Are Packing Cubes Worth It?

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I’ve never been much of a shopper — I’m a skeptic and a minimalist, refusing to spend money on gear unless it’s absolutely necessary.  After all, $20 here or there adds up and I’d rather have cash for an extra weekend getaway.  So you ought to believe me when I admit I asked myself are packing cubes worth it.

It was seven years ago when I first asked myself that question.  I ended up taking the plunge and ordering a variety of sizes and colors. Today, I can’t imagine packing without them.

Are packing cubes worth the money?
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What Are Packing Cubes Used For?

Travelers who are always on the go need a way to organize your suitcase.  I change hotels every night or two, which means a lot of packing and unpacking along the way.  Packing cubes keep everything in their place when you don’t have time to mess with hotel dressers or closets.  Knowing where everything is can be a huge time-saver (and stress-saver) and there’s no better way to keep track of your stuff than packing cubes.

Additionally, I love that packing cubes keep things discretely contained.  I just had my bag flagged for extra security when flying into Mexico.  As someone rifled through my suitcase, I was happy that my unmentionables were somewhat masked by the mesh of my travel packing cubes rather than being on display for the whole world to see.

As an extra benefit, packing cubes somewhat compress your clothing so it’s just a touch easier to pack carry-on only.  They don’t work as well as compression sacks, but they are easier to use and much cheaper.  Even though I have a compression bag at home, I rarely use it.

3 Piece Set of eBags Packing Cubes - in case you're wondering are packing cubes worth it?
Three Piece Set of eBags Packing Cubes

What Are the Best Packing Cubes to Buy?

My favorites are eBags packing cubes.  I love the variety of colors and sizes to choose from, which means I always have the perfect bag for my items. 

In my opinion, medium cubes are the best for clothing, while small or slim packing cubes work best for most other categories.  The large ones are practically useless at keeping things organized — they have so much storage space, you can’t separate items.

Each packing cube has a double zipper pull, which remains easy to zip and unzip even if when they’re overstuffed.  They come with mesh tops so you can see in to find the cube you need quickly. Carrying handles make them easy to pull out of a suitcase or carry them separately. eBags packing cubes are also machine-washable (mine look new even after dozens of trips).

up close look at ebags packing cubes, the best packing cubes for carry on travel
The details make a difference and these zippers work without snagging your clothes!

Eagle Creek Pack-It cubes are okay, but they’re a bit stiff.  That makes them a touch harder to pack or shape to the contents inside.  My sister has Amazon packing cubes, which are a lower cost but also lower quality.  They work okay for her and the amount of travel she does, but look like they’ll fall apart eventually.  If you travel all the time, it’s better to get better quality upfront.

Side Note: I have ONE eBags ultralight packing cube and I don’t like it at all.  The zippers are clumsy and I’m always worried that I’m going to rip the material.  Sorry, but it’s not an upgrade despite the high pricepoint! Stick to the original.

How to Organize Your Suitcase With Packing Cubes

On trips where I’m moving around every night, I pack each days’ clothing in a separate, small packing cube so everything else remains untouched and organized until I need it.

If I’m sticking around somewhere a few days, I organize by type of item, such as all socks in a small cube and all shirts in a medium cube.  Different color cubes help me find things quickly.  No matter what, I organize my bag using packing cubes so I can pull out as little as possible when I need something.

What are packing cubes used for? Organizing backpacks like this one.
Just another backpack on the outside…
inside look at backpack filled with packing cubes to organize your suitcase
Loaded with packing cubes on the inside

Best Packing Cubes for Carry On Travel: What Size Do You Need?

With all those sizes, it can be overwhelming choosing which to buy.

eBags offers packing cubes in six different sizes:

Regular Packing Cubes:

  • Small cube dimensions: 11″ x 6.75″ x 3″
  • Medium cube dimensions: 13.75″ x 9.75″ x 3″
  • Large cube dimensions: 17.5″ x 12.75″ x 3.25″

Slim Packing Cubes:

  • Small cube dimensions: 6.5″ x 5″ x 2.75″
  • Medium cube dimensions: 10″ x 5″ x 2.75″
  • Large cube dimensions: 14″ x 5″ x 2.75″

For what it’s worth, two medium cubes take up almost exactly half of a carry-on suitcase. Fill those with clothes and you’ll still have half a suitcase for shoes, first aid kits, toiletries, or anything else you’re packing. The small and slim cubes work great to wrangle up those loose items.

what are the best packing cubes to buy? a look at 3 ebags packing cubes
Comparing packing cube sizes: Red is medium, blue is small, and green is slim

I’ll be honest: I’ve only found one practical use for the large cubes since they take up nearly half my suitcase.  I throw an empty large cube into my suitcase at the beginning of the trip and collect dirty laundry until it fills up, keeping the rest of my clothes perfectly separated.

Packing Cubes vs Ziploc Bags

It’s always tempting to use something you have rather than buying something new — I know.  But Ziploc bags were never designed for packing and there’s really no comparison (especially if you’re a frequent traveler.)

Packing cubes:

  • are 3 dimensional, rather than having 2 flat seams like Ziplocs, which means you have more usable space
  • have durable zippers all the way around instead of one zipper at top, so you can get at things faster
  • are sturdy and won’t rip partway through a trip
  • are ventilated so that a little sweat won’t build up to funky odors as days go by
  • come in a block shape that helps you arrange them together in your suitcase
  • are made from fabric that won’t slip if you stack cubes on a shelf
  • are built for years of use instead of being made from disposable plastic

Where to Buy Packing Cubes

I buy mine right from Amazon in order to get fast, free shipping with Prime.  They usually have the same price as buying from eBags but you’ll save in the long run by not paying shipping separately.  The best prices are typically for larger sets, which is actually perfect.  On average, I use 4-6 packing cubes on every trip (depending on the length of the trip) and my husband needs a few of his own.

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eBags 6-Piece Value Set
★sightDOING Pick★

So are packing cubes worth it?  Weigh in with your opinion in the comments!

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This post contains affiliate links, which support this site if you make a purchase.  I’ve been using eBags for longer than I even knew affiliate partnerships existed — so rest assured, these are great travel products.

20 thoughts on “Are Packing Cubes Worth It?”

  1. I totally agree about the large packing cube! I had not found a use for it, i will try out using it for laundry, nice tip! Packing cubes have been a recent additon to my travel pack & its been wonderful! It helps to regulate the amount of things i pack & to keep track of items, especially in hostels!

    I find, i can fit all of my clothes into the medium & small that come in the set of 3 (aside from under garments, that fit into the inside mesh pocket of my pack). FYI, I love my pack (Osprey Porter 46).

  2. I had the eBags one before but then they broke. Ended up getting another set from TravelMore and I really love them. Extremely high quality and lifetime warranty.

  3. Packing cubes are great but if you are thinking about getting them, from my experience traveling for 1 year around the world, buy the cubes that have 2 compartments to keep your clean and dirty clothes separated when traveling. Otherwise your dirty clothes will be compressed with your clean ones. I use this dual sided cube cube set from Amazon and I highly recommend it.

    1. @Michelle, I’ve never seen those before; thanks for sharing! I actually bring an empty large cube to use for dirty clothes and it has worked out really well for me.

  4. Could you specify which cubes of which size you were able to fit into the Mother Lode pack? Trying to figure out which sets of packing cubes to buy! Thanks!

    1. @Kelly, One large packing cube is roughly the same size as the Motherlode Jr (you can probably stack two deep). I usually use one medium + 2 smalls + some slim cubes + some other small bags (like plastic bags with liquid toiletries).

  5. I use the large cube for long or capri lenght pants. Also, during a two week trip, my husband packed eight polo shirts into a large cube. They fit perfectly when arranged in two stacks.

    1. @Anna, I’m guessing you could actually pack a lot more than 8 polos in a large cube – they really compress and zip to hold a lot by squeezing the air and space from between shirts.

  6. Thanks Becky. Good summary. I, too, agree about the large cube. I have used it a few times but find it’s almost never full, and when it is, it’s got a mixture of stuff in it defeating the purpose.

    My cubes are the Rick Steves’ ones. The medium one is perfect for all my tops. Then I bought the long slim cubes from eBags. I can’t really incorporate them into my packing scheme of a carry-on roller bag.

    The problem I always have is shoes. I pack socks and dirty underwear in them, so that means not using a cube for them, but when wearing the shoes the contents are loose and have to be repacked.

    While I use cubes, I do feel that they rob me of the ability to use all the nooks and crannies, jigsaw style, of the bag. But using all the nooks and crannies necessitates a major unpack and repack. It’s a six of one type of situation.

    1. @Pamela, I actually forgot Rick Steve’s made packing cubes. You’re obviously a frequent traveler; how have they held up?

      I don’t do the jigsaw approach for the same reason as you – it takes time for each repack. So I tend to do the best I can with the cubes I have, even if it means I lost a little space and need to do laundry partway through the trip.

      The exception to this was my camping trip in Alaska over the summer…with all my gear, I had no choice but to use the nooks and crannies if I was going to fit it all in one backpack.

  7. Bought the 3 pack from ebags soley for the bonus points. Planned to toss them but figured I’ll give them a try- whoa! they’re awesome. Who the heck knew? They really really make packing easy and keep my things organized.
    Love love love them!

    1. @Stephanie, the disposable plastic makes me cringe a little! But in reality, the shape of packing cubes alone is a huge advantage since they have a little height to them (3D, compared to a ziploc with two flat seams which means stuffing them makes it prone to tearing). You’ll fit more inside and since they are all the same shape, they are much easier to stack and pack.

      1. What sizes would you recommend for a single traveler, me, just going to the Caribbean for five days with small clothes meaning shorts capris bathing suits… if I travel once a year that would be a lot and it’s always just me

      2. @Debbie, A standard carry-on suitcase fits 4 medium cubes perfectly (or 8 small). I like different sizes for different items — medium for clothes, small for things like underwear, and slim for things like electronics. That’s why I recommend the 6-piece assorted set. You might not use all 6 on each trip but I bet you use at least 4 of them (and might want something different on the next trip).

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