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Packing Cubes are the ultimate luggage organizer – and a must-have item for every savvy traveler.
We have used Packing Cubes since we went fully nomadic in 2014 – and, without a doubt, they rank #1 on our travel accessories list.
Many travelers are hesitant to invest in packing organizers – and we understand, because we were once there, too! When we learned how to use Packing Cubes, however, we were instant converts.
To help you gauge if Packing Cubes are worth it, we are sharing how and why we use travel Packing Cubes as full time travelers. Plus, we are giving our best advice for fellow travelers for how to pack with Packing Cubes and divulging what we think are the best packing cube brands.
Why We Started Using Packing Cubes for Travel
To be honest, when we first heard about Packing Cubes for traveling, we did not believe the hype. We had questions – oh so many questions – about the little luggage Packing Cubes and we wanted answers before we shelled out the cash.
Do Packing Cubes Really Save Space?
Our first hang up was that we couldn’t envision how packing cubes could be space savers. Specifically, we didn’t understand how putting Cubes for Packing into our luggage could possibly save space. How does it save space to add more contents to your bag?
Are Packing Cubes Worth It?
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. Really, are Packing Cubes worth it?
Are there Cheaper Hacks instead of Using Packing Cubes?
We considered cheaper options and Packing Cubes hacks – like using plastic Ziplock bags. But most of the travel packing organizer hacks seemed like they would end up costing more money and time in the long run. Is there such a thing as cheap Packing Cubes?
How Do Suitcase Organizer Cubes Help?
If we were going to invest in Packing Cubes, we wanted to be sure they would be helpful. We are wary of gimmicky products that over-promise and under-deliver. We wondered, Do Packing Cubes Really Help?
Investing in Packing Cubes
The more we researched how to pack using packing cubes, the more we understood their value. Organization, space and simplicity are factors that cannot be ignored by any traveler – and Packing Cubes can help. As avid travelers, it was becoming clear that packing with Packing Cubes was the way to go.
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. Simply put: Packing cubes made packing so much easier.
Through our research and little trial and error, we got the answers to our burning questions. Do Packing Cubes actually save space? YES! Are Travel Cubes worth it? YES! Are DIY Packing Cube hacks worth the time, effort and risk? No! Do Packing Cubes help save space and create organization as promised? YES!
Honestly, my only regret is that we didn’t start traveling with luggage packing cubes a lot sooner!
You are likely still questioning, How do Packing Cubes help? – so we are going to share exactly how they make packing easier! Additionally, we detail the different types of packing cells, how to pack packing cubes and our top picks for the absolute best packing organizers.
Spoiler Alert! If you are looking for the best travel luggage Packing Cubes – ones that are both lightweight and durable – we wholeheartedly recommend Eagle Creek Packing Cubes! Throughout the article, we discuss which organizers we like best in their line of packing products.
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 The Best Travel Organizer Cubes Help You Stay Organized
With a Packing Cubes Set, it is easy to organize clothing. Rather than tossing all of your clothes into the abyss of what sometimes seems like a bottomless bag, you use travel luggage packing cubes to separate and organize your belongings.
Each traveler has their own method for the best way to use Packing Cubes for organization. Some people pack cubes based on climate – warmer clothes go in one and clothes for warmer days go in another.
However, I use different luggage organizer Packing Cubes for different types of clothing – like one for tops and another for pants.
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.
Because I have a standard method for how to pack a Packing Cube – that shirts go in one and pants in another – all of the clothing within the packing cell stays organized.
If you are a little confused about all the different styles of Packing Cubes, don’t worry – I review the most popular types of travel packing cells in more detail later.
How To Pack with Packing Cubes: Create a System
Furthermore, how you pack each individual cube can help with organization, too. I always pack the contents of the cubes the exact same way. Not only does that make Packing Cubes packing easier, but it also allows me to quickly locate items at a glance.
For example, my shirts are folded and stacked in one cube. 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.
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.
How To Fold Clothes in Packing Cubes for Better Organization
How to organize clothes in Packing Cubes is a big consideration. 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, 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!
#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.
Consider the Weight when Using Space Saving Packing Cubes
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 – which is fantastic for fitting everything you need for a trip into smaller luggage (possibly even a carry on!). However, you just need to know that the more you pack, the more your luggage will weigh.
It is important to keep in mind your overall bag weight if you are checking it on a long haul flight with weight limits. That said, it is 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.
You’ve seen the frustrated and anxiety-ridden passengers in the security line, helplessly watching an agent dig through a mound of clothing and personal belongings. Perhaps you’ve even been that passenger, I have! But, that was before I started using travel cubes for luggage.
How Packing Cubes Help at Security Checkpoints
Now 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 my luggage. All of my clothing – from my outer layers to underwear – are stowed in individual Packing Cubes within my luggage.
Rather than exposing the entire contents of my luggage, the agent can 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 Luggage Cubes for Packing Fit Like a Puzzle
I have created a packing strategy that utilizes the same Cubes every time that I pack my bag. I know exactly how much clothing I can fit into each cube (which keeps me from overpacking) and how each cube fits into my backpack (which keeps it simple).
Because each Packing Cell has its place in my bag, using Packing Cubes saves time, eliminates unnecessary stress and makes is easy to find exactly what I’m looking for when I need something from my bag.
How Travel Luggage Packing Organizers Simplify Packing
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, my system ensures 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.
Additionally, when I need to locate a specific shirt or a pair of jeans in my luggage, I know exactly what cube it is in and where it is located within my bag.
The Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Set (which is what I own) makes it even easier, as there is a convenient and easy-to-grab handle on the bag, too.
#5 Luggage Packing Cells Act 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.
How To Use Packing Cubes for Travel at Your Destination
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 in your accommodations, you can slip the entire bag into the drawer. This way, your clean clothes are protected from dust and whatever the previous guest may have stored in the same space.
When you need clothing, you simply unzip your cube – but your clothes stay inside the cube until you need them, keeping them neat and tidy.
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.
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 everything on your packing list, 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 packing cube 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. The basic cube is the most popular type of packing cube for travel, so we are going to discuss them in detail.
Basic Travel Luggage Packing Organizer Materials
Choosing the right material for your packing travel cubes is important – because the different materials each serve a different purpose. Let’s take a quick look at a few of the most popular materials used in the best luggage organizers.
Canvas Packing Cubes
Canvas cubes are the original packing organizers for travel. The zippered travel pack cubes are durable and unzip on three sides (so that it opens like a mini suitcase). They are best for organization and simplicity. However, they are not the lightest or most space-saving bags.
Mesh Packing Cubes
Mesh material is used on cloth packing cubes for two reasons. First, to allow a peek into what is inside the bag and, second, (and perhaps more importantly) to allow air to circulate through the bag to keep your clothes fresh.
Lightweight Packing Cubes
Travel pack cubes made with ultra lightweight – yet incredibly durable – materials are fantastic for travelers. The material is practically weightless, yet the bags are strong enough to be crammed full of clothes. Eagle Creek uses a quality ultra-lightweight Silnylon ripstop fabric that is water resistant and backed by their lifetime warranty.
Waterproof Packing Cubes
Keeping clothes dry is a major concern for some adventurous travelers, which is why waterproof travel cubes were invented. They may be the best packing cubes for backpacking.
Basic Luggage Packing Organizers Sizes
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 smaller packing cubes are ideal for under garments and accessories (like scarves, gloves and winter hats).
Unique Packing Cubes Travel Organizer Options
In addition to the standard rectangular size Packing Cubes, there are a few uniquely designed travel cubes that are worth mentioning.
The garment folder style packing cubes are best for business travelers and vacationers traveling with clothing that is pressed and ready to be worn.
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.
In addition to deciding if you need a packing cube for shoes, you will also need to decide which shoes to pack for your trip. Use our complete breakdown on the Best Shoes For Travel.
Clean/Dirty Luggage Packing Organizers
One of the latest trends in travel packing organizers is the Clean/Dirty Cube. Built like a basic Packing Cube, the cube actually has zippers on both sides – and a floating interior that separates one side from the other.
This way, your clean clothes stay clean and your dirty clothes stay stowed.
How To Use a Packing Cube for Clean and Dirty Clothes
How you use the Clean/Dirty cubes is simple. Pack your clean clothes on one side. During your trip, refold your dirty clothes and store them in the dirty side.
The interior panel will keep your dirty and clean clothes separated, but the size of your bag will not increase or decrease – due to the floating panel.
Packing Cubes: Compression
Packing compression cubes take the idea of Basic 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
The best compression packing cubes with vacuum seals are ones that you manually press the air out of (so that you can do it from anywhere!).
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. I use the Eagle Creek Compression Sac, which is made of durable nylon-reinforced materials.
Pro Tip: If you are wondering, Do compression packing cubes really save space in my suitcase? – the answer is YES! Some vacuum compression packing cubes can save up to 80% of space.
How Do Vacuum Compression Packing Cubes Work?
Packing Cubes compression bags are designed with one open end (which is resealable like a Ziplock) and the other end is fitted with a one-way pressure valve.
The first step to using vacuum compression packing cubes for travel is to fill the bag with items that are neatly folded in uniform size and stacked. It is best to fold the apparel to the approximate size of the bag.
Once your belongings are inside, seal the open end of the bag (the best compression vacuum bags include an easy-to-seal slider). Then, to squeeze out the air, you tightly roll the bag from the resealable end, pushing the air down to the valves, considerably condensing the amount of space it takes to pack the items.
The tighter you roll the travel compression cubes, the more air you get out of the bag. I have found that rolling the bag on a hard surface or on a hard floor (where I can really use my body weight to expel as much air as possible) gets the best results.
How To Pack with Cubes with Compression?
Once you have released as much air as possible from your luggage compression cubes, you are ready to pack it.
You can leave the bag rolled and stow it in your luggage. For example, my bigger rolled compression travel cube that I use for coats fits snuggly in the bottom of my backpack.
However, after squeezing the air out of the smaller travel compression cube that I use for wintertime accessories, I unroll the bag so that it slides into my backpack flat.
You will need to decide how to use compression packing cubes in your luggage – rolled or flat – depending on how everything else fits in your bag.
Packing Cube Vacuum Cleaner Bags
It’s important to note that some vacuum bags require an actual vacuum to suck the air out of the bag. These are NOT the type of compression bag that you want for travel. During your trip, as soon as you open the bag to remove and wear contents, you will need another vacuum cleaner to compress the bag in order to fit it back into your suitcase.
If you are going to use vacuum compressible bags for packing, stick to the ones with air valves that allow you to press out the air on your own.
Packing Cubes: Compression Zipper
Zippered compressible Packing Cubes are absolutely amazing for saving space.
Built like a basic Packing Cube, zippered compression bags are genius! The compressible packing cubes are made of the same lightweight material of the basic cubes, but with an additional outside zipper that helps to reduce the overall size of the bag.
The Eagle Creek Compression Cube, specifically the Pack It Specter Compression cubes – is one of the favorites in our collection.
How Do Compression Packing Cubes Work with Zippers?
How you use compression Packing Cubes is simple. Just like a basic cube, you fill the cube with your clothing – either neatly folded or tightly rolled – and you zip the cube shut using the main zipper.
Then, using the an additional zipper pull on the outside of the bag, carefully zip the outside of the bag. When fully zipped it condenses the size of the bag.
We think zippered compression bags are the absolute best compression travel cubes for travelers trying to save space and weight in their luggage.
Stuff Sack Luggage Organizer Cubes
Stuff sacks are a type of compression travel luggage cubes that have traditionally been used as travel cubes for backpacks by backpackers. More specifically, stuff sacks are most used by backpackers carrying bulky sleeping bags.
While we do think that stuff sacks are fantastic for backpacking adventures, we do not necessarily think they are the best compression packing cubes for travel. You can literally stuff a lot into a stuff sack, but clothes that are stuffed into a stuff sack come out wrinkled.
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!
When deciding between Packing Cubes vs Compression Packing Cubes, you need to think about what types of clothes you will be packing. If you are taking a winter trip, and will be packing bulkier clothing, compression bags are key. On the other hand, if you are headed to the beach, regular packing cubes may be best.
Furthermore, you need to consider your overall goal when determining whether to pack in Compression Cubes vs Packing Cubes.
Are you trying to save space so that you can pack for your entire trip in a carry-on? Do you want to arrive at your destination for your business meeting with clothes that are ready to wear? Or is it that you just crave organization in your massive suitcase?
In the end, we determined it was best to purchase a variety of bags. We own – and use – both types for our nomadic travels.
However, I will confess: If I had to choose one – and only one style – I would buy the Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes with Zippers. Buy it here!
Choosing the Best 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 styles of luggage!
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. And, we were right!
In fact, Eagle Creek travel organizers are so incredible that after years of full-time travel, we still pack using most of the cubes from our original set from 2014!
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, carry on luggage or even our favorite day bag, 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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