Nowadays, we take USB cables for granted. But they’ve only been around since the late ‘90s. And it’s only in the past decade or so that they’ve become a universal charging standard. But think about the electronic devices you use every day. If you’re like most people, the majority of these devices charge via USB.
Unfortunately, USB cables tend to take a beating. They get twisted, bent, and shoved in your pocket. They get accidentally yanked. They’re particularly susceptible to damage in the area where the cord meets the plug. The plug is rigid, and is often held in place by a port when the cord gets jerked. Over time, this can cause your cord to kink or even fray. Obviously, this is bad news. But a good cable protector can keep it from happening.
Best Charging Cable Protectors
Today, we’re going to review three of the best charging cable protectors we could find. If you’re pressed for time, here’s the TLDR version:
- The Nite Ize CordCollar is a colorful TPE sleeve. It comes in an 8-pack, along with an installation tool.
- The Axanbox (Super Heros & More) Charging Cable Protector is another 8-pack. Each one looks like a different superhero, but they’re for Lightning cables only.
- The HIGGAT Spiral Phone Charge Cable Saver is an 8-pack of PVC spiral loops. They come in white only, but they’re very sturdy and protective.
- The Frienda 21 Piece Cute Charging Cable Protectors is a multi-pack of cute, soft PVC characters. They all look like animals or food, and they’re very easy to install.
Nite Ize CordCollar
The Nite Ize CordCollar is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a short, fat rubber sleeve that’s designed to fit right behind your USB plug. It hugs tight to your cable, and provides an added layer of stiffness and reinforcement. It’s also slightly fatter towards the front, to account for any existing cable reinforcement near the plug.
This protector is made from TPE material, which is known for its extreme durability and flexibility. It can be stretched to fit over pretty much any USB plug, even larger Type-A plugs or 90-degree Type-C plugs.
That said, it’s very difficult to stretch, since it needs to squeeze tight in order to be effective. If you tried to install it by hand, it would be virtually impossible. If we’re being honest, you’d probably damage your USB plug in the process of manhandling it.
Thankfully, Nite Ize includes an installation tool in the kit. It’s a simple plastic tool that looks like a set of inverted tongs. Squeeze on the handle end, and pins on the other end spread out. This makes it easy to stretch out the protector without damaging your cord.
The CordCollar comes in an 8-pack with four different colors. Each package contains two collars each in yellow, black, pink, and blue. That way, you can use the same color on both ends of four cables. They’ll be color coded, which makes it easy to tell what’s what.
In addition to the base package, you can order the CordCollar in two alternate kits. The first contains a set of gear ties. These are four rubber ties that are colored to match the collars. They’re designed with an opening at one end and a ball at the other end for fastening them. This makes it easy to bundle your cables and keep them organized.
You can also order it with a set of heavy-duty twist ties. These are fairly stiff, with the same colors as the collars. They’re also designed for cable organization, but they’re simply an alternate method.
Axanbox (Super Heros & More) Charging Cable Protector
The Axanbox (Super Heros & More) Charging Cable Protector is also an 8-pack. But that’s where the similarities end. Instead of a sleeve or a collar, these protectors take the form of small silicone action figures.
These comic book heroes include Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Green Lantern, and Venom. Yes, Venom is technically a villain, but we all love him anyway.
The heroes are designed to ride on top of your cable in a classic superhero pose. There’s a slot in the bottom for your cable, and it’s easy to install. You just flex the hero to spread out the slot and pop it over the cable. Let go of the hero, and it will remain securely in place. At only 0.42 ounces, the weight is a non-issue. However, the action figures themselves are a bit much to carry in your pocket.
One drawback of the design is that much of the protection comes from the superheroes’ arms. They all look like they’re flying, and the space between the arms cradles the cable’s head. But the gap isn’t very large, and can only accommodate Lightning cable heads. It won’t work on USB, Micro USB, or USB Type-C cables.
In addition to the superhero design, you can order a number of other multi-packs. Other than the design – and sometimes the number of units – they work the same way. Alternate designs include cactuses, Christmas-themed items, penguins, sea creatures, avocadoes, avocadoes with hats, dinosaurs, fish, lemons, bunnies, and pink bowties.
HIGGAT Spiral Phone Charge Cable Saver
The HIGGAT Spiral Phone Charge Cable Saver has a different design altogether. Instead of a collar or a solid unit, this is a tight spiral that’s made from sturdy PVC material.
The spiral is designed to be slightly flexible, so it can adjust to fit any USB or Lightning cable. At the same time, it’s still fairly stiff. When you put it near the plug, it provides enough rigidity to keep the cable from kinking.
The material has a softer finish than you’d expect, and it won’t damage your cable’s insulation. It’s also easy to attach. Start at the top by popping your cable through the gap at the front. Slide the front into place against the base of your plug, and wind the rest around your cord. Even if you’ve never done it before, it should only take about a minute.
The HIGGAT cable saver is 1.45 inches long, and comes in an 8-pack. Unfortunately, HIGGAT missed an opportunity for color-coding and made all the spirals white. Then again, they’re also more unobtrusive than a set of colorful protectors.
One alternative to a cable protector is using an OTG cable. OTG cables are ultra-short cables that are designed to be easy to transport. You can leave your regular cables at home to save the wear and tear. And when your OTG cable wears out, it’s cheaper to replace than a full-length one.
Frienda 21 Piece Cute Charging Cable Protectors
The Frienda 21 Piece Cute Charging Cable Protectors is what it sounds like. It’s a 21-piece kit with a bunch of cute characters. They’re constructed from soft PVC, with a slot in the bottom for installation.
They’re also easy to attach to any USB or Lightning cable. Just flex them to open the slot, then let them fall back into place when the cable is inside. The size is highly variable. The shortest protectors measure 0.8-inch long, and the longest are as big as 2 inches.
The 21 characters include:
- Slice of pizza
- Pouch of French fries
- Fountain soft drink
- Chocolate candy bar with a bite taken out of it
- Beer pint with suds on the top
- Lime wedge
- Melon wedge
- Dog paw
- Panda bear
- Baby chick
Obviously, these protectors are for kids. Then again, small children are more likely to damage a cable than anyone else. And adorable or not, you’re still getting plenty of protection.
If you’re constantly tugging on your cable, it might be too short. In that case, a longer cable could be even better than a cable protector. Check out our list of the best USB Type-C extension cables for some great options.
What About My USB Cable?
Before we wrap up, we should address the elephant in the room. No USB cable protector will save you if your cable itself is low-quality. That said, some measurements of quality, while others are objective. Here are some things you should look for the next time you buy a USB cable.
If you’re looking for a cable protector, durability is probably your number one concern. In that case, you should consider buying aftermarket cables for all your devices. No, we’re not kidding. Most phones, tablets, and other devices ship with cheaply-engineered cords that won’t stand the test of time. They last for a few months or a year, and then they start to fail.
Of course, buying an aftermarket cable is by no means a guarantee. Most cables will have a rating, either for plug/unplug cycles or for bends. In either case, 5,000 is the bare minimum you should accept. But if you want the best bang for your buck, look for a cable with a rating of 10,000 or higher.
Materials and Construction
Most USB cables these days are either made from nylon or from TPE plastic. TPE does have the advantage of being more flexible. It also can’t fray, which a nylon cable can eventually do.
But if you want the toughest cable possible, a nylon weave cable is still your best bet overall. Nylon wants to hang straight and doesn’t develop a memory like TPE does. So while it’s not as flexible, it doesn’t tangle as easily. And if you do tangle it, it’s easier to untangle. Nylon is also easier to keep clean, and is very difficult to scuff.
While you’re at it, you should also look for a shielded cable. While this won’t make it more durable, it will provide better performance.
A longer cord isn’t inherently any more durable than a shorter one. That said, a shorter cable can be more prone to damage during use. Have you ever picked up your smartphone while it was plugged in, only to accidentally yank on the cable? By using a longer cable, you avoid incidents like that.
Then again, short cables also have their benefits. If you’re going to shove a cable in your pocket, a shorter one will require fewer bends to fit in.
What are the Best Charging Cable Protectors?
Each of these charging cable protectors has something to offer. But why would you choose one over another? Here’s a summary of what we’ve learned.
We began by looking at the Nite Ize CordCollar. This is a snug TPE collar that provides a lot of support to your cable. It’s also abrasion-resistant, which can prevent chafing and fraying. And with four different colors in a pack, it’s easy to tell your cables apart. We particularly appreciated the installation tool, which made the whole process a breeze.
Next, we reviewed the Axanbox (Super Heros & More) Charging Cable Protector. This is an eclectic gang of superhero figures that mount directly over your cable. The silicone is durable and lightweight, and the superhero design is just plain cool. The only drawback is that the heroes will only fit correctly on a Lightning cable.
After that, we examined the HIGGAT Spiral Phone Charge Cable Saver. This spiral phone protector has a quirky design, but it’s surprisingly easy to install on your cable. The PVC material is tough, yet flexible, so it provides a balance of protection and flexibility. As long as you don’t need color-coding, this is a solid choice.
Last on our list were the Frienda 21 Piece Cute Charging Cable Protectors. These PVC protectors are designed for kids, with 21 fun and adorable designs. They’re probably not something you’d want to use around the office. But if you have small children, they’ll keep you from having to replace your USB cables all the time.