Packing cubes

Your Ultimate Packing Cubes Guide

Like this post? Share it with your friends!

Packing cubes are one of the most versatile and efficient travel organizers you can bring on your next trip. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or a first timer, packing cubes can help you pack more efficiently, save space, and keep your clothes organized throughout your trip.

In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into everything you need to know about packing cubes, including what they are, their benefits, how to choose the right ones, and how to use them to make packing easier and more organized.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.

What Are Packing Cubes?

As their name suggests, packing cubes are small square or rectangular shaped bags that are used to organize and pack clothes and other gear inside your luggage. They are available in a range of shapes, sizes, colors, and designs. They can be used to organize different types of clothing, such as tops, bottoms, and underwear, or to separate clean and dirty clothes.

Packing cubes can help to save space in your suitcase and make it easier to find specific items when you are traveling. They are also useful for keeping your clothes wrinkle-free and preventing them from shifting around while traveling.

Benefits of Using Packing Cubes

Let’s have a look at why you should consider using packing cubes to organize the items in your luggage.

Organize Your Travel Belongings

Packing cubes allow you to separate your clothing, shoes, and other items into different compartments, making it easy to find what you need without having to dig through your entire suitcase. This can save time and reduce stress when you’re trying to pack or unpack.

Hot Tip: You can further this organization by using packing cubes of a particular color to essentially color-code your belongings. This makes it very easy and quick to retrieve a specific type of clothing. For example, you have packed your socks in green packing cubes.

You can quickly find them from the other packing cubes in your suitcase, based on the color. Speaking from experience, you’ll quickly associate the colors of your packing cubes with the types of clothing contained within.

Hot Tip: You can also organize your items by outfit. For example, instead of packing your beach wear based on the type of clothing (e.g., bathers with your shorts, flip-flops with shoes, sunscreen lotion with your toiletries), you can pack them in a dedicated packing cube for swimwear. When it’s time for you to head to the beach, you can easily grab this packing cube and you’re all set to go!

Save Space in Your Luggage

Packing cubes can help you compress your clothing, which can save space in your suitcase. This can be especially useful if you’re trying to pack for a long trip or if you’re trying to bring along bulky items like jackets or sweaters.

This comes with some caveats though. Although packing cubes can save space, they can also encourage overpacking. If you’re using a packing that is too large for the type and amount of clothing that you plan to pack in it, you may be tempted to fill the packing cube until it’s full.

Hot Tip: Organize and separate all the items you plan to pack into categories before you begin to pack them into packing cubes. Then, when you begin to pack your items into the packing cubes, stick to what you’ve already decided upon.

Protect the Items in Your Luggage

Packing cubes can help protect your clothing and other items from wrinkles and damage. They can also help keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean clothes, which can be helpful if you’re traveling for an extended period.

Packing Cubes are Durable

Many packing cubes are made from durable materials that are designed to withstand the wear and tear of travel. So, unlike a plastic bag or other improvised packing method, they are a good investment for frequent travelers.

Although plastic bags are much cheaper than packing cubes, they are susceptible to damage. They’re essentially a single-use item. And they don’t have a zipper function, so your items won’t remain secure. And, well, they’re plastic bags – not the most environmentally friendly storage solution.

Convenient to Use

Packing cubes can make it easier to unpack and repack your bags, which can be especially useful if you’re staying at multiple destinations during your trip.

Cost-Effective in the Long Term

Although requiring an up-front investment, packing cubes can be a cost-effective way to organize and protect your clothes and other items while traveling. They are relatively inexpensive and last a long time and they can save you money in the long run by protecting your clothes and other items from damage, reducing the need to replace them as often.

Types of Packing Cubes

There are several different types of packing cubes available, each with its own unique features and benefits. Here are some of the most common types of packing cubes available.

Standard Packing Cubes

These are the most common type of packing cubes, and for good reason. They are lightweight, durable, and easy to use. They are typically made of nylon or polyester. These materials are both strong and water-resistant materials.

The breathable fabric also helps clothes to stay fresh, which is especially useful for longer trips.

The zippers on these packing cubes are also generally smooth and easy to open and close, which makes it easy to access your clothes.

So, what is there not to like? Well, standard packing cubes aren’t waterproof. They don’t offer adequate protection for items such as liquid toiletries. Nor can they prevent the odor of your dirty clothes from permeating through the other clothing in your suitcase.

We cover more specific packing cubes later in the article, to address issues such as these.

Compression Packing Cubes

Compression packing cubes are designed to help you maximize the space in your luggage.

They typically have a zipper that goes around three sides of the cube, which allows you to compress your clothes and squeeze out any extra air.

This can help you to fit more clothes into your luggage, which is great for those who like to pack a lot.

However, compression packing cubes can be difficult to use if you’re not familiar with them. They can be difficult to zip and unzip.

Also, they aren’t suitable for all item types: they don’t offer much protection for delicate or fragile items.

Packing Folders

Packing folders are like standard packing cubes, but they have a folding board built into the bottom of the cube, which allows you to fold and organize your clothes in a more structured way.

These are great for keeping your clothes wrinkle-free.

However, they aren’t as versatile as other types of packing cubes.

They are only useful when packing thin articles of clothing that are prone to wrinkling, such as shirts and skirts.

Waterproof Packing Cubes

As the name suggests, these packing cubes are made of waterproof material, making them ideal for protecting your belongings from moisture and spills.

They are perfect for beach vacations or if you’re worried about your luggage getting wet during travel. They are also convenient to pack your liquid toiletries as the packing cube can prevent leakage.

They are also perfect for packing dirty clothes, as they prevent them (and their odors) from mixing with the rest of your luggage’s contents.

They are less versatile, however. If your trip won’t involve watersports or your trip is short (thus not accumulating many dirty clothes), they can be less useful.

Shoe Packing Cubes

These cubes are specifically designed to hold shoes, keeping them separate from your clothing and preventing dirty soles from dirtying other items in your suitcase.

Some shoe bags even have a ventilated side, to allow the shoe to breathe and avoid odor.

Shoe packing cubes have a distinctive shape so are easy to find within your luggage.

However, they can become dirty from the shoes stored within. This can limit their use for other purposes during your trip, as you may not be able to clean the packing cube while on your trip.

Hot Tip: If you are staying at a hotel during your trip, you can use the shower caps provided in your room to cover the soles of shoes. This can prevent your shoes from soiling the inside of your packing cube.

Electronics Packing Cubes

These cubes have a padded compartment that is specifically designed to hold and protect your electronic devices, such as your laptop, camera, or tablet.

They also often include extra pockets for cords, chargers, and other accessories, making them a great option for keeping your electronics organized and protected while you travel.

Obviously, electronics packing cubes should only be used with your-carry-on. We don’t recommend you packing any electrical equipment in your checked baggage as it can be easily damaged.

How to Buy the Best Packing Cubes for You

When buying packing cubes, there are a few key factors to consider:

Consider the Sizes You Need for Your Trip

The first thing to consider when buying packing cubes is the size and capacity of the cubes. Make sure to choose cubes that are the right size for your luggage, so that you can maximize the space in your bag. There are different sizes of packing cubes, from extra-small to extra-large, so be sure to measure your luggage and choose cubes that fit comfortably.

Additionally, consider the capacity of each cube. You don’t want to end up with cubes that are too small and can’t fit your belongings, or too big and take up unnecessary space in your luggage. A good rule of thumb is to choose packing cubes that are about 2/3 the size of your luggage.

Choose Packing Cubes Made of Durable Materials

The material and durability of the packing cubes is another important factor to consider. Look for cubes made of high-quality, durable materials, such as ripstop nylon or polyester, which are both lightweight and strong. These materials are also water-resistant, which is a bonus if you’re traveling to a rainy destination.

Additionally, look for cubes with reinforced seams and sturdy zippers, as these will help prevent the cubes from breaking or tearing, even after repeated use.

Do You Prefer Packing Cubes That Can Be Compressed?

Some packing cubes come with built-in compression features, which allow you to squeeze out excess air and make the most of your space. Compression packing cubes can be particularly useful if you’re packing for a long trip and need to maximize the space in your luggage.

Extra Features Such as Handles and Straps

Some packing cubes come with handles or straps, which can make them easier to carry and store. Consider buying cubes with these features if they are important to you.

Your Budget

Packing cubes come in a wide range of prices, from budget-friendly options to high-end luxury cubes. It’s important to choose a set of packing cubes that fits within your budget, but also make sure to choose cubes that are of good quality and will last for many trips to come.

Brand and Customer Reviews

When choosing packing cubes, it’s always a good idea to do your research and read customer reviews. Look for well-known brands that have positive reviews and a good reputation, and make sure to read both positive and negative reviews to get a well-rounded understanding of the product.

How to Use Packing Cubes Effectively

Using packing cubes is simple. You just need to follow these steps:

1. Consider the Length of Your Trip

Packing cubes come in different sizes, so choose the size that best fits your needs. For a weekend trip, you may only need a few small cubes, while for a longer trip, you might need a combination of small and large cubes.

2. Decide What to Pack in Each Cube

Think about how you want to organize your items, and pack accordingly. For example, you might pack your shirts in one cube, pants in another, and toiletries in a third.

3. Pack Each Cube

Start by folding your clothes neatly and placing them in each cube. Use the compression zippers to squeeze out any excess air, which will help to maximize the space in your luggage.

4. Place the Packing Cubes in Your Luggage

Once you have packed all of your cubes, place them in your luggage, starting with the largest cubes first and working your way down to the smallest.

5. Enjoy an Organized Trip

When you reach your destination, simply unpack the cubes and place them in the drawers or closet. This will keep your clothes organized and make it easier to find what you need.

Disadvantages of Using Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are a useful tool for organizing and packing clothing and other items when traveling, but they do have some limitations. Here are some of the disadvantages of using packing cubes:

They Add Weight and Bulk to Your Luggage

Although packing cubes are relatively lightweight, they still contribute to your bag’s weight. This issue can be compounded if you are using a lot of them.

They Can Be Expensive

Depending on the brand and material, packing cubes can be quite expensive. Thankfully, there are a variety of options to suit all budgets.

They Can’t Prevent Wrinkles

While packing cubes can help keep your clothing organized and contained, they won’t necessarily prevent wrinkles from forming. If you’re traveling with delicate or wrinkle-prone items, you may still need to use other measures, such as packing them in a garment bag or using wrinkle-release spray. Even these methods aren’t perfect – there’s a reason why hotels have an iron in the room.

They Can’t Make Your Luggage Space Bigger

Packing cubes are designed to maximize the space in your luggage, but they can’t actually make your bag bigger. If you’re trying to pack more than your luggage can hold, you may need to consider using a larger bag or leaving some items behind.

They Can’t Completely Protect Your Items from Damage

Packing cubes are not designed to protect your items from damage. They can’t protect them from the rough handling that occurs during travel. If you’re traveling with fragile or valuable items, you may need to use other protective measures, such as bubble wrap or a hard-shell case.

They Can’t Keep Your Items Secure

Packing cubes are not designed for security, anyone can open and take items out, or you can’t lock them. They’re best used to help keep your clothing organized and make packing and unpacking easier, but they don’t offer any sort of security features.

They Can Encourage Overpacking

“Nature abhors a vacuum.”


It’s important to select an appropriately sized packing cube for each type of clothing. There is a tendency for us to fill a space when we see it, and packing cubes are no exception.

For example, don’t select a huge packing cube to pack your socks in. This may encourage you to bring more than you need for your trip.

Resealable Plastic Bags as Packing Cubes

I can’t conclude this post without giving a special mention to resealable plastic bags (such as Ziploc bags). They are a great introduction to packing cubes. If you’re new to the idea of using packing cubes and not sure if it’s right for you, try using resealable plastic bags on your next trip.

I began my packing cube journey using these versatile plastic bags. There are a lot of compelling reasons to use these bags to organize your luggage contents:

  • They’re cheap.
  • They are extremely lightweight.
  • They’re more readily available than packing cubes – just head to your local supermarket.
  • They are available in a few different sizes.
  • They are reusable and resealable.
  • They are airtight and compressible.
  • You can easily see their contents.

However, they do have some significant drawbacks:

  • Although they are available in different sizes, they may not be large enough for bulky items such as sweaters or coats.
  • Yes, they are reusable but are more susceptible to damage than packing cubes. For example, they can be easily pierced by sharp objects.
  • The sealing mechanism of a resealable bag isn’t as convenient as using zippers. Sometimes it can be a trial to get those plastic bags closed.
  • Unlike many packing cubes, resealable plastic bags do not have handles. This makes them more difficult to move or carry.
  • As they are made from plastic, they can be more of an environmental hazard than packing cubes.

Personally, I incorporate both traditional packing cubes and resealable plastic bags in my luggage packing strategy. For example, I pack all my liquid toiletries in resealable plastic bags, and then pack them into a larger packing cube for toiletries. This offers an extra layer of protection if your toiletries leak during transit.

Final Thoughts

Packing cubes are a game-changer for anyone looking to make the most of their packing and organization while traveling. Not only do they help maximize space, but they also make it easy to find and access your belongings while traveling.

Whether you are going on a weekend trip or a long vacation, packing cubes are a must-have accessory. Give them a try on your next trip and experience the benefits for yourself.

Like this post? Share it with your friends!
Hands Off My Suitcase
Hands Off My Suitcase
Articles: 126


  1. This is a great article, and very thorough. If I hadn’t already been converted, I’d be trying these cubes out, for sure. A few years ago, I was inducted into the wide, wonderful world of packing cubes and have never looked back. I own several sets and have purchased others as gifts for friends and family. They do everything this post claims, and more!

    • Hi Gene

      Like you, I’m a packing cube devotee as well. They’re a fantastic way to keep your suitcase organized!

      I’m glad that you enjoyed the post.

Comments are closed.