What's the best portable cable management solution?
March 18, 2008 6:29 AM   Subscribe

My laptop bag is a rat's nest of headphones, power cables, USB cables and ethernet cables. I don't have 10 minutes to spend every morning and night wrapping each cable into a nice little package and then securing velcro. Are there any laptop bags or cable management solutions that (1) organize A LOT of cables and (2) allow me to quickly pack and unpack my laptop and cables?
posted by skunkspinner to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have a big Crumpler laptop bag called the 'Crisp Suit' that has tons of compartments in it. Whenever I go to a big presentation I can easily fit a 15 inch laptop, cables, mini data projector and any number of bits and bobs into it. It's massive, and essentially indestructible.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:33 AM on March 18, 2008

I use a plain vanilla backpack (a sleek thing from Lowe Alpine) and then I've got a set of zippered pouches in the bag, on top of my zippered sleeve for the computer itself. One holds the power supply and oft-needed items (headphones, iPod charger). Another is for less frequently needed items like the vga converter-dongle and the remote, wired mouse, and sundry shit. I don't coil cables, I just stuff them into the little bags. But they're great. Having different sizes / colors will help you to tell them apart as you rifle through the bag.

I have never had a really nice bag (like a crumpler, mentioned above), so I can't speak to the nice ones. But I've hated and never used the organizer panels in any bag I have owned. They're just never right for me --either too taught or too loose or too weird.
posted by zpousman at 6:58 AM on March 18, 2008

Could you zip tie them together and roll them up as one big cable?
posted by electroboy at 7:03 AM on March 18, 2008

Buy extra sets of cables. They're pretty cheap from somewhere like newegg. (The only expensive piece will be the laptop charger). If you're always in the same place at home/work, consider a docking station. Leave one set of cables in the laptop bag.

Also, I find it easier to tie each cable into an electrician's braid... then you can throw them all into the same place and they won't tangle. (with practice, this is just as fast as the velcro method)
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:09 AM on March 18, 2008

Learn this coiling technique.
posted by Static Vagabond at 7:14 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I like Roadwired's solutions
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 7:21 AM on March 18, 2008

I just put each cable into its own little Ziplock bag.
posted by Floydd at 7:29 AM on March 18, 2008

You can get retractable cables for all of these. I have a retractable Kensington power cable, and a retractable Ethernet cable from Radio Shack. For headphones, I have a case that came with the headphones. With that stuff, you can use any bag you like.

I also second the recommendation to get multiple sets of cables. I have one set at home, another at work, and one for travel.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:12 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I use velcro cable ties (like these). They attach to cords/cables by looping through a slot in themselves, and make it very quick and easy to get wiring under control before tossing it into a bag.
posted by dws at 8:23 AM on March 18, 2008

I have the RoadWired Standard Cable Stable, and it works well for me.

There's also the Deluxe model if you have a hugeasstastic amount of stuff to keep track of.
posted by mephron at 8:51 AM on March 18, 2008

Yeah, I just put rubber bands around each cable and place them in a small pouch.
posted by mecran01 at 9:03 AM on March 18, 2008

I've ordered a few CaseLogic laptop bags before. They're incredibly cheap and have about 15 pockets that are within zippered sections or separate compartments all together. They have little tags inside with icons for camera, power supply, mouse, etc.
posted by ijoyner at 10:11 AM on March 18, 2008

I’m with Floydd; each cable in its own clear zip-top bag.
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 11:30 AM on March 18, 2008

I'll third the zip-top bags for the cost/convenience factor, but if you'd like something a little more professional-looking, "packing aids" might be just what you need. I recommending buying them in a range of colors, so a quick glance in your laptop bag tells you which pouch contains your power cord/wireless mouse/earbuds etc. They have the added advantage that you can just stuff the cords in without having to carefully wrap them up each time.
Lewis n Clark Packing Cubes
Victorinox Travel Pouches
posted by ad_hominem at 1:07 PM on March 18, 2008

I'm with me & my monkey. A set of retractables, like this, helps me.
posted by jasonweaver at 5:21 PM on March 19, 2008

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