June 8 2012 by Jason Fogelson
I bring a lot of electronic equipment with me on every motorcycle trip. I have at least two cameras, two video cameras, an iPhone, an iPod, a MacBook, a Kindle and a GPS unit. Each piece of equipment seems to have its own cables, plugs and chargers. And cables love to tangle, which annoys me and wastes my valuable time.
I used to consolidate all of my cables in one small carrying case to make sure that I didn't lose any. Cables being how they are, I discovered that every time I went to get a cable out to use it, a whole tangle of cables came out at once. No matter how neatly I put them away, the cables took on a life of their own and tangled up.
I've tried a number of solutions to try and keep my tangled cables from driving me mad.
First, I got some simple twist ties, and coiled my cables individually before traveling. This worked okay, but the twist ties wore out quickly and didn't do a great job of keeping things neat, plus the exposed wire ends had a habit of poking my skin every time I reached for a cable.
Next, I tried reusable Velcro cable wraps like the ones from Rip-Tie. They're a little expensive (a pack of three 1"x 6" ties was $3.99), and a bit of overkill, but they work well. The only challenge became that the Velcro found other Velcro, and I wound up with another tangle.
So, I switched to Bongo Ties. These are like little bungee cords with a double-headed golf tee attached. They work great -- but once again, a bit of overkill. They come in different sizes. A pack of ten 5" ties cost me $4.99.
I've found a few new solutions recently.
Q-Knot multi-purpose reusable ties are new to me. They're kind of like zip ties, but they're made out of a rubber band-like substance (it might be rubber; I'm not sure), and they're reusable. A pack of 25 in three sizes was $5.99, making them a price performer.
Flexi Ties are like twist ties on steroids. They're foam-wrapped pieces of wire that you use just like a twist tie, except they last longer and are much more robust than the paper-wrapped disposable twist tie. I bought a pack of six multi-colored 7" Flexi Ties for $4.99.
The other way to deal with cables is to have fewer of them.
Belkin's got a few solutions for this, one of which I'll be trying out on my next trip. I bought the Belkin 7-in-1 Retractable Cable Travel Pack on sale for $19.99, a great savings of the suggested retail price of $49.99. The kit comes with a USB, RJ11 and RJ45 retractable cable, along with adapters for various USB and RJ connectors. It also comes with a cool zippered storage pouch, which pretty much sealed the deal for me. I'll be able to add a few more cables into this pouch, and I should be good to go.
I'm still hunting down a few more retractable cables. If you haven't seen these, they're a great travel solution. A simple, spring-loaded reel holds a cable compactly rolled up. You just pull on one end or the other, or both, to feed out the amount of cable you need to use. When you're done, you release the spring tension by tugging on both ends, and the cable rolls back onto the reel. It doesn't help reduce bulk or weight much, but it does keep things extremely neat. I've found retractable cables for nearly every electronic and audio need that I can conceive, but I've avoided buying more than a few -- because I've got all of these cable management tools now. I want to give them a chance to work first!
Hope your next trip is a tangle-free one.