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Packing cubes?

Do packing cubes help fit more in a suitcase? I am a terrible packer and need all the help I can get.! How about the things that you release air out of? Help!

Posted by
2316 posts

Packing cubes help you keep your suitcase organized. For example, underwear and socks in one cube, shirts in another, etc. They don't help you pack more into your suitcase. And you want to pack light not heavy anyway. Remember you have to lug that suitcase around with you on your travels. Take a look on this website for suggestions on what to pack.

Posted by
23119 posts

Not really. Even if they did, all that does is add weight. Primarily for organization. We use the packing envelope for our shirts and pants. One each bag. Keeps things neat and relatively winkle free. After that we use plastic freeze bags (Ziplock) both gallon and 2.5 gallon size for other clothing such as underwear, socks, etc. Also it is easy to squeeze extra air out of the plastic bags.

Posted by
737 posts

The reason I like the packing cubes so much is that it really helps keep my suitcase organized. Everything stays so neat and is easy to find. No digging through your suitcase. Also, when I arrive at the hotel, I simply take my 3 cubes out of my suitcase and put them in the hotel dresser/shelves. This way I don't feel like I am living out of a suitcase for a month. And when it is time to change hotels, I just pop the 3 cubes back in my suitcase. No refolding clothes! Also, if your luggage has to be opened up by security, they are not digging through your stuff.

Posted by
32155 posts

reader,

I doubt that packing cubes will help to fit more into a suitcase, but I suppose that might depend on how you pack. They are very useful for keeping things organized into functional groups (ie: socks and underwear in one cube, chargers and other gadgets in another, etc.).

Posted by
23 posts

I pack everything I am going to use on my trip. Packing cubes help to keep you organized and you know what is what in the cubes. I also know that I cannot over pack either. I can fit 5-7 shirts in the large cube and the small ones other things like underwear, bras, and etc. I use a folder for my pants. I do not pack a whole lot for long distance because I tend to want to go "light" and really that is what you want to do. Like RS says plan to shop and get clothes there when you get there. A different experience in shopping - I am looking forward to that. But I like how I will be organized and know where everything is - easier to pack to go to the next destination.

Look for RS's packing list and Sarah's - great tips.

Posted by
13684 posts

Actually I have Eagle Creek sil-nylon compression packing cubes that do make the clothes take up less space. The company calls them compression cubes but to my mind compression is squishing the air out and these don't do that. With these you put your stuff in the cube then there is another zipper you cinch them down with. They decrease in height by about 1/3.

I do use a compression bag (Rick sells them in his store) but only for a fleece vest and or a travel pillow which are fluffy but light.

I also agree with others that they are mainly for organization. I could not manage without them!

Maybe what would help would be to start with a packing list? Or do you mean you are a terrible packer in that it's hard to get things folded and in the suitcase?

Posted by
1878 posts

I have always been skeptical about packing cubes. But on our last trip (Ireland, just returned a couple of weeks ago) they worked for me. My wife and I were looking for ways to travel with smaller bags. Specifically, 22" bags for a two week trip vs. our usual 25" bags. The reason we wanted to go with smaller bags was not because we wanted to carry on; we always check a bag when traveling overseas. Rather it was the tiny trunks on compact-sized rental cars. So anyway, I decided to get packing cubes for socks and underwear. They were very useful and reduced volume somewhat in my opinion. That's because for socks and underwear, when you pack them normally there is a lot of air in between. Packing science might be able to disprove this, but I am convinced it works for me. We don't find the weight to be the thing that makes larger bag harder to handle, it's the volume. The volume of a 22" bag (Eagle Creek Tarmac) is only a little more than half of the 25" and we did just fine, somewhat to my surprise. A great thing about it is, if we can stick to the smaller size my wife will not be able to pack it to 50 lbs. but only a little over 30. (Guess who gets to carry the bag up and down stairs..) I am still skeptical about the packing accessories for pants and shirts though. The apparatus just seems to take up a lot of space. The ones I used were one medium size and one small for socks and underwear, and I ended up being able to fit all I needed in the larger one, plus stuffing some socks in my spare pair of shoes. The smaller packing cube, I put a couple of tee shirts in which worked well, too. There was compression feature that did reduce volume somewhat. It was very refreshing traveling with a bag that only was around 30 pounds vs. my usual 42 pounds or so, and the packing cubes helped to achieve that without it being a burden. We had laundry done once and we were fine.

Posted by
28 posts

Like they say on the eBags.com website: "It's like drawers for your drawers!" Well put, I say.
Imagine at home, if, instead of a dresser with drawers, you just dump all your clothes in a box and have to dig through them to find that certain top. No fun, and a big mess. It's the same while traveling.
"Pack light, pack light, pack light!" just use packing cubes - you won't be sorry.
Bon voyage und gute Reise!

Posted by
173 posts

I always use packing cubes and sometimes the packing folders too, all Eagle Creek. They keep my stuff organized and make unpacking and repacking easier. For years I carried on and packed using the bundle method. You can pack a lot that way, but such a hassle to get things out and repack. With new TSA rules all my clothes go into some type of bag, either a packing cube or a zip bag. I don't want TSA touching my clothes!

Posted by
8023 posts

I stay organized using packing cubes and zip lock bags with the air squeezed out. I get all pants/slacks heavily starched and fit them in the bottom of the suitcase. Next comes the packing cubes and zip locks. Then I roll the pants legs over the top and tuck them in the back.

If you're a terrible packer, you may be carrying too many clothes. Starched pants and jeans can be worn a week or two and still look good--allowing me to carry fewer pants.

Posted by
6932 posts

The packing cubes can help your clothes not be wrinkled, and they're definitely good for organizing. I use two cubes when I'm traveling for work; 1st one has my week of blouses/tops. I use the 2nd one to protect the underwire in bras & pack all of my underwear in that cube. My work pants go into the bottom portion of the suitcase with my extra shoes in a regular plastic bag. The other two cubes go in the top portion - very easy to get ready each morning.

I do the same type of packing for traveling except I'll substitute a few tops for 1-2 dresses.

Agree with other comments, you don't want to bring numerous outfits. Try to keep it down to 4-5 and cycle through your clothes by sink washing or whatever you choose.

Posted by
3940 posts

I got some cubes a few years ago and never used them because I found them awkward in my carry on size. BUT...we just finished a two week driving vacay (our own vehicle, so of course we take a LOT more stuff than if we were flying somewhere) and I used them in my bag - now I see why people like them!

I put pants in the largest one, shirts in the med and underthings in the smallest. And after I wore a shirt/pants/underthing I'd keep it out separate so I would know what I had worn and to keep the dirty clothes away from the clean (after two or three wears, they'd go into the to-wash bag - way easier of course when you can just toss that bag in the back of the car) - but what was nice was not having to paw thru all my clothes looking for something - I knew what clothing items were in each cube and what was 'fresh' and what wasn't.

I'm not sure if I could use the largest one when flying, as it will be bigger in dimension that my Rick Steves bag is, leading to some wasted space, but I will def be using the smaller of the two to keep my shirts/underthings organized. The ones I have are a set of Heys that I bought off the Canadian shopping network - I'll have to check out our local luggage store.

I use packing cubes a lot, even for stuff in a backpack. Makes packing more efficient and you use your luggage space better. I recommend either the ebags.com value set with the slimline cubes included or the eagle creek value set with the folder included. Then, you can buy additional sizes and colors as you need them. I recommend bold colors to make them easier to see. You are less likely to leave something behind and can spot them better in a suitcase. They can be used to hold your snacks, travel literature, first aid kit,etc.. Clear sided pencil pouches sold at office supply stores like Office Depot are great for small items like tissues, first aid kit, cords, travel info., etc.. The vinyl/fabric pouches sell for $2 - 4 each and get the bright colors.

Posted by
985 posts

I haven't traveled without using packing cubes for the last year and a half. They might allow for stuffing a tad more into a bag because they do compress when stuffed, but I used them more for organization and to keep my clothes from ending up in a jumbled, wrinkled pile at the bottom of my backpack. I think I would have lost my mind trying to keep up with clothes on our RS 21 day tour without the organization. I used heavy duty Ziploc baggies for a few things that I wanted to compress and they performed just fine. I also bought a six foot length of pipe insulation foam and cut it to fit a few hangers that we took with us rather than buying inflatable hangers; cheap, lightweight, and stuffed easily into the side of the bag.

I am considering not using packing cubes but the bundling method this winter when we go to Amsterdam for five weeks, but only because we will be staying long term in one place except for one short trip of 2-3 days away from our apartment.

I did love the hint that I read on here last year about putting your clothes/cubes into a large garbage bag inside your bag to keep things dry in case of a downpour or the bag being off-loaded onto a wet tarmac. I can't remember who wrote that but I love all of the tips and tricks one finds on this forum.

btw - I have used the RS packing cubes but also like the ebag cubes because they have a slim line that fits down the sides of the bag beside the larger cubes. I can easily fit two large cubes plus one-two slim cubes into my RS convertible bag along with shoes.

Posted by
3696 posts

I use them all the time and it definitely keeps me organized. I have a few sets of them so always lend out some if traveling with a friend. I use large one for skirts, pants, etc... medium for tops, and small for the rest. I also have one that I carry in my small bag that has my headphones, computer cords, phone charger, etc... all that stuff that is always loose and a mess.

I also just take them out of my suitcase when I arrive somewhere...

Posted by
23 posts

If you have an IKEA nearby, see if you can get packing cubes there. I got my set of 4 there for $8. Not much lost if you decide it's not for you, but I love mine.

I helps smush things down in my backpack to keep the dimensions within the carry-on limits for airlines with smaller allowances. Also helps with organization as others have mentioned.

Posted by
5835 posts

Yes, packing "cubes" don't weigh much and help keep stuff organized. (Should really be called a packing "prism"). Big packing prism for spare pants and shirts, smaller packing prism for socks, underwear, gloves, caps).

Packing prisms are more useful for soft sided luggage like the Rick Steves classic carry-on and duffle bags and where contents can shift when not packed tight. Packing prisms are also handy when lodging at facilities with a chest of drawers or even shelves. When packing to go, just lift prisms and place in pack.

Posted by
9363 posts

I just use Ziploc bags to accomplish the same thing - smaller ones for underwear and socks, larger ones for shirts. I also put the compressed bags of underwear and socks down between the rails of my suitcase handle (I unzip the liner of the bag) in order make use of otherwise wasted space.

Posted by
26484 posts

I'm a new convert to the Eagle Creek zipper-compressed cube, but only for things that I don't mind getting wrinkled (basically undergarments and a sleep shirt). I just fold the rest, partly because the cubes do add some weight. If I'm not willing to compress/crush blouses and slacks, I don't see much benefit to a packing cube.

A couple years ago I was given a set of graduated-size Rume-brand zippered nylon pouches. They weigh less than a ZipLock bag of comparable size and you don't have to worry that the closing mechanism will fail after just a few uses. Love them for organizing things like medications & vitamins. The bags are translucent.

Posted by
2527 posts

Do packing cubes help fit more in a suitcase? No, but I use them to help organize clothes and misc. items. Featherweight and highly functional in my opinion.

Posted by
75 posts

I just got back from a 3 week trip to 5 destinations. I had packing cubes (2 eBags ultralight slim) and my traveling companion did not. She spent time every day rearranging items in her suitcase and fiddling with her stuff. I didn't.

She already ordered some for her next trip.

Posted by
19026 posts

I compartmentalize my stuff. I hate digging through a suitcase full of loose clothes looking for one item, but I don't pack enough stuff to warrant packing cubes. I use a flat Tide mesh washing bag for my shirts (about 4), a small mesh bag for underwear (2 sets), and a toiletries kit for my soap, toothbrush, etc. I have a small solid drawstring bag for my adapter, charger, etc. Folded once, my slacks go on the bottom, with everything else on top. I've considered rolling my slacks and putting them in a bag, but, since they are on the bottom, once I take out the other packages, they're right there.

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you to everyone who answered. I decided to purchase a set. I plan to pack much smarter for this trip than I ever have before!

Posted by
3171 posts

I'd like to add that I roll my clothes in the packing cubes, combining methods. I believe rolling does compress a little bit and the confines of the cube add to that. Also, as others have stated the organizational feature is an added benefit...always an organized suitcase. As I am regularly searched, it also keeps unfamiliar hands from my clothes. My slacks are folded on the bottom of the suitcase. So, yes, I believe packing cubes fit a little more in the suitcase if you wanted to stuff your suitcase, but I try to stay under 20 pounds regardless. Wray

Posted by
884 posts

Lee your packing scheme is simple, well thought out and effective; love it!