Packing cubes sound like a complete and utter travel gimmick. Nonetheless, I will be the first one to admit that they are incredibly useful and handy.
And in all honesty, once you start using them you will be hooked for life.
The best packing cubes simply help minimize effort and maximize efficiency, creating an organized suitcase that keeps clothes wrinkle-free and consolidated.
Just cause the set of luggage you own does not have a waterproof compartment does not mean you need to throw it away, just use these cubes instead!
Best Travel & Compression Packing Cubes
We’ve spent hours researching, testing & picked what we think are the top packing organizers and compression packing cubes. This list also tries to cater to users with a variety of needs including one for those who want something waterproof.
1. Shacke Pak - Packing Cubes 4 set
- No real cons - Just that the larger cubes result in a slightly higher weight
A combination of excellent construction quality, durability & utility are the main reasons why these packing cubes by Shacke are our pick for the best packing cubes in the market today.
The Shacke does face some serious competition from Eagle Creek with their compression cube set but still shines through in our opinion. You ideally would want this to be a one and done purchase and the Shacke gives you the best chance of achieving that.
The “x” shaped nylon structure on the top of the cubes helps to maintain their structure, even when not fully packed, while still offering mesh pockets to view your items through. The "x" shaped design has another advantage which is that the mesh pockets don't compromise the integrity of the cube even when torn.
On many other cube designs we see the mesh area dominating, and if a tear occurs by accident, there is a much greater chance of it propagating and rendering the cube useless. With the "x" design there is a nice balance between visibility thanks to the mesh and structural integrity.
At four inches deep, these cubes are slightly deeper than the traditional cubes, which provide additional room for extra items. Larger cubes are also extremely handy should you have a 29" or larger suitcase. The compression they offer is quite good be it not as good as the Eagle Creek. The 4 cubes also come with a laundry bag which helps you separate your dirty clothes from the clean ones.
These cubes are made from Nylon material and are wear & water resistant (The area without the mesh). The double stitching reinforces the top and prevents the cube from folding upwards. Shacke also use YKK zippers on these cubes which have proven time & time again to be super sturdy and smooth. In fact, most of the great luggage brands make use of YKK as they perform really well during rigorous use.
Their durability does come at the price of a slightly higher weight of 1.2 pounds. Nonetheless, this set is by far the best quality for the price. To top it all off, you also have a fair amount of colors to choose from.
2. Eagle Creek - Pack-It Specter Compression Cube Set
- No mesh sections to see which items are inside
If excellent compression and lightweight top your list of needs then the Pack-It Specter compression packing cube set is ideal. These cubes by eagle creek also happen to be one of the toughest around too.
If you've ever been skeptical about packing cubes because you feel that they add unnecessary weight to your luggage or backpack then Pack-It specter will more than solve that issue for you.
Made from silnylon ripstop material each cube is incredibly light and together weighs only 3.5 (1.5 +2) ounces. The silnylon material is quite thin but extremely tough offering good water and wear resistance. These cubes have zippers on three sides which allow it to open fully. This is feature the Pack-It original (also by Eagle Creek) is lacking.
Another signature feature of the Eagle Creek Pack-it Spectre cubes is their ability to expand to 3 times their normal size and compress to a smaller size after packing. This allows you to pack & search for items easily without having to fight to get something out of the cube. These bags are a mixture of the typical packing cube and a compression sack. While they do not remove the air, like a vacuum compression bag, they can handle being stuffed full. Although over time, too significant of stuffing will slightly weaken the seams of the cubes. The smaller cube has a capacity of 3L when compressed and 6L when expanded. Its larger counterpart has a 7.5L and 13.5L capacity respectively.
Their main downside is actually related to their greatest strength, the ripstop nylon these cubes are made of is translucent and you, therefore, cannot easily see the items inside.
The flexibility of these cubes’ shape is perfect for everyone from the business traveler to the backpacker. All these advantages do come at a price though which is another one of the reasons the Shacke tops it on our list.
3. Gonex Compression Packing Cubes
- Zippers can snag if not carefully handled
- Not waterproof (Contrary to its listing)
Gonex is another excellent compression packing cube that is versatile and good value for money. The zippered compression system on all 5 cubes makes it very easy to store when not in use.
Despite the Eagle Creek edging ahead, the Gonex is still a solid compression packing cube set. Each cube is made from a smooth nylon fabric and has an almost entirely mesh lid which provides great ventilation. It also makes it extremely easy to see what items are inside & where. The see-through capability does have its disadvantages which we will touch on later.
If you are thinking "Wouldn't it be great if I could have each cube in a different color?" With the Gonex you can, provided you pick strategically. The multi-color combinations are a huge positive since you know exactly what each mesh organizer contains. Each cube comes with a webbing handle allowing you to carry the cubes & use them on their own too. The slim cube is mentioned to be ideal for socks but it can also be placed within a crossbody bag in case you want to separate items as you take day trips. All of these reasons are why its very easy for us to give the Gonex an A+ on utility.
The compression capability is similar to the Eagle Creek but packing too much will definitely comprise the cube's structural integrity so try not to go overboard and follow the best practices when packing. Similar to the Shacke, the Gonex also comes with a laundry bag so you can separate your clean clothes from the messy ones.
There are a couple of weaknesses, the main one being the zippers. Many buyers have reported the zippers to snag and come undone very easily. Another is that the Gonex despite being listed as being Waterproof is not. The sheer surface area of the mesh cloth makes it vulnerable to sharp objects which is the main reason why we ranked the Gonex below the Eagle Creek. The Gonex is also great value for money since you get 5 cubes and a laundry bag for a similar price to the Eagle Creek.
4. eBags Medium 3pc Set
- All 3 are the same size
- A tad pricey
The eBags packing cubes are another excellent choice & could easily rival or better our top 3 depending upon the features you like of course. The eBags set also comes with a limited lifetime warranty against material & workmanship defects.
All three cubes in this set are the same size, on the cusp between medium and large, they are ideal for packing t-shirts and pants. The mesh top allows you to keep track of your contents and ensures the cubes are breathable preventing any odor issues.
While these add a bit of variety to the list, the main reason for their inclusion is the build quality & warranty. The construction quality is exemplary which is the main positive of these organizers. The eBags packing cube set like the Shacke also make use of the self-healing YKK zippers which are terrific from a usage and durability standpoint.
These cubes are machine washable. Can we say, “easy care?” With fully lined interior seams and a durable nylon exterior, your clothes will be well protected in these cubes.
A niggling issue for some users is that all 3 cubes are of the same size so harder to organize items separately. Price can be another sticking point for some but one thing is for sure, quality-wise, these are among the best, if not the best.
5. BAGAIL - Packing Cubes 4 set
- Weighs a bit more than others
- The ability to compress would elevate its utility.
If you are on a budget and are not looking to spend too much then the BAGAIL cube set is worth considering. You can get similar features to the Shacke for a slightly lower price. (At the time of writing)
We were pleasantly surprised by the durability and quality of the cubes, along with the zipper strength and glide-ability. These cubes are made of Nylon and are sure to withstand your travel wear with ease. The patterned mesh lining improves breathability and ease of use. Structurally, the Shacke has a slight edge over the BAGAIL.
They do a great job of keeping your clothes clean & wrinkle free. The larger cubes are ideal for checked baggage and the smaller ones can be used in a carry on or a backpack. When you factor in the price, the versatility of this organizer set is all the more impressive. You can confidently take these on hiking trips or a cruise and still get the desired benefits.
These packing cubes weigh a tad more than the others on our list at 1.6 pounds which can prove to be excessive for those who like to pack their suitcases right up to the weight limit. A feature we thought was found wanting is the ability to compress clothing.
6. Pro Packing Cubes - 4 set
- Durable but the sides feel less study compared to others
Seeking the super lightweight of the Eagle Creek and the mesh design of the Shacke at an affordable price? The Pro Packing Cubes with its excellent strength to weight ratio might the solution for you.
Made from a Cordura Nylon variant which is rip-stop these cubes are extremely light weighing approximately 1-2 oz depending upon the size. The PRO packing Cubes' durability is one of its main strengths with double stitched seams & snag free YKK zippers & a lifetime guarantee to back it all up.
Versatility is another positive since you can use these on anything from business trips to treks on a mountain. All 4 cubes have different sizes and there are plenty of colors to choose from including a multi-color variant which is very helpful in staying organized. They also have grab handles so you can use them on their own in different scenarios.
The PRO packing cubes offer about 30% compression depending upon how you pack. In addition to enabling you to see what is inside each cube, the mesh design allows the air to escape as and when you place your clothing which is how the compression mechanism works on this model. This differs from the Eagle Creek and Gonex which use zippered compression to gain good results.
These are about half the price of the Pack-it Spectre set (at the time of writing) and when you factor the guarantee we mentioned earlier makes it one of the more affordable options on our list.
While the Nylon material used by these packing cubes are ultralight then also happen to be very thin. As a result, the cubes don't really hold their shape very well when being packed. Many buyers mentioned this being an issue as well. Better structural support on the sides we think would definitely put it in play with some of the top picks on our list. The upside, however, is that when not in use, these cubes collapse 100% and can be stored very easily.
7. eBags Ultralight Packing Cubes 5 set
- Very expensive
The 2nd eBags on our list is another ultralight & versatile option for travelers. Featuring 30D siliconized Cordura Nylon, self-repairing YKK zippers, and a lifetime guarantee these premium packing cubes for carry-ons do not disappoint.
The set of super packer cubes together weigh a mere 12.6 ounces. The Cordura Nylon material is extremely thin and soft too. The eBags in a way addresses the shortfall of the PRO packing cubes set through a spring loaded mini frame design. This is meant to help maintain the cube's shape during packing. We say "in a way" cause the sides are not upright at all times. The wireframe does a great job of maintaining the base's shape but not the sides.
This set was also designed specifically for packing carry-on luggage with all 5 fitting perfectly into a typical carry on 21-22". The cubes sport a mesh top which offers the benefit of breathability and some level of compression.
The Super Packer set is also very versatile and size of the smaller cubes is ideal for packing. One can very easily pack power banks, adapters and charger cables in one of the smaller cubes. You can make use of the two small cubes for items like toiletries and underwear as well. The exterior of these cubes is also coated with Polyurethane to prevent the cubes from shifting a lot inside your suitcase.
If you are wondering why then this cube is not among the top 3 on our page? These packing cubes are extremely well designed with some of the best materials but cost about 3 times more than the Shacke or about 70% more than the Pack-it Spectre set (At the time of writing). This is a sticking point for many potential buyers and us. There is a lifetime guarantee on these too which is somewhat of a necessity when you factor in the price.
8. TravelWise - 3pc Weekender Set
- Can rip on heavy use
- Inside lining needs to be reinforced
The TravelWise is another function and very economical option for travelers on a budget. This simple 3 piece travel organizer is made from Nylon and helps you pack efficiently.
Firstly, packing capacity is one thing that's at the forefront of the set's design. The largest cube is quite big and the set itself is perfect for larger suitcases. Having said that the organizers themselves are quite light too. As far as cheap packing organizers go it doesn't get better than the TravelWise.
The TravelWise also has a breathable mesh panel allowing you to view the contents inside the cube with relative ease. The size of the organizers also makes it quite useful for short and long-term travel. The zippers on these might feel a tad flimsy but they will go the distance.
The main issue with these cubes is that the Nylon is not ripstop. So even a small tear can grow to render the cube useless. Having said that the inside lining & the seams are also something we felt could have been better reinforced. Many buyers also mentioned the lining slowly giving away over time. Its just a classic case of "you get what you pay" for with these cubes.
9. Tranvers - PVC Waterproof Packing Organizers
- PVC is slightly less compressible
- Vulnerable to rips
- Harder to store when not in use
The Tanvers is vastly different to any of the other cubes on our list. Made from PVC instead of Nylon these waterproof packing cubes are especially useful in carrying damp or wet clothing.
It's quite common for travelers to be in a situation where they need to shower or brush their teeth before they head out to the airport. In scenarios such as this, there's usually not enough time for clothes & other items to dry which is where these packing cubes really have an advantage. You can very easily pack wet or damp items without having to worry about the content in the other cubes getting wet.
While they work great in the aforementioned scenario immersing them in water would be unwise. The zipper is not waterproof so the overall waterproofing capability of these cubes is not 100%. The PVC is pretty much transparent & allows you to see the exact location of different items very easily. These cubes are relatively easy to clean too since stains & liquids can be wiped away. Structurally, they are quite rigid and can be hard to store if you decide not to use them mid-trip.
There are some issues with using PVC as well. The weight is similar to many Nylon packing cubes on our list and this is not an issue for us at all. Unlike Nylon, these cubes are not immune to ripping & tearing. A small tear can propagate easily and render the entire cube useless. The Tranvers offers a lower level of compression as they don't have a mesh to let the air out.
10. Weweon - 6 Set Packing Cubes
- Structurally not the sturdiest & your clothes can wrinkle due to the lack of reinforcement
- Mesh not tough enough
The travel packing cubes that round of our list are made by WEWEON and are quite stylish as well. This set of 6 includes a laundry bag and a small pouch for cosmetics too.
Made from water-resistant Nylon these packing organizers provide a comprehensive solution for a variety of packing needs. The smaller cubes can be used in carry-ons or to place items like socks, underwear etc. The pouch is perfect for cosmetics, toiletries, and the likes. The 4 main cubes feature mesh top panels that are important ventilation-wise.
As far as weight is concerned the WEWEON fairs quite well but structurally it falls short. These are not the sturdiest around and your clothes can wrinkle if you happen to pack these organizers with a lot of items. The quality of the mesh is another called into question as we felt that the mesh needed to be a lot sturdier to survive the needs of frequent travelers in the long run.
Overall, when you factor in the price, the quality we could argue that there are better cubes that provide a better bang for your buck but these do have their appeal though. The sizes we found to be quite ideal for packing and having the pouch for cosmetics is especially useful.
Are packing cubes really worth it?
Well, from our perspective the answer is a resounding yes. Packing cubes are particularly useful in situations where you need to get to an item quickly without disrupting everything else or you just want to stay organized & like to compartmentalize your things.
I am pretty sure we’ve all been in a rush at some point and we end up churning our belongings in the search for a single item. Packing cubes offer a good solution in these cases & its applications extend to when you want to head out on day trips or backpacking. You can use the cubes to organize your electronics or clothes in your backpack too.
There are usually many techniques that people adopt when it comes to packing. Whilst it’s true that you can find marginally more space for smaller things without packing cubes & save a few ounces, the positives still overshadow the cons in our eyes.
Packing Cube Comparison
|Product||Image||Size||Signature Attributes||Colors Options|
|1. Shacke Pak||S - 11" x 6.75" x 4"|
M - 13.75" x 9.75" x 4"
L - 13.75" x 12.75" x 4"
XL - 17.5" x 12.75" x 4"
|2. Eagle Creek||Compressed|
S - 10" x 7" x 1"
L - 14" x 10" x 1"
S - 10" x 7" x 4"
L - 14" x 10" x 4"
|3. Gonex||Slim - 13" x 3.9" x 3.54"|
XS - 7.9" x 5.9" x 3.54"
S - 9.8" x 7.5" x 3.54"
M - 11.8" x 9.1" x 3.54"
L - 15.4" x 15" x 3.54"
|Extra Compression & Mesh lid||9|
|4. eBags||M - 13.75" x 9.75" x 3"||Durability||10|
|5. BAGAIL||S - 11" x 6.75" x 4"|
M - 13.75" x 9.75" x 4"
L - 13.75" x 12.75" x 4"
XL - 17.5" x 12.75" x 4"
|Price / Quality balance||12|
|6. PRO Packing Cubes||XS - 9" x 3.75" x 3"|
S - 11" x 6.75" x 3"
M - 13.75" x 9.75" x 3"
L - 17.5" x 12.75" x 3.25"
|7. eBags Ultralight||Slim - 13" x 6.5" x 3.5"|
2 S - 6.5" x 6.5" x 3.5"
2 L - 13" x 13" x 3.5"
|Ultralight & Super Tough||4|
S - 11" x 7" x 3"
M - 13 x 10" x 3"
L - 17"x 12" x 3"
|9. TRANVERS||S - 8.5" x 6.5" x 3"|
M - 11"x 7.5" x 3"
L - 14" x 8"x 3"
|10. WEWEON||S - 14" x 5.4" x 3"|
M - 11" x 7" x 3"
L - 14" x 10" x 3.5"
XL - 18" x 13" x 3.5"
Criteria we used to decide our list
The list we’ve come up with is the result of going through hundreds & thousands of user reviews & extensive research to make sure you get the top travel packing cubes out there. We’ve essentially listed the features & traits we valued when choosing the best packing cubes for travelers. Be in family travel or even backpacking these point’s & explanations can guide you in your decision-making process.
What fabric/ material is used to make packing cubes:
Typically, Nylon or Polyester but there are some made of PVC as well which are even waterproof. Rip-stop Nylon works the best in our eyes & lasts you the distance. The fabric also plays a bit role in the weight of the packing cube which is all important. These cubes have to encounter a decent amount of friction especially if you are frequently accessing your stuff. The fabric has to be light but sturdy enough so it doesn’t cave in when packed completely. Landing and finding out all your well-ironed shirts are wrinkled is a no go.
Zippers coming off on a cube is probably not as bad as it is on a suitcase but its still a problem. We looked for reports of zippers coming loose & the brand of zippers that are used on the bag to ensure you get something that functions well even when subject to some abuse. If a mesh design was adopted to provide visibility & deal with moisture & odor then the toughness of this section is important. We picked models that don’t tend to fray or rip when placed against sharp items like nails, pens, clothes’ zippers etc.
Size & Weight
Normally, we are taking things out of our luggage to make things lighter but these cubes often act as an enabler so the better organized you are, the more you can squeeze into your luggage. Hence we looked at the weights & variety of different sizes on offer. 1 to 5 ounces is usually the weight range we regarded as acceptable for small to large cubes respectively. Size variance is usually important especially for family travel.
Ease of use
Things like whether the set comes with a laundry bag (A practical & reliable one at that), moisture removal & vision are pretty important to any user. If you can’t remember which cube you placed your gloves or socks in then it could be an issue in some scenarios. Cubes that have a mesh or some PVC that gives you a sneak peak into whats in them without reducing the overall durability is a big positive for us. Color is another rather underestimated feature. If you have a set where the individual cubes are of different colors then its probably way easier to identify your items.
Waterproofing ability is an added bonus but designs that are simply resistant fair quite well & complete waterproofed designs are in our experience a bit of an overkill. Additionally, if your set has 1 cube specially tailored for toiletry items (waterproof not just resistant) then it’s a bonus as you can take the toiletry bag off your shopping list. Also in cases where you want moisture & odor to escape the mesh design can come to your aid. Another feature we rated highly was handles. If a cube can function on its own them it was a positive as most people’s travel needs vary between weekend trips, just carry-on adventures & long-term travel etc.
The variance in terms of price between the different options on our list isn’t so much but it definitely is not a non-factor. Eagle creeks tend to be more on the pricier side to reflect their top build quality. What we went for was more of a nice balance between variety(number of cubes) & price. Which is why our top 3 picks tend to factor in price as well as the other important features needed to be taken into account.
From the business traveler to the backpacker, packing cubes will help keep you organized and in control. Once you learn how easy staying organized can be even the laziest of us will be hooked.
Comment below and let us know how your luggage adventures unfold and your personal experiences.
Do packing cubes help you save space?
Packing cubes are primarily organizers. You indirectly save space by organizing your clothing and the rest of the contents of your suitcase or backpack within the cube/s. Compression packing cubes like the Gonex or Eagle Creek compress your clothing after packing and enable you to save a significant amount of space for more items.
For those who are wondering if a compression packing cube or a regular organizer is better…
Packing cubes or plastic bags?
I’ll be the 1st one to admit that I still use plastic bags to organize some of my gear like shoes & flip flops but these are used within the cubes themselves. The major difference between the two is structure. Structured packing is usually much more efficient than simply tossing various items into a suitcase. You can very easily separate your shirts, pants, undergarments for instance and access them easily.
You can place them in plastic bags but a travel packing cube does a much better job of preventing wrinkles and damage to clothing. Compression packing cubes also enable you to pack more items by helping you gain space without having to crush the contents of the suitcase in an unorganized fashion.
Depending upon the items plastic bags do have their advantages. It is best to place things like food items, wet or damp clothing (unless you have a PVC packing cube set) in plastic bags. If your shoes happen to have some dirt then they can be tossed into a plastic bag and then placed in a cube as well. It’s also better to place shampoo bottles and liquids in a plastic bag rather than a packing cube if you don’t happen to have a Dopp kit.
Are waterproof packing cubes better?
No. Waterproof packing cubes are typically made from PVC which lacks the rip-stop capability, tear resistance, good strength to weight ratio. Also, travel packing cubes can never fully be waterproof as long as they have zippers. Zippers make it extremely easy to open and close the cubes but can allow water through. PVC is more vulnerable to sharp objects too.
With Nylon packing cubes you lack a bit of side support structurally which makes it slightly annoying to pack things. Waterproof packing cubes hold their shape really well but are much harder to store since Nylon travel packing cubes collapse 100% when not in use. A solution could be to buy just a smaller waterproof toiletry kit and regular Nylon packing organizers. This way even if any of your cosmetic items leak, the liquid stays confined to the kit.
Now that I’ve seen the different sizes. Which size packing cubes should I buy?
This really depends upon their intended usage. The combination used in the eBags Ultralight set is perfect if you are used to traveling with just your carry on. Usually, 2 x (13″ x 13″ x 3.5″) cubes along with 1 small-long cube and 2 small cubes will work for carry-ons. Opt for a set that has a good range of sizes like the Shacke Pak or the Gonex if you happen to have a variety of uses. Ideally, you would want to have at least one or two 13″ x 10″ x 3.5″ cubes to place your clothing.
Can you machine wash packing cubes?
Some brands mention that you can machine wash them on a cold cycle but we strongly advise against it. Irrespective of whether you have a basic Nylon packing cube or a variant like Cordura it is better to not machine wash these cubes as they can be damaged very easily. If you do decide to proceed, ensure you use a cold cycle & not a hot cycle on your washing machine.
How can I take care of my packing organizers?
Most of the time traveling & regular use hardly cause any damage to these cubes, it’s the cleaning process that does. Make sure you hand wash the cubes with cold water and not in a washing machine (even on a slow/ delicate cycle). When washing, avoid using fabric softeners as well.
When you dry the cubes after washing, make sure to dry it by hand using a towel or tissue and not using a dryer. Subjecting it to high heat will cause the threads to give way fairly quickly.
If the zippers happen to snag try to not fight it (especially if they are not self-repairing zippers) apply a lubricant like coconut oil and gently pull the cord.