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Using Packing Cubes

I am interested in your experiences using packing cubes. We will be traveling for almost 3 weeks in Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangkok in Feb 2020. If you have used them successfully, any recommended brands?

Posted by
8777 posts

I have been using the Rick Steves packing cubes for almost 15 years. I don't go anywhere without them. They are available on this website. Just click on the orange box to the left that says Shop Online.

Posted by
3381 posts

I too have been using the RS packing cubes for years. We usually travel for about a month and find either 2 large or one large and one small works well. In addition, if you want to compress a couple other items in the bottom or outer zipper of your suitcase, a gallon zip lock bag is also a consideration.

Posted by
216 posts

I just bought a set from e-bags and not sure I will use them. I have watched tutorials on youtube packing the same items w/wo the cubes. It appears although the cubes are more organized, you can pack more without them..


Posted by
422 posts

IMO, you can get better buys on packing cubes at several sources. Ebags is one, Amazon is another, and shipping is more reasonable/free. Do a google search to compare quality and weights, which do vary.

Posted by
1179 posts

Packing cube vary widely in quality and weight. Some are made out of very heavy material. I prefer silnylon cubes as they are light and strong.

If you go over to the packing forum you will see that this topic has been discussed extensively. Also use the search feature for the forums.

Posted by
225 posts

I've had great luck with these IKEA versions for bottoms, sleepwear etc Super light weight nylon, great price. I bought several sets though to get more of the size that works best for me. I pack/roll/fold the clothes in the ones with netting and then include a non netting one with each to repack the dirty clothes with a strip of dryer sheet cut off for odor control. So all clothes go back where they came from! When I return from a trip, I throw them in the wash and they're good as new for the next trip. Quite sturdy even when I stuff 'em. For tops and jackets, I use the eagle creek packing folders also super light and also include a lightweight sweater bag from the dollar store for the tops to separate dirty from clean, again with a strip of dryer sheet. The tops go in the cover of my carry on while the cubes go in the body. I love how organized my suitcase is. Happy Travels!

Posted by
1612 posts

I started using packing cubes two years ago. Now I won’t pack without them. I used RS cubes, 1 large and 2 small. Small for leggings (I travel with leggings instead of capris, pants or jeans), the other small for undies/socks and the large for tops and dress. They’re made to fit in RS Carry-on luggage. I bought a set of Sharper Image packing cubes at TJMaxx for hubby but they are either too large or too small for me but work for his clothes in checked luggage. I also have a couple slimline cubes but they’re too small for how I like to pack.
I use a lightweight nylon string backpack as a dirty clothes bag.

Posted by
138 posts

I’ve used packing cubes for about 3 years now and can’t imagine traveling without them. I have 4 cubes; 1 large, 2 medium, and 1 small. The large one is for slacks, jeans, light jackets etc., the medium ones are for shirts, tops, etc., and the small one is for underwear. They make packing and unpacking much easier. I think the ones I have are from Amazon. They are made of nylon and are quite sturdy, including the zippers.

Posted by
2655 posts

In addition to cubes for tops, I also like to use small and medium zippered garment washing bags to pack things like underwear that don't require structure. The bag keeps them together and they can be squished into small spaces.

Posted by
245 posts

They're pretty useless and a waste of money, in my opinion. I tried them and experienced absolutely no benefit - in fact, they turned out to be just one extra layer that I didn't need and really didn't want. I think of them as a solution in search of a problem, and I really don't understand all the fuss.

If you do want to create separate bags of shirts/socks/pants/undies, why not just use various sized Ziploc bags? They are available in lots of different sizes.

Posted by
3192 posts

My husband, who travels so much for work that he made Delta Diamond in July, says that whoever invented packing cubes deserves a Nobel Prize. When he unpacks, he just takes his packing cubes out and puts them in a drawer in the hotel room. He uses Eagle Creek. They make one with a divider in the middle to keep clean and dirty clothes separated. I use Eagle Creek and Lewis and Clark.

Posted by
9728 posts

I love them! I used the Eagle Creek sil-nylon compression cubes for a number of years and liked them a lot.

I have switched to a different kind now - the Compass Rose cubes by a blogger called Travel Fashion Girl. I like hers a lot because they sit upright in the carry on (like books on a library shelf) so all you have to do is unzip and pull things out. I use 3 of her cubes when I travel - one for shirts, one for sweaters/dri-fit shirts and one for underwear/socks/pjs etc - and leave them in my suitcase for my whole trip. I flat pack my jeans/pants on the bottom. They come in a set of 4 but as indicated I only use 3. The rest of the area in my bag is my toiletries kit, shoes, odds and ends. I travel in a 22" rollaboard but have also put them in Rick's 21" roller case. The website calls these "compression cubes" but to my mind they are not as the contain but do not compress. They are available on Amazon.

There is a learning curve on loading packing cubes. I had to change how I pack when I moved from the flatter squarer cubes to the more rectangular upright ones. In the beginning I tried rolling, then decided the Eagle Creek ones worked best with a flat pack.

If you go with them I recommend you do a couple of trial packs to see what works best for your suitcase and your clothes. Well, really, I recommend trial packs any way!

Posted by
100 posts

I use RS packing cubes for items that do not pack flat into compression bags. I always pack one extra for any small souvenirs we bring back (a.k.a. usually six skeins of locally sourced yarn in my case). The RS brand is the best in terms of quality.

I used to use the packing cubes exclusively, and then I learned the following:
On my first trip to Iceland this past fall I tried something different and it’s become my new favorite way to pack. I purchased some of RS compression bags. I usually use sports compression bags for hiking gear only, but right before our trip saw these clear bags on the RS store site. By using compression bags for flat items such as clothing and the smaller cubes for bulky items, I am able to ditch a suitcase and exclusively use the RS backpack carryon bag.
This combo hack has changed how I pack. Really makes walking around between flight, airports to shuttles or trains sooooo much easier!

Added note: Compression bags allow so much more room in my bag that I had to be careful with the airline weight limits and my own middle aged back. I easily can stuff 20 pounds or more of gear and clothes now...if I can carry it.

Good luck and happy travels!

Posted by
1730 posts

I love my Eagle Creek Specter packing cubes. They are extremely lightweight and non bulky. I have a larger bag to hold my items to deal with cold or hot extremes.I now also use the extra small bags to keep my electronic cards and adapters. They also breathe which is more desirable than Ziplocks. I had bulky cubes in the past and hated them.

Posted by
21086 posts

The distinction between plain packing cubes and compression cubes is key. I'm not tempted to carry unnecessary items (I hate the weight of my bag), so compression cubes don't tempt me to pack more, they just keep the suitcase easier to close. I use them primarily for underwear and sleepwear. I can see some organizational value in the plain, non-compressing cubes, but not enough for me to justify the extra bulk and weight, however modest. I do use some small, very lightweight zipped pouches to corral small items that would otherwise float around my suitcase.

Posted by
1179 posts

I use packing cubes most when:

  • I have several different activities in my travels and want to keep things organized OR
  • I’m traveling for weeks or months at a time and need to keep things organized OR
  • I’m traveling with a bag that doesn’t have tie down straps to keep my clothing in place OR
  • I use compression cubes when I’m traveling with just a personal item and need to make do with extremely limited space.

Packing cubes are rectilinear, which means they fit better than zip lock bags.

As in all things, all the different aspects of the trip need to be weighed against each other. Sometimes literally.

Posted by
3304 posts

Eagle Creek — I have had them for a few years now and they’re great. Packing cubes provide easy organization and make it simple to pack/unpack a bag. Nice & neat!

Posted by
5262 posts

I'm a late convert to cubes, they help organize the load and are easy to work with in hotels. I have the RS brand because I got a store credit on my first tour (no longer alas) and there they were. Don't know if they're better or worse than others, I suspect not much difference. I still use a big compression bag for dirty clothes, it gets bigger between washings and finishes the trip dominating the suitcase.

But as you can see from this thread, and from thousands more under "Packing," there are many points of view. No consensus like with money belts.... ;-)

Posted by
681 posts

We have the RS packing cubes. I have given them for Christmas presents and the recipients loved the gifts. Said it was the best present ever. We are doing almost the same trip in November 2020. Just booked our airlines. Are you doing it independently or on a tour? Would be interested in PM to compare notes. Have a great time and safe travels.

Posted by
3933 posts

I had some for probably 5 years and was ambivalent about using them - until I 'actually' used them. I have some Heys ones (sm/med/lg - came as a set) and a MEC store brand smaller one. One is a large one that fits on the bottom of my carry on - in there go my pants and tops. The medium ones hold undergarments and tshirts, then transitions into the dirty/worn clothing bag. The smallest one is for what I will call bathroom stuff - tweezers, nail clippers, face wipes, kleenex, non-liquid stuff (well, the liquid stuff usually ends up in there after we are thru airport security).

What I love about them is if I want my pants off the bottom - I don't have to dig everything out of my bag or mess everything up - just pull out the cubes on top then toss em back in.

Posted by
37 posts

I prefer the Eagle Creek light weight compression cubes, great for almost anything. I don’t see any advantage to a cube that does not compress. I use Eagle Creek envelope for shirts. My husband wouldn’t leave home without them either. Everything has a place, easy to find, no digging

Posted by
114 posts

I have used packing cubes on two 5 week trips and have been converted. I travel with a wheeled duffle and find the cubes are great to quickly unpack at the hotel and repack. I use 3 small and 1 medium and a ziplock plastic bag for shoes. Because the duffle is a bit more cylindrical than a suitcase, I find the smaller size cubes more versatile. I own a large cube but haven’t used it. I feel that I can fit more in with cubes and it keeps categories of clothes together - eg. all my socks are in one place not shoved randomly into corners. I live in Australia and use Kathmandu brand (very similar to Eagle Creek) and Osprey. I picked mine up on sale.