Many travelers ask if travel packing cubes are really useful and if so, what are their uses? Why buy them when they can instead use plastic bags or Ziploc bags. Well, in some cases you can just use the latter two. However, in many cases, packing cubes serve a purpose too. The best packing cubes for travel are ultralight, so they can be used even when you have tight weight restrictions while flying. They’re also great at forcing you to edit your stuff. There’s no way to over pack with these!
So what are packing cubes? They’re travel organizer bags in the shape of cubes with semi-rigid walls and no built in compartments. Depending on the sizes you choose you can fit several into one piece of luggage and each cube can hold a variety of things. If you’re going to be traveling to more that just one place, you probably have to do a lot of packing and unpacking and rummaging through your bags to find things. Backpacking is a pain because you have to rummage through to the bottom to find stuff without really being able to see right in. It can all get a bit tedious. Clothes also get more rumpled when lots of them share a common space.
In these instances, having separate cubes to organize your clothes and accessories allows you to remove just the cube you need while leaving everything else still tidy. You know what type of articles are in which cube. When you you unpack at a destination, you just lift out the cubes and put them in drawers till it’s time to move on. Sharing a bag with someone else is also easier if you separate your things using cubes. At security checks, if your bag is inspected you can rest easy knowing that nothing will get messed up.
If you’d rather not spend any money on these cubes, I have two tips for making shoe bags and large-sized packing cubes from stuff that you would normally get rid off at home.
There are ways to get maximum use of travel cubes, which I’ll explain further down the page, but for now let’s get to the various options and best brands of the top rated packing cubes for travel that you can use.
Value Set Packing Cubes
To get the best bang for your buck, consider buying a set of cubes.
Zero Grid Packing Cubes Travel Organizer Set with Shoe Bag
This is the travel organizer set that I currently have and I couldn’t be happier with it. The Zero Grid 4 piece assorted set consists of one large packing cube, 2 smaller cubes and 1 drawstring shoe bag. They are made of good quality tear resistant nylon and the overall construction is great.
The cubes’ dual YKK zippers with Paracord pulls are sturdy and they zip around the rounded corners smoothly without getting caught in anything. The edges are reinforced to give them structure but they’re flexible enough that you can squeeze in extra stuff and still close without tearing. The shoe bag is waterproof and the drawstring cords are kept tight by weight-tested locks.
The lid of each cube is made of sturdy mesh windows for ventilation, which I love because that means clothes worn for a bit before packing won’t smell and I can use any of the cubes to bring back laundry too. It also makes it unnecessary to open up each cube to see which one holds what.
There’s a long strap on the top of each cube and one along the edge, so you can grab them one of two ways – from the top if you pack them in a suitcase or duffel bag, or from the side if you pack them in a backpack. I can just lift them out of my luggage and place them straight in a hotel closet or drawer.
The large cube measures 13.38 x 9.84 x 3.14 inches and weighs 4.8 ounces and each small cube measures 6.69 x 9.84 x 3.14 inches and weighs 3.3 ounces. The shoe bag is 16.53 x 12.59 inches and weighs 0.9 ounces. I was able to fit all the 4 pieces comfortably in a regular 21″ upright bag with some corner space to spare for loose items. These will also work well for backpacks and duffels, whether you use all the pieces or just some.
I use the large cube to hold trousers and tops for 4-5 days, while I used one small cube for underwear and the other for accessories like a hairdryer, chargers, power bank, etc. No loose cords to be seen! The shoe bag holds one pair of sneakers and one pair of flats.
The set comes in black, which means that my husband can use them too.
eBags Packing Cubes – 3pc Set
The eBag packing cubes have been the most popular brand ever since they came out. They’re available in a variety of colors and prints and come in 3 sizes. You can buy them in sets of three and either get all three sizes in one set, or get a set where all are in one size.
The sizes available are Small: 11″ x 6.75″ x 3″
Medium: 13.75″ x 9.75″ x 3″
Large: 17.5″ x 12.75″ x 3.25″
The 3 piece assorted set you see here is made of nylon and weighs just 12 oz total and is perfect for a standard sized carry on bag of at least 20″ in height. If you lay the largest cube down flat , you can place the medium and small ones side by side on top of it.
If you don’t find the 3 different sizes vary useful, you can buy a set of 3 all in one size of your choosing.
The cubes have YKK corded double zipper pulls and a combination of fabric and mesh top panels so you can see inside easily and let your things breathe. A webbing handle lets you carry each cube individually.
The advantage of this brand is that you can throw them in the washing machine, as they are very durable. They also come with lifetime warranty.
TravelWise Packing Cube System
This new version of cube set from TravelWise is almost identical to the eBags assorted but set comes with 5 cubes instead of three. These are slightly deeper than the eBags one, so if you’re looking at these for the lower price, first check that two of them stacked on top of each other will fit into your luggage if that’s the way you intend to use them. They are available in a variety of colors.
The sizes in the set are 1 Small Size: 11.5″ x 6.75″ x 3.75″
2 Medium Size: 13.75″ x 9.75″ x 3.75″
2 Large Size: 17.5″ x 12.75″ x 4″
Each cube is slightly heavier than the equivalent eBags cube.
The other difference between the eBags brand and this one is in the lid. While eBags makes the see through mesh on either side of the middle fabric, TravelWise places the mesh right in the center between the fabric edges.
Shacke Pak Set of 4 Packing Cubes with Laundry Bag
To get even more bang for your buck, pick the Shacke Pak set of 4 cubes plus laundry bag. All the cubes are 4″ deep and you’ll get an Extra Large that’s 17.5″ x 12.75″, a Large that’s 13.75″ x 12.75″, a Medium that’s 13.75″ x 9.75″ and a Small that’s 11″ x 6.75″. A nice extra is the small draw string laundry bag that you can use to separate your dirty clothes from the clean throughout the trip. This measures 20.75 x 14.5 inches.
Notice that this brand gives you deeper cubes than the other ones, so you can sneak in an extra piece of clothing into each.
These cubes are made of smooth water resistant nylon and are closed by YKK zippers. They can be folded for storage and can be stuffed full too without fear of them busting open. The lid has an X design in the nylon with mesh in between. This design helps to prevent the top of each cube from bulging out too much.
Compressible Packing Cubes
If your biggest problem is getting everything into one small bag, then packing cubes that compress things into a compact package are very useful. Careful though! They can fool you into packing too much and making your luggage heavy – not something you want if you’re flying with weight restrictions. If you’re willing to pay top dollar, the Flight 001 Spacepak collection has several kinds of compression packs that are a cross between traditional compression sacs and regular packing cubes.
Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It Medium/Large Compression Sac Set
If you need to carry bulky items like a sweater or jacket, a compression cube is better than a regular one. Keep in mind that because these work by pushing out air, it takes a bit of work to compress them and should not be used for packing things that you may need in transit. They’re great to pack dirty clothes at the end of a trip while making more space for your souvenirs.
This clear polyethylene 2 piece compression set from Eagle Creek has a large cube and a medium cube. It has a pressure valve that only allows the outward flow of air, so you have to roll the air out of the bag. The zipper closure is on top, so packing and unpacking is not as easy as with top loading cubes.
You have to be careful not to overload it or it becomes difficult to seal it. That can also create an air leak or cause the zipper to break. They covered by a lifetime warranty.
The large bag measures 28.5″ x 17.5″ and the medium measures 24.5″ x 15.5″. Together they weigh 14 oz.
Slim Packing Cubes
Slim cubes are ideal for packing things like snacks, undergarment, ties, belts, travel accessories and gadget cords. If you want to fill in the spaces around the regular cubes in your bag and not waste packing space, these are ideal. They’re also great for smaller bags, like a tote or briefcase.
eBags Slim Packing Cubes 3pc Set
These slim cubes from eBags are exactly the same as the brand’s regular cubes, except that these are narrow. There are 3 pieces, all of the same size, i.e. 14″ x 5″ x 2.75″, and together they weight 8 oz.
Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It Tube Cube
This tube packing cube is part of the Eagle Creek Pack-it cubes system and is made of 300D poly micro-weave, measures 13 x 3.9 x 3.2 inches and weighs 3 oz. It is specifically designed as an organizer for small or narrow items. It has a see through mesh double zippered lid and a grab handle.
Waterproof Packing Cubes
Eagle Creek Travel Gear Luggage Pack-It Specter Packing Cube
While mesh top cubes allow you to see inside easily, their contents run the risk of getting wet from liquids that are also packed in your luggage or if your luggage is not water resistant and is exposed to the elements. If this is a concern for you, the Eagle Creek Specter packing cubes will solve your problem. The one you see here is the large sized one, but you’ll also find a half sized one, a quarter sized one, and a 3 piece set of assorted sizes.
The material is water and stain resistant Silnylon Ripstop and is slightly translucent. It is very lightweight at just 1 oz for the large one. It measures 14″ x 10″ x 3″. The single zipper pull goes around one long and one short side of the bag and there’s a grab handle on the top.
What’s the best way to pack using cubes?
There are three methods I like:
1. Before traveling, sort and plan your outfits ahead of time. Then pack one or more complete outfits in each cube. This way, you have to unpack just one cube at a time. Use smaller cubes or organizer bags for things like personal or gadget accessories. Children’s clothes also fit well in small cubes.
2. Another method is to role up each garment and tightly pack several of them into a cube, sorted by type of garment. For example, put T-shirts in one, pants in another and socks and undergarments in another. You can even use a cube for toiletries. I use packing folders for button down shirts or anything that I would like to keep completely wrinkle-free. This method is especially good when you want to carry as small a bag as possible but still have enough clothes for the trip. This method helps reduce wrinkles too.
3. If you’re sharing your suitcase with someone else, separate your things with separate cubes.
As you can see, the best packing cubes for travel are very versatile and can offer a lot of value trip after trip.