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 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 luggage 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.
Best Travel Cubes
To get the best bang for your buck, consider buying a set of cubes.
Shacke Pak Set of 4 Packing Cubes with Laundry Bag
This is the travel organizer set that I currently have and I couldn’t be happier with it. You get bang for your buck with thisShacke 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 with a little bit of stretch and are closed by dual corded 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. The seams are double-stitched for extra reinforcement even if you really stuff them. A webbed handle along the spine makes it easy to grab a cube from a backpack or any top opening bag.
It is recommended that you only hand wash these cubes to keep them long lasting.
eBags Classic 4pc Packing Cubes
The eBag packing cubes have been one of the most popular and durable packing cubes ever since they came out. They’re available in a variety of colors and come in 4 sizes. You can buy them in sets of three, four or six and either get several different sizes in one set, or get a set where all are in one size.
The sizes available in this set 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″
Slim: 14″ x 5″ x 2.75″
The eBags Classic 4pc assorted packing cube Set you see here is made of nylon and weighs just 0.9 lbs 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 and the slim one along an edge.
If you don’t find the 4 different sizes very 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 Techlite Diamond Nylon and mesh top panels so you can see inside easily and let your things breathe. The inner seams are fabric bound so nothing can get snagged in the zippers. 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 sturdy. They also come with lifetime warranty.
eBags Light 5pc Packing Cubes
While the Classic eBags cubes are very good and durable, they’re not the lightest cubes you can buy. If you’re looking for the best packing cubes for carry on, the eBags Light 5pc travel cubes are very similar to the eBags assorted set but comes with 5 cubes instead of 4 and are even lighter.
The total weight for these mesh packing cubes set is 8.3 ounces, making these the best ultralight packing cubes on the market. The 5 pieces makes it very versatile to pack any shape and size of luggage. The sizes in the set are: 1 Slim (13 x 6.5 x 3.5in), 2 Small (6.5 x 6.5 x 3.5in) and 2 Large (13 x 13 x 3.5in).
To make these cubes lighter, the fabric used is quite thin but 30D siliconized Cordura nylon, which is extremely durable. To keep some structure while filling, it features a spring-loaded mini framed design. There are slim tug-tabs on the corners to give you something to grip when closing the zipper.
The other difference between the Classic model brand and this one is in the lid. While eBags makes the see through mesh on either side of the middle opaque fabric, the light cubes feature a full mesh top lid.
One thing to note is that because of the full mesh top and thin shell, sharp corners of toiletries or tech accessories can poke a hole through, so you may need to buy a separate container for those kinds of things.
PRO Packing Cubes – 10 Piece set
This 10 piece set of PRO Packing Cubes is great for family travel, as each piece is a different color, so you can pack any cube in any suitcase and there’s no risk of anyone losing their belongings in a mad jumble. It’s also great for those who want to quickly grab the right cube for a specific type of clothing item.
There are three different size cubes – 2 large (17.5″ x 12.75″ x 3.25″), 4 medium (13.75″ x 9.75″ x 3″), and 4 slim (13.75″ x 5″ x 3″). The large is good for bulky items like towels and sweaters, the medium is good for t-shirts and pants, and the slim is good for undergarments and socks.
The dual YKK zippers are strong with color coded paracord as zipper pulls. The fabric is strong but lightweight and soft with a mesh window in the center of the lid. There’s a grab handle along one end.
The Pro Packing cubes are also available in sets of 6, 5 and 4.
Packing Cube with Compartments
Peak Design Packing Cube
Do you want more organizations within your luggage organizers? Then get a Peak Design Packing Cube. The medium cube measures 6.69 x 12.6 x 12.6 inches (8 to 18 liters) and the small cube measures 11 x 5.5 x 6.1 inches (4.5 to 9 liters). These cubes are not cheap, but that’s because they are top quality and come with more features than their competitors.
These luggage cubes can be compressed to become thinner, as there’s a zipper that goes all around to bring the top down while pressing down on the clothes inside.
There are two separate compartments in these cubes. The top main compartment is the deeper one and can be quickly accessed by the tear away tabs that automatically push the dual zippers open as you peel the lid open. This is where you pack things in neatly. The bottom compartment is accessed by an external straight zipper and can be used to stuff dirty clothes. These compartments are completely separated internally by a divider. When both are packed and closed, you use the compression zipper to flatten the cube while pressing down from the top.
The outer poly shell is made of 100% recycled weatherproof nylon and can withstand minor abrasions, as the fabric is rip-resistant and self-healing. This means that if something pokes through a little bit, the fabric won’t tear and the hole will disappear on its own.
Osprey Ultralight Double Sided Packing Cube
You can get even more organization while still saving space and weight with the Osprey Ultralight Double Sided Packing Cube. Instead of using two different cubes to separate clean from dirty clothes or damp from dry clothes, this 40D Nylon Ripstop cube does it alone.
There are two sizes available – Medium: 5 Liter – 10 X 7 X 4 in and Large: 9 Liter – 14 X 10 X 4 in.
The double-sided compartments open via a single zipper but not all the way through and there’s a grab handle on the short side at the top.
The top compartment features a mesh panel for breathability and this is where you can pack your clean and dry clothes. The bottom compartment does not have mesh so that it contains odors from dirty or damp clothes.
Compression Packing Cubes
If your biggest problem is getting everything into one small bag, then luggage 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.
However, these can be the best packing cubes for backpacking in order to keep your pack as compact as possible. They usually have rounded edges instead of pointed ones, so they utilize a backpack’s corners more efficiently. The handles are usually placed on top, so the cubes are easy to grab from top loading backpacks.
If you need to carry bulky items like a sweater or jacket, compression cubes for travel are better than regular ones. Keep in mind that because these work by allowing you to pack above the bottom lid line, your clothes can fall out when you open them and should not be used for packing things that you may need in transit. They’re also great to pack dirty clothes at the end of a trip while making more space for your souvenirs.
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 Pack-it Specter Compression Cube Set
The way that compression works on the Eagle Creek Pack-it Specter Compression Cube Set is that the bags have a single zipper to bring the top and bottom of the cube together, which presses all your clothes down inside. It’s the same principle that expandable zippered luggage uses. Open each cube up in the expanded state with the expansion zipper unzipped, pack all your clothes in, and zip the cubes closed while pressing down on the top lid.
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, these Eagle Creek water resistant packing cubes will solve your problem. The set you see here comprises a small sized one (10 x 7 x 1.25 in, 6 liter) and a medium sized one (14 x 10 x 1.25 in, 13 liter).
The material is water and stain resistant Silnylon Ripstop and is slightly translucent. It is very lightweight. The single zipper pull to close each bag goes around one long and one short side and there’s a grab handle on the top.
Gonex Compression Packing Cubes
Our pick for the best travel compression packing cubes are the Gonex Compression Cube Sets. You can choose to buy individual cubes or get a value set comprising various sizes. For example, a 6 piece set comprises 1 large, 1 medium, 1 small, 1 extra-small, 1 slim cube, and 1 laundry or shoe bag. The sizes go from 15.4 x 15 x 3.54 inches for the large to 7.9 x 5.9 x 3.54 inches for the small.
Each cube is made of a very soft and lightweight rip-stop nylon with a mesh panel on the top to let you see through to its contents.
The compression cubes have two zippers each – one is for closing the cube, and one is for compression. Use the latter after you’ve packed and closed the cube, and it will compress down to a thin and compact pack that will take up very little space in your backpack or suitase.
How to Use Packing Cubes
- Most travel cubes have an external handle that makes it easy to grab out of a backpack or any top loading luggage. If you plan to access cubes in this way, make sure the handle is easily accessible from the top or side.
- Buy a set of cubes with different sizes to pack outer shirts, trousers, skirts, etc in the larger ones and undergarments and accessories in smaller ones. Also buy individual cubes if necessary. Smaller cubes will fit nicely in leftover space in your luggage. Organize them inside your bag like you’re playing a game of Tetris so that every inch of space in your suitcase or backpack is utilized.
- I like to use different colored cubes in one trip. This makes it easy to identify which cube holds what without having to take them out. If I travel with family and I share a suitcase with my kid, then we use our own separate colors to identify them.
What’s the best way to pack using cubes?
There are three methods I like, depending on the duration of my trip and whether I’m traveling alone:
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.
Yes, they do! While each cube does add a little bit of weight to your luggage, they’re very light on their own so that addition is negligible. They help keep your clothes and other items neat and tidy inside a cavernous suitcase, duffel bag or backpack and help minimize wrinkles by preventing your clothes shifting and from bunching up.
They discourage you from overpacking, so in the end they actually help keep your luggage as light as possible. Do you really need to take 7 different sets of clothes with you for a 5 day trip? If all your tops don’t fit into one large cube, or all your undergarments into one small one, that means you’re overpacking.
For those who are always in a hurry in the mornings, packing an entire outfit into a single cube makes it easy for you to just grab that one cube to get dressed and go instead of rummaging around for matching pieces.
Yes, they do. Even regular packing cubes help save space by keeping things tightly packed in a small space. Compression packing cubes go one step further and can help save space by anywhere from 20-30%. Packing cubes also help create small nooks and cranies within your luggage that you can fill with the odd accessory or two.
A backpacker can choose a compact backpack if he or she can fit all their things in just a few compression cubes for one bag travel, and you can travel with just a carry on suitcase if there are no weight restrictions but there is a stingy bag size restriction.
The average traveler typically needs at least 3 cubes for travel. You can use two large or one large and one medium to organize your tops and bottoms, while a small packing cube is ideal for undergarments. Another small or medium cube can used to pack tech and personal accessories and toiletries.