I came across a good video from the two guys (Matt and Eric) at The Goblin’s Corner. They talked about what they had in their convention survival backpacks. I had made a comment on their Discord server about the video, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to actually share what was usually in my convention backpack. If you haven’t seen the video, the link is posted above.
Now I’m not certain I’d call it a survival backpack, it’s just a backpack that I’ve used to make my life easier. Not just at conventions but for quick trips as well. Over the summer I had a chance for a quick day-trip on the train to see some family and this was the first thing I grabbed since I wanted to travel light. I also use this backpack to transport my laptop to and from USS Ticonderoga Star Trek Club meetings since I conduct the video conferencing for the remote attendees.
Matt and Eric had their listing broken down into several categories. I’ll be following it roughly (I don’t have some of the items that they included on their list). This includes the bag itself and several categories of what it contains.
So after looking over several different options for a laptop backpack, I selected the Matein Travel Laptop Backpack. I’ve had this for a year now and I’ve found it very durable. Besides protecting the laptop with padding, it also protected me by having some good pads on the lower back and shoulders. The top handle and shoulder straps are also very well padded. At one SaltCON I had several hours between games so I put on the backpack and hiked a mile to a nearby mall to meet the family and friends for lunch. Even with all of the items in the backpack it was comfortable to walk in. This backpack also had lots of internal and external pockets. One of these internal pockets was for a cell phone charger that you could connect to an external port on the backpack itself. Allowing me to run a charging cord to this port to power up my phone or tablet.
Out of all of the colors that was available, I selected the grey covering. This gave me an opportunity to allow my geek flag to fly. On the backpack I was able to add several geek pins. These included a Star Trek: The Next Generation combadge that I had retired from cosplay use, a D-20 pin to show off my RPG side, a TARDIS pin for my Doctor Who fandom, a Red Dwarf pin (those were hard to find) and a stylized Boba Fett pin that I had purchased from an artist at a convention. I still have room for another pin or two if I happen to come across any good ones.
Now one point from The Goblin’s Corner video that I’d like to re-state here. You don’t need to fill your bag up all the way. It would be best to limit this to 1/3 full so you have a place to put in your purchases and SWAG. Even when I stuffed in my light jacket into my bag, I could tell the difference.
First Aid and Health Items:
Some of these items I picked up online, other items just came from a local store. Hand sanitizer is a must, and in the small bottles, can be easily stored. When I’ve finished using a bottle filed with prescription medication, I’ve saved the bottle to use for travel/convention purposes. The bottle in the image contains the standard ibuprofen, but I’ve had others that contained my daily allotment of pills and vitamins. A pack of travel tissues has come in handy on several occasions. While I haven’t needed to use it yet, I’m very grateful that the emergency rain poncho is very compact to keep in the backpack. Another compact item is several KN-95 masks. You can use them yourself if you find out that someone is sick at a convention (convention crud is something I’ve had to deal with in the past) plus you can offer one if you have several available.
One of the items that I did add after watching Matt and Eric’s video was a small First Aid kit. I didn’t really have one before but thought it would be a good idea. I selected a small one that was compact enough to slip into the health portion of my backpack.
Snacks and Water:
The water bottle that I use is in the previous picture because I wanted to show it next to the side mesh pouch on the backpack. I didn’t want one that was bigger than the pouch, but sturdy enough to be knocked about on the outside of my backpack. Most convention centers now have water refilling stations. With the smaller bottle, it also wouldn’t add too much weight when it was full.
I only show some of the granola bars that I had readily available. But I would also include items like nuts and other high protein snacks. These would usually be something that would tide me over until I was able to get to a proper meal. Plus with them being factory sealed, I could offer it to someone without them worrying about what was in it.
Entertainment, Electronics and other items:
I love living in a modern world with some of the technological advances available right now. When I’m going to a convention I leave my laptop at home, but I bring my Kindle tablet (with the special carrying case that has a Bluetooth keyboard). On this tablet I have loaded the rule-books for the games that I have signed up for and several other reading items that I can use.
I do carry a wall charger for my electronic devices and a Bluetooth headset for phone calls or music. One of the pet peeves that I’ve developed is when people walk around holding their phone in front of them like they are going to take a bite. Talking with the person by speaker phone out in public just bugs me. I really don’t want to hear your conversation.
I mentioned above that the backpack has an internal pocket for a rechargeable battery that can be hooked to an external port. The battery I selected was the RETSMR power bank. It was a little more expensive than the smaller rechargeable batteries that you can find, but it recharged my phone just as fast as it was plugged into a wall outlet. I found that the smaller rechargeable batteries would just barely charge my devices keeping them alive until I could get to a wall outlet.
The grey item next to the power bank is the special cover to my Rocketbook Core Reusable Notebook. I could use a special pen to write down my ideas or notes, and then using the app, scan these notes into a PDF format to send to my cloud storage. With just a spray of water and a cloth, the pages could then be wiped clean. It gave me the benefit of writing things down (and allowing me to remember it better) and having it at my fingertips online. I’ve had this for a year and will probably dedicate an entire blog post to it’s uses. For writing on the character sheets that are given to me at a game, I do carry several mechanical pencils.
Other items in the photo include my big dice bag (not always carried) and the small North-to-South Gaming set that I reviewed in 2022. The 20-in-One Card Deck has also come in handy for a variety of reasons (dice, card games, etc.) Most conventions will sell badge holders that you can re-use at other events. These are handy to also hold business cards you pick up before you can scan them. And the last item you see is a glasses emergency repair kit that I got with my last pair of glasses. You never know when you might need them.
Differences in my bag compared to Matt and Eric’s:
So Matt and Eric mentioned several different items that I don’t find necessary, or perhaps I need to consider. At gaming conventions I’m not really cosplaying so I don’t carry a cosplay repair kit. At the conventions I am cosplaying at, I usually have a special bag with those items in it.
While I have partaken of alcohol at past conventions, it is not the primary reason I attend a con. However I will say that I really appreciated some of the safety points that they brought up in the discussion of alcohol and other chemical items.
This last item I’m still thinking about. Spare clothing. The gaming convention I primarily attend is nearby and I could easily run back home if needed. But that may not always be the case. Even just a spare shirt, socks and underwear take up a little bit of room (if my jacket experience has taught me anything). Especially if I have a backpack full of purchased books. The backpack should contain items I may immediately need (like the headache medicine or snacks). Clothing could easily be stored in my car or hotel room. Perhaps an experiment at an upcoming convention is in order.
So there is a look into my convention backpack. Part of my convention ritual is making sure that I have everything packed up (and electronic devices properly charged) before the convention. I write a to-do list in my Rocketbook. Did I miss something that should be in my backpack? Is there something I should take out? Tell me about it. This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com or click on my social media links with any comments.