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Best Gadget Bags for Small Electronics and Cameras

Safe, Stylish Carry-alls for Wired Travelers


I spend a lot of time searching for the perfect gadget bag for all my electronic and photographic doo dads. Every year there seem to be more must-have devices, each with its own charger/power supply/earphones/Internet connections.

If you travel a lot - for work or fun - there's a good chance you are carrying a tablet, a laptop, a mobile phone, an electronic reader, a music device or two, 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.

Typically I carry cords,leads and adapter plugs in my handbag, my carryon, my luggage, my pockets. All getting tangled together and none where I expect them to be when I need them. Last year, I 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 my luggage. And was it any good? Let me put it this way...as an electronics gadget bag, it made a great make-up case.

So I'm still on the lookout for a lightweight, spacious,multi-purpose bag. They are getting more clever all the time, though, and I've recently found five worth considering.

Skooba Design Cable Stable DLX

Small electronics travel storage
I 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 - corrals your small gadgets and electronics in 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 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

chargeable 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 batter - charge all your devices. One fully charged Powerbag can recharge a smart phone 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.

I chose the sling style backpack because I think it 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 down side though. At more than 4 pounds, it's heavy.

Tenba Messenger Photo/Laptop Bag

Photo and 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. Nice one.

Nuo Eco-Friendly Vertical Laptop Messenger

Environmentally friendly canvas laptop bag
I 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, 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. I always like to check when companies make environmentally friendly claims. You can check Nuo's environmental credentials here.

Voltaic Solar Powered Messenger Bag

Voltaic Solar Bag
If you want to do a little something to reduce your carbon footprint while flying off on vacation, this solar powered messenger bag could be the answer. It's three 1.5 Watt solar panels are tough enough to protect fragile small electronics stored inside yet capable of collecting 4.5 watts of solar power for fast charging at peak, 6 Volt output. Its onboard battery stores the power until you need it. If there's no sunlight, the bag can be charged through a USB connection or via optional AC or DC power adapters. And it comes with 11 standard adaptors for most mobile phones and universal connectors. It can hold up to a 15 inch laptop with its padded laptop sleeve, and there's plenty of room inside for your other small electronics. The bag has wire channels in several places, for headphones, and it's made of waterproof, UV resistant, recycled PET (a fiber made of soda bottles). So handy for carrying and charging all your stuff and good for the planet too.
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