Monday, February 9, 2009

The James Bond Kit

Those of you who are following my Twitter feed are no doubt aware that a week ago I received, as an early birthday present, a shiny new laptop: an Acer Aspire 5515. Unfortunately, it runs Vista; fortunately, it has 3 gigs of RAM so it's actually fast enough to run that beast at a decent speed. But its best feature, as far as I'm concerned, is an inbuilt wi-fi, because that means I can now escape to the nearest library or coffee shop and write without the constant distractions of my family, whom I love dearly except when they're bothering me.

However, there is one small, almost trifling problem: this laptop is too big to fit my old (non-wi-fi) laptop case.

You'd think this wouldn't be a problem. It gives me an opportunity to shop for accessories, and according to cliche', that's what women live for. And I do like looking for the right bag. The problem, my dears, is that I can't find what I'm looking for.

When I was 6 or 7, my parents took me to see my very first James Bond film, and like most children I was immediately captivated by all the gadgets. Not only by how nifty they were, but how small they were as well (this was years before the Transformers came out, by the way), and how they were used at precisely the right time.... oh, Eddie Izzard explains it much better than I:

Yes, quite. So anyway, after seeing this James Bond movie, one of my first acts was to go home and assemble what I called a James Bond Kit. It sounds impressive, sure, but really it was just an old tote bag filled with various toys that I thought could be marginally useful in a James Bond style scenario:
  • a cheap flashlight
  • a plastic canteen
  • a toy compass
  • a toy knife
  • a jump-rope, which I could turn into a lasso, or tie someone up with, or use as a garrote
  • a set of my mother's old crochet hooks, which I thought looked a little bit like lock picks
  • some jacks, which I thought could make dandy caltrops
As you can see, it rather failed at being truly James Bond-ish, but you can't deny the thinking that went into it: These are things I think will be useful in a pinch, and I want them all in an easy-to-carry bag. I'd also like to note for completeness' sake that I spent my elementary school years on military bases in Europe during the Cold War, so that also helps explains why my kit was closer to a half-asses Boy Scout's rucksack than actual cool super-spy gear.

No joke: I actually grew up afraid that one day, we'd get a call in the middle of the night that the Russians were pouring across the borders, and that I'd have to abandon my dog and my toys to go hide in the countryside while my father went off to war. That probably explains quite a lot about me and my quirks.

Now, fast-forward many years. I'm older and more sophisticated, but I still haven't outgrown the notion of a James Bond kit. Nowadays, I have a backpack that I take most places (hanging rakishly off one shoulder, natch) that contains the following:
Then there's the stuff in the trunk of my car:
  • bolt cutters
  • survival blanket/tarp/poncho
  • entrenching tool
  • big-ass Mag Light flashlight
I don't do this out of paranoia. I'm not afraid that at some point I'll need to flee civilization and survive in the wild for years. (If I did, I'd own an off-road vehicle, and it would have camping gear and rations in it.) No, I just kind of pick this stuff up, because it seems nifty and useful and, well, James Bond-ish.

Which brings us back to my quest for the proper bag for my laptop. You see, it can't JUST hold my laptop; it also needs to hold all my other crap, too, because at this point I'm carrying several pounds of metal and I'm starting to get funny looks when I set my bag down and it goes clink.

I want a bag that can hold all this stuff, but more importantly, it can't just be thrown in there. Oh no. Because, you see, this is a JAMES BOND KIT, and that can't be girly. Stuff just tossed into the main pocket? Exceptionally girly, because that's just an oversize purse.

I want something that's tough. Utilitarian. Military. Perhaps even ridiculously macho.

I want this sucker to have reinforced grommets. I want it to be made from ripstop nylon. I want it waterproof, rainproof, bulletproof if possible. I want my laptop to be cradled in a shockproof cocoon of foam rubber. And I want it to have dozens, perhaps hundreds, of pouches, snaps, tie-downs, pockets, and those expandable holdy-things that can hold a 2 liter soda bottle but compress into a slot the size of a credit card.

God help me, I want a computer bag designed by Rob Liefeld, because there is something just obscenely decadent about each tool having its own little pocket, snuggled up asleep in an individual cocoon.

... okay, on second thought, having a little nest for every tool is actually pretty girly after all. I would indeed tuck them each into place, like a mother putting her children to bed at night. But I digress...

Still, the problem with desiring a Rob Liefeld Bag is that, much like his anatomical drawing, such things are clearly impossible to find in real life.

So I turn to you, my dear readers, to help me find the nearest equivalent of a Rob Liefeld Bag for my James Bond Laptop Kit. It doesn't even have to be an actual laptop bag (in fact, I'm pretty sure it won't, as those seem restricted to either "oversized purse" or "leather attache case" categories); I'm fine with repurposing bags designed for other uses.

So far, the closest I have come to fulfilling my design aesthetic is a SWAT Bag, but even that not quite what I want. I definitely feel that military surplus is the way to go, but am willing to consider other options (like what they transport camera lenses in) as long as they satisfy my "tons of pockets" needs.

Color, of course, needs to be either gray or black.

Price should be in the "expensive, because you're paying for quality" range, but lower than "Oh my God you paid HOW MUCH?",
which is probably in the $50 - $100 range.

I can't really promise any fabulous prizes for helping me find my ideal Rob Liefeld Bag, but as longtime reader Nathan Tamayo will attest, if you do something nice for me, I do something nice in return. So send me your ideas, your links, your witty comments, and not only will I write a follow-up post containing the best of these, but I will do or give something quite spiffy to the winner.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go put on my jam trousers.


  1. One of the first things I learned when I was on a survival course is that the worst thing you can bring on a survival trip if you want a knife is a swiss army knife.
    Prone to breaking (more so than a quality knife), poor ergonomics and if you break one tool you're likely to break all of them.

    A good sturdy no-frills fixed blade knife with a full tang (going all the way through so that you can improvise a new handle if it breaks).

    As for the bag. Hard to say. Sound like you're searching for something like an even more extreme version of the Otterbox 7030.

  2. Also found the "Code Alpha Black Tactical Computer Attache"

    Don't know how good quality it is though.

    Looks...tactical though =P

  3. Couple of add-ons:

    A very, very basic camping kit. I haven't purchased it so I can't vouch for the quality of the components:

    Also a few feet of paracord in a nice bundle can be useful, but I hear it's kind of a pain to wash stains and smells out:

    MY bag search continues.

  4. My first thought was Thinkgeek too:

  5. My husband has a bag he got from army surplus that sounds a lot like your description, except it's army green, natch. I'm still waiting for the right moment to steal it from him and make it my knitting bag.

    I'm not as conscientious about it as you are, but I tend to carry around a bunch of stuff I rarely use, too, "just in case." This is why my purse always weighs at least 20 pounds and I have back problems.

  6. I have no idea, but when you find it, I want one too!

  7. I've never found the proper bag. As a result, I have all manner of just-not-quite-right bags and am always angry and unsatisfied.

    I wish you luck.


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