Do you prefer packing cubes or space saver bags?

My wife and I will be traveling to italy in June for 12 days. In the past we have used the space saver bags which did give us the ability to condense our clothes into our luggage. This year I am using a carry on convertible backpack...the weekender from ebags. My question is this: Which do you prefer, packing cubes or space saver bags? Can the packing cubes pack as many clothes as the space saver bags? If you prefer packing cubes, how many do you suggest for the ebags weekender (about same size as the RS convertible) Also, will the packing cubes keep the clothes from getting wrinkled? I noticed that using space saver bags, clothes can get wrinkled. I would appreciate your thoughts.

Please don't reply with the answer..."neither". If you like one or the other, please tell me which you prefer. Also, if this has been covered here before, I apologize for not noticing it. Thanks!

Posted by Beth
Pullman, WA, USA
15 posts

I use the ebags Weekender often (including a 4-week trip to Europe two summers ago). I use the Rick Steves cubes--one big one for pants, shorts, and maybe a shirt or two, one small one for several knit shirts rolled up (I can get six or seven in if it's summer), and one small one for underwear, swimsuit, socks, pj shirt). In Europe we used big Ziploc bags for our windbreakers, but we didn't really need to.

With the 3 cubes I have room to cram a small pair of shoes (sandals) and my rather small toiletry kit in the main compartment. The front zipper compartment carries papers, books, etc.

Hope that helps.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9091 posts

I used packing cubes once, and they did not save as much room as the compressor bags. But I used them spefically for an early summer trip, when I didn't need to compress bulky cold-weather clothing. Also, they didn't wrinkle my thinner clothes as much as the bags, although they weren't perfect in this respect either.

Posted by JER
Seattle, USA
981 posts

Depends on what you want to accomplish with them. Space saver bags condense your clothing and let you take the maximum amount of stuff in the bag, which is their advantage. But the downsides, besides wrinkling, is that the bag becomes very heavy. Packing cubes, combined with either rolling your clothes or the "bundle" method, doesn't save quite so much space, but keeps things better organized so you can easily live out of your bag when you get where you're going, helps keep items balanced in your bag while you carry it, and keeps items neater and more wrinkle-free.

For me, it's as much about packing light as packing small, so it's packing cubes all the way. I don't want my pack to get too heavy and I appreciate the way that packing cubes let me spread the weight of the contents throughout the bag and keep stuff from sinking to the bottom of the pack, which would put additional stress on my shoulders and back. And don't discount the convenience of having your stuff more accessible and organized in your hotel room. Using spacebags means having to re-compress them every time you open them up or else your stuff no longer fits into the bag. (And many budget accommodations lack dressers and closets, so you should count on using your bag as wardrobe storage in your room.)

Sorry I can't tell you how many cubes you would need--I use Tom Bihn bags and cubes now, which are not the same dimensions as your bag.

Posted by Ali
Newton, MA, USA
278 posts

On my first trip to Europe last year we used backpacks and we both used cubes (the larger one 14x10x3 for shirts, smaller 1/2 cube for undergarments 10x7x3). In planning for our trip this year we explored using compression bags but found them to wrinkle everything and didn't like the way they packed.

We prefer the cubes and plan on using them again this year - it's how we restrict what we bring too and have found if we roll the shirts appropriately there is minimal wrinkling (we use travel clothing with polyesters, etc which are less prone to wrinkling).

We are using rolling backpacks this year (Victorinox, Osprey) so I cannot comment on how these particular cubes would fit in your bag.

Posted by Joel
Tempe, AZ, USA
834 posts

Steven - My vote is for cubes. My current travel bag is 21X14X9 carry on from Campmor. I use the eBags Packing Cubes 3pc Set(they are currently on sale) and they fit perfectly. I've noticed wrinkling, but I use the roll method for putting clothes in my cubes. Last year on a week long trip to Chicago I was able to pack all the clothes I needed in my cubes and they fit nicely in my carry on.

Posted by Liz
Denver, CO, USA
75 posts

I use 4 medium ebag cubes (total height of 6") and an eagle creek packing folder in the large front pocket.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4376 posts

I'm another voter for cubes. I agree with all the reasons given but mostly it's a matter of weight and organization. I can be better organized with cubes than without them and since they are so light, add practically no weight.

If I'm taking so many clothes that I need compressor bags (plural) to fit them in my case, then I'm taking too many clothes.

I'd suggest you get the ebags cube set (1 large, 2 small) and they will fit in our bag. So will the RS set. And so will Eagle Creek--which give you the biggest selection and the capability of buying individual cubes.

I use the larger one for shirts, one of the smaller ones for socks and undies, and the third for miscellaneous stuff. I still have room for pants, a sweater, light jacket and small toiletry kit.(I used to own the bag you have, now have the RS bag, but will soon be switching to a Tom Bihn bag once it's available.)

Regarding wrinkling, well, I travel with wrinkle-free clothes made specifically for travel. I also carry a small bottle of Downey Wrinkle Release.

One additional good thing about cubes...if you get stopped at security, it's simple for them to see what you have and easier to repack once they're done.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10845 posts

Both depending on what I am packing. But I consider the space saver bag a waste of money when a two gal zip lock bag with accomplish the same thing for a nickle or so. My principle packing tool for all folded clothing (shirts, pants, etc.) is the packing envelopes. Achieve the same degree of compression without wrinkling. Pack cubes are used for items that do not compress and the zip lock bags for these that do compress. Another advantage to the plastic bags is that you can use a magic mark on the bag to id what should be in it. Helps to keep track of stuff when repacking.

Posted by Linda
Petaluma, Northern California
345 posts

Yes, packing cubes and space savers serve two entirely different purposes. I don't use spacesavers because that would mean I have too much stuff and my bag would be too heavy.

I have packed a cheap spacesaver bag with me for the return trip-- in the event my single carry-on bag becomes too full after 2-3 weeks of shopping, but have found it unnecessary. So instead of carrying something I don't need I have switched to the 2-gallon zip lock bag--just incase.

Cubes: The RS cubes are the lightest and least bulky cubes on the market. They are also the most inexpensive. Problem is they are too flimsy for heavy items, so keep that in mind when purchasing. You may want a heftier brand as well. e.g Eagle Creek.

Wrinkles: The Eagle Creek packing folios are great! I take one with me because not everything I have is "travel clothing."

Don't forget your 1-gallon and 2-gallon zip locks! They're inexpensive, sturdy, not bulky, it's easy to see the contents, and they serve multiple purposes.

Posted by Steven
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
46 posts

Thank you all for your replies. As is typical with RS Helpline Bloggers, with higher-level thinking skills and insight, you gave me some wonderful ideas with which to ponder. I am going to go the packing cube route. I had thought about this for a while, but was looking for some more evidence to support my decision.

Thanks again everyone!

P.S. Frank II: Through which store or website do you purchase your travel clothes. I am looking for a couple pairs of pants as well as some button-down short sleeve shirts that would work well in Rome and Tuscany this June.

Beth: Thanks for the information pertaining the typw and number of packing cubes in the Ebags "Weekender". This was just the help with which I was looking.

Posted by bluedenim
vancouver, bc, canada
421 posts

I use both. I use the spacesaver bags for bulky items such as a sweater or something.....otherwise I use the cubes. The space saver bags will wrinkle your clothes so use it only for bulk.

Posted by Audrey
Keizer, Oregon, USA
577 posts

I used space saver bags on one trip and replaced on subsequent trips with packing cubes. I don't like the space saver bags. The packing cubes keeps your clothes organized and less wrinkles. I don't leave home without them. I use Eagle Creek and Rick's. I like my Eagle Creek Pack-It and the double sided one. I use 3-4 in my 21 inch rolling suitcase and still have room left over.

Posted by Sylvia
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
331 posts

I liked using both.The cubes keep things organized, but the compression bags keep the bulky things like sweaters,jeans smaller.We have the RS convertible, and used 1 large and 2 small cubes and then 2 compression bags. 1 bag for sweaters etc, the other for emergency.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4376 posts

For Pants, I'm a dockers guy. They now come in wrinkle-free.

For shirts, I look for wrinkle free shirts. Some of the big department stores have them. If not, check Travelsmith, Magellans, and also do a search on the helpline for this topic has been discussed before.

Posted by Ron
Carbondale, IL, USA
1201 posts

I'll throw in a contrary opinion. I use two small flat mesh zipped bags. one for electronics stuff, chargers, SD cards etc and one for toiletries not in the 311 bag.

For clothes I'll usually fold or roll with sometimes a big ziploc mixed in. Have just never liked the packing cubes.

For travel stuff, take a look at either of these two online spots:

www.campmor.com

www.sierratradingpost.com

For good prices on stuff. Sign up for STP email dealfinder and they will email you coupons all the time.

Posted by Tom
Orlando
191 posts

For Pants take a look at REI's Adventures pants, on sale now for $32 and change, regularly $44. I like them for the "on seam" zippered side pockets, where I stash my daily cash on one side and Ipod on the other. IMO perfect for travel and the only two pair of pants I now take. Light enough for warmer weather and with silk underwear work great in cooler climes too.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4862 posts

I like packing cubes. I have only used space saver bags for bulky items for winter travel. One potential problem with space bags - if they get a hole during the trip they will no longer work and then what will you do? I do take a large one along for dirty clothes.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7185 posts

We purchased some Space Saver bags and felt you could use ziplock bags (sit on them and zip them up) just as effectively. The space saver bags were okay but broke when they were filled more than two-thirds full.

Posted by Betty
Portland, Vancouver, United States
3 posts

I would suggest you go for a good quality Eagle Creek luggage. hey are handy to travel anywhere in the world, lightweight & durable.

Check out Eagle Creek products such as: http://bit.ly/5fSb2I

Very good stuff indeed.

Posted by Kelly
St Petersburg Florida
948 posts

I use both, simultaneously. I go for maximal organization and stuffing my clothes in those compression bags and then zippering them up in cubes allows that. is it over the top? Maybe but my travel bag is now spacious and organized.

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

I preferred large ziploc bags to be honest. Neither the cubes nor those space savers impressed me.

Posted by Jim
Oklahoma City, OK, USA
430 posts

For me...

Packing cubes plus an Eagle Creek packing folder.

The cubes cannot pack as much as the space saver bags, but they also don't wrinkle your clothes as much.

Three cubes plus folder.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11256 posts

My Outdoor Product Essential Carryon bag is plenty big (just an inch narrower than regulation) and weighs only 1¾#. I find weight to be a bigger challenge than volume, so I have no use for heavy compression bags. I use mostly lightweight mesh bags to organize my bag. That makes it very easy to unpack when I arrive, taking the bags out of my suitcase and putting them on the shelves. No reason to rummage around in my suitcase. I know which bag to get into when I need something, and which bag to put washed clothes back into. In the morning, when I leave, repacking is a breeze. I just put the individual bags back in my suitcase.

As for Eagle Creek's lightweight bags, did I miss something? Since when is a 7# 8oz bag "lightweight". And durable? My first ETBD convertible bag, for $100 less, made five 2 week trips to Europe with hardly a sign of wear. I only switched to the Outdoor Products bag because I got tired of carrying ¾# of "quality" around.

And my latest project: my OPEC bag was getting too big for what I was taking to Europe. I got a ETBD Appenzell bag (1# 4oz, $35, over 6# lighter and $160 less than an Eagle Creek bag). Everything I brought back from Europe last time fits in the Appenzell bag and it only weighs 9# 12oz, packed.

Posted by Sharon
TX
505 posts

I only have one carry-on. I use one packing envelope or folio, love it, along with several large ziplock bags. I just roll everything else, using bags from the cleaners. Works great, few wrinkles, and can get to everything much easier than with the space saver bags.

Posted by Alexandra
West Coast, California, USA
292 posts

I like to take one large Spacesaver bag with me for my winter jacket, which I pack when departing from LA. On one trip the Spacesavers came in handy when trying to pack two Euro size feather/down pillows (a deal I couldn't pass up). They shrank down to practically nothing.

Posted by Nancy
Davis, CA
56 posts

I travel with an ETBD 21" rolling bag. Space is less of a consideration for me than weight, so I have stopped using compressor bags due to wrinkling and they are a bit more difficult to pack stuff into. I use Eagle Creek cubes because I like the stability over the ETBD. One 10x14 for shirts, one 7x10 for sleep shirt & long underwear, one double sided 7x10 for socks and underwear. These 3 cubes fit as a single layer in the bag, over a layer of shoes, toiletry kit, sack of electronic stuff, laundry kit etc as the base layer. I bundle the pants, skirt and sweater as the third, top layer. I like the double sided cube for socks and underwear as I can move the dirty items to the other side until washed, taking up the same amount of space in the bag. The shirts, either rolled or folded, don't seem to wrinkle much at all.

Posted by Nancy
Davis, CA
56 posts

I travel with an ETBD 21" rolling bag. Space is less of a consideration for me than weight, so I have stopped using compressor bags due to wrinkling and they are a bit more difficult to pack stuff into. I use Eagle Creek cubes because I like the stability over the ETBD. One 10x14 for shirts, one 7x10 for sleep shirt & long underwear, one double sided 7x10 for socks and underwear. These 3 cubes fit as a single layer in the bag, over a layer of shoes, toiletry kit, sack of electronic stuff, laundry kit etc as the base layer. I bundle the pants, skirt and sweater as the third, top layer. I like the double sided cube for socks and underwear as I can move the dirty items to the other side until washed, taking up the same amount of space in the bag. The shirts, either rolled or folded, don't seem to wrinkle much at all.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7670 posts

I'm a Ziploc girl, too. I've used them as compression bags or just to separate peoples' outfits (particularly when sharing a suitcase with kids) or keep security from pawing through my undies and such. And unlike packing cubes, you can use them for damp laundry or swimsuits.

Posted by Darcy
Lewiston, Idaho, USA
1201 posts

I really like Rick's orginal packing cubes for ease of finding things not to mention making it easier for TSA but I also take along one medium space saver bag, empty for just in case I purchase something bulky. On occasion it comes back empty.