Searching for the best gadget bags to carry your small electronics can be a major time waster for people who travel a lot. The perfect gadget bag for all your electronic and photographic doodads can be as hard to find as the Holy Grail. Every year there seem to be more must-have devices, each with its own charger/power supply/earphones/Internet connections.
If you travel - for work or fun - there's a good chance you are carrying a tablet or a laptop (or both), a mobile phone, an ebook, a music device or two, headphones, maybe even some portable speakers. If you are a nervous traveler, you might also have an ionizer or a sterilizer for your hotel room. And of course, you're probably carrying a camera - maybe even a DSLR with extra lenses.
And if you are typical, you carry cords, leads and adapter plugs in your handbag, carry-on bag, luggage or pockets; all getting tangled together and none where you expect them to be when you need them. Last year, we invested in a small, padded packing box (from a very good travel supplier) that was supposed to carry all this stuff and keep it in one neat corner of a suitcase. And was it any good? Well...as an electronics gadget bag, it made a great make-up case.
So we're still on the lookout for a lightweight, spacious, multi-purpose bag. They are getting more clever all the time, though, and we recently found four worth considering.
Skooba Design Cable Stable DLX
We like the name of this fat, padded, fold-over case made to fit in your suitcase or to carry on its own. It says exactly what it does - it wrangles your small gadgets and electronics and corrals them into 15 flexible spaces - they call it a "floating elastic grid". Whatever you call the storage approach, it's much more adaptable than fixed pockets. It will hold cords and cables, A/C power blocks, adapters, batteries, USB drives, digital camera, mp3 player. If you don't need to carry all of that, it's handy and strong enough to protect a netbook or power notebook. It's nylon twill on the outside, nylon pack material on the inside and it only weighs 12 oz. It has an outside zip pocket - for tickets, passport, magazines - and a comfortable carrying handle. Once you arrive, don't unpack it, just unzip and spread it out on a table or desk and you can find what you need when you need it.
Powerbag by ful 3000 mAH Laptop Sling Bag
Okay, now this one is really clever. You know all those chargers and electrical adapters and plugs you've been carrying? Leave them all home. The Powerbag, made by the oddly named manufacturer Ful does all their jobs for you. You charge up the bag and then let the bag's built-in power system - with a 3000 mAH onboard battery- charge all your devices. One fully charged Powerbag can recharge a smartphone twice. It can also charge a tablet, most laptops, and other portable electronic devices. It comes equipped with pockets with built-in Apple and M2 connectors with micro and mini USBs. It also has a full-sized internal USB port for charging just about everything else you might travel with. It has a padded laptop pocket and one for a tablet too. And it comes with an AC adapter to charge the bag's own battery. Just remember to plug in an adapter plug if you are heading for Europe.
The sling style backpack has a neat shape and a bit of style. But there's a whole range of Powerbags, from backpacks and briefcases to messenger bags and a "rolling office" - aka a wheelie bag.
There is one downside though. At more than 4 pounds, it's heavy and once you load all your gear in it, it is heavier still.
Tenba Messenger Photo/Laptop Bag
Made of strong, 1000 denier nylon, with welded steel D-rings and other rugged, high-performance materials, this messenger style bag has a split personality. On the way, use it to carry a DSLR with up to three lenses and tuck passport, tickets, credit cards, and mobile phone into secure zipped pockets. Once you arrive the camera bag emerges as a cushioned box you can put in a hotel drawer or the hotel safe. Then use the bag and all its handy pockets for a laptop carrier and travel handbag. In addition to the secure flap closing, the bag has a hidden zipper on the top, so you can reach in to take out a camera, lens or laptop without showing off the contents to all and sundry. The bag comes in several sizes and a gazillion fashionably unisex colors.
Nuo Eco-Friendly Vertical Laptop Messenger
We like the look of this for day trips. It has a nice, wide cotton shoulder strap long enough to wear as a crossover and a lot of room for everything you need for the day. There's a padded pocket for a laptop and another big pocket for carrying guidebooks, maps, sunglasses, or a spare pair of comfortable shoes. Under the flap, pockets neatly store pens, mobile phones, and other electronic gadgets, cables, and cords. And, in either red with cream or a kind of khaki green with tan, it's modern and good looking. The bag is made of environmentally sourced cotton canvas, is PVC free and contains no AZO dyes.