The many minimalists among us will assert that there is really only one right way to pack a carry-on bag: efficiently. Thus, one travel accessory most Gear Patrol staffers won’t hit the road without is packing cubes.
These mini organizational tools are a low-lift way to keep your bag tidy. Whether you’re packing a hard-sided roller, a duffel or a rugged backpack, packing cubes streamline the process, so you never have to worry if you packed your extra pair of socks, undies or favorite jacket.
So as the world begins to open back up, here are several highly recommended options that will keep your gear organized and easy to access no matter how long your trip is.
Peak Design has won over crowds of photographers with its innovative camera accessories and bags. It’s no surprise that, when it launched a travel collection, that also turned out to be incredible. The Travel Backpack anchors the line, but the under-the-radar winner might be the Packing Cubes. They’re available in two sizes, small and medium, expand and contract with clever zippers to accommodate more or less stuff and include a second compartment for dirties that gets bigger as the ratio of clean to dirty changes. One other feature we love is the opening mechanism: it uses two zippers on separate tracks divided by a tab you simply pull up for fast access.
These strategically structured cubes from one of our favorite wheeled carry-on luggage brands fit perfectly in Away's luggage — and presumably fit pretty well into any standard-size rolling carry-on. The waterproof nylon exterior keeps clothes free from dust and the mesh top allows you to see everything you packed, so you’re not scrambling to find that one button-up you need for the rehearsal dinner. The cubes come in nine colors, and while this is the priciest option here, you're getting a total of six cubes, the most of any package deal on this list.
You don’t garner more than 13,000 five-star ratings on Amazon without making something people can count on. And that’s what you get with the Shacke Pak, four durable, differently sized nylon cubes with mesh windows for visibility and x-shaped reinforcements to keep them from squishing or folding during travel — plus a laundry sack for stashing dirty clothes. In short, quite a lot of value for the price.
Most Camp-Friendly Cubes
Launched on Kickstarter a couple years back, Pika makes cubes that are light, tough and smart. This backcountry-friendly trio features a small cube for toiletries, a medium cube for clothes and a large cube for bigger items. They’re all made from synthetic 70-denier nylon interwoven fabric, which is both durable and water resistant. Best part: the two larger cubes convert into backpacks thanks to attachment points and included straps, so you don’t have to lug an extra bag for day hikes and other adventures.
Best Budget-Conscious Cubes
These packing cubes come in three sizes and are made from techlite diamond nylon. Each has a self-healing zipper, so the bag is guaranteed for its lifetime, which is pretty hard to beat. Mesh top panels remind you what's in each cube, and multiple color options allow you to coordinate with your carry-on, if that's how you roll.
Most Stashable Cubes
Eagle Creek's water-repellent ripstop nylon bags come in three sizes, giving you options for properly organizing your stuff. The cubes are super light (a total of 2.2 ounces for all three) and have discreet little handles, making it a breeze to move everything from your suitcase to a drawer. A double zipper system similar to Peak Design's makes compression a snap, making these cubes a stellar choice for extended trips.
Best Hanging Cube
This ultralight hanging organizer from Osprey comes in two colors and is as tough as the brand’s renowned backpacks. The three-tiered bag will fit all of your little items — from underwear to socks to watches and cufflinks. Tuck your chargers into the two middle mesh pockets and zip up anything important, like your passport or credit cards. Best of all, it weighs just 4.1-ounces.
Most User-Friendly Cubes
Pretty much all of your travel needs can be addressed with a bag or accessory from Flight 001. The Spacepak line compresses up to two weeks of clothes into small compartments that then easily fit into your bag. With this set, you get cubes for clothes, shoes and undies and toiletries. Each cube boasts unique features for accommodating these different types of luggage — and the bright, distinct hues help you remember what's what.
Most Detail-Oriented Cubes
Made of ripstop nylon with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating, REI’s three-cube set is as sturdy and reliable as they come. If you’re the fastidious type, the mesh windows are for placing cards listing each cube’s contents. These cubes also feature a compression system similar to that of Peak Design and Eagle Creek, plus user-friendly top and side handles.