The Road To CES: A Peek Inside Our Gadget Bags

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When you’re a small team going to cover the biggest electronics show in the world, every person has to act as a Swiss Army knife, able to fill any role at any time. This generally produces an incredibly heavy bag, packed with spare cameras, lenses, batteries, cords, and of course a laptop. Luckily for us, our live-camera approach to covering the show takes a bit of that burden off of our sagging shoulders now, but old habits die hard and it’s good to be prepared just in case.

Aren’t you curious what’s filling your favorite bloggers’ bags to bursting? We’ve rounded up the items we’ll be taking to CES, arrayed them, and described them for your benefit. Take a look.

Matt Burns


If computer bags were living things, I would entrust the Ogio Hip Hop messenger bag with my kids and Netflix password. It’s that good and has been my loyal partner to countless tradeshows and events. It’s not a very large bag so it takes a bit of finagling to fit everything including a Late 2010 15-inch MacBook Pro and a Canon 60D that I rarely use. The Canon S95 is my go-to walkaround camera. However, I lug the 60D around for its telephoto lens and 1080p video mode. A Zoom H1 mic (and hot shoe mount) assists the 60D and also works great for impromptu interviews.

More often than not batteries die throughout the day. I use a Verizon iPad for web browsing and Twitter rather than firing up the Core i7 MBP for those simple tasks. Also, my grandmother-in-law gave me a solar powered USB battery pack last year. I think she got it from QVC. I never use the solar part, but I still love it. It features selectable voltage, a little flashlight and two USB ports for recharging gadgets. Best of all, it has a huge capacity and recharges over USB.

New this year is a Verizon SCH-LC11 4G Hotspot that will hopefully work deep within the Las Vegas Convention Center. I’ll also be sporting a WiMM One watch. This watch was clearly inspired by the iPad Nano. The screen is fantastic and designed to function as a watch first rather than a media device with a clock app. It’s also slightly smaller than an iPad nano, allowing it to fit a lot better on my girly wrists. Plus, it connects to your phone via Bluetooth for updates and features several apps including a pre-paid Starbucks card. It’s perfect for CES.

Lastly, lip balm and gum. Spending a week in Vegas without lip balm is akin to the Amazon with only one pair of socks.

Jordan Crook

Even though I’m the only female in the TechCrunch Gadgets crew, I’ll still likely be packing lighter than most of my male counterparts. This is partially because I don’t actually have that much stuff, and partially because I will be stealing their stuff throughout the course of the show.

What I do bring, however, will be coddled sweetly by the Chrome Krakow bag which I reviewed just a few months ago. It’s easy to get stuff in and out of this bag, which is pretty crucial at a place where you’re just walking.. and walking.. and walking..

Contents will include my trusty 13-inch MacBook Pro, a hand-me-down Olympus PEN EPL-1 micro four-thirds that was given to me by Biggs, a Sony Tablet S (review unit) for taking notes in any situation where I’ll be standing, and a bunch of phones.

My new iPhone 4S will, of course, be in my pocket where it belongs, but since mobile is predominantly my beat I like to have at least one model for each of our big three operating systems. That said, I’ll probably bring the LG Nitro HD to represent Android since I can use it as a hotspot and it’s quick like lightning (read: AT&T 4G LTE). On the Windows front, I’ll be sporting a Samsung Focus Flash because it’s small and comfortable.

The usual bevy of chargers and USB cords will of course be in tow, and I’ll likely be jacking Matt’s connection from his new Verizon SCH-LC11 4G Hotspot if the Nitro HD lets me down.

Last but certainly not least (and possibly most important) are my new Nike kicks, which will be just as crucial as the Krakow while I’m walking… and walking… and walking…

John Biggs

I try to carry a different bag every time I travel. This one is called the Powerbag Instant Messenger and it has a little battery in it for charging gadgets. There is an iPhone cable and a USB jack. I always run out of juice half way through the day at these shows so I’m bringing this bag, another external battery that I usually connect to my phone and carry in my pocket during the second half of the day, and a huge laptop back-up battery, not shown.

I also have a 60D there with a 50mm lens, a macro zoom, and a huge lens we rented from LensRentals.com. It’s a 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS and it weighs 3 pounds.

Those cables are a collection I’ve gathered over the years. I always bring an external Ethernet jack for the MacBook Air (also not pictured) and an Ethernet cable. I have two Micro USB cables, an iPad/iPhone cable, and a few small chargers. I also have a nice mic in that little black bag there as well as a lav mic for recording in a pinch. Those batteries are in there for no good reason – I have nothing that uses them, but I bought them once and they transfer from bag to bag with me.

I’ve also got my Bose headphones there. I know there are better ones out there but these last a long time, are very comfortable over long periods, and I’m just used to them. I have a Droid Global in there, a Google Nexus, and a Lumia 710. I also have a paper magazine because I hate not having anything to do during take-off and landing. I always make sure to have “No Surprises” by Radiohead on my phone. It’s a talismanic song I that I play when we cross the Rockies and it gets turbulent.

Chris Velazco

I always make it a point to travel light, but considering this is my first CES, I wanted to make sure all of my bases were covered.

These days I use the Ogio Squadron RSS backpack, which I first starting playing with during Bag Week. I’m still not entirely sold on the white/gold color scheme, but my inner pack rat loves all the space it affords me.

I’ll be carrying my usual load, which consists of my work-issue 15-inch MacBook Pro for all the heavy lifting and my AT&T iPad 2 for everything else. As one of the team’s resident mobile nerds, I bring my iPhone 4S and Galaxy Nexus everywhere, but that’s not all I’ve got for connectivity. I’ve also got mobile hotspots from AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, just to be safe.

Of course since I’m an idiot, I forgot to take a few things out ofthe bag before I took the picture. You’ll just have to take me at my word when I say there’s a Ziploc bag full of USB cables and AC adapters tucked away in there, along with a Logitech M705 Marathon Mouse. Also not pictured is my go-to camera, the Panasonic GF2, for possibly obvious reasons.

And of course, who could forget the miscellaneous bits: a tin of Altoids (for the inevitable coffee breath), a tube of Burt’s Bees for my fragile lips, and a sketchbook for quick notes. Now all I need is to remember to bring the bag with me as I walk out the door, and I should be all set.

Devin Coldewey

I’m traveling light this year. Normally I’d bring a spare camera, two other lenses, and probably at least two video cameras just in case, plus a hard drive for photo storage. But with our focus on live video (which we’ll also be recording and snipping up), all that stuff isn’t quite as necessary.

So I’ve got my old Canon XSi (due for replacement, either with a T3i or X-Pro1) with the excellent 35mm f/2 on there, great for product shots though a little narrow for environments. We rented a nice fat zoom for press conferences, but I’m not carrying that thing around unless absolutely necessary. I’ll also be testing out a Panasonic GX-1 at the show (review afterwards), which will serve as a spare video device.

There’s a MacBook Air fully loaded, with plenty of space on its SSD for photos, so an external drive wasn’t necessary. Besides, that orange USB stick is 64 gigs. The silver one is waterproof, and so is my phone, in case I fall into the canals at the Venetian. I’m bringing a DS with the latest Layton in it and a nice light SF novel for the plane and down times. Then a pen a notebook from Muji for the occasional scribble. And a switchblade for the snitches. All this will go in the spacious and gadget-oriented Booq Mamba Shift.

Clearing up luggage space means I can also bring a little Seattle to Vegas, in the form of some decent coffee. I know it sounds ridiculous, but the truth is that the coffee in Vegas isn’t very good, and a damn fine cup in the morning is a great way to start the day. So I’m bringing my Porlex hand burr grinder, a single-serving french press, and a freshly-roasted batch of Cafe Ladro’s darkest. You can come to my room and have some, but the only payment I take is trade secrets.