. Again, on the consumer end, I would say it’s a bag that’s $50 or less and you like it. It doesn’t do anything specific, right? It probably has a laptop sleeve. It’s more of a messenger bag style or something along those lines. I don’t know if you have a brand that you really like or anything like that but you can go to the Apple store, you can go to Best Buy, and find those types of things, right?

Bobby Rettew:
Yeah. And even speaking to the ladies here. My wife has some really nice bags that rival what I do but are fashionable. They allow her to put her MacBook in it. She can pop a little handheld camera. Then she can put her wallet and all her other stuff and all the things for the kids in there at the same time. So I think it’s about functionality.

Reed Smith:
It is. And I’ve seen more of those. Actually, you mention that, it’s funny because I’ve seen some of those even in Best Buy. Again, they’re 40, 50 dollars. They’re not terribly expensive but it’s a nicer looking, it’s a larger purse like you see a lot of people carrying. It just happens to have a built in kind of laptop sleeve, a padded sleeve inside of it. So you wouldn’t know that it wasn’t just a regular purse and so you may be able to, not necessarily add another bag, but just alter the one that you’re carrying. So, again, that’s kind of your every day. Again, I like the Topo design. It does have a couple of different features where you can tie stuff onto it and even carry stuff strapped to it, like an umbrella or even a tripod if you really wanted to, I guess. But that’s my current personal preference.

Bobby Rettew:
Yeah. And for a professional side recommendation, I think it’s all about the gear. What are you trying to carry? So you’re probably going to spend 75 to 100 bucks plus, right? It’s got to be durable. It’s also got to fit inside airplanes, right? And so what I mean by airplanes, you’ve got to get in the upper case or below your feet. And you also want to get something that has padding. Who wants to spend another $2500 on a MacBook Pro, right? So it’s got to have padding and is collapsible. I’m all about collapsible or expandable so you can add stuff to it or drop it back down. And then, finally, it’s slick enough that you can walk into a board room meeting and not look like a crazy person, right?

Reed Smith:
Right. Right. And I think for the bag inside of the bag, the bag within if you will. Some bags come with that. You’re talking about expandable bags, some of them have some of that type stuff built in. But I would say go to somewhere like REI or something like that and check out what they have for small shaving kits, dopp kit type stuff. It’s going to be more of that. They’re not leather. They’re not the big, traditional shaving kit kind of a thing. They’re just small bags that aren’t real intrusive. And so you could use one of those and double it as, hey, that’s a great size for cables kind of a thing. Some of those things, think about that too, if that’s kind of more your style.

Bobby Rettew:
Yeah. And I’m a big Manfrotto person. I like a lot of their products. They bought one of my favorite bag companies, that was called Kata, that is from Israel and the reason why they’re so good is that the Israel bags, Kata, could survive a sandstorm. And so Manfrotto bought them. And they’re so durable and they’re also stylish and you can scale them up and scale them down. So I really like to look at those bags and you can find those bags at B&H Photo or on Amazon, and I like those two vendors because, typically, a bag is all about personal preference. They’ll ship it to you, you try it out, you don’t like it, send it right back. So I like their return policy.

Reed Smith:
Very cool. And like I said, it’s all personal preference. Go where you like. There’s enough technology floating around now that everybody’s including ways to carry your laptop and some of that basic stuff. And so to Bobby’s point, however, if you are moving into more of that space where you needed to be carrying a DSLR or tripods, things like that, you’re probably going to have to get more of a specific bag. Maybe from a photo store like B&H if you’ve got one in your local town. Of course, certainly Amazon and things like that, that’s a great way to look at it. Awesome. Awesome. All right. Well, that is another episode down. Talked a little about bags. I’m sure we’ll circle back to this one another time or two in the future.

Reed Smith:
But if you have thoughts, if you have a certain product, a certain type of product you’d like reviewed, like us to take a look at, want more information on, please let us know. Reach out. Of course, subscribe. Surf over to Touch Point dot health. Check out the other shows that we have. And we certainly appreciate your support. He is Bobby Rettew, I am Reed Smith, and we’ll see you next time.

Reed Smith:
This show is made possible in part by the Social Health Institute. Through research and partnerships with healthcare organizations around the country, the Social Health Institute explores new and innovative ways for hospitals, healthcare organizations, to develop and enhance their social media and digital marketing strategy. To learn more about the Social Health Institute visit them online at Social Health Institute dot com. That’s Social Health Institute dot com. This has been a Touch Point Media production. To learn more about this show and others like it please visit us online at Touch Point dot health.

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