As our gadget and cord collections keep expanding, the accessory pocket of our laptop bags or backpacks can start to look like a pit filled with electronic snakes and critters. Trying to fish out the correct accessory if you’ve been packing and unpacking in a hurry isn’t always easy. So I’m always on the lookout for products that allow painless organization. The GRID-IT system from Cocoon does this in an innovative way—if you pair it with one of their laptop, netbook, or iPad cases.

Cocoon makes a wide variety of cases for multiple laptop sizes and gadget sizes, with most of the options allowing the integration of this grid system to match. It’s basically a stiff panel with a series of interwoven elastic bands. So instead of you trying to match the size of your accessories to a bunch of pockets, with this GRID-IT panel you just pick one of the many elastic bands that’s close to the right width and pop it in.

I tried one meant to go in with a 15-inch laptop ($25) and it held pretty much everything I could possibly carry with me on a trip. I’m talking cell phone, iPod, CallPod, pens, battery charger, SteriPen, portable hard drive, Flip video camera, and assorted cords. There were still spaces to spare. Smaller models stair step down to 7″ X 5″ ($10).

The drawback is, this is just a panel with a bunch of gadgets sticking out of it, so you’d better have a cushioned case or sleeve over top of all that once you slide it in.

Most of the Cocoon cases take this into account, with some kind of cushioned Neoprene case like the one pictured below. With that model you have one large pocket for the laptop and a smaller pocket for the gadget carrier. The soft furry interior is like manufactured puppy fur—very soft and nice to the touch. That one is carried vertically, by the handle or the included shoulder strap. It comes in sizes for a 13″-15″ laptop or a smaller size for a netbook or an iPad. At $45 for the largest size and $35 for the smaller one, including the grid system, this is quite a bargain.

Grid-it Organizers

Other cases include a few more conventional horizontal models. A couple models open out to be checkpoint friendly in the airport security line.

I also tried out a Cocoon MacBook sleeve like the red one pictured here ($30). Sleeves can be great when you need to just toss the laptop in a regular bag or carry it downstairs to a lobby or common area. MacBook sleeve CocoonI found the configuration of this one a bit odd, with grabby zippers that have to navigate two turns each time so the end can pop open. Putting function aside, the design is catchy, however, which goes with the Apple ethos of giving up one thing to gain another. (There’s a more conventional design for conventional laptops.) These come in six colors.

I got these items as a loaner with a quick turnaround time, so I can’t vouch for how well they’ll hold up over the long term. They emitted that harsh “made in a Chinese factory” chemical smell that permeates the room upon opening, but that hopefully fades over time. For this price, they probably couldn’t be made anywhere else: these Cocoon products are a great value, especially if you get one of the cases that already includes the handy GRID-IT system for keeping track of all your accessories.

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