As avid travelers taking 34+ flights over the last two years, we know how much work packing takes. Packing cubes can keep your clothes from getting wrinkled during transportation, make unpacking in your hotel room easier, and allow you to bring more options with compression bag features. We tested over half a dozen packing cube sets for several months on various kinds of trips to find the best options.
Various packing cubes are fit for different types of trips and travel needs. Mesh paneling helps organize and identify what’s in your luggage. Compression packing cubes help fit more clothes into your luggage. Ultra-lightweight packing cubes are for those mindful of weight when using checked-in luggage or on a backpacking trip. Packing cube sets come in different price ranges and there are many affordable options under $50. In addition, many packing cubes differ in materials, type, and brand name. They are also available in individual cubes or sets with different sizes.
Durability is a priority when finding packing cubes because you want to keep your clothes organized but safe. Some packing cubes are differentiated by labels like water resistant or water repellant. This label describes how much moisture can get through the materials of the packing cube.
Some brands also have rip-stop fabric that prevents the cubes from tearing or ripping during travel or packing. Having durable and smooth gliding zippers with pulls for a better ergonomic feel is another feature we look for when purchasing packing cubes. This is especially important when using compression bags that need durable zippers when condensing the cube. Finally, we’ve found that durability and quality range in price, so you can get well-made packing cubes no matter your price.
Keep in mind other features you may want to keep track of, like washability, the number of zippers, handles, or how wide the lid opens up. Being able to wash packing cubes in between trips is very helpful. While some brands can be machine washed, others need more care and are hand washed and line dried. Some people prefer multiple zippers for easier control (in case of one breaks). Handles help stabilize the cube for compression or moving the packs around your luggage. And lastly, we prefer lids that open fully for easier packing.
How we selected & tested
Over three months and dozens of trips, we tested nine packing cubes of different brands, materials, and made all under $50 (check out our post on the best travel gear too!). These trips included international, domestic, weekend, and long-term trips, and we used these cubes in carry-ons, check-in luggage, weekenders, and backpacks. In addition, the packing cubes organized an array of clothing from fine dining and cocktail attire to extreme cold weather snowboarding gear.
Best Overall: Eagle Creek - 3 Pc. Starter Set
The Eagle Creek – Pack-It Starter Set stood out with its fabric. It’s made out of nylon compared to some brands’ polyester, but it felt higher in quality. Even though the mesh functionality was on par with everything else, it looked better. Additionally, Eagle Creek stood out of the pack with its piping on two faces of the cubes. This gave it structure and a polished look compared to even more expensive brands.
The only time the piping was an issue for us was when packing our luggage to the brim and having to fill gaps in the suitcase (we almost never pack to the brim). We had to compress packing cubes in ways that flexed the piping. It didn’t damage the piping in the end but was a tiny bit less efficient in filling in odd spaces. Overall the slight disadvantages of the Eagle Creek cubes were far outweighed by the impressive feel and quality of the cubes, making it one of our favorites.Read more…
This packing cube set from Eagle Creek also comes with a special wrap/cube that has a folding guide for dress shirts and dress pants. It’s a rectangular storage case with four flaps for the flexibility of holding up to eight to twelve shirts. It has a flexible mat to fold your shirts, so they’re all uniform. In the end, we still had to iron out all the creases before wearing them at our destination, but it reduced the amount of ironing work needed later and kept our suitcase tidier.
Best Budget: Shacke Pak - 5 Set Packing Cubes
The Shacke Pak – 5 Set Packing Cubes is a no-fuss starter set for any traveler. With four different-sized cubes, Shacke Pak states that this set is suitable for up to 14 days of travel. Additionally, this set comes with a card indicating which packing cubes are best depending on how many days you travel and what clothes will fit in each size.
Each cube comes with zipper pulls that glide quickly as you pull and a mesh front with an X design that gives the lid structure instead of falling flat like the Away packing cubes. We liked that we could easily pick through our cubes to know which clothes were inside because of the see-through mesh. This set also includes a laundry bag.Read more…
Unfortunately, these cubes need to be hand-washed, but we find this a minor detail because we won’t be using the cubes themselves for dirty clothes since this set comes with a laundry bag. At a little over $20, the Shacke Pak – 5 Set Packing Cubes are our budget pick for their durability and versatility without breaking the bank.
Best Compression: REI Co-Op - 1 Pc. Compression Bag
If you’re an over-packer, the REI Co-Op – Compression Bag is the best packing cube for condensing clothes. We’ve tested the REI Co-Op bag for several years on international and domestic flights, and it’s our favorite compression bag because it’s durable, is water repellant, comes in various sizes, and compresses double its original size easily.
We try to choose products that benefit the environment, and the REI Co-Cop – Compression Bag is an example of that through its bluesign® approved status. Like the Thule Clean/Dirty cube, a product that meets bluesign® criteria means its design and production meet high environmental and social responsibility standards.Read more…
What we love most about this compression bag is that it keeps its shape after compressing clothes. Compared to the Gonex – Compression cubes that created lumpy centers and flat sides no matter how we folded or rolled in the clothes, the REI Co-Op cubes kept their shape. Lumpier packing cubes make it harder to use up space efficiently. Over time, we reached for the REI Co-Op cubes more often than any other compression bag for our trips because it helped fit more items into our luggage and was very easy to use.
Osprey - 3 Piece Ultra Light
The Osprey – Ultra Light packing cubes are a great choice for anyone needing the most lightweight and durable organization. This set of three packing cubes weighs about 2.5 ounces, making them less than half the weight of all the other packing cubes we tested that are similar in size and shape.
The Osprey – Ultra Light cubes are made from a moisture-resistant, ripstop polyester that creates a long-lasting product that doesn’t tear. While some people didn’t like the slippery material or single zipper (possibly done to reduce the weight), we didn’t have an issue with either of these features. We tested the fabric and zippers by trying to overstuff the largest bag with clothing and were content to find they zipped easily without fear of breaking.Read more…
The three sizes are relatively small compared to the other sets we tested, so this is made for people who pack light. Due to the lightweight feature, we think these packing cubes are ideal for ultra-lightweight backpackers or travelers who prioritize keeping luggage or bags lightweight.
Thule - 1 Piece Clean/Dirty
The Thule – Clean/Dirty packing cube is our upgrade pick because of its durable design and dual compartments. This bag comes in one size, 14.61 x 10.87 x 1.54 inches, and is excellent for larger-sized clothes like jeans and blouses. Using one packing cube to pack your clean and dirty clothes changed the game when we were repacking on the way home. Using this bag reduced the number of bags and cubes we packed because it fits a lot of clothes and doubled as its laundry bag.
We also appreciate that this packing cube is also bluesign® approved, which means this product meets specific environmental sustainability and social responsibility criteria. Thule (pronounced “too-lee”) also offers a lifetime product warranty, so we don’t have to worry about future issues.Read more…
Even though it’s pricier than our other packing cubes, we think it’s worth the price for a durable bag that helped reduce the number of cubes we used. We recommend this Thule bag for any traveler who prefers a simple and well-made organizer that offers different packing options with its built-in divider.
HiBag - 12 Pack Compression Roll
HiBag – Compression Roll bags help reduce the space your clothes take up by manually pushing out excess air in the bag. Each bag is made up of thick, durable plastic and seals with a double zipper, similar to a big Ziploc bag. Each bag is labeled with instructions and a max fill line, so you know how to compress the bag properly. They come in two sets, one for carry-on bags and another for checked-in luggage.
We initially thought the HiBag – Compression Roll bags would be super helpful for colder or longer trips, but after using them a few times, we didn’t like that they made all of our clothes wrinkled. While this self-vacuuming bag allowed us to bring more clothes into our luggage, we noticed that we tended to overpack and made our luggage overweight–something you need to be mindful of while packing.Read more…
This is a better option for those who need to compress many bulky clothes for a winter trip, like snowboarding or skiing. However, we recommend immediately removing the clothes from the bags once you land, or you may have to iron everything in the bag.
Gonex - 4 Piece Compression Cubes
The Gonex – Compression Cubes were the first packing cubes we tested two years ago, and they have held up reasonably well for an affordable price. These cubes are waterproof, machine washable, and compressed to a smaller size. While these are durable packing cubes, we still had some issues using them.
One critique we had with the Gonex cubes was that the lid only opens halfway, which can be a little annoying putting clothes in and out. When you’re also compressing the cube, the zipper would sometimes get stuck. We also didn’t like how the shape of the cubes caused lumpy packing cubes once we compressed the bags. This made efficiently packing the cubes in the luggage trickier. While these bags have some issues, this is a decent compression cube set because it’s durable, comes in four sizes, and is under $30.
Away - 4 Piece Packing Cubes (not recommended)
We were excited to try out the Away – Packing Cubes because we liked their other products, like luggage and travel jewelry cases. The simplistic design features a mesh front and zippers that open completely. However, we quickly found this $45 set of four packing cubes to be lackluster in the material.
The nylon material of this packing cube is water-resistant, but the front mesh makes this status useless. Also, the structure of the cubes is quite flimsy, and you need to almost over-stuff the cube to keep the shape. Away also does not give any instruction on washing the cubes either, so we assume these are handwash only.Read more…
While aesthetically pleasing, especially if you have to match Away luggage or an Away travel jewelry case, we wouldn’t recommend this set because it’s more expensive and less durable feeling than other sets we’ve tested at more affordable prices.
The Lean Travel – Compression Packing Cubes provided the most structure; however, they were also the heaviest and most cumbersome to pack. This set comes with three pairs of six packing cubes in varying sizes. Unfortunately, we found all the sizes bulky inside our checked luggage.
Within the first moments of using the Lean Travel cubes, we noticed that the zippers weren’t as smooth and would get stuck on the rigid piping, whether full or empty. We did like that it compressed our clothing and kept the shape of the cube reasonably well, but we didn’t appreciate how much room it took up our luggage or the added weight.Read more…
This set was on the more expensive end at $45 for a set of six. However, we wouldn’t recommend them because you can find better compression packing cubes that keep their structure at the same price point.
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Bryan Vu, Editor
Bryan is our cooking and kitchen expert, with more than 15 years of experience of cooking and testing kitchen products. When outside of the kitchen, he enjoys woodworking, photography, videography and figuring out how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. He thoroughly enjoys discovering the best, whether it’s ingredients or equipment, and finding products that can stand the rigors of daily use.