Best Packing Cubes

Updated July 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best packing cubes

Last Updated July 2019

Packing cubes are ingeniously simple in design, yet offer endless possibilities for organization and efficiency when traveling. These useful items are tiny soft suitcases that fit inside your luggage and, when used properly, can keep your apparel and accessories well ordered while conserving space. But the best ones have a few features that set them apart from the lesser sets.

Packing cubes need to be manufactured using durable material. Vinyl might seem like a good choice when considering price, but it won't hold up like polyester or insulated nylon. Be careful when purchasing cubes with external features like mesh, which could snag, and always be sure the zipper is of highest quality.

If you'd like to learn a few more tricks about packing, storing, and choosing the right packing cubes for your specific needs, keep reading. If you understand how these rectangular wonders work and are ready to buy, consider one of our favorite options.

Investing in a high-end set of packing cubes makes good sense for frequent travelers who want a reliable, durable packing system.

How packing cubes are used

With packing cubes, you have lots of options. How you configure them is up to you.

  • One packing cube might contain dress shirts while another holds pants and skirts.
  • Smaller cubes might be designated for undergarments and/or personal grooming supplies.
  • Some cubes are used to separate clean clothes from wet or soiled items.
  • For families who share a suitcase, color-coded packing cubes help identify the belongings of individual owners.
  • Empty packing cubes can provide some much-needed souvenir space at the end of a journey.
  • Some packing cubes can be compressed to save even more space. The contents of a larger checked bag may even fit into a carry-on with the use of compressible cubes.

How you fold your clothing can make a difference in how much a packing cube can hold. We found that rolling clothing made best use of the space.

Construction

Because most packing cubes are not designed to be standalone pieces of luggage, durability is always a concern for shoppers. High-end packing cubes are usually made of strong nylon or polyester, but low-priced packing cubes often consist of thin vinyl or another plastic.

Vinyl packing cubes

These are usually compressive and transparent, and for many casual travelers, that’s all they need. Vinyl cubes easily separate wet and dirty clothing, and they don’t add much weight to your bag. The tradeoff, however, is durability. Entry-level packing cubes often don’t fare well under rough handling; the sides puncture easily, and plastic zippers, once broken, are often irreparable.

Nylon or polyester packing cubes

They boast a stronger internal structure than their vinyl counterparts and, as a result, offer more protection against damage. You’re also more likely to find a set that matches the interior dimensions of your suitcase when you shop on the higher end of the pricing spectrum. Those who travel frequently may wish to invest in a set of high-end packing cubes for their added durability and versatility.

Quality on a budget

The Shacke Pak of four packing cubes is double-stitched for extra durability. Travelers rave about the strong seams and reliable zippers, not to mention the fun color choices. If you travel only occasionally and want a little organizational help on your next vacation, this budget-priced set of packing cubes fits the bill.

Versatility

Packing cubes can be used to address other storage issues, too. Over time, a quality set of packing cubes can pay for itself in a number of ways.

  • Seasonal clothing and blankets can be stored in large packing cubes and kept under the bed or in a closet or attic.
  • Vendors at public events can store their inventory in packing cubes during inclement weather or between set-ups.
  • Rather than packing a suitcase, a casual traveler can store several packing cubes in the backseat or trunk.
  • Some high-end packing cubes — typically those made of sturdy nylon or polyester — can also serve as carry on bags or standalone grooming kits.
EXPERT TIP

The material with which your packing cube is made can impact both durability and price.


Staff  | BestReviews

Considerations

If you’re looking for a better way to organize your suitcase, keep the following considerations in mind as you shop. They'll help you determine which packing cubes would best fit your needs and your budget.

How much space do you have for packing cubes?

Although some packing cubes are compressible, cramming a cube with a depth of eight inches into a carry on with a depth of six inches will always pose a challenge. The dimensions of your luggage affect what it can accommodate.

Some people have compared the use of packing cubes to the classic video game Tetris. The trick is to find the most efficient way to pack each cube within a limited amount of space.

Some people wonder if they should buy a single packing cube or a set of several cubes. Buying a full set usually makes good economic sense, but there are some things to consider first.

  • A typical three-piece packing cube set usually includes one large cube for bulky items like clothing and two smaller cubes for personal items and undergarments.
  • Larger packing cube sets generally offer a gradation of sizes, from a large garment bag to a small grooming kit. You may appreciate this if you plan to pack a range of items.

That said, some casual travelers may prefer to buy individual packing cubes.

  • A small packing cube with pockets could be more affordable than a specialized carry on or tote bag.
  • Packing a few extra cubes makes it easier to transport souvenirs, business materials, or dirty/wet clothing at the end of a trip.

Knowing the storage capacity of your luggage before you choose new packing cubes will help you select the right product. For example, if your suitcase contains few compartments, you might want to invest in several small cubes in which to store your accessories.

What colors would you like?

Travelers who plan to share luggage with others should consider color-coding their packing cubes to improve organization and efficiency. Instead of spending time searching for a specific child’s swimsuit, for instance, a parent will know that all of that child’s belongings are stored in blue storage cubes.

Assigning one packing cube color to each family member can make unpacking and finding specific items a snap. 

Do you need a place to store your laundry?

As an added convenience, many packing cube sets include a mesh laundry bag where you can stash wet or dirty clothing. Because ventilation and breathability are known issues with packing cubes, the inclusion of this mesh bag is a definite plus.

EXPERT TIP

Choosing different colors of packing cubes for different family members can help you easily distinguish which is whose when unpacking.


Staff  | BestReviews

Packing cube prices

Under $20: You can find single cubes and some smaller sets of packing cubes in this price range. The fabric, zippers, and seams may not be of the highest quality, but if you only need to use packing cubes once a year or so, it could be sufficient.

$20 to $50: Most quality packing cube sets range in price from $20 to $50. For this amount of money, you will find sets of three to six packing cubes in varying sizes. You'll find neutral hues as well as fun colors and patterns here.

Over $50: In this higher price range, you'll find larger sets of packing cubes (we've seen them with up to 10 pieces) and some deluxe cubes made of hearty materials that also compress. A travel organizer package in this price range may include other elements as well, such as a shaving kit or shoe bag.

Lightweight and efficient

The six-piece eBags Packing Cube set includes large, medium, small, and slim sizes that, when combined, add very little weight to your suitcase. Thin yet sturdy, these space-savers have also been used by backpackers on the trail with great success. If you’re looking for a comprehensive set of user-friendly packing cubes, this moderately priced set is one to consider.

FAQ

Q. Is a packing cube the same thing as a travel compression bag?

A. No. Although a packing cube is designed to conserve suitcase space by helping you pack more efficiently, it does not compress your items so they are airtight. A travel compression bag is designed primarily for clothes. It's a terrific space saver, but when sealed, the bag might take an odd shape that doesn't mesh precisely with your other items. Furthermore, the clothing inside a compression bag is more likely to become wrinkled in transit.

Q. I'm interested in long-term durabillity. What are the most important qualities to look for in packing cubes?

A. Look for packing cubes made of sturdy materials like tough polyester and nylon. Some of the best packing cubes are insulated for extra protection and rigidity, although this also adds to their weight. Avoid cubes with exposed materials that could snag, like mesh, and pay close attention to zipper quality: you want cubes with zippers that maneuver easily around corners and aren't prone to breakage.

Packing cubes are great for organization, but be careful not to over-stuff them, or you'll defeat their purpose. It may help to break your packed belongings into several different categories and buy a packing cube for each category.
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