Patch cables are used for connecting two pieces of hardware (usually CAT5 or Ethernet). Ethernet patch cables are generally preferred by home net workers and travelers (especially when they are made with stranded cable), as it is easy to carry and compact.
Another type of patch cable, cross over cables are capable of reversing sending and receiving signals. Bear in mind though that Ethernet crossover cables should only be used for direct network connections. If you attempt to use this to connect to a hub you will fail to get a functioning network link. However broadband routers are equipped to sense these cables and allow them to work with Ethernet devices.
Fiber optic cables are also a viable option. They are sturdy and reliable.
Take care however, not to confuse patch cables with patch cords which are simple wires for connecting any device (be it stereos, DVDs, VCRs etc).