Although packing cubes have been around for a while now, it seems that only recently have they been gaining the proper traction they deserve.
The reason for this seems to be that most people thought of them as an overindulgent waste of money. However, minds are changing, as more and more people try out these fantastic organizational tools.
They allow you to compartmentalize just about everything in your suitcase into small, easy to access cubes that are designed to align perfectly in your suitcase, luggage, or backpack.
So, what makes up the best packing cubes currently on the market? How do you use them and what features should you look for? We’re here to answer these questions and more, so your first packing cube purchase is a success!
Top 5 Best Packing Cubes
|Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-it Specter Cube Set |
-3 cubes included
|AmazonBasics 4 Piece Packing Travel Organizer Cubes Set |
-4 cubes included
-Double zipper pulls
-Mesh top panel to easily see contents
-Soft mesh inside
-Webbed handle for carrying by itself
|FLIGHT001 Spacepak Packing Cube Set |
-3 cubes included
-Durable nylon fabric
-Interior pockets for separation of items
|LeanTravel Compression Packing Cubes |
-6 cubes included
-Premium polyester fabric
-Reinforced wall structure
-Double zipper for extra compression
-Waterproof plastic zipper bag included
|Osprey UltraLight Zip Packing Cube |
-1 cube included
-2 interior slip pockets
-4 interior zipper pockets
-1 exterior pocket
-Hook for hanging anywhere
Quick Answer: Best Packing Cubes
- Best Overall: LeanTravel Compression Packing Cubes
- Best for Compression: Eagle Creek Pack-It Original Cube Set
- Best for Backpacking: Well Traveled – 3pc Compression Packing Cubes
- Best Value: L&N Always 8-Piece Packing Cube Set
- Best Budget: AmazonBasics 4 Piece Packing Cubes Set
- Best Durable: Gonex Travel Packing Cubes set of 4
- Best for Longer Trips: PRO Packing Cubes for Travel set of 10
How to Choose the Best Packing Cubes
Why Use Packing Cubes?
Have you ever arrived at your hotel after a long flight, rushed to get out the door and see the sights, but you just need a quick change or that one item at the bottom of your suitcase?
You end up digging and digging, messing up those perfectly rolled clothes that fit so well before you left. Everything gets strewn across the bed and onto the floor before you finally reach what you’re looking for.
If so, you already know the purpose of and need for packing cubes. These awesome little organizing hacks let you know exactly where each item is and keep you from rifling through unnecessary clothes, shoes, and accessories before you reach what you need. Even if organization is not your forte, you will greatly benefit from the convenience that packing cubes give you.
Packing cubes can help you quickly access your toiletries that need to go through the TSA scanner separately. They can give more space to the chronic over-packer, they keep your belongings from spilling out of your luggage, and they can even help you downsize to one shared carry on. So, I think the real question is, why not use packing cubes?
Stiff Sided vs Ultralight
The battle between stiff-sided packing cubes and ultralight cubes can really be broken down to personal preference and necessity. Stiff-sided cubes are made from heavier and more sturdy materials that allow them to keep their shape and stand up within your luggage.
They are great for organizing larger luggage, but the weight can be a little overkill when it comes to your carry on.
Also, shapes aren’t as beneficial in a travel backpack. Ultralight cubes, on the other hand, are perfect for organizing a backpack, as they can contort to fit any angles, and the lightweight rip-stop nylon materials are less likely to weigh you down.
However, they do not have the same high level of durability that stiff-sided packing cubes have. They tend to be flimsy and soft and are more likely to suffer from abrasions.
Packing Cube Features to Look For
Like anything travel gear related, packing cubes come in all shapes and sizes with a variety of useful features. Here are some of the most popular features and how they can be helpful in organizing your travels.
- Compression straps: These handy little additions really let you use the maximum amount of space in your luggage. They are just two cinch straps on either side of the packing cube that allow you to squeeze out all the excess air and compress each cube to its minimum size. This feature can give you the ability to fit normal sized luggage items into a carry-on size. Or it can even help you fit two carry on’s into one.
- Handles: While handles may seem frivolous, they are actually convenient. If you’re staying at a hostel with a community shower down the hall, you can grab your toiletry cube quickly and easily. With two handles, you can also make a day trip cube with all the essentials.
- Mesh top: A mesh top is probably one of the most important features to consider in a packing cube. This is because, without it, all your cubes can look the same; you don’t want to have to open each one to find what you’re looking for – that basically voids the purpose of the packing cube to begin with. A mesh top will allow you to see what each cube contains, making them even more convenient.
- Sets: When considering a packing cube, you may want to think about buying a set. Cubes come in so many shapes and sizes, so buying them individually could leave you with cubes that don’t fit in the suitcase you were hoping to bring. Going with a set should alleviate this concern, as they all fit together perfectly and can be interchanged as the need arises.
- Padded cubes: Padded packing cubes are just like any other cubes you can find. However, the padding offers extra shock protection for fragile valuables. This is great when you want to bring home breakable souvenirs or give your electronics some added security.
- Zippers: YKK are the bet zippers you can find currently. Always look for packing cubes with this zipper brand to make sure you’re getting the highest quality possible. Zippered closures are also much preferred over their flimsy Velcro counterparts. They are better at keeping your belongings from spilling out, especially if you overpack.
- Additional compartments/Pockets: While most packing cubes are a simple empty rectangle, some higher-end brands add extra pockets and compartments. That lets you have organization within organization!
Packing cube sizes are broken down into small, medium, and large categories. Small packing cubes are perfect for organizing all your hygiene needs or various accessories.
Medium cubes are great for use in carry on’s. Most carry on’s can fit a minimum of two medium cubes, along with a few smaller ones. Large or extra-large cubes are best for holding all your clothing for extended trips in your bigger luggage.
That being said, these sizes are not universal across manufacturers. Some medium packing cubes will be the right length for your carry on but maybe too tall.
Smaller packing cubes could be longer but may be best suited for packing flatter objects. That’s why you should always assess the dimensions against the measurements of your suitcase to make sure they are a match. Another way to do this is to lay out everything you are hoping to pack and check the dimensions before you purchase your cubes.
Also, while many standard packing cubes are rectangular, they usually come with curved or straight edges. If you’re using something like a duffel bag or a backpack, you may want to consider cubes with more curved edges. If you’re using a suitcase or carry on that is rectangular, straight edges will be a better use of space.
Tips for Using Packing Cubes
You may think using packing cubes is self-intuitive, but there are many tricks you can use in order to optimize your space and experience. Here are a few that we have found to be the most helpful.
- Item-specific cubes: This means organizing each cube by items within the same category. For example, having a designated bathroom cube, using a cube just for gym wear, or having a cube only for dirty clothes.
- Get a variety of sizes: The combinations of cube sizes are limitless, so play around and try out a variety of sizes to see what fits your needs the best.
- Roll your clothes: This is a recommendation both in the suitcase packing world as well as in the land of cubes. This allows you to see all the clothing so you can just reach in and grab it instead of combing through everything.
- Have a dedicated office cube: If you travel a lot for work, you will likely be lugging around a lot of electronics and cables, etc. Choosing a padded packing cube that is dedicated to these items will not only keep them safe, but you can also keep these items inside and just transfer the cube to your suitcase when it’s time to hit the road.
- Use cubes in a variety of colors: This will help you color coordinate your belongings. This is especially helpful if you opt-out of the mesh top. Using a different color for each type of cube will let you know what to grab at a glance.
- Pack climate-specific cubes: When traveling, the weather can change drastically overnight. So it’s important to bring extras such as a rain jacket, a warmer coat, sweaters, and pants – even when traveling to warmer climates. Putting them in their own cube will keep them out of the way and wrinkle-free until needed. The same works in reverse; bring warmer weather clothes to colder environments for those days the sun decides to peek out.
- Use as a mini diaper bag: Normal diaper bags can become overloaded through regular use. If you have a little one, having a small makeshift diaper bag with just a few essentials will give you quick access while on the plane or hopping into a taxi.
Best Packing Cubes Recommendations
Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-it Specter Cube set
Ultra-lightweight packing organization. These 3 silk nylon cubes weigh less than 2.2 oz cumulatively so that you can keep your clothing and accessories organized without worrying about weight. This translucent fabric is the same fabric used for lightweight tents and backpacks, it is super-durable, water-repellent, and washable.
- 3 cubes included
- Zipper Closure
- Water Resistant
- Stain Repellent
- Ultralight weight
Check Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-it Specter Cube Set price at Amazon
AmazonBasics 4 Piece Packing Cube Set
For some, packing a suitcase is an art form. For others, an essential part of routine travel plans. Either way, the AmazonBasics packing cubes help keep your belongings neatly stored and conveniently organized. Best of all, the fabric containers protect garments against wrinkles, reducing the need to iron once you arrive at your final destination.
The AmazonBasics four-piece set includes a slim (2.8 by 14 by 5 inches), small (11 by 6.75 by 3 inches), medium (13.75 by 9.75 by 3 inches), and large (17.5 by 12.75 by 3.25 inches) packing cube.
- 4 cubes included
- Double zipper pulls
- Mesh top panel to easily see contents
- Soft mesh inside
- Webbed handle for carrying by itself
Check AmazonBasics 4 Piece Packing Travel Organizer Cubes Set price at Amazon
Flight 001 Spacepak Packing Cube Set
A set designed for the well-prepared traveler, these 4 zip travel bags each have a specific purpose. The largest bag is for clothes, with separate compartments for clean pieces and laundry, and the smaller bags are made to hold toiletries and shoes.
The under-garments bag is extra-secure with an additional zipped case, and all 4 bags have a side handle for easy transport. Interiors are thoughtfully outfitted with pockets and instructive packing graphics.
- 3 cubes included
- Durable nylon fabric
- Zippered closure
- Interior pockets for separation of items
Check FLIGHT001 Spacepak Packing Cube Set price at Amazon
LeanTravel Compression Packing Cubes
Give a stylish touch to your packing thanks to LeanTravel’s superior quality fabric that has a luxury feel and will withstand all conditions. Their highest quality SBS brand zippers with anti-catch technology prevent the fabric from getting clamped when closing and opening.
LeanTravel packing cubes always keep their form thanks to reinforced sides. This allows for easy packing inside your luggage and easy unpacking by transferring packing cubes directly to dresser drawers. Optimize space in your luggage and take more with you by easily reducing the packing cube thickness from 4 inches to 1 inch.
- 6 cubes included
- Premium polyester fabric
- Reinforced wall structure
- Double zipper for extra compression
- Waterproof plastic zipper bag included
Check LeanTravel Compression Packing Cubes price at Amazon
Osprey Ultralight Zip Packing Cube Organizer
Keep your socks, underwear, toiletries, first aid, or your backpacking kitchen ship shape with Osprey’s Ultralight Zip Organizer. The separate see-through pouches hang from a clip loop so you can view your gear at a glance.
- 1 cube included
- 2 interior slip pockets
- 4 interior zipper pockets
- 1 exterior pocket
- Hook for hanging anywhere
Check Osprey UltraLight Zip Packing Cube price at Amazon
Not finding what you are looking for? Check out our favorite places to go shopping for travel gear.
- Shop Columbia: The industry leader in outdoor apparel and products; You can find anything from great jackets, gloves, hats, shirts and travel pants.
- Shop REI: They offer some of the best outdoor gear around. We love REI since they have a year Love it or hate it no questions guarantee.
- Shop Moosejaw: Has a huge selection of outdoor gear at killer prices.
- Shop Sierra Trading Post: You can get some of the best prices on outdoor camping goods here, but most items they have are last year’s models for about 40% off.
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