Our Portable Culture Portrait blog series features TOM BIHN Forum members, the bags they carry, and the items they carry in their bags. It’s inspired by our Portable Culture tagline. This edition features Forum member Badger. The previous editions featured Forum members haraya, imahawki, Amy, Perseffect, jujigatame and bchaplin.

What’s the most useful item that you carry?
TOM BIHN item: The Organizer Pouch in Mini and Small. While I do have multiple pouches in other sizes, I find myself turning to the Mini and Small sizes again and again. They’re just the right size for any bag, and can hold a lot without taking up too much space.

Organizer Pouches are also a low-risk way to check out a new or different color. I’ve discovered many colors I like by just trusting that the Crew will pick something good; even when I determine that I probably wouldn’t want a big item like a backpack in a certain color, the pouches still get a lot of use. I really like them (as the photo below attests).

Non-TOM BIHN item: Aside from my phone, the most useful items I carry are a memo book and pen. I usually have a few Field Notes in my Everyday Carry (EDC) lineup: I use one for work assignments and keeping track of my billable hours; in another, I take notes and make bibliographic records of the books and journal articles I’m reading; in yet another, I make lists of various sorts—it’s a catch-all for things I don’t want to forget. They’re a relatively inexpensive indulgence, and work well for me since my handwriting is on the diminutive side.

In addition to notebooks, I love pens and I’m happy I can justify buying lots of them since they’re practical (so I tell myself). I’ve recently become interested in fountain pens, and I’ll often have one in my bag, but Japanese gel and rollerball pens with nice grips are probably what I use most.

Finally, sunglasses—any sunglasses—are vital to my daily functioning and happiness. I’m photophobic so if I lose or forget my sunglasses, I end up flailing around sightlessly like a naked mole rat.

What’s your most treasured item?
I don’t own many things that are irreplaceable. I certainly have belongings that would be irritating to lose or damage, like my laptop, but I don’t feel emotionally attached to them. Ironically, I treasure many of my bags far more than the items they contain. They attain a sort of uniqueness of character from the way I interact with them and the history we share—for example, the way the bag drapes from how I’ve carried it for years, as well as the fabric’s patina and even the way the zipper pulls operate.

I’ve got levels of attachment to my bags and accessories; often, I’m more fond of ones I’ve received as gifts. When I use something that was given to me (like the 3D Organizer Cube in the middle picture above—thanks, Janine!), I’m reminded of my friends’ generosity and thoughtfulness. It’s also kind of a way of having them along with me on my travels.

Which item do you use more often than you thought you would?
TOM BIHN item: Without a doubt, it’s the Travel Tray (pictured above on the right). I wasn’t quite sure what the fuss was about, but once I had one I found all sorts of uses for it. Over the years I’ve amassed four of them, and each is employed daily around the house or as a travel item. It’s great for holding cables, chargers, or other fiddly bits, and is useful in the car or on the plane because it can be cinched closed and carried by the drawstring. Once I’m at my destination, I dump the contents of my pockets into it, along with other things that would be most unfortunate to leave behind (wallet, phone charger). If I ever forget to bring one on a trip, I kick myself.

Non-TOM BIHN item: It seems like it’s some sort of universal EDC requirement to have at least one pocketknife and multitool. Maybe it’s got something to do with that saying that a hammer can always find a nail that needs pounding, but I got one of each a few years ago and I use them so often for little tasks that I keep them within easy reach on my desk when I’m home. So far, I’ve managed to resist the urge to collect them.

Here’s the rest of my EDC lineup:

Left

  • Lighter, a couple of band-aids, Ultrasuede cleaning cloth in Mini Organizer Pouch
  • Hand sanitizer, tissues, eye drops, painkillers, and Badger lip balm (naturally), in Small Organizer Pouch
  • Anker dual USB charger, Jackery Bar, retractable USB-to-Lightning cable, USB-to-micro USB cable, in Small Organizer Pouch

Middle

  • A4 Rhodia Ice Pad, Field Notes, Hobonichi Techo Weeks 2017 planner
  • Leatherman Juice multitool, Spyderco Dragonfly pocketknife, Foursevens mini flashlight
  • Page flags, Lamy Safari fountain pen, Uni Jetstream rollerball, Pilot Juice gel pen, Staedtler pigment liners in .05 and .01 tip sizes

Right

  • Keys, MyWalit Wallet (I keep these in my pockets)
  • A light layer (Patagonia Lightweight Capilene long-sleeve crew), Ibex merino wool hat
  • Confectionery—often mints but today, Mango Hi-Chew
  • Sunglasses and their case, Shure SE215 earbuds, in their own case, affixed to a Key Strap

Not pictured: an iPhone 6, with which I took these stunning photos

Anything else?
In my opinion, the most underrated marsupial is the wombat.