The best packing cubes
- Packing cubes keep your belongings organized and help make the most of space in your suitcase.
- The best cubes are from eBags Hyperlite thanks to their material, shape, durability, and versatility.
- Read more: The best carry-on luggage
It's happened to the best of us: You decide to unzip your suitcase to get one thing and suddenly, your suitcase has erupted and all your belongings are in an unkempt pile on the floor. This is why packing cubes are handy and functional.
Although some might argue that packing cubes add unnecessary weight to a suitcase, as a former travel editor and current freelancer who travels full-time, I've found keeping my clothes in packing cubes helps me stay organized and easily find what I need, right when I need it.
Packing cubes serve numerous functions, including separating your underwear from your socks, compressing those bulky items to give you more packing space, and keeping formal wear safe. And, when you arrive at your new destination, moving the cubes from your suitcase to the drawer makes unpacking a breeze.
For this guide, I tested 18 different packing cubes to find the best. For more detailed info on the testing process, as well as what to consider when buying packing cubes, jump to the bottom of this guide.
Here are the best packing cubes:
- Best packing cubes overall: eBags Hyperlite Packing Cubes
- Best on a budget: LOJEL Packing Cubes
- Best lightweight: Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Set
- Best compression: Eagle Creek Pack-It Original Compression Cube Set
- Best high-end: Zero Haliburton Packing System
- Best durable: Monos Compressible Packing Cubes
The best packing cubes overall
The pop-up design of the eBags Hyperlite Packing Cubes means these lightweight packing cubes fit nicely in any suitcase and are easy to fill.
Pros: Spring-loaded design helps cubes hold their shape, material is very lightweight, zippers are easy to grip
Cons: Cubes are mostly opaque and can be hard to see into
Maybe I'm a bit of a perfectionist, but I like my packing cubes to be, well, cubical. As simple as it may sound, what set these packing cubes apart was that they stayed cube-shaped even when I filled them to max capacity. And while many other cubes I tested that also held their shape did so by using heavier materials, these are made of a lightweight nylon material, which totals just 10.2 ounces for the whole set.
When I used these cubes to fill up my suitcase on a recent trip, I didn't have to worry about missing out on any extra space in the corners, because these cubes sat perfectly flat on the bottom of my luggage.
Additionally, many sets come with just two or three cubes, but the eBags set comes with five. That variety allows for more customized packing options, whether you use the whole matching set for a checked-bag trip or chose a few key cubes for a shorter, carry-on only trip. I found the small cubes are perfect for socks and underwear, while the slim cubes are great for lining up your T-shirts and tank tops. I liked using the big bags for formal shirts, pants, dresses, and skirts.
An additional feature that made these stand out was the spring-loaded frame, which means you won't have to fiddle around with the material to start packing. The frame also adds to the durability of the bags and the zippers provide a solid and easy grip.
The mesh top across the cubes also allows for air-flow, but the all-black material does make it a bit difficult to see what's inside.
The best budget packing cubes
You might be able to find cheaper cubes on the market, but for a set of six, LOJEL Packing Cubes deliver quality and quantity at the right price.
Pros: Great price for a full set of quality cubes, solid mix of variety in size and cube type, very durable with reinforced seams and quality mesh material
Cons: Material is a bit heavier, zippers can be difficult to hold on to when the bag is full
The six-piece set from LOJEL comes with two sets of large, medium, and small bags in both mesh and opaque styles. The variety offers a lot of opportunities for customization because you can use the mesh cubes for clothes that might need to breathe more and the opaque cubes for formal wear you want to safeguard against stains.
While many sets come with just two or three packing cubes, the fact that you get six cubes in a range of styles and sizes makes this set an excellent value when you break it down to cost per cube.
The cubes are made of a light, but sturdy material and the seams are reinforced to prevent tearing. They are easy to pack and hold their shape well when both full and empty. The mesh material is also strong and durable.
However, the zippers are small and a little awkward to hold — and that's coming from someone with small hands.
Editor's note: When the eBags 5-piece set is at full price, these are a solid lower cost option. However, because the eBags are currently on sale for 20%, we recommend buying that set as the better value right now.
The best lightweight packing cubes
The ghostly-thin material of the ultra-lightweight Eagle Creek Specter Packing Cube Set won't add pesky extra weight to your luggage.
Pros: Ultra-lightweight, quality material, easy-grip zippers
Cons: Can be difficult to pack clothes into the flimsy material
Of all the lightweight packing cubes I tested, nothing was lighter than the translucent material of Eagle Creek's Specter Packing Cubes. The set comes with three cubes of different sizes that collectively weigh less than 2.2 ounces. If you're a chronic over-packing or worried about cubes adding extra weight to your luggage, the scale will hardly register these barely-there packing cubes made of silnylon ripstop fabric, which is both water- and stain-resistant.
The set comes with a large, medium, and small bag, which have a capacity of 16.7 liters all together. Each bag is labeled with a large L, M, and S to indicate the size, which in my opinion is an unnecessary feature.
However, I did like that the fabric is see-through so you can easily distinguish what's in each one. Additionally, the bungee-style zippers are easy to grip. There was a little give when I pulled on the seams, but they still held up well and the wraparound construction of the cube also minimized potential weak points.
While the cubes don't hold their shape when completely filled to the brim, they stay square enough that fitting them together in a suitcase isn't an issue.
The best packing cubes with compression
The sturdy cubes in the Eagle Creek Pack-It Original Compression Cube Set compress while maintaining their shape for easy packing and extra space-saving.
Pros: Hold shape when compressed, compress even bulky sweaters easily, mesh top allows air in, durable fabric
Cons: Only comes in a set of two, not lightweight
Most compression cubes use a double zipper to help squeeze down clothes to their smallest possible volume so you can enjoy some extra space in your suitcase. However, in many of the cubes I tested, compression also meant the cubes became less cube-like. Since the zippers compress from the outside in, most compression cubes end up looking like bloated cuboids and when trying to fit these in your luggage, you end up with an awkward amount of space at the corners instead of something more modular.
However, Eagle Creek's compression cubes held their shape the best out of all the compression cubes I tested and, most importantly, were powerful enough to compress even my largest and wooliest cardigan into a solid brick.
The mesh top allows breathability and the micro-weave material is incredibly sturdy. Unfortunately, it's only available in a set of two — one medium and one small size cube — which have a combined capacity of 11.7 liters. While these packing cubes will come in handy for sweaters and other bulky items, you'll probably need another set of cubes for the rest of your clothes.
The best high-end packing cubes
With structured sides, leather handles, and an embossed logo, the Zero Haliburton Packing System is built for the sophisticated traveler.
Pros: Stylish without compromising on function, made from extremely durable nylon, leather, and mesh material
Cons: Heavier material may weigh down luggage, the capacity is limited compared to other cubes on the market
There are a surprising amount of fancy packing cubes out there that run the gamut from patent leather to designer prints, but if you're looking for the set that's most worth spending extra on, consider the Zero Haliburton Packing System.
This set comes with large, medium, and small cases that feature semi-structured sides and are made with a combination of nylon and breathable mesh. The embossed leather logo is mostly for show, but the leather handles on the largest case are incredibly useful for effortlessly maneuvering your cube from the suitcase to the hotel room drawer.
Made from quality materials, the cubes hold their shape perfectly, but they are rather heavy and the capacity is somewhat limited. However, they will fit tidily in luggage and if you do wind up needing to impress someone, the leather touches and businesslike blue and black color combination will do the job.
The best durable packing cubes
For packing cubes that are ready for the long-haul and will endure the test of time, Monos Compressible Packing Cubes are made with premium-quality materials.
Pros: High-quality and long-lasting material used in every part of the design, compress clothes without losing rectangular shape, stand upright when empty for easy packing
Cons: The heavy material adds some extra weight to your suitcase
These compression cubes work very well, compressing down to 60 percent of their previous size. But the real strength of the six-piece set of Compressible Packing Cubes from Monos is in their construction. Made with premium nylon twill and TPU-reinforced mesh, you can instantly feel the difference in the quality of these packing cubes and the extra hem reinforcement on the seams is an added bonus that ensures they'll last through numerous trips without tearing.
In addition to the high-quality material, these compression cubes hold their shape well when fully compressed and are quite stylish. Plus, the interior fabric is made with an anti-microbial material that will work with the ventilation of the mesh top to keep your clothes fresh.
However, they are heavier than some other options and may add some extra weight to your luggage.
What else we considered
In addition to the six we recommend, we also tested other packing cubes. While these products are good options, they didn't make our final cut for a variety of reasons.
- TRIPPED Travel Gear ($38): I loved their graphic designs and the variety that comes with this six-piece set. While our other picks edged these out, they are still a solid option.
- Suited Nomad Compression Packing Cube Set ($33): These compression cubes work nicely if you don't overfill them and the four-piece set includes a bonus clear toiletry bag.
- AmazonBasics Travel Organizer ($24): Amazon's four-piece packing cube set is one of the most affordable out there, but while the nylon material is sturdy enough, they're heavier and the cubes don't offer much capacity.
- Away's Insider Packing Cubes ($45): The Away brand is famous for stylish carry-on luggage. Their set of four nylon and mesh packing cubes are lightweight and sturdy but do not hold their shape as well as some of the other cubes I tested.
- Bagail Packing Cube Set ($25): This is a great price for a set of six cubes and the mesh design is cool, but it doesn't have the benefit of either compression or being lightweight.
- Cal Pak Oh Joy! Packing Cubes ($58): I loved the beautiful pattern and the high-quality feel of these five cubes, but they are some of the heavier cubes I tested and are a better fit for long-term storage rather than travel.
- Leatherology Travel Organizers ($125): One of the most expensive sets of packing cubes I tested, these leather cubes are made with high-quality materials, but don't hold much compared with other options.
- Six Moon Designs Multi-Sized Pack Pod Set ($30): While not quite as light and spacious as our lightweight winner, this three-piece set is still extremely lightweight and a great choice for backpackers.
- Travelpro Essentials Packing Cubes ($70): This set of three opaque cubes are designed with a small strip of mesh, which allows for some airflow, but the higher price point didn't seem worth it.
How we tested
For this guide, I narrowed down the field based on research, user reviews, and my own experience with packing cubes. I then tested 18 different sets of packing cubes, which I received from each brand for review purposes.
I looked for durability, breathability, packability, and style. I filled each cube to capacity, checking to see which held its shape the best and put the zippers and seams through rigorous stress testing. I also considered how it looked, the quality of the material, and any unique innovations that took my packing experience to the next level.
What to consider when buying packing cubes
- Material: Good packing cubes should be made out of a type of nylon, which is a material that is flexible, durable, water-resistant, and thin. Ripstop nylon is a kind of reinforced nylon that is even stronger. This material usually has a cross-hatch pattern.
- Mesh vs opaque: Mesh packing cubes are preferable to allow air to flow through the cube, which can keep bad smells from marinating. However, your clothes could get wet or stained if something spills in your bags. Opaque bags might hold onto bad smells longer, but they're better for protecting your clothes.
- Weight: If the weight of your luggage is a concern, avoid using compression cubes which are made from heavier materials. Not to mention, if you have more space in your suitcase, it's easier to overpack. A good set of lightweight cubes should be made of a thin material that doesn't weigh more than a few ounces.
See more great travel buying guides
- The best carry-on
- The best checked luggage
- The best travel backpacks
Sign up for Insider Reviews’ weekly newsletter for more buying advice and great deals.
You can purchase syndication rights to this story here.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at email@example.com.
Source: Read Full Article