Inspired by EmmettO and his version of a Possibles Bag, I decided to make my own.
The concept dates back to the trappers of the 1800s (and possibly before then). They would carry a bag with them that contained anything they could possibly need while away from home.
I have only been using it for about a month now and it is still very much a work in progress. I fully expect some of the items in the bag to leave and the possibility of others to take their place.
The first thing I did was make a list of all the things I might need on any given day. First I thought of all the things I might need when I am at work (since a large portion of our waking hours are spent there). Then I made a list of things I might need while out adventuring with my kids after work or on the weekends. And finally I thought of things I might need in other locations or situations. I started packing with things that showed up on more than one of my lists and once I had all those items I had room for some of the other items that were single list items.
I knew my bag was going to be bigger than EmmettO's because I wanted to not only include more things, but I also wanted room to carry things I might acquire through out the day.
Right off the bat a satchel style bag was out for two reasons.
1) I don't currently own one and wanted to make this out of things I already had
2) I didn't feel like having to correct people when they call it a "murse". I get enough of that correcting people who call my kilt a "man-skirt".
I decided to use a regular backpack for a few reasons
1) I have a high quality laptop backpack that I got at a previous job that has lots of interior room and is very comfortable to wear. The only complaint I have about the bag is how much padding there is between compartments. The padding consumes a considerable amount of interior room. in the future I may remove some of the padding but for now it is an "off the rack" backpack
2) This is a non-SHTF (defecation impacting a rotary oscillator as my dad would say) EDC (every day carry), so I went for a grey man design (blending into the crowd ability) over the tactical bag design that would offer more possibilities for storing/attaching equipment but tends to attract more attention.
The bag has the following compartments:
the main pocket is the entire height of the bag and has a velcro secured laptop pocket inside able to fit a full sized laptop. It is padded on all sides.
There is a slightly smaller second pocket in front of the main pocket.
Between the primary and secondary compartments is a shallow pocket (I believe it was designed for passports and airline tickets when traveling) mostly because of the red fabric that the pocket is lined with, I ended up using for a first aid pocket
The front pocket is the smallest pocket being slightly over half the height of the entire bag
The bag also has 2 mesh side pockets, one on each side.
**edit 5/27/2016** added link to the Wikipedia entry for pocket ref in the "Front Pocket" step
**edit 5/31/2016** added historic description of possible bag to intro step
Step 1: Primary Pocket
So far I have not brought my laptop with me anywhere, but the laptop pocket has come in hand for transporting paperwork in pristine condition.
The main pocket has a little over half of the space empty for anything I need to put in at a moments notice.
2 wrapped plasticware sets
Food organizer - 10 salt packets, 10 pepper packets, 4 sugar packets, 4 teabags, 2 emergen-C drink packets, 2 4C drink packets
Small tool organizer - 10 feet jute twine, 10 feet sisal twine, 2 binder clips, 2 paper clips, 10 feet scotch tape, 1 small chapstick, 2 cotton balls, 1 3 foot tape measure, 5 single edge razor blades, 15 feet electrical tape, 2 pencil sharpeners, 2 single use (.01 oz)super glue, 1 lighter, 25 toothpicks
Baby wipes in a ziploc bag
Hygiene Kit - 2oz dish soap, 2oz hand sanitizer, 1 mirror, 1 nail care kit (small and large nail clippers, nail file, emery board, cuticle trimmer), 6 floss picks, deodorant, hand lotion, hydrocortisone cream, 1 sewing kit ( 3 buttons, 4 safety pins, 2 sewing needles, 5 colors of thread), travel toothbrushed (prepasted), dental floss, toothpaste
Drybag with a change of clothes - tshirt, underwear, shorts (bathing suit actually), socks
Step 2: First Aid Pocket
3 panty liners
pack of tissues
3 single dose packets of Advil
medicine - diphenhydramine (benedryl), Ibuprofen (advil), Calcium Carbonate (tums), Loratadine (claratin)
2 sting relief wipes and sting relief stick
triple antibiotic ointment
3 alcohol wipes
3 antiseptic wipes
2 pairs nitrile gloves
First aid kit - basic first aid information pamphlet, 2 antiseptic wipes, 5 alcohol wipes, Tweezers, 2 single dose packets of Advil, assorted adhesive bandages, 10 cotton swabs
Step 3: Secondary Pocket
In addition to what is listed here, I have a compact multitool and a razorknife that I carry everyday.
Contents:1 towel - If you don't think this is a useful tool .. look up what Douglas Adams has to say about in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
1 13 gallon trash bag - useful in case you have something wet / messy / otherwise gross that you need to transport but you don't want it affecting the rest of your stuff. It will also make a decent waterproofing for the bag if you are caught out in a sudden rainstorm.
1 mylar emergency blanket - I have had to use this type of blanket twice in the past. totally worth the room it takes up for the peace of mind and warmth it is able to provide.
1 poncho - there are not many things that will bring your mood down as fast as having to travel in soggy britches
1 sawyer mini filter - water purification system
5 pill pouches - great for keeping small items organized. I use these extensively in my tackle box
1 tool kit - 1 bit driver with 12 assorted bits, 1 coil binding wire, needle nose pliers, regular pliers, hex keys, 6 large zipties, 12 small zipties, 10 razor knife replacement blades, jeweler screwdriver kit
Paracord and Duct Tape Keeper - **added 6/5/2016** -currently contains approx 70 ft of 550 paracord, 40 feet of duct tape, and 50 yards of 150 lb test nylon cord.
Paracord Fid- **added 6/5/2016** - Handy for getting the paracord woven into tight places.
No Longer in the bag:
1 Folding E-tool - as predicted this did not stay, I put it in mostly because the day before I started assembling this bag my girlfriend was looking for a small shovel while doing some yardwork
Step 4: Front Pocket
By far this pocket sees the most traffic.
1 mini USB cable and wall adapter - can use a USB port or plug into the wall
2 micro USB charger cords - 1 cord uses a USB port or a wall outlet (with the adapter)the other plugs into a wall only
Pocket Ref - if you can't look it up in here, you don't need to know it
1 rocket copter - a fun toy for day or night. It can also double as a reusable flare in a pinch
1 lined paper notepad - great for taking notes, leaving a message, or replacing that absentee note for your kid that you left on the counter
10 business cards
1 solar charger and device adapters - for when you are watching your power percentage slowly sink into single digits, and no outlets anywhere nearby
1 life gear flashlight / glow stick - great to use while walking after dark
1 whistle - if you need to attract attention, you can blow a whistle louder and longer than you can shout
1 chapstick - chapped lips are no fun
2 ball point pens - Aside from the charger cords, the writing implements in the bag are probably the most often used items
1 sharpie marker - for when a pen or pencil just won't get the job done
1 lint brush - it never hurts to look your best
1 pack post it notes - great for quick notes or temporarily labeling thing
1 pocket knife
1 deck playing cards
I realize a lot of these things may seem redundant considering the depth and scope of apps available on smartphones theses days: compass, notepad and writing instruments, pocket ref, flashlight, etc.
What happens if you can't get a signal because of terrain or structural interference?
What if your battery takes a dirt nap, or even worse .. you drop your phone in the toilet?
Savage smartphone eating weasels attack your pockets .. what?! .. don't look at me like that ..it could happen.
It is nice to have another way to get the information you need.
Two is one, One is none.
Step 5: Mesh Side Pockets
Left side pocket
Collapsible water bottle - Can be used on it's own or with the sawyer mini filter
Right side pocket
Steel water bottle
6/0 fishing hook - great for retrieving dropped items .. like keys dropped into a storm drain
2 small rare earth magnets - for when the hook won't work .. better hope what you are after is ferrous
ball point pen
Step 6: Other Features
The front pocket of the bag has daisy chain loops for storing additional items. Currently the only thing I have there is a USB rechargeable flashlight and a spare hair tie
The shoulder straps also have daisy chain loops but I have not used those for anything yet.