Since 2006, I have used packing cubes on every domestic and international trip I have taken. Packing cubes make many a traveler’s “must have” packing gear list, and I cannot imagine hitting the road without them.
What are packing cubes?
Packing cubes are relatively small containers made of fabric, often in a rectangular shape, used for packing clothing. They zip closed and are small enough that you can fit several into a carry-on bag, suitcase, or backpack.
What are the uses and benefits of packing cubes?
I packed a suitcase for many years without the use of packing cubes and traveled without a problem! Once I started using packing cubes, however, I began to discover numerous benefits to using them – they can help you pack and travel better.
Variety of sizes: While packing cube are often rectangular in shape, they vary in length, width, and height, making them perfect for packing any type of clothing – or anything else you may want to stash inside. Differing sizes also mean they can fit in any size daypack, backpack, or suitcase.
Organize clothing: Packing cubes help you pack like items together. I like to use the larger size for my pants, shorts, and long-sleeved shirts and the smaller for short-sleeved shirts (all in one), underwear (panties and bras in one), and feminine products.
Keep clothes neat and minimize wrinkles if you can pack the cubes to capacity: It’s unavoidable (at least for me!) to have a few wrinkles, even when rolling clothing. By filling packing cubes to capacity with tightly rolled clothing or neatly folded garments, the items are kept in place from point A to B.
Easy to live out of my bag – makes packing, repacking, and finding exactly what you need easier: Sometimes when I’ve been sightseeing all day, I want to pop back to the hostel to freshen up and change shirts before heading out for dinner with a new friend. I can easily take one packing cube out of my bag to get exactly what I need instead of flipping through piles of clothing in a suitcase.
Cosmetics bag: The smaller sized packing cubes are great for using as cosmetics bags. They’ll hold your make-up, medicine, and a variety of other toiletries. Just be sure to pack your liquids in the airline-approved bag.
Maximize space: I seem to fit more into my suitcase when using packing cubes than I used to without them. Perhaps it’s due to the building-block shape of the cubes – they’re easy to stack and fit neatly into every available inch of your pack.
Pillows: Sometimes the hostel pillow just doesn’t cut it. Or perhaps you find yourself on an impromptu trip or camping in the middle of nowhere. In times when I’ve needed a pillow, I gladly used my largest packing cube, which was filled with clothing.
Storage in between trips: There are certain items you might only use when you travel. Instead of taking everything out, only to have to track down the items again for your next trip, you can store them in a packing cube to make them easy to find.
Using packing cubes on the road
Packing cubes are now a “must have” item for me. I found my first set to be too stiff and rigid, and my next purchase utilized a more flexible fabric.
While traveling, I may put dirty clothes in one cube, along with a couple of dryer sheets to keep the suitcase smelling fresh. I wash my packing cubes from time to time and hang them to dry.
I have six cubes altogether and vary the amount I bring on a trip – usually I travel with 1 long rectangular cube and 2-3 shorter (but taller) ones.
In Istanbul, I met a traveler who used cubes that were cylindrical in shape for her backpack and she loved them. As I travel with a small suitcase, I am curious to hear from those of you who carry a backpack. I think that cubes fit like puzzles pieces neatly in a rectangular suitcase – do you feel the same with a backpack?
Packing cube alternatives
- Packing folders: I was eager to own a set and then found them to be too rigid the first time I used them. The folders stayed at home while I traveled in Oz but they work well for some people.
- Compression bags: These bags can reduce the space your stuff takes up by compressing the contents. At HPL we compared four different brands of compression sacks so you can choose the right one.
- Shoe bags: Shoe sized bags that protect your clothing from the soles of your shoes. I pack my laptop and camera cables and chargers inside instead!
>> Check out different packing cubes on Amazon.
Have packing cubes aided your packing or do I love them more than the average gal? Ladies, if you use them with a backpack or use folders or compression bags instead, share what works (or doesn’t!) for you.
Photo credit: 1.