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.
How can packing cubes be used?
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.
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.
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?
You might also be interested in…
- 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: I’ve never used them but know travelers who have.
- 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!
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.