iving out of a suitcase when you travel can put your contents in disarray making it hard to find specific items without taking everything out of your luggage.  Fortunately, the invention of packing cubes has drastically improved traveling and living out of a suitcase – allowing you to maximize your space and organize your stuff so you can easily find what you’re looking for without unpacking your entire bag. Not all packing cubes are created equal, however, and not knowing what the differences in quality could mean investing a good chunk of your money into some useless or shoddy gear.

In this post we’ll briefly address:

  • what packing cubes are as well as how they can benefit you
  • how to use them effectively
  • what to look for when shopping for different brands
  • And provide you with our review of nine different packing cube brands.

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What are Packing Cubes?

Packing Cubes are small containers of varying sizes that are typically rectangle in shape and made from fabric with a zippered compartment that you place your contents into (typically clothing).  Think of your suitcase as a dresser; packing cubes would be the drawers – they help you organize your stuff, and the best ones compress down to maximize the amount of stuff you can pack by reducing wasted space inside your luggage.

 

 

Why Use Packing Cubes?

Organization

Think of packing cubes like your dresser drawer – they are a way to organize the clothing in your luggage.  By using packing cubes you will only have to take the necessary cube out instead of dig through your entire luggage to get to one item.

Maximize space

The different size-options of packing cubes allow them to fit neatly into your luggage. Compression packing cubes allow you to squash the contents down to its smallest size possible so you can utilize every ounce of your luggage.

Efficiency

By using packing cubes, your packing efficiency will increase because once you use them a few times you know what fits in each, so packing for a trip is done in a lot less time.

Moisture resistant

A lot of packing cubes are made of thin, lightweight rip-stop nylon which has an added benefit of moisture resistance. This is ideal in case your toiletries spill or you encounter rain, and all your clothes don’t end up ruined or soaking wet. The nylon material also prevents the packing cubes from sticking to each other so you can quickly and easily grab a cube from your luggage.

 

 

How to Use Packing Cubes

So, now that you know what Packing Cubes are, you may be asking, “How do I use them?” There are many ways to use packing cubes in order to organize your luggage.

  • Keep like items together in one cube. For instance, all shirts in one, bottoms in another, underwear in another, etc.
  • Pack one outfit per cube in order to easily organize them by day.
  • Vary the color and/or size of each of your packing cubes to easily distinguish what’s in which cube inside your luggage.
  • Each member of your family can use a different color scheme to identify which cubes are whose. This is especially useful if two or more people are sharing luggage.
  • Separate dirty laundry from clean.

No matter how you use the packing cubes to organize your bag, we have found the best way to utilize the space in each packing cube is to roll our clothes as tightly as possible. Doing so also allows you to easily see the cube contents once opened.

 

 

What to look for when purchasing Packing Cubes

Compression

The most important factor in determining a good packing cube from a poor one is whether or not they compress. Compression packing cubes will have an additional zipper which allows you to reduce the size and bulk by compressing out the air and wasted space. The smaller you can get each packing cube, the more space you free-up inside your luggage. This is incredibly important when you prefer to travel minimally.

Seams and Zippers

Durability in zippers and seams is crucial when selecting the right packing cube. If the packing cube fails at either one of these points, they are worthless, regardless of how well they score on other categories.

Size and Color Options

Quite frankly, the more size and color options available; the easier it is going to be for you to tailor your luggage. Think of packing like Tetris: your suitcase is the gameboard, and the cubes are the pieces – the goal is to get everything to fit together with as little wasted space as possible while still allowing you to identify each piece from the other.

Fabric and Handles

One of the frustrating things about trying to remove a specific item from your luggage is removing the majority of contents in order to get that item out. Packing cubes are no different. Slick fabric and quality handles make removing a packing cube from your luggage so much easier without having to unpack everything else as well.

Also, packing cubes made from ripstop nylon resist small holes and tears from spreading to larger ones, and have the added benefit of preventing moisture from penetrating through to your packed items.

 

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Packing Cubes Review

We put nine different packing cube brands to the ultimate test by packing each as if we’re traveling to a cold-weather climate (which by nature requires more layers and thicker fabrics.) This would give us a more accurate understanding of what each packing cube really holds, as well as how much they actually compress.

Iceland Packing List Image Link

We created packing lists for each cube size (small, medium, and large) to create control groups in order to easily compare the different manufacturers’ sizes against one another. For example: one manufacturer’s large may be slightly bigger or smaller than another’s, so we tried to pack the same thing in each to compare them consistently.

We evaluated each packing cube brand based on their: sizes, color options, fabric, zippers, and seams. For each category, we created a Go Score of 1 to 5 – 1 being bad and 5 being excellent. Read on to see the complete review of each.

 

 

Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes

Eagle Creek Packing Cubes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Score: 4.8 out of 5

The Eagle Creek Pack It Specter compression packing cubes come in a set of two (small and medium) with each packing cube made of ultra-lightweight silnylon material which is ripstop and water-resistant. Features also include a grab handle and double zippers.

Eagle Creek is the name of the game for the packing cube industry – they have it down by making so many different sizing options for you to tailor to your packing style – it’s an organized travelers dream! The set we reviewed only has two sizes, but a simple search on Eagle Creek packing cubes will show you the many different options available and they all provide you with the same great quality. In our review, Eagle Creek compression packing cubes are the best for minimalist travelers due to the ultra-light fabric without impacting the quality of all materials used.

Color options: 5 out of 5

Five color options available. Sets are sold with all sizes the same color – no mixing and matching. If you like to organize your contents by the color of the packing cube, we suggest buying two or more sets of these in different colors.

Sizes: 4 out of 5

This set only includes two sizes, and they are both on the smaller side in their size category. We struggled to get everything into the small cube, but because they are so light and thin, we’re fine with just purchasing another set as we know it’ll fit in our bags. There’s no large packing cube, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just need to purchase another set to accommodate the contents that would go into the larger cube. The compression channel is too wide making it easy to overstuff, which in turn makes it difficult to compress. Take care not to over-pack.

Fabric: 5 out of 5

The fabric is super-thin, yet still surprisingly durable for the lightest weight cubes we tested. It has the added benefit of being completely moisture resistant in case your toiletries or other liquid may leak in your bag. The fabric is also very anti-friction and the bag has a very thin profile once compressed which is great for sliding out of luggage. Has a small but very durable handle for pulling cubes out of your luggage.

Zippers: 5 out of 5

Durable zippers with long enough pulls that slide smoothly. Zipper does tend to get caught on the material often. As long as you keep a finger in the compression area ahead of the zipper as you zip then the fabric won’t get caught. Unzips all the way open for easier packing.

Seams: 5 out of 5

Super durable seams and stitching given how thin the fabric is. Quality stitching around the zippers and stitching doesn’t pull away when fully compressed. Grab handle is double stitched so it’s less likely to rip when you apply a lot of force to it.

 

 

Gonex Compression Packing Cubes

Gonex Packing Cubes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Score: 4.4 out of 5

The Gonex compression packing cubes come in a set of 3 (small, medium, and large) made of nylon and mesh fabric with double zippers and grab handles.

These packing cubes are well made with overall great quality and durability.  They have the added benefit of being backed by the manufacturer with a 1-year warranty. This is the only packing cube set we reviewed that we saw this claim. These are a great choice for compression packing cubes for any traveler.

Color Options: 5 out of 5

Available in a variety of color options. Sets are only sold with all sizes the same color (no mixing and matching). Buy two or more sets if you’d prefer to organize your packing cube contents by color in order to easily distinguish what’s in what packing cube.

Sizes: 4 out of 5

The large bag of the set is too large for minimalist travelers.  Ideally, the large bag needs to be just a little bit bigger than the medium bag, but the increase in size is quite drastic and not necessary. The small and medium bags are great sizes and fit our contents well. The compression channel is too wide making it easy to overstuff the bag which then makes it really hard to zip and compress.

Fabric: 4 out of 5

Durable and quality nylon material and grab handle allow you to easily grab the cube out of your luggage without it sticking to the other packing cubes. The mesh on all the bags allow for breathability but doesn’t allow you to easily see the items inside like you may expect. Additionally, the mesh increases risk of contents getting wet and possibly ruined in the event toiletries (or other liquids) leak.

Zippers: 4 out of 5

Good quality zippers that slide smoothly and zips open all the way on all the cubes making it easy to get things in and out of the cubes. The zippers are a little small without a zipper pull, if they had a zipper pull it would be easier to grip and pull.

Seams: 5 out of 5

These packing cubes have durable stitching around all the important areas: seams, zippers, and grab handles.

 

 

REI Compression Packing Cubes

REI Packing Cubes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Score: 4 out of 5

The REI compression packing cubes come in a set of 3 (small, medium, and large) with each packing cube made of ripstop nylon fabric that has a water repellent coating and small mesh window. Grab handles and double zippers are present.

These are the cubes that started us advocating for compression cubes. They do a really great job at compressing and the sizes are perfect for minimalist travelers. The quality and durability of the fabric, stitching, and zippers make this an all-around great choice for compression packing cubes.  These are still highly rated by us, but the reduction in the score is due to the limited color options and slightly thicker fabric with the mesh window.

Color options: 2 out of 5

Limited color options available and all sets are sold with all sizes being the same color. The color options available are of a neutral hue.

Sizes: 4 out of 5

The actual sizes of each packing cube were perfect for what we were packing and fit great in our luggage. For the most part, the compression channel is the right size which allows for easy zipping without being too wide and feeling like we over-stuffed each cube. The only exception to this is the smallest cube since we had some difficulty getting it compressed all the way.

Fabric: 4 out of 5

Really durable fabric that is flexible and anti-friction which make them easy to pack, compress, and slide in and out of luggage. Fabric is slightly bulky though. There’s also a small mesh window that serves no purpose since it is fine mesh which doesn’t allow you to see the contents easily and defeats the purpose of the water repellent feature of the rest of the fabric. Each packing cube has great quality grab handles on the top and side which make it super useful and easy to pull the packing cubes out of an overstuffed luggage.

Zippers: 5 out of 5

Zippers seem pretty durable and slide easily with long pulls for easy gripping and material doesn’t get caught in the zipper as often as others we tested. The zippers also unzip all the way for easy packing by creating a larger opening.

Seams: 5 out of 5

Seams are very durable without being bulky or too rigid. Quality stitching around the zippers which appears that the seams will hold up after several compressions due to the forces that are applied during compression. Additionally, the grab handles are double stitched reducing the chance of the handles ripping from the extreme force applied when attempting to remove from a piece of overstuffed luggage.

 

 

Olanmark Clear Compression Packing Cubes

Olanmark Packing Cubes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Score: 3.5 out of 5

The Olanmark compression packing cubes come in a set of 3 (small, medium, and large) made of plastic PVC vinyl with grab handles and double zippers.

These packing cubes are a middle of the road option, you’re either going to like them or not. Definitely not an option if you are a minimalist packer; however, may not be a bad option if you like to travel with checked baggage. With the exception of the zippers, the quality and durability of all materials are great if you are okay with the rigidity and clear only color option that the PVC material provides.

Color Options: Not applicable

These packing cubes only have the option of coming in clear. This is a great thing if you prefer to easily see exactly what is packed in the cube without opening it.

Sizes: 4 out of 5

The sizes of these packing cubes fit everything we packed well; although, they are a bit big for minimalist travelers. The compression channel is the right size and for the most part, compresses down nicely.

Fabric: 3 out of 5

The PVC material is durable but very rigid and not very flexible. The rigidity of them makes it a bit harder to compress when you get to the corners. The PVC material makes it 100% waterproof. Even though each cube has grab handles, the material doesn’t allow you to easily grab a cube out of your luggage when packed with the other sized cubes because it sticks to them. To be expected, due to the PVC material it has a plasticky smell, so may not be for everyone.

Zippers: 2 out of 5

The zippers are small and thin. Due to the rigidness of the PVC, it puts too much stress on the zippers and they may not last long. The thinness of the zippers with the combo of the rigidness of the PVC bends the zippers as you try to compress. The zippers open all the way on all of the cubes which allows you to easily get things in and out of the cubes.

Seams: 5 out of 5

Even with the rigidity of the material the stitching is of high quality and look to be very durable around all seams, zippers, and grab handles.

 

 

Well Traveled Compression Packing Cubes

Well Traveled Packing Cubes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Score: 3.8 out of 5

The Well Traveled compression packing cubes come in 3 sizes (small, medium, and large) made of ripstop and water-resistant nylon. Additional feature includes grab handles.

Due to some quality issues of these Well Traveled packing cubes with the seams, it makes it really hard to recommend these since a big component of packing cube durability comes down to how well the stitching will hold up under the compression.

Color Options: 3 out of 5

This set comes with limited color options, but still a cool aesthetic with easily distinguishable colors for each size.

Sizes: 4 out of 5

All sizes will work for carry-on luggage, but the large borders on being too big and the small could be just a bit smaller. The compression channel is too wide making it easy to overstuff the bag which then makes it really hard to zip and compress.

Fabric: 5 out of 5

Durable and flexible ripstop nylon reduces friction making it easy to remove or stuff back into an over-stuffed bag. This material has the added benefit of being completely moisture resistant in case your toiletries or other liquid may leak in your bag.

Zippers: 4 out of 5

Good quality zippers that slide easily with long zipper pulls for easier tugging, but zipper handles are fairly thin. Doesn’t fully unzip – but enough to still get things in easily.

Seams: 3 out 5

Seams look like they may want to pull apart so care should be taken not to overstuff. They look a bit stronger than some of the others we reviewed, though. Care will need to be shown when pulling the handles on the top of each cube because the stitching doesn’t look like it’ll hold up to much abuse.

 

 

BigFoot Compression Packing Cubes

Big Foot Packing Cubes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Score: 3.4 out of 5

The BigFoot compression packing cubes come in a set of 3 (one small and two medium) made from silnylon material which is ripstop and water-resistant. Additional feature includes grab handles.

The quality of the seams are lacking with the BigFoot packing cubes and a big component of packing cubes durability and use is the quality of the seams. Due to this factor, it’s very hard to recommend these packing cubes even if the other criteria categories for the packing cubes score well.

Color Options: 3 out of 5

Limited color options and with all sizes in a set the same color. Two of the three options are neutral colors.

Sizes: 3 out of 5

Set includes two medium and one small bag. This set would be better if it came with a large bag that is a little bit bigger than the medium bag instead of one additional medium bag. But other than that, the sizes are good and fit most of our contents. The compression channel is too wide making it easy to overstuff the bag which then makes it really hard to zip and compress.

Fabric: 4 out of 5

Great quality and flexible nylon material that doesn’t stick to the other cubes which makes it easier to grab a cube out of your luggage. Unfortunately, the grab handles are hard to grip as the material is slippery.

Zippers: 5 out of 5

Good quality zippers and it’s nice that the zippers have zipper pulls, which makes compressing easier. The zippers smoothly open all the way on all the cubes making it easy to get things in and out of the cubes. The compression zipper does tend to get caught on the material often, but as long as you keep a finger in the compression area ahead of the zipper as you zip then the fabric won’t get caught.

Seams: 2 out of 5

The stitching doesn’t look like good quality and the stress of the compression looks like it may bust easily. Stitching around the grab handles look poor as well and seems if you pull too hard they will rip out.

 

 

Hynes Eagle Compression Packing Cubes

Hynes Packing Cubes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Score: 3.2 out of 5

The Hynes Eagle compression packing cubes come in 3 sizes (small, medium, and large) made of a polyester lining and topped with mesh fabric. Double zippers and a grab handle are present.

The quality of the seams are lacking with the Hynes Eagle packing cubes and as noted previously, a big component of packing cubes durability and use is the quality of the seams. Due to this factor, it’s very hard to recommend these packing cubes even if the other criteria categories for the packing cubes score well.

Color Options: 2 out of 5

Limited color options with all sizes in a set being the same color. Both color options available are of a neutral hue.

Sizes: 4 out of 5

The large bag of the set is too large for minimalist travelers.  The small and medium bags are great sizes and fit our contents well. The compression channel is too wide making it easy to overstuff the bag which then makes it really hard to zip and compress.

Fabric: 3 out of 5

The polyester material is flexible and doesn’t stick to the other cubes which makes it easier to grab a cube out of your luggage. However, the grab handles are lacking as they are skinny and not much to grab onto. The mesh on all the bags allow for breathability but doesn’t allow you to easily see the items inside like you may expect. Additionally, the mesh increases risk of contents getting wet and possibly ruined in the event toiletries (or other liquids) leak.

Zippers: 5 out of 5

The quality of zippers are good and it’s nice the zippers have pulls which makes compressing easier. The zippers smoothly open all the way on all the cubes making it easy to get things in and out of the cubes.

Seams: 2 out of 5

The stitching doesn’t look like good quality and the stress of the compression looks like it may bust easily.

 

 

LeanTravel Compression Packing Cubes

Lean Travel Packing Cubes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Score: 3 out of 5

The Lean Travel compression packing cubes come in a set of 3 (one small and two medium) made from polyester and topped with mesh.

Unfortunately, these packing cubes fall short in most of the categories that we are unable to recommend them. Even though the fabric is super durable with quality stitching, the rigidness of the material works against it in all other categories.

Color Options: 2 out of 5

Limited color options with all sizes sold in a set the same color. Black and a green with child-like graphics are your only options.

Sizes: 3 out of 5

Set includes two medium and one small bag. Due to the two medium bags, all our contents didn’t fit based on our packing criteria that included the third bag being a large size. Additionally, the medium-sized cubes are square which is an odd shape for most luggage and doesn’t maximize all available space in your luggage – would work better as a rectangle. The compression channel is too wide making it easy to overstuff the bag which then makes it really hard to zip and compress.

Fabric: 3 out of 5

The polyester material is durable and abrasion resistant, but bulky and rigid which doesn’t compress well. Mesh window in the center is big enough and allows contents to breathe as well as the ability to easily see the contents inside without opening the bag. Since there is no grab handle and the material doesn’t slide as easily against the other bags in the set compared to other packing cubes made from nylon, it’s not easy to quickly grab a packing cube from your luggage, especially if your luggage is overstuffed.

Zippers: 2 out of 5

Even though you can easily grab the zippers due to the provided zipper pulls and the bags zip open all the way, the zippers do not glide easily and snag quite a bit on the thick fabric which is hard to remove from the zipper.

Seams: 5 out of 5

These packing cubes may be lacking in all other categories, but it exceeds with the seams with great stitching throughout. Each bag has a rigid rib sewn in around zippers for incredible durability and no exposed stitching was found.

 

 

Coltant Compression Packing Cubes

Coltant Packing Cubes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Score: 3 out of 5

The Coltant compression packing cubes come in a set of two (medium and large) made from waterproof oxford material and topped with mesh.

Unfortunately, these packing cubes fall short in most of the categories that we are unable to recommend them. Even though the fabric is super durable with quality stitching, the rigidness of the material works against it in all other categories.

Color Options: 1 out of 5

Only one color option (heather black), with all sizes being the same color.

Sizes: 3 out of 5

Set includes a medium and large packing cube. Since there isn’t an option of a small cube this set didn’t fit all our packing criteria. Additionally, the compression channel is too wide. We didn’t overstuff the bags and it was still difficult to zip and compress.

Fabric: 3 out of 5

The oxford material is pretty durable, but due to this it’s also bulky and rigid which doesn’t compress well, nor does it slide easily against the other packing cubes in an overstuffed luggage. The mesh window is fairly useless because it’s not large enough for breathability or to see the contents inside. There are two durable grab handles on top of each bag for easily removing from your luggage, but they are quite annoying because the zippers get caught on them easily because of how close they are stitched to the zippers.

Zippers: 4 out of 5

Zippers are good quality with big enough zippers and zipper pulls that smoothly zip and unzip, the only downfall is they do not zip all the way around the packing cube which makes it a little more difficult to pack/unpack due to the smaller opening.

Seams: 4 out of 5

Great quality seams with no exposed stitching that appear to withstand the force of the compression. The stitching is only lacking on the grab handles due to how close they are placed to the zipper channel, which makes zipping a little difficult.

 

 

We highly recommend giving compression packing cubes a try – they’re a game changer!  It’s a travel investment that we don’t think you will regret. Hopefully, our review of multiple compression packing cubes helps with your decision on which packing cube set is the best for your packing needs.

 

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Further Reading on Packing

Weighing Your Options – Carry-On vs. Checked Luggage

Weighing Your Options: Carry-on Vs. Checked Luggage - Facebook Feature Image

Iceland Packing List for All Seasons in a Campervan – Part 1 Clothing

Iceland Packing List for All Seasons in a Campervan - Part 1 Clothing - Facebook

Travel Comfortably Like a Pro – How To Survive Long Flights in Economy Class

Travel Comfortably Like a Pro: How to Survive Long Flights in Economy - Pinterest

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We are RJ and Megan Barrett- A husband and wife team who are passionate for all things travel!

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