The Best Packing Cubes For Simple Travelers

By Lily Evans | Travel Gear

Aug 04
The Best Packing Cubes For Simple Travelers

One of the most tedious aspects of traveling is packing. There’s nothing as frustrating as finding out that you’ve left a couple of essentials at home – and packing cubes are supposedly the solution. Since I hate packing, I immediately went on a search for the best packing cubes in the market.

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​What are Packing Cubes?

What are Packing Cubes

Basically, packing cubes are small, lightweight bags with no built-in compartments designed to serve as suitcase organizers or removable compartments. They come in different sizes and designs but are typically built with mesh or see-through covers and semi-rigid walls.

When to Use Packing Cubes?

Admittedly, packing cubes are not for everyone. If you are an expert in traveling light or if you are staying in only one location for the duration of your trip, then you won't benefit much from packing cubes. Surely, they can help keep you organized, but you can easily do away with them.

When to Use Packing Cubes

However, if you are a chronic over-packer like me, then packing cubes are certainly must-haves. Given their compact size, you would be forced to pack only the things you absolutely need. They're also ideal for packing similar things together, so you know exactly how much you're bringing with you.

Packing cubes are also perfect for lengthy trips with multiple stops because it allows you to group items together depending on when you would be using them. That way, you don’t have to rummage through your entire suitcase every time you reach a stop.

If you’re traveling with your family and sharing suitcases, then using packing cubes is a great way to separate the belongings of each family member.​

The Advantages of Using Packing Cubes

Some may find the idea of arranging packing cubes inside suitcases superfluous, but, trust me, they are worth giving a try. Here is a run-down of some of the advantages of using packing cubes:

They are Extremely Durable

True enough, a Ziploc bag can very well do the job of keeping toiletries and shoes separated from the rest of your baggage. However, unlike a packing cube, you can only use a Ziploc so many times, and they're not even that durable.

Packing cubes, on the other hand, can last for years even with regular use. So not only is investing in packing cubes better for the environment, but it is also more cost-efficient.

They Can Be Used to Compress Items​

They Can Be Used to Compress Items​

Ziploc bags are too flimsy to provide any compression, but packing bags can easily do the job. After all, they are specifically designed to maintain their shape and hold a lot of items.

If you don’t want to lug around a humongous suitcase, or if you simply don’t want to invest in one, then you might want to spare a few bucks for a couple of packing cubes. You’d be surprised at how many items you can squeeze into one packing cube.

Want to know how to make the most out of your packing cubes? Check out this helpful video tutorial.

They Make Packing and Unpacking a Breeze

​. If you're staying for an extended period at a hotel or any other accommodation, then you'd probably be unpacking your things. While this will make your belongings easily accessible during your stay, packing them again can be a pain,

​This is where the packing cube comes in. Think of them as portable drawers which allow you to unpack your suitcase without actually having to take out every single item you brought with you. This way, all you have to do is re-arrange the cubes in your bag when it's time to go.

They Are Versatile

They Are Versatile

The primary purpose of packing cubes is to serve as removable travel compartments, but they serve a purpose other than keeping your things separated from each other.

For one, a packing cube, on its own, can be used as carry-on luggage. You can place all your essentials in one small packing cube, put it in your suitcase, and take it out before you board your flight. You can also fill it with a scarf and a jacket so you can use it as a neck pillow​.

​If you're planning a relatively short trip and wouldn't have time to do your laundry, then using packing cubes is also an excellent way to keep wet and dirty items separated from the clean ones.

​When not traveling, I sometimes use my packing cube to keep me organized at home. They're perfect for maximizing closet space and for storing makeup and other small items.

Top 5 Best Packing Cubes

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I went on a hunt for the best packing cubes as soon as I heard about them. There are countless of packing cubes out there, each one catering to a specific need and a particular type of travelers. Here are five of my favorites.


1. Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cube Set

Eagle Creek has a wide range of different packing cube sets in various sizes, styles, and designs, but the Specter range is my favorite because of its compression feature. You can get the Tube Cube, Quarter Cube, Half Cube, or Full Cube depending on what you will be storing, as well as your bag size.


Pros

  • These packing cubes are made of silnylon ripstop which allows for easy visibility of the contents.
  • The material is ultra-lightweight and adds practically nothing to the weight of your luggage.
  • Each cube has a compression zipper closure which allows you to stuff it with more items while, at the same time, saving space in your luggage. It can compress your things to around half the original volume.
  • They have a quick grab handle so you can either stack the cubes against each other in your bag or use the cubes on their own.
  • The material is durable and can withstand regular use. The cubes are sewn well, so you don't have to worry about the seams giving out.

Cons

  • The zipper pulls are quite flimsy. You can easily break them if you’re not too careful.
  • The zipper has a tendency to get stuck on the fabric.
  • The cubes only zipper along the top so you might have some difficulty arranging bulkier items.

2. eBags Packing Cube Set

Another popular packing cube brand is eBags, known for budget-friendly packing cubes which come in different styles, sizes, and colors. Despite the affordable tag price, these packing cubes are hailed for their durability and are designed for frequent use.


Pros

  • Made of Techlite Diamond Nylon, these packing cubes are sturdy and very durable, ideal for people who travel a lot. Since the cubes are made of breathable nylon, they are perfect for storing damp garments during your trip.
  • Each bag is covered by the eBags Lifetime Warranty.
  • These packing cubes feature premium YKK zippers which can withstand repeated opening and closing. The zipper pulls are sturdy.
  • They have mesh tops so you can easily see and access what is inside.
  • The zippers open all the way making it easier to pack bulky items and large garments.
  • The interior is fabric-bound so it never frays doesn’t get caught in the zipper.
  • They come with a handle so you can use them on their own as carry-on luggage.

Cons

  • While the cubes can fit a lot of items, they don't have a compression feature, so you don't get to save as much space as when using compression packing cubes.
  • The mesh cover tends to get ripped easily.

3. Sea to Summit TravellingLight Garment Mesh Bag

Sea to Summit is another line which offers a variety of packing cubes, some of which are specifically designed for items like shoes or used garments. Their packing cubes come in different colors and sizes, making them great organization tools.


Pros

  • This packing cube is ultra-lightweight and packs flat when empty. Not only does it not add to the weight of your luggage, but it is also easy to store when not in use.
  • This packing cube also features durable YKK zippers with Hypalon grab tags for secure closing and opening. The zipper pulls do not break easily.
  • The zipper opens on all three sides, allowing you to pack even large garments and bulky items. It also allows you to get certain things without having to rummage through the entire packing cube.
  • The mesh cover makes the contents easily visible.
  • The body of this packing cube is made with super light and durable, water-resistant Ultra-Sil fabric made with Cordura yarn, making this cube perfect for camping and other outdoor activity.

Cons

  • It does not have a compression feature, and you can't really squeeze too many items inside each cube.
  • The thin fabric is durable enough to hold your belongings in place, but you might not want to use the cube on its own since it can be easily punctured.

4. Rick Steves Packing Cube Set

Rick Steves is another good brand of packing cubes. However, the design is catered more towards those who seek travel organization rather than those who are looking for great compression items.


Pros

  • These packing cubes are more spacious than most of the popular packing cube brands. This brand is the right packing cube for people who have big suitcases and just want to keep their belongings well-organized.
  • The mesh top and sides allow you to see everything inside the cubes and not just the ones on top. You can store different items in the same cube and still be able to find the specific things you need easily.
  • The mesh top and sides allow for a little expansion so you can squeeze more clothes and items inside the cubes.
  • The cubes are made of lightweight materials, so they are incredibly easy to clean and dry easily.
  • The zippers are quite sturdy.

Cons

  • They have no compression feature.
  • The cubes tend to be a little bulky. Also, the mesh walls expand so the cubes can be quite lumpy when full.
  • They have a strong chemical smell initially. The smell goes away after you air the cubes, but you definitely cannot use them straight out of the bag or the smell will transfer to your garments.

5. PRO Packing Cubes Travel Packing Organizers & Compression Pouches for Luggage

These PRO Packing Cubes are sturdy travel organizers which come in an assortment of sizes and colors. Although not as popular as the brands mentioned above, a lot of people swear by these cubes because of their affordability and durability.


Pros

  • These packing cubes are made with ultra-lightweight ripstop nylon. They are very durable and can hold a lot of items.
  • The zippers are sturdy and are designed not to be caught in the fabric.
  • The seams are reinforced, so packing heavy items inside the cubes shouldn't really be a problem.
  • The see-through mesh cover allows you to see inside the packing cubes.
  • Pro Packing Cubes have a lifetime warranty.
  • The cubes come with a handle so you can easily use them as carry-on luggage.

Cons

  • Although the cubes are sturdy and can keep its form despite being packed full, they don't really have any compression feature. The best that you could do is squeeze a lot of items in each of the cubes.
  • The mesh cover is quite flimsy and has a tendency to tear when stretched too much. You would also want to avoid carrying items which can puncture the mesh.


The Winner of This Round-up

I used these packing cubes interchangeably, depending on where I'm going and the number of articles I'm bringing with me. However, if I have to choose only one, it would have to be the eBags Packing Cube Set. For me, it is the perfect combination of affordability and quality.

​Although the eBags don’t have the same compression feature as the Eagle Creek packing cubes, I find them to be more suited to regular traveling given that the zippers are sturdier. I also place a premium on the fact that the zippers open all the way because it makes packing and unpacking a lot easier.

The mesh cover can rip easily, but it’s true for all the other packing cubes with mesh walls. My solution? I avoid placing blunt and pointed objects near the mesh cover to prevent damage to it. But other than the mesh cover, this particular packing cube is extremely durable and can withstand regular use.

​Since I also use packing cubes as portable laundry baskets to store damp and dirty garments during my travels, I really appreciate that the eBags are made of breathable nylon. It helps in allowing the garments to air dry and prevents the growth of molds.

Do you have a favorite packing cube brand? Let me know in the comments below.

About the Author

I'm Lily Evans and I’m here to share with you pieces of travel advice, as well as handy tips and tricks, which I have accumulated over years of travelling and exploring the globe.