Most travelers pack toiletry bags, known in the US as Dopp kits, to organize their toiletries and prevent them from leaking into their luggage. We need much the same to hold the vast assortment of chargers, cables, dongles and other technological paraphernalia required to function in this day and age.
Sadly, the state of quality design in tech dopp kits is sorely lacking at the moment. Many are overbuilt with heavy and stiff fabric that is unnecessary for a bag that will live inside another bag. Furthermore, too often there are many pockets that are just too small to hold anything, but contribute bulk and weight, and reduce the usable space. Things like loops to hold cables are not alternated so cables don’t jam together because it is easier to just bartack a single strip of elastic material in a row. In a wallet-style split organizer, no attention is paid as to how items on either side will mesh together when the organizer is zipped shut.
My daily loadout includes:
- 13″ M1 MacBook Air
12″ MacBook (2015 model)
- 63W Anker PowerPort III Slim charger (2x USB-C 2x USB-A)
29W Apple USB-C
- 1m and 2m Apple USB-C charging cable (the third version is the one you want)
- USB-A to Lightning cable. I can’t wait for the death of Lightning along with micro-USB and other legacy connectors
- 10,000mAh Nitecore NB10000 battery pack
10,000 mAh Xiaomiwith a whip-style USB-A to Lightning/USB-C/micro USB universal charging cable
- Etymotic ER-4SR reference-grade in-ear monitors. More effective than active noise-canceling headphones and amazing sound quality. Some people find the earplug-like experience uncomfortable, however.
- Ricoh GRIIIx and/or GRIII pocket cameras (large APS-C sensor and outstanding lenses in a tiny package)
When traveling I add:
- Apple USB Type-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter (the latest version with 4Kp60 and HDR support)
- Onkyo DP-X1 high-resolution audio player
4-port Anker USB charger
- a few proper TB3 or USB4 rated USB C-C cables, 0.3m
- Apple’s 1m thin USB-C charge cables
- 2 USB-A to Lightning cables (one for my iPhone, one for my wife). The USB-A connectors add a surprising amount of bulk, I wish Anker would make a charger with some sort of built-in octopus cable and cable management.
- 1 USB-A to micro-USB cable
- 20,000 mAh Mophie Powerstation XXL USB-C Power Delivery battery pack (can be used to charge the MacBook or iPad Pro or expand their battery life). Much lighter and convenient than the Anker 26,800 mAh boat anchor it replaced.
- Ricoh Theta Z1 360° panoramic camera and TM-3 stick
- Novoflex Mikrostativ mini-tripod
- spare batteries for whatever camera I packed
- Watson travel camera battery charger and whatever interchangeable battery plates are needed. Fortunately my newer cameras (Ricoh GRIII and GRIIIx, Nikon Z7, Leica M11) can all be charged using USB-C so more often than not I just skip this.
- Samsung T3 256GB USB-C SSD
- SanDisk Extreme 4TB USB-C SSD
- a 18650 flashlight (BLF FW3A or Zebralight SC600FcIV+) and Olight USB-powered 18650 battery charger
Rofmia Shift Utility Pouch
Extremely expensive but the perfect size and ultra-light thanks to Dyneema, and avoiding unnecessary material, unlike most pouches that are overbuilt.
I keep the Anker 4-port charger, Apple AV multiport adapter, cables and one short IEC C7 (figure 8) to obnoxiously oversized British BS1363 plug cable.
Lihit Labs Compact Pen Case
A very small zippered case available in a pleasant yellow-green colorway. I keep a 256GB Samsung T3 and 4TB SanDisk Extreme USB SSD along with fast USB-C cables and an USB-C Ethernet adapter. They have larger sizes as well, but those are designed primarily for pens.
Eagle Creek Etools Organizer Pro
Unfortunately discontinued, and the replacement bearing the same name is twice as large. This bag is A5 sized, it can hold a 10.5″ iPad Pro. The fabric is thin and pliant, and the gusseted pockets large but thin. This is a much better option for me as I can put larger but flat items like battery packs, calculators, music players and so on. If it were ever slightly larger, it would also be a great bag to carry necessities on a flight so you don’t have to rummage for them in the overhead bin.
Limitless Equipment EDC-XS
Limitless Equipment make these very nice military EDC XS utility pouches in the UK. They are perfect to hold a charger, cables, pens and other paraphernalia. It’s probably a bit overbuilt for in-bag use, though, so you are paying a penalty in weight and bulk as well as for the MOLLE. They also have a larger version I turned into a portable toolbox.
In the US you can get similar stuff from Maxpedition or Skinth.
Waterfield Designs Air Caddy
This is what I use for in-flight use or on Eurostar. Holds my iPad Pro, DP-X1 music player, Etymotic earbuds, eye mask for a good night’s sleep, pen, chocolate bar and other travel necessities yet still fits in the tiny seat-back compartment. I used to have their Tech Folio but it is overbuilt for this use case.
Great Useful Stuff TechAway Travel Roll
Designed in the San Francisco Bay Area and very good value for the build quality. Mine has a different kind of fastener, not the AustriAlpin Cobra buckles shown on the product page, but still high-quality metal hardware (and probably lighter to boot). The simple triptych folding design with 2-1-1 compartments doesn’t provide a lot of organization but it is versatile.
DSPTCH Cable case
A well-thought cable organizer, if a bit on the large side. It’s what I pack in my carry-on for extended trips.
Incase Nylon accessory organizer
This organizer is recommended by The Wirecutter in their 2019 roundup. The fabric is thin and more flexible than overengineered ones in Cordura or ballistic nylon, which helps keep bulk down and increases the pockets' carrying capacity. The assortment of pockets is very well designed, at least for my needs, and it’s near ideal for a flight (it won’t hold an iPad, though).
Incase City Accessory Pouch
A simple, lightweight and inexpensive pouch with decent capacity for the size, thanks to a lack of excess internal organization. Sadly seems to be discontinued.
Muji hanging toiletry kit
I used this around 2008 when I got the first-generation MacBook Air, to hold its charger and the Sanho Hyperdrive, an early battery pack that had a MagSafe connector until Apple sicced their lawyers at them. It has room for the two and the video dongles, not much else.
Capra Leather Small Gear Pouch
An elegant A5 sized organizer with good depth. Very good leather and high craftsmanship (saddle-stitched). I got it in green with leather rather than linen lining for durability and with the optional handle. I don’t use it much, however, as it is larger than I need.
Waterfield Design gear pouches
Waterfield Designs was one of the first companies to make iPod cases, and they later added a larger pouch to accommodate an iPod and a bunch of other accessories. They have padded neoprene pockets and are very well made, but the padding adds a tremenoud amount of bulks, and they are also quite large.
Unfortunately they seem to have discontinued these pouches and replaced them with new ones in waxed canvas and leather that might arguably look a little better, but are less practical.
Bond Travel Gear Lochby EDC organizer Escapade gear pouch
On paper this is an interesting option. Unfortunately it is quite stiff, which makes it hard to pack, and overengineered with too many small pockets that reduce the effective carrying capacity because there is too much stitching, webbing, zippers, padding and other organizational overhead for the actual contents.
Triple Aught Design OP10
This tacticool pouch replete with mil-spec MOLLE attachments is better designed than the Bond, but still too small and with too many pockets and loops to maximize utility. It’s best used for those who want to carry an assortment of long thin objects like knives, tools, flashlights or cables. I would guesstimate the number of mall ninjas to operators owning this pouch is 10:1.
Peak Design Tech Pouch
This pouch has an interesting accordion design with alternating compartments that solves the problem of thick items like chargers bunching together and causing a pouch to bulge. Unfortunately it is so grotesquely large it can only reasonably be used inside checked luggage.
Aer Slim Pouch
Relatively light for Aer and not over-organized. I just haven’t found a place for it in my packing routine.
Aer Cable Kit 2
Poor design. Very bulky, stiff, one half doesn’t open fully and is hard to pack.
Native Union Stow Organizer
Relatively light for its bulk. Clearly meant to carry two laptop chargers and accessories. Fairly stiff.
Eagle Creek Pack-It Reveal E-tools Organizer Mini
Eagle Creek was acquired and rebooted after initially being slated to be shut down by VF Corporation. Some of their lines are gone, like the excellent Pack-It Specter line made of silnylon or their amazing No Matter What packable duffels. The Reveal line is not as good. This organizer is very light. Unfortunately excess padding means the usable capacity is not great, if they ditched it it would be an outstanding pick.
Eagle Creek Pack-It Reveal Org Convertible Pack
An intriguing concept: an organizer that can turn into a packable backpack. The organizer bit is actually the organizer of the pack turned inside out in packed mode. Capacity as an organizer is limited, but it is a decent packable backpack, doesn’t look as crumpled as most.
The old Eagle Creek E-tools Organizer Pro is the best option. It doesn’t add too much weight and maximizes carrying capacity to space. No one has yet solved the problem of organizing cables so they don’t devolve into a Gordian knot, however.