What's On Your Utility Belt?

Like any self-respecting geek, I'm mostly an indoor enthusiast.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2010/08/whats-on-your-utility-belt.html

When we had so much snow and ice that people were stuck here there and everywhere on by-roads and motorways, I was fully prepared for a night out on the road. Tent, sleeping back, billy can, fire starting equipment and stove, axe, bow saw, bushcraft knife, dehydrated food, tea bags, energy bars… I often wondered whether people stuck in their cars, freezing in the night on some bleak motorway would venture out to my tent for a hot cup of tea. I believe in being prepared. No, I never attended scouts.

Regarding carabiners: what I have done is replace the central ring with the carabiner - that way all items are easily removable.

I have a Leatherman Wave which was swag I got for trying out Windows Server 2003. Best piece of swag I’ve ever got. I covet your flashlight: used to have a cheap one on my keychain, bought at an auto parts place, but the swivel was cheap and broke off. Plus my Samsung Instinct, which is most of a smartphone. I can’t really do apps for it or program to it, which stinks, but it doesn’t lose track of the SD card and force me to format it, like my BlackBerry used to.

Why wouldn’t you use your smartphone as a portable storage medium instead of carrying a separate USB flash drive? I haven’t carried one of those for years.

Oh, I always carry my cell phone with me to make calls and act as a Bluetooth modem for my iPod touch, which I use to do pretty much everything else.

Although they are handy, I gave up carrying a Leatherman years ago due to the perception that carrying an obviously useful 2" blade into a club or other such establishment means you are a potential stab-happy psychopath, rather than the kind of person who might just be able to reterminate some cat5 with it and get your EFTPOS back up and running again.

Had a crap LED torch but it started playing up so I ditched it, will need to get another sometime.

Hate USB drives, would much rather just upload a file somewhere and grab it later on when I get to where I need it.

Other than that it’s just keys and loyalty tabs on my keyring, but I do have a fetching tritium gas-powered keyfob that is incredibly handy for locating keys in the dark. The thing has been going for about 10 years and is still perfectly bright enough, but given the half-life of tritium I’m guessing I’ll need a replacement in a few years.

I’m with you on the smartphone though. I couldn’t manage without my Android buddy nowadays, much to my wife’s eternal scorn.

This device was given to me by my wife and it has practically saved my life in stressful situations.


My wife wanted to get me a wallet that said B.M.F’er on it. She contacted someone on craigslist and ended up at a retired little old man’s house who made leather working items as a hobby and sold them. She said he was the sweetest old man. She was embarrassed to tell him what she wanted on it but she did. Now I constantly trying to setup situations for people to ask me which wallet is mine!

I use one of these for my flash drive needs:


I’ve had it about a year and a half and it still baffles me how tiny it is.

Clearly, Jeff, you don’t do airtravel, or that nice Leatherman would be the property of DHS by now. I’m sure they would like it.

Mine is a lot simpler:

  1. iPhone 4.

  2. banking token (handy if I run out of money in the “using” account when out, and I can use the iphone to transfer cash over)

  3. My Barclays Cycle Hire key, so I can use my cool MonoTouch app ( http://www.londonbikeapp.com ) to find - and USE - a bike in London

  4. Actual keys. How quaint!

I use USB drives very rarely since I started using DropBox…

When I’m actually traveling, tho, the leatherman goes with me. SO useful - in checked luggage!

Welcome back Jeff. I guess it was time to get paid?

Apart from my keys the only things on my keyring is a tiny USB flash drive (It’s a PNY 2gig designed to go in digital photo frames, and appears to just be a bit of PCB shaped to fit and painted black) and my Tesco keyfob clubcard which is just a barcode on a bit of plastic.

I have a bag though, and in there I have an original Gameboy pocket with Tetris, my digital camera, iPod Touch and my mobile phone. It’s also where my credit cards, money, work keys and work ID badge go and is a convenient “safe” place to empty my pockets when I visit people.

Instead of a knife, I use a Utilikey:
It is much lighter than any other knife, looks like a key enough to fool airport security but doesn’t have pliers or scissors. I find myself using this at least once a day.


I applaud your choice to carry a flash light, those things can be very useful.

  1. Leatherman Freestyle - just a really nice blade and a large fold out plyers
  2. Swiss+Tech 4 in one mini screwdriver
  3. Google Nexus One
  4. PNY 4GB Micro Swivel Attaché USB - stored in wallet containing bit locker key

And then all kinds of stuff in my car, but that’s not really a utility belt…

One more use for your smartphone – as a replacement for the various membership cards with barcodes on them.


If you don’t want to use a dedicated app, just snap a photo of the card and keep it stored as a picture.

It all depends on the scanner in use, but a lot of places will work just fine scanning your phone instead of a plastic card.

I’m hoping that in a few years, I’ll finally be able to get rid of my wallet, in addition to everything else that my iPhone has gotten rid of in my pockets.

I like this. In my pockets of the jacket I wear 90% of the time:

  1. A pocket line. (6’ foot of 6-8 mm line with a loop tied in the end).
  2. A small but bright headlamp.
  3. A survival kit: Includes knife, fire steel, saw, snare wire, fishing kit, a pencil, compass, emergency whistle, sewing kit, tin opener and other stuff I’ve forgotten about. Packed into a waterproof box about the size of a tobacco tin. Admittedly the knife & sewing kit are used most.
  4. HTC Desire.
  5. Keyring with beer bottle opener and bizarrely a pewter mouse (non-functioning).

I used to carry a leather-man on my belt but don’t anymore for the same reasons as Juux. I had a utilikey but lost it :frowning:


I’ve been looking at switching to the Leatherman Squirt from the Micra. I noticed that they have a new Squirt PS4 so you can get the pliers and scissors.


+1 for the Utilikey. For geeks who travel it is the only multi-tool that can get through security.

I was just talking to a coworker the other day about how amazing modern smart-phones have gotten. He had just bought an iPhone and I just got a Droid Incredible HTC.

I mused that this device would have caused my head to spontaneously explode if I could go back just to 1995 and demo it to myself.