3 Network Engineers Share How They Pack Their Bags for Work

Being a network engineer is no joke, so it’s important that you come prepared for almost any job. It’s important that you have packed everything you need in your bag, so you don’t have to panic when messing with the cables.

To improve how we pack our bags, we have talked with three experienced network engineers and asked them to share their best advice.

Read on and learn from their best tips and tricks (all the three network engineers have lots of experience, so they really know what they are talking about!).


The 3 Experts


Rene Molenaar
I am Dutch and live in The Netherlands. I used to be a system engineer, working mostly with Microsoft Windows Servers and a bit of Linux. As a system engineer, I usually didn’t bother much with switches, routers, and firewalls as those devices were managed by network engineers.

I started learning more about networking when I discovered that there is so much going on behind the scenes of these devices. What I really like about networking is that you spend a lot of time learning how different protocols work. Most protocols are standards and some (like IP, the Internet Protocol) are over 30 years old. There is a lot to learn and some of the things you learn today, are still valid 5 years from now.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all network engineers bring?

Besides the obvious stuff like my laptop, I always make sure I have my cable bag with correct cables with me. One of the worst things that can happen is that you are on-site and you realize you forgot some specific cable and you can’t continue.

I also like to try new things that make my life easier. Nowadays, I carry a GPD pocket with me. This is a very small light-weight laptop that is very convenient when you are in a server room and you have to connect to some network devices. I also bring an Airconsole with me, this is a wireless serial adapter you use to connect to network devices.

I also always have a multitool in my bag. This can be a lifesaver since I sometimes forget to bring screwdrivers, etc.

How do you bring things with you?

There are two bags I carry with me. The first one is my laptop bag, it’s a messenger bag from Crumpler.

The second bag is the power packer I got from an Indiegogo campaign.

This is where I store all my cables. Right now, I just fit everything else I need in my laptop bag, which isn’t always the best option. 🙂 I should get a backpack for this.

What are your top tips for other network engineers?

Instead of one big bag with everything, I think it’s perhaps best to have a couple of bags:

  • One laptop bag if you only need to bring a laptop
  • One cable bag that has all the cables you ever need
  • One backpack that fits everything in case you need to go on-site

Sometimes you see network engineers think about the stuff they need to bring a few minutes before they go on-site. I like to think about this beforehand, all the cables I ever need are in my cable bag. If I need to go on-site, I know that if I bring just that cable bag I know that I have everything I could possibly need. When you need to go on-site fast and you have some stress, it’s easy to forget to bring everything.

Visit Rene Molenaar’s website


Roger Perkin

I am from Cornwall in the UK and have lived and worked in Asia, Dubai, France and am now based in Hampshire UK.

I, like most drifted into network engineering after moving up from PC support to Server Admin to seeing the Network guys doing all the interesting stuff!

Since I transitioned from Server Admin to Network Engineer and now Consultant I really enjoy the design side of the job and being able to take a customer requirement and turn it into a working network.

I also really enjoy complex migrations where we upgrade networks whilst keeping things running, this takes a lot of planning but the pay off when it all works is very fulfilling.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all network engineers bring?

The top 3 things I bring with me are:

  • Roost Foldable Laptop Stand
  • Bose QC35 Noise Cancelling Headphones
  • Get-Console Wireless Console Cable
  • (and if I can have 4) a second laptop!

First the Roost Foldable Laptop Stand is by far the most useful thing I own.

It allows you to elevate your laptop to a more comfortable height so you are not hunched over your laptop all day.

Bose QC35 noise cancelling headphones – these are a very close second and I use them every day, the obvious use is on plane, but when working in data centres and shared working spaces being able to cancel out the noise really helps me focus

Get-Console Wireless Console Cable

This is the only console cable you ever need, and it’s wireless! It allows me to connect to hardware in a cold DC and then come out in the warm next to the coffee machine and do my work. The reach is about 50M and it saves me so much neck ache hunched over a laptop in a DC configuring or troubleshooting a device when I can do it from the comfort of a warm desk.

Many stories to tell, but just being able to setup a temporary desk with my laptop stand, have no noise with my headphones and remote connectivity to a device makes for a much easier life!

The most useless things I have seen people bring are full tool kits, (Who needs 20 different screwdrivers) loads of console cables, I have seen many engineers who turn up to site with at least 20 different cables – “just in case” I have my wireless cable and a backup wired usb one

What I do bring though is a spare laptop – this might seem overkill, but it has saved me on a few occassions where my main laptop has died or there are many times you just need a second device to connect or simulate traffic or connect to wireless etc.

How do you bring things with you?

I have a Targus Drifter Rucksack, which is very strong and has a substantial handle on the top, which is useful for carrying.

Very simple organisation – two laptops in the padded laptop section, notebooks in the next section, headphones, laptop stand console cables and pens in the next pocket and power supplies in the front pocket.

Then I have a Camelbak 1L water bottle clipped to the outside and in one of the side pockets.

It is just the right amount of room and I have travelled with this for many years

What are your top tips for other network engineers?

To pack light and don’t bring loads of tools, I have never needed more than a multi screwdriver, and if you do get the site to provide it.

Pack simple, I hate seeing network engineer open their rucksack and it looks like a tin of spaghetti! Cables everywhere, I have just what I need and they are always coiled up and secured before packing.

If you want to be a network engineer you need to just learn and do, it’s so easy to spin up virtual instances of most products now.

Learn a language i.e Python and get into Network Automation – it’s the future.

Finally, get something online, setup a blog, create a YouTube channel, get your code on GitHub, the world is changing and everything is being discovered online now, prove your skills online with your knowledge and keep learning – you will never stop!

Get a linkedin profile.

Visit Roger Perkin’s website


Valerio Plessi
Network engineer CCIE R&S, I’ll get my 10 years badge next June! I started in Cisco via a graduate program, then moved to different roles but always in the networking space, where I still work now. I am based in Europe, between Italy and Bulgaria.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all network engineers bring?

Laptop stand and external wireless keyboard to protect my back! Multiple ports USB charger for my many mobile phones (used for 4G connection) and battery packs to fuel all my gears while on the road.

How do you bring things with you?

Always backpack as I like to move around and change work location having my office with me. No specific brand, depends on location or occasions (city life, more outdoor, etc..)

What are your top tips for other network engineers?

Get certified to get into this world, then hands-on experience to get real knowledge on the field. Books are not enough!

Visit Valerio Plessi’s website



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