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Packing Cubes are the ultimate luggage organizer – and a must-have item for every savvy traveler.
To be honest though, when we first heard about Packing Cubes for traveling, we did not believe the hype. We didn’t understand how Cubes for Packing could possibly save space or help in any other way. How does it save space to add more contents to your bag?
As budget conscious travelers, we were a little sticker shocked at the price of travel cubes for packing. We were reluctant to spend money on the suitcase organizers. The best packing cubes for travel are not cheap – however, all of the Packing Cubes hacks seemed like they would end up costing more money and time in the long run. But, really, are Packing Cubes worth it?
When we became full-time travelers in 2014, we took the plunge and invested in a Packing Cube Set…and it was one of the best pre-trip decisions that we made. Honestly, my only regret is that we didn’t start traveling with luggage packing cubes a lot sooner!
How To Use Packing Cubes for Easier Travel
Using a luggage organizer set was life changing (at least in regards to my relationship with the dreaded task of packing). I’m not joking. I used to be a terrible packer. At first, I was the notorious Over Packer. Then, I became the Breezy (I’ll-buy-what-I-forget-when-I-get-there) Packer. Now, using Packing Cubes – and my packing list – I feel as if I have been elevated to the status of a Superstar Packer.
So, how exactly do Packing Cubes work? Here are 5 ways packing with Packing Cubes have made travel easier for us.
#1 Helps You Stay Organized
With a Packing Cubes Set, it is easy to organize clothing. Each traveler has their own method, but I like to use one of my medium Packing Cubes for shirts, another one of my medium Packing Cubes for pants and dresses and one of my small Packing Cubes for underwear and socks. For my bulkier clothes – like my coat and fleece – I use one of my medium compressed Packing Sacs. Smaller bulky items – like my gloves and hats – are packed in one of the small compression Cubes for Packing. (I review the different types of travel packing cells in more detail later!)
Furthermore, because I always pack the cubes the same way, it is easy to locate items at a glance. For example, my shirts are folded and stacked. I start with a thin hoodie on the bottom, long sleeve shirts on top of the hoodie, short sleeve shirts on top of the long sleeve shirts and tank tops on the top of the stack. (I provide more tips for how to organize clothes in Packing Cubes in a minute!)
It took a few tries before I settled on the best method of how to pack Packing Cubes – and I would guess that it might be a little different for every traveler. Therefore, we recommend trying it a few different ways to find your best method of how to pack using Packing Cubes.
#2 Saves Space in Your Suitcase
Before we purchased the Eagle Creek Pack-It Set, we couldn’t help but speculate, Do Packing Cubes really save space? Well, we are here to confirm that, yes, they do! In fact, it is one of the top benefits of Packing Cubes.
I have tested the efficiency of Packing Cubes by packing my bag with and without them. Without a doubt, using travel packing organizers creates more space in my luggage. Actually, with my set of Eagle Creek Packing Cubes, I am able to cut my bulk nearly in half.
So, if you are like me and curiously asking the question, “Do Packing Cubes Save Space?” you can rest assured that they do.
However, one thing to mention about luggage packing organizers is that, while they do save an immense amount of physical space, the weight of your items stays the same. The more room you have, the more you can pack, and the more your luggage will weigh. It is important to keep in mind your overall bag weight if you are checking it on an airline with weight limits – but, perhaps even more crucial if you are packing a backpack (as you don’t want your bag to be too heavy to carry). We recommend using a Luggage Weight Scale to ensure you don’t exceed your target bag weight.
#3 Makes Security Screenings Simple
When we bought our luggage packing organizers, we did not even consider how they might help at airport security. But, for me, it is one of the top reasons why Packing Cubes are worth every penny.
Regardless of how mindful I am about adhering to airport security rules and regulations, my carry on bag can be tagged for an additional screening. When I use Packing Cubes for carry on luggage, the security agent doesn’t need to stick their hands in my bag and rifle through all of my clothing; they simply scan one Packing Cube at a time, until they locate the one that set off their alarm (often, finding nothing at all).
Furthermore, after the brief hold up at security, rather than struggling to repack the entire contents of my luggage, all I need to do is replace each cube of my Eagle Creek Cube Set into place – and off to the gate I go!
#4 Fits Like a Puzzle
Because each Packing Cell has its place in my bag, using Packing Cubes saves time and eliminates unnecessary stress.
Tied to both Organization and Space, the fact that each Packing Cube fits precisely into place allows me to quickly pack and unpack. Like putting a puzzle together, I have created a system where each cube is packed the same way for every single trip.
There is no more fumbling around, fuming and getting frustrated like I used to before we started using Packing Cubes bags. Now, I pack each cube of my travel cube set, then slide them right into place inside my bag.
#5 Acts as Drawers at Your Destination
Packing Cubes for travel are not just packing accessories…collectively, they are a mini, transportable dresser. What I mean by that is that when I arrive at my destination, each Packing Cube acts as a drawer.
Let me explain a little bit better; not all accommodations have dressers…but with clothes Packing Cubes, you don’t need a dresser. The cubes can be placed on a desk or table or even on top of your suitcase or backpack. (In the case that there is a dresser, you can slip the entire bag into the drawer, so that you clean clothes are protected from what the previous guest stored in the same space.)
Then, rather than opening a drawer, you simply unzip your cube. Because of how I pack my packing cubes (tank tops on top of short sleeves, on top of long sleeves), finding the item I am looking for is a breeze. The Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Set (which is what I own) makes it even easier, as there is a convenient handle on the bag, too.
What Are Packing Cubes?
OK, I feel like we have gotten a bit ahead of ourselves. Let’s back up and chat about what exactly Packing Cubes are. Essentially, the cubes – or Packing Cells – are space-saving packing organizers that help travelers attain perfectly packed luggage.
Literally, they are zippered fabric bags specifically designed to organize your clothing and other belongings, so they ideally fit into a suitcase or backpack.
You mean I can use packing cubes for backpacks or as a suitcase organizer? YES! Yes, you can. You can even use packing cubes for carry on luggage.
Types of Travel Packing Cubes
Packing Organizers have come a long way in recent years. There used to be only a couple of choices of luggage organizer bags, but now there is a wide variety of traveling cubes. In addition to the assortment of styles and functions, cube bags for travel come in a plethora of sizes and colors, too. To help familiarize you with the options, I am going to review the most popular options.
Basic Packing Cubes
The most basic Packing Cubes for clothes are rectangular in shape. They do not expand or compress, but they do come in a range of materials and sizes. There are mesh Packing Cubes, lightweight Packing Cubes, canvas Packing Cubes and waterproof Packing Cubes – just to name a few. While the material used for the luggage organizers is a very important aspect, choosing which size is just as significant.
Packing Cubes: Large
Large Packing Cubes are best for coats and sweaters – and any other bulky items that you would pack for travels.
Packing Cubes: Medium
Medium Packing Cubes are generally the size of a folded shirt and are, by far, the most common size of travel luggage organizer.
Packing Cubes: Small
Small Packing Cubes – sometimes called Half Cubes – are about half the size of medium travel packing cells. These are ideal for under garments and accessories (like scarves, gloves and winter hats).
Packing Cubes: Shoes
A Shoe Packing Cube is pretty self-explanatory, in that it is designed to store your shoes. We personally do not own any Packing Cubes for shoes, but can certainly see the benefit of keeping dirty-soled shoes separate from the rest of your clothing.
Pro Tip: Read our complete breakdown on the Best Shoes For Travel!
Packing Cubes: Compression
Packing compression cubes take the idea of Packing Cubes to a whole new level. With technical design elements geared toward condensing air, compression packing bags are masters at saving space.
There are two main kinds of compression cubes for travel: Vacuum Packing Cubes and Zippered Compression Cubes.
Packing Cubes: Vacuum
Vacuum-sealed compression luggage cubes are made of plastic – and are designed to extract air from the bag. They are ideal for bulkier items, like puffy coats and fleece jackets.
Some vacuum bags require an actual vacuum to suck the air out of the bag. However, I think the best compression packing cubes are ones that you can manually press the air out of (so that you can do it from anywhere!). The Eagle Creek Compression Sac has one open end (which is resealable like a Ziplock) and the other end is fitted with a one-way pressure valve. To squeeze out the air, you tightly roll the bag (with your belongings inside) from the resealable end, pushing the air down to the valves, considerably condensing the amount of space it takes to pack the items.
Packing Cubes: Compression Zipper
Zippered compressible Packing Cubes are absolutely amazing for saving space. Built like a basic Packing Cube, compression Packing Cubes have an additional zipper on the outside of the bag that – when zipped – condenses the size of the bag. The Eagle Creek Compression Cube is one of the favorites in our collection!
Packing Cubes vs Compression Bags
Many travelers agonize over which style of Packing Cube to buy; I know it was a real struggle for us! In the end, we determined it was best to purchase a variety of bags. However, if I had to choose one – and only one style – I would buy the Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes.
Packing Cubes: Backpack, Suitcase and Carry On
When deciding which luggage Packing Cubes to buy, you should at least have in mind what type of luggage you are going to be using. That is not to say that there are special Packing cubes for backpacking and different suitcase Packing Cubes. Any travel luggage organizer will provide benefit regardless of what kind of luggage you use. In fact, we use a combination of styles in our bags.
That said, some Packing Cubes are better suited for certain luggage types. Having an overall idea of your packing goal – is it to save space or be more organized? – will also help in choosing the right travel organizer bag set.
Backpack Packing Cubes
Using Packing Cubes in a backpack is brilliant! Actually, using Packing Cubes for a backpack that is top loading is practically essential (I should know, that is the kind of bag I travel with!). Key features for backpacking Packing Cubes are lightweight material, compression capabilities and easy-grab handles.
Packing Cubes for Suitcases
It is just as advantageous to use Packing Cubes for a suitcase. Kris’ backpack zips like a suitcase and the top characteristics of his suitcase cubes are that they are durable, compressible and easily organized.
Carry On Packing Cubes
When trying to pack for a trip with a carry on, travel cubes can make a big difference! The best Packing Cubes for carry on luggage are – hands down – compression cubes. Keep in mind, however, that some airlines weigh carry on luggage (especially European and Southeast Asia carriers); be sure to stay within your airline’s hand luggage weight limits.
Pro Tip: Read our article Backpack vs. Suitcase, where we breakdown the pros and cons of both!
How To Pack with Packing Cubes
There is a big debate about how to pack in Packing Cubes: Fold or Roll. After trying it both ways, we are firmly in the Fold Camp. (That said, the one item of clothing that I do Roll is my underwear!)
First, like I already mentioned, Packing Cubes are like drawers. If you fold your clothes, when you unzip the end, you can visually see all of the contents of your cube.
Second, in my experience, Rolling does not save space. In fact, it made my Packing Cube lumpy and uneven.
Third, Rolling your clothes is much more time consuming that Folding. Packing is not my favorite chore, and I like to spend the least amount of time possible doing it.
How to Fold Clothes for Packing Cubes
In order to make the most use of space in your Packing Cubes, it is essential to neatly fold your clothing. Furthermore, each item needs to be folded to the same size.
I worked in retail for many years, so folding shirts into neat stacks is one of my secret skills, but for many travelers, it takes some practice. A cheap folding board can help if you are having trouble getting the hang of it.
Once you have your stack of clothes, place them in the bag – making sure to push the clothing into the upper corners. In order to get the bag to zip, you may need to pull the material closer together. If you have a Zippered Compression Bag, zip up the outside zipper to condense the space. And that’s it!
The Best Packing Cubes: Eagle Creek Luggage Cubes
When we first started shopping for a luggage organizer set, we knew there were certain features that were essential. They needed to be lightweight, but durable; space-saving and also easy to organize. After reading hundreds of reviews of Packing Cubes and spending hours in stores comparing the pros and cons of each brand, we determined that Eagle Creek makes the best travel packing cubes.
We use an assortment from the Eagle Creek cubes collection -including Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes (Original, Specter and Tech) and Eagle Creek Compression Bags and Sacs.
We love the variety of styles and the ability to mix and match the color schemes, which work well for both men and women. (They even have new cute Packing Cubes patterns that they came out with recently!)
Quality, however, is the real reason why we think they are the absolute best packing cubes for travelers. Where other name-brand products failed us after a few months or years, we are still using the same Eagle Creek Packing Cubes that we bought in 2014 for our full-time traveling adventures.
Whether talking about the best packing cubes for backpacks vs. suitcases or carry on luggage, the Eagle Creek Packing Cubes get the nod as the best travel cubes in the business.
Want to know where to buy Packing Cubes by Eagle Creek? Start Shopping here!
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