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What's In Your Bag?

Murse, Man bag, Organizer, we have all heard the terms that have been used to describe the accessory that many men have been carrying the last few years. Something that people fail to realize as they poke a bit of fun at those who carry a bag is that throughout humanitie’s development men throughout the world have carried a bag as a means of transporting what they felt were necessities.

These conveyances were used to carry more than money or a debit card. They were used to carry items that could mean the difference between making it home or perishing. A bit of cordage, fire starting materials, perhaps a few items to assist in the gathering of food all had a spot in the bag.

My article is not to review the history behind the bag. That in my opinion has been done by those who are much more qualified than I am. The purpose of my article is to share with others what’s in my bag and why. Be prepared though for an opinion or two as things progress.

Let’s examine why the bag has returned after such an absence. When I first started seeing men carry around what I decided was a purse I used to laugh and poke fun. After thinking about it though I realized I was wrong. I realized that for the most part these progressive thinking men had come up with an answer to the problems that today’s society presented them by taking a look back at our past and fashion be dammed the bag was once again picked up in an effort to deal with the challenges of today’s environment.

For example take a look at what a mid level executive has to deal with on a daily basis. If he is lucky he has an office or his own car constantly at his disposal. For him having what he needs is only a few feet away. Take that same person and remove those two luxuries and how does he cope?

They don’t.

Sure, a briefcase or bag for a Laptop is always available, but with the inclusion of a few items that one cannot live without the space normally reserved for said Laptop or other files becomes rather limited.

Wear the items….For the executive, appearance is everything. The clean lines of a nice suit can be quickly ruined by a variety of cases and holsters hanging off a belt or stuffed in a pocket.

Time, that one thing none of us have enough of. Let’s use our Executive again as our example. While quickly opening a letter he cuts his finger. No big deal, just get a Bandage, but he does not have a bandage. Now if he is lucky there might be a first aid kit handy. If not a trip to a pharmacy where he is sure to find elevated prices due location is in order.

But, with a bag…our executive quickly reaches down, retrieves a small first aid kit commonly found in most stores wipes off the blood with a bandanna bandages himself and continues on with his day.

I could go on with examples all day. Not just with an executive being the center of the story either, men from all walks of life have taken to carrying the bag. I am a good example of this, my “Office” is 75 feet in length, travels at speeds up to 65 MPH, and at any given time can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. I drive a Truck for a Living and I carry a Bag too…..

“What” a Truck Driver carrying a “Murse” as my Wife is so happy to call it. The truth is I do and here is why.

There are many reasons, but one of the most important is Time, and not just in my professional life but my personal as well. Every moment lost because of a delay is a moment lost heading down the road to my destination or a moment lost with family and friends when outside the truck.

As you can see from the pictures the items I have come to rely on do not weigh all that much, in fact there is plenty of room left over for other items to be included as I see fit depending on what activities I see ahead of me on any given day. Let’s say that I will be spending the day at a Soccer Tournament with my Boys, or lounging at the pool. Plenty of room for a book, a few snacks, and of course a Camera to record the day’s events for posterity.

Please remember that my bag just like my life is a work in progress. So with that being said lets have at it.

As it stands now the items I show here are the ones that are carried constantly, with the exclusion of my Swiss Army Knives, keys, and Flashlight. Those items are carried on my person and in the case of the Swiss Army Knives can change as I see fit, all depending on what I am doing that particular day.

Do I feel that the contents of my bag constitute a “Survival Kit”…Not really, I am sure though in a pinch with the contents of my bag I could stay warm, dry, and hydrated for a short period of time. When out and about on a hike or other planned outdoor activity I carry a backpack with a bit more than the contents of the bag.

My first priority when I put my bag together was basic first aid, I am talking about dealing with a minor cut or ache and pain. As of late the kit I have is one that I picked up at Cabela’s for about 5 dollars or so that still had room for a few items I wanted to add to it, like cold and flu medication. My first aid kit in it’s many incarnations has proven it’s worth many times. I cannot count how many times my Wife has asked me for an aspirin or I have patched up a cut or scrape on myself or others. Dental Floss is another item that has found a home there. Not just for the obvious reasons either. With a needle handy sewing a button back on or patching the seat of my pants has been a minor delay, and of course a moment of laughter. Not I need to go home and change. I do however keep a “Battle Dressing” in my bag in the event of a really severe injury.

Being able to effect a minor repair is always a good thing. Sometimes being able to get something to hold together until one get’s where they are going is good enough.

Swiss Army Knives are great. There is much that can be and has been accomplished with one. I am not disputing that. On the other hand, sometimes a tool designed for one purpose can make the task go a bit quicker, or when used in conjunction with a Swiss Army Knife what could not be done suddenly becomes reasonable. For that reason I included two of the most basic tools in any Toolbox today. Slip-Joint Pliers and Stubby Screwdriver with multiple bits.

Of Course, a Roll of Duck Tape has found a home as well in the Bag. Right now it’s a small roll of Gorilla Tape. As a side note this stuff has lived up to the advertising! Be careful where you put it. One could easily become the victim of an impromptu “Bikini Wax” if used improperly.

Being able to make a fire is important no matter where you are. Just imagine being caught somewhere and having nothing but the contents of your bag and needing to stay warm, dry, and most importantly hydrated when the only water around is questionable. With a bit of scrounging, some luck, and the contents of my bag I should be able too.

I keep a supply of matches and a few other items such as sewing needles, and fishhooks in a Five in One Match Safe. With this I have a whistle, basic compass to at least determine a cardinal direction and a rather small flint. I would always rely on the flint on my keys, but any additional fire starter at no additional weight is welcome. From what I have learned over the years tinder is the biggest problem when gathering one’s materials for a fire. I carry a second Match Safe filled with Cotton balls soaked in Petroleum Jelly. Not only are they a great tinder, but the jelly can be used for chapped lips, tender areas due to a rash, or lubricating a small piece of machinery such as a firearm or fishing reel in a pinch.

Getting back to an early example concerning our “Executive” is just one of the many reasons for carrying a Bandanna. In the case of my bag the Bandanna is a back up to the one I always carry on my person. From Bloody Noses to Iced over Mirrors on my Truck a Bandanna has been pressed it to more uses than just wiping the sweat from one’s brow. With a few other items it can even be pressed into service as the first step to purifying questionable water.

Speaking of water that is one area where I feel I need a bit of improvement. The vessel I choose to transport a “Thirst Quencher” although stylish is definitely a bit fragile. I am about low cost with my bag, but here I think I need to spring for something a bit more durable.

However in my opinion this raises what I feel is an important issue when it comes to stocking a bag. Cost!

Why, let us use a Rolex Watch as an example. As most know Rolex Watches start at several thousand dollars and go from there. Are you getting a great watch? Definitely, but if your someone of average financial means like myself are you going to wear it constantly?

I doubt that I have more than 30 dollars tied up in the contents of my bag. Let’s face it, no matter how careful one is leaving the bag behind somewhere in a moment of forgetfulness is always a possibility, or stolen. Having a bag with several hundred dollars tied up in it will make me leave it at home the one time I desperately need the contents.

Another good example of cost cutting inside my bag is my “Poncho”. Well actually it is a large drop cloth left over from a house painting project. Big enough to cover me and a few people in the event of a rainstorm or with the addition of some dental floss a very basic shelter from the elements.

As for the bag itself, that was a Christmas gift from my Wife a couple of years back. I am a huge fan of “24” and one year the bag was on Fox’s Gift Page for the show. She paid about 40 dollars or so for it.

Fox does not offer the bag anymore, but much to our chagrin we have found what appears to be the same bag on several sites for about half that price. No regrets, the bag has held up well and spawned the name “Jack Bag” compliments of the CTU logo on the front.