A Guide to Using Packing Cubes

Packing cubes come in all shapes and sizes, but what is the best way to use them? In this article we’ll share a packing strategy, tips and tricks and go through some of our favorite packing cubes to get you started. #
Packing cubes

Regardless of whether you are bringing a small backpack for a day trip, compiling your necessities into a carry-on while out on business, or stuffing your life into your suitcase as you embark on an overseas tour around the world—packing can be a disorganized and tedious process. Luckily, there is an innovative and practical solution to this endeavor: packing cubes. 

Packing cubes can make your packing experience an efficient, practical, and effortless process. They allow you to organize your luggage or day bag so you can access everything you need quickly and without having to dig through other belongings. 

You are probably curious about how to make the most out of packing cubes and the potential they have for saving room in your bag. Don’t worry; we have created a thorough guide to take you through everything you need to know about packing cubes and implementing them in your packing process

What Are Packing Cubes?

So what exactly are packing cubes? They are generally rectangular-shaped bags that are smaller than the luggage or suitcase they are being used for, which allow you to compartmentalize the items you are storing into different sections to maintain structure and organization in your bag. 

An excellent way to approach using packing cubes in your bag is to think about the layout of your home. It’s highly doubtful that you have every item in your house in a gigantic, disorganized, mountainous pile scattered at the center of your living room floor. You likely keep your shirts in your drawer, your jackets hanging in your closet, and your toothbrush in the bathroom.

packing cubes for travel
By using packing cubes, you easily organize your items and avoid messy luggage.

Packing cubes essentially create this same structure and organization for your bag. Instead of chucking and cramming all your travel essentials into your luggage and turning your belongings into a chaotic mess, packing cubes solve this puzzle for you, so you are not losing your sanity when it’s time to open and sort through your stuff. 

Choosing the Right Packing Cubes to Use

Packing cubes will vary in features, material, and size, which are key factors to keep in mind when considering a purchase for your next trip. 

Packing Cube Features

Generally, standard packing cubes use zippers to seal their contents to maximize their storage capacity and ultimately give you the luxury of having additional space in your bag.

compression packing cubes
If you want to minimize the size of your luggage while packing, use compression packing cubes and get rid of excess air.

However, you’ll notice as you shop for packing cubes that there are various kinds, each with different features that go beyond the basic zipper. Below are the few types of packing cubes available and the benefits they come with:

  • Compression Packing Cubes: The use of compression in packing cube technology offers the versatility and efficiency to make the most out of your bag’s space and the packing cube itself. So, if you’ve got some extra space in your packing cube and don’t want the additional material to take up room in your bag, compress the cube to optimize storage. 
  • See-Through Packing Cubes: Owners of see-through cubes can enjoy the comfort and practicality of seeing exactly what is in each packing cube compartment. This is particularly handy when you want to unpack just a specific item or two without needing to sort and take out everything in the cube.
  • Double-Zipper Packing Cubes: If you have a zipper on each end of your cube, you can easily take belongings out of either end when unpacking, allowing you to maintain order in your packing system. This feature also enables a more intricate organization of your bag, as you can allocate certain items to each side of your cube. 
  • Waterproof Packing Cubes: Your bag may not be waterproof, but that doesn’t mean your things have to get wet. Some packing cubes on the market are made with waterproof material, which is great if you love to spend time in the outdoors or have delicate items you want to protect from moisture, such as electronics.

It’s essential to consider where you plan on going and how you plan on using your packing cube to determine what features you want it to have. You may just need a basic set-up or a packing cube that is more complex if your travel needs require versatility.

Packing Cube Size

Other factors to keep in mind when considering your packing cube choice are your luggage’s size and what you plan on storing in your cube. 

  • Before purchasing a packing cube, be sure to measure your bag’s dimensions to ensure you are optimizing your pack and buying cubes that will actually fit.
  • If you have specific items you want to store, weighing in their dimensions will help give you an idea of which size packing cubes you should use. 
travel bag dimensions
To select the right packing cube size, consider the dimensions of your bag first.

These days, you can find an assortment of sizes and styles that will meet the use and needs of just about everyone. These are the typical dimensions you will see for packing cubes on the market:

11″ x 6.75″ x 4″13.75 x 9.75 x 413.75″ x 12.75″ x 4″17.5″ x 12.75″ x 4″

Note: While these are the general dimensions for the referenced sizes, it’s important to note that some brands can differ in how they allocate measurements. For example, for some brands, a small is a medium, or a medium is a large, and vice-versa. Check with the manufacturer for specific information regarding their packing cube sizes. 

Alternatively, you can also buy a set of cubes, which will include various sizes, offering you the versatility to use the appropriate cube for each group of items as needed.

Packing Cube Materials

When hunting down the right packing cube for your bag, the cube’s material can be a significant deciding factor. The material will determine your cube’s overall quality and functionality while also affecting the price tag. 

packing cube materials
Three of the most popular packing cube materials are polyester, nylon, and silnylon.

Here’s a look at the materials packing cubes are generally made with:

  • Polyester: If you are looking for a straightforward, budget option, polyester will get the job done; this is the affordable approach for your packing if you plan on doing light and casual traveling.
  • Nylon: Whether you are looking for practical longevity in your packing cube or the durability to withstand years of wear and tear on your travels, nylon is the option. Additionally, if minimizing weight is a factor, you will find that nylon is the lightest material for packing cubes available.
  • SilNylon: Packing cubes advertised with this material feature a nylon fabric that has been infused with silicon; this means you can count on water resistance for your belongings, which benefits many rugged travelers and backpackers.

Choosing the right material for your packing cube is often a deal-breaker for travelers, as most cubes are designed for a specific purpose, which can make all the difference in how effective it will be for your ultimate travel needs. 

How to Pack Your Packing Cubes

How you pack your packing cubes will be determined by the type of traveler you are. Are you packing a day bag to hit the beach, or are you loading up a giant suitcase for your month-long trip overseas? 

Packing Cubes for Day Trips

If you are out for the day, your packing cube selection does not have to be overly complicated, as you are likely using a simple, small backpack for storage. Regardless, developing a cube system in your pack can save you the hassle of dealing with a cluttered bag on your trip. 

day trips to the beach
Small and medium sized packing cubes made of nylon are the best options for day trips to the beach.

This all starts by choosing the appropriate type of packing cube:

  • We recommend using a small to medium set of packing cubes to organize your pack for a casual day out. This packing cube set from Amazon Basics is a great option that is affordable and practical for most casual trips. It’s ideal for short trips to the park or other short-distance destinations.
  • If your day trip entails hiking or other outdoor activities such as going to the beach, you might want to consider packing cubes made of nylon. While hiking, the contents of your bag get shuffled and pushed together far more than a stroll through your local park, which is why a nylon fabric cube will be a more reliable option for your day trip. It can also keep debris out of your belongings. 

When it comes to actually packing your day bag, try to store heavier items in a packing cube that will stay at the bottom of your bag. This will help with weight balance and prevent your cubes from moving around too much while you’re on the go. 

Packing Cubes for Short Trips

When you’re packing for a business trip or short-term vacation, you will likely be using a carry-on for your trip. Luckily, having a well-organized system of cubes makes packing and unpacking your belongings a breeze.

short trips small packing cubes
For short trips, you should get different sized packing cubes, each for a particular category of clothes or items.

The most prominent thing in your carry-on will likely be clothes, which is why investing in a set of packing cubes that range in size is an advantageous approach to maintaining organization in your bag.

  • XS Packing Cube: An XS size packing cube is suitable for organizing items that are very small in size and often have no designated space in your bag, such as a shaver, phone chargers, basic cosmetics, jewelry, and toiletries. 
  • Small Packing Cube: A small packing cube is perfect for storing your small clothing items such as socks and underwear.
  • Medium Packing Cube: Light clothing options such as T-shirts, shorts, and skirts will fit in a medium-sized cube.
  • Large Packing Cube: This is where you can store heavier clothing items such as jeans, sweaters, and jackets.

Designating each size packing cube to a specific category of clothes will not only organize your carry-on but will likely create space in your bag for additional travel items that wouldn’t fit before.

If you are a carry-on-traveler out on a short trip and need to optimize your pack for hardware equipment (diving equipment, computer/other electronics) outside of clothing, we have found the Eagle Creek Specter Cube to be among the best on the market for having versatility in combining several of the clothing items mentioned above into one cube.

Combining a couple of versatile cubes like this may be all you need to maintain an organized and efficient packing system. From there, arrange your packed clothes according to the outfit, storing a complete set in each cube. This will make it easier for you to pull out your clothes for the day without having to dig through your other cubes to get dressed. 

Packing Cubes for Long Trips or Going Abroad

There is nothing more tedious on vacation than dealing with packing and unpacking your giant, jumbled mess of a suitcase. With that said, there is no better place for packing cubes to be used than on long trips or going abroad.

For backpack and luggage storage, developing a more intricate and complex packing cube system is highly advisable to make the most out of free space—this is where large packing cube sets come in handy. As a general rule of thumb for long-term travel, we recommend opting for nylon compression packing cubes. 

large sized packing cubes
If you are getting ready for a long trip, you should organize your belongings using different-sized packing cubes.

You will want to make the most out of your space, so compressing your clothing items is going to be a must if you have got a lot of gear with you. Also, the wear and tear that comes with long-term travel can be strenuous on your packing cubes and their contents, which is why a durable material like nylon is highly advisable.

You can use a variety pack of packing cubes in several ways to prepare for a long or faraway trip:

Packing Clothing

The clothing items you pack can follow a relatively similar system to the one mentioned above for a carry-on bag, but factor in that you will likely have more clothing items. 

To keep your system practical, consider the type of trip you are going on and incorporate as many additional packing cubes as needed for your trip. An excellent way to approach this is to use cube size according to the climate of your destination: 

  • Cold Weather – Heavier clothes, larger cubes
  • Warm Weather – Lighter, thinner clothes, small to medium cubes

Packing Electronic Devices

If you have got electronics in your luggage, you will want to keep moisture out at all costs, which is why investing in a SilNylon cube is a no-brainer. 

Regardless of whether you plan on getting stuck in the rain or not, some climates, such as tropical, have a lot of humidity in the air that will damage your electronics. Proper storage in a waterproof packing cube may be the protective agent needed in keeping your sensitive devices safe on your trip. 

Packing Other Belongings

Just as with clothing, when traveling for a more extended period, you can expect to find miscellaneous items (sunscreen, books, toiletries, nick-nacks, etc.) to creep into your bag and take up space. 

Having an additional cube or two for these random artifacts is highly recommended for maintaining an orderly system in your luggage—even if it means packing an empty cube as a backup for your trip.

Other Tips for Using Packing Cubes 

We have covered the general uses of packing cubes, but their potential and practicality do not end there. There are loads of outside the box methods that travelers implement into their system to save themselves time and stress. 

We have got some essential tips and strategies for you to take full advantage of on your travels—big and small. 

Separate Dirty Laundry

Regardless of whether you have packed for a few days or a few weeks, your clothes will get dirty, and if you aren’t prepared to hit a laundromat regularly, you will likely end up stuffing your dirty clothes in with the rest of your clean ones.

clean and fresh laundry
To keep your clothes clean and fresh, use a separate packing cube for dirty laundry.

An excellent way to keep all your clothes fresh is to designate one of your packing cubes to be your official “laundry cube” containing all of your dirty clothes. This way, your bag and its clean contents always stay clean. This is another situation where traveling with an extra packing cube pays off.

Alternatively, if you are out on a shorter trip, you can allocate full outfits to each of your cubes and have multiple laundry bags.

Stay Organized

It’s easy to lose track of your pack’s cube system as your trip gains momentum. Keeping a well-structured system and a certain level of discipline can play a significant role in your pack staying neatly arranged. 

color-coded packing cubes
Putting clothes and other items into color-coded packing cubes will help you stay organized during and after your trip.

Here are some strategies you can implement to stay organized:

  • Give yourself time to pack:  Packing systems are prone to falling apart if we do so in a rush. Instead of waiting until the last minute before your departure to start cramming your packing cubes and your bag, do it with an hour or two to spare – or even ideally the night before.
  • Make a list: So, you’ve got your intricate system of packing cubes organized with all your belongings for your trip, but then you forget where you put your favorite shirt for your dinner outing.  Making a written list of your system and perhaps even labeling each packing cube is a great way to stay on top of your bag’s contents—especially for backpacks and luggage.
  • Color-code your cubes: Having a color-coded cubes system is a great way to stay on top of your item’s designated locations, making packing and unpacking much more practical and efficient.
  • Color contrast: To keep your packing system easy on the eyes, we advise contrasting the color of your bag’s interior to that of your packing cubes. For example, if your bag’s interior is dark in color, choose a bright colored pack to make the separation clearer and vice-versa.
  • Label your cubes: To keep your packing cubes organized, it helps to add a small label to your cubes so you can quickly determine the contents of each one. It’s best to have it where you will first lay eyes on the cubes first, like the top surface if they are laid flat in a suitcase. 

These are just a handful of ways to keep your pack organized. The best way to find out which ones work best for you is to observe your own packing habits and find a way to implement a cube to resolve them. 

Invest in a Quality Packing Cube

Regardless of how often you use your packing cubes, paying a little extra to purchase a quality cube can make all the difference on your trip and how much you get out of your product in the long run.

Keep these factors in mind when considering your purchase:

  • Quality zipper:  There is nothing worse than having the zipper of your packing cube break in the middle of your trip – completely disorganizing your system and rendering your product useless. Because a zipper is one of the first things to go on a packing cube, buy from a well-reputed brand to ensure quality.
  • Versatile features: While you may have most of your packing cube needs set out in your mind, you never know when they will come in handy. Having a cube with the versatility to be compressed and weathered will not hurt its functionality with practical use. 
  • Half-opening cubes: When you buy a packing cube, it will likely be one that either fully un-zips or only half un-zips. If you want to make the most of your storage space, we have found that cubes that only half un-zip get the job done better. This packing cube style allows you to cram more belongings inside without the hassle of having to get items stuck in your zipper as you try to close your cube.

Roll Your Clothes

It can be quite frustrating to arrive somewhere on business or vacation to find your clothes wrinkly and unpresentable. 

Forget using your hotel’s iron to remove creases from your clothes. When packing your items into your packing cubes, roll them up snug to avoid wrinkles. This method also helps you make the most out of the space in both your cubes and your overall bag.

roll up your clothes before putting them into a packing cube
To avoid wrinkles, always roll up your clothes before putting them into a packing cube.

Alternative Uses for Packing Cubes

Even if you are not traveling, it doesn’t mean that you have to leave your packing cubes lying around without a purpose. Often, it is easy to let our living space to get as cluttered as our travel bags. These versatile products are perfect for implementing in storing and organizing things within your home.

Here are some of the ways packing cube owners use their cubes at home to stay tidy:

  1. Electronic Devices: We all have a disorganized mess of cables and wires lying around the house without a designated place for storage. A packing cube is a perfect place to keep them all together without the hassle of undergoing a never-ending search.
  2. Toiletries: When you open your bathroom drawers, you are likely to see a mess of toiletries that are in the right place but stored in such a chaotic manner that it is practically impossible to find the one thing you are actually looking for. Having a small packing cubes system that will help keep your bathroom essentials neatly organized will help keep things straight. 
  3. Road-Trip Kit: Instead of taking the time to pack your predictable road-trip items have a packing cube ready with all the essentials. This way, when a friend invites you to go somewhere, you are prepared in minutes.
  4. Wardrobe: Creating a system (much like with your bag) in your closet and drawers will make your wardrobe organized and efficient. Implementing packing cubes for clothes within your home will not only make finding what you want to wear easier but will also free up space you never knew you had—allowing you to have more room for more stuff. 
  5. Shoes: Shoes can be a tough thing to store—they take up a lot of room, and they lack the appeal of being kept with items you want to keep clean. Having some packing cubes to stuff your shoes in gives you the ability to store them anywhere that is practical.
  6. Official Supplies: Our work desks are full of items that are essential yet not always in use. Instead of having your office supplies scattered around your desk or drawers, keep them all in one place and avoid cluttering your workspace. 
  7. Miscellaneous Items: If you look through your home, you are sure to find tons of random things you have bought over the years that simply don’t have a proper storage place. A packing cube is an answer to keeping these random items in an allocated and organized space.

In Conclusion

In this article, we have taken you through everything you need to know about packing cubes and the factors to keep in mind when considering choosing the right type for your traveling needs.

Regardless of how you travel, investing in a set of packing cubes will help organize your bag, save you the stress and hassle of packing and unpacking while freeing up extra space in your pack in the process.

On top of that, when you’re done traveling, you can use these handy packing cubes to organize various parts of the home, from your closet to your bathroom drawers, so you’ll always have a use for them. Now that’s a worthwhile investment!

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