Finally posting, a week later. I wrote this post many days ago and held off posting waiting until I could upload pictures. Last week I was out of town (no riding, no posting) and never did get the pictures taken. Lacking a new post I'm slapping this up.
Or the bike rack, as the case may be.
Last Friday Fritz over at Cyclelicious did what he called a "bag dig" to see what he had in his mess bag. His dig was inspired by Jennifer in Chicago doing something similar and posting the results. And Fritz, in turn, inspired a number of others including Noah at KC Bike Commuters posting a list and contest, Ed at CycleDog listing two different bags (one of which apparently carries an invisible cinder block - I was wondering where mine got to), Jared in Austin dumped his bag, Da' Square Wheelman found a short story written a little ways back, Steve braved his Sack of Doom, and just to keep the cyclic nature of reality in full swing, Jen returned to the fold with a second (third, based on the title) evaluation of her gear.
And now, because I won't be riding tomorrow and will be missing my bike, I'll jump in. I carry two bags normally. On the bike is an Out Your Backdoor 5-way bag. I have it hung on my handlebars (which still needs a little adjustment because, as you can see in the pic, it hangs funny with the headlight there). It works great as my "bike stuff" bag, with the tools going in the small front pocket, and the lock and other large items going in the main compartment. Since the bike parking at my work is hidden away I can leave this on my bike without worry (although on the occasions where I've had to leave my bike overnight in the garage I've brought the bag up to my office).
The other bag I carry is my Timbuk2 messenger bag. I had one for my original commuting bike, before I got a rack, and just stuck with it. Especially while in grad school using the "bag on a rack" model worked great for me - no sweaty back and no repacking. Among the different items that get tossed in the mess bag are the thermometer and Purell strapped to the zipper, my pocket Constitution and Bill of Rights from Cato (you never know), EMS and NIMS FOGs (Field Operation Guide) from Informed (I'm an emergency planner - gotta be ready), a small "Paddler Medic" first aid kit from Adventure Medical (a gift from when I used to teach wilderness first aid), a pocket knife, a Mag lite, and a couple of pens. Most of the time I also have my portfolio/pad, and during school (and today for other reasons) I toss in my laptop. My lunch is in an ACME lunch bag from Reusable Bags, with a SIGG cutlery kit. Finally, after getting burned one too many times I got in the habit of tossing my pump into the mess bag, to make sure I have it.