Our staff of minimalists will assert that there is really only one right way to pack a carry-on bag. Just like our EDC, our carry-on bag has to be sleek and extremely versatile. Therefore, there is one travel accessory that many of us Gear Patrol staffers won’t travel without: packing cubes. These mini organizational tools are a low-lift way to keep your bag tidy. Whether you’re packing a hard-sided bag, a duffel or a rugged backpack, these cubes streamline that process, so you never have to worry if you packed your extra pair of socks, underwear or favorite jacket.
Here are nine highly recommended packing cubes that will keep your gear organized and easy to access no matter how long your trip is.
Peak Design Packing Cube
Editor’s Choice: 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 last year, that also turned out to be incredible. The Travel Backpack anchors the line, but the under-the-radar winner might be its Packing Cubes. They’re available in two sizes, small and medium (the medium feels a bit like a large), expand or contract with a zipper to accommodate more or less stuff and includes a second compartment for dirties. The standout feature is the opening mechanism though: it uses two zippers on separate tracks divided by a tab that you can rip open for fast access.
Eagle Creek Pack It Specter Cube Set
The water-repellant ripstop nylon bags come in three sizes — one for your jeans, one for tees and another for socks. Each lightweight (2.2-oz total for all three) bag has a top handle making it a breeze to move everything from your suitcase to a drawer. The compressive packs also make a stellar choice for any long backpacking trips or hiking excursions.
Arc’teryx Index 5+5
If you’re hiking in the Great Smokeys, but have to jump off midtrip to hit up a friend’s wedding, leave your nice outfit in this 5-liter bag so it stays fresh. It has mesh on one side, so you can remember what’s in each sub-pack, and it rolls up small if you end up taking home a bag full of dirty laundry.
AmazonBasics 4-Piece Packing Cube Set
AmazonBasics is the in-house line of goods sold at rock bottom prices from Amazon, and the packing cubes are one of the better products (we’re also partial to the rechargeable batteries). Fit all of your clothing into these small, medium, large and slim bags, so that if you have to take everything out for a security check, you don’t have to worry about fitting everything back in your suitcase. The bags are machine washable and help reduce wrinkles so you don’t look like you just stepped off a plane — even if you did.
eBags Packing 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. The ten color options allow you to color coordinate with whatever your go-to carry-on and suitcase.
Flight 001 Spacepak Set
While on the higher side of the price spectrum, Flight 001 gear tends to last forever. 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 a bag for clothes, one for underwear and a mini toiletry bag. While the bold camo-colored pack isn’t available any more, the one-pound bags in bright colors will spice up the interior of your suitcase.
Osprey Ultralight Zip Organizer
This ultralight hanging organizer from Osprey comes in two colors and is as tough as the brand’s 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’s just 4.1-ounces.
GoRuck Padded Field Pockets
Made in America, GoRuck’s padded field pockets are ideal for any traveler. They are built to work with GoRuck’s backpacks and bags, and attach with the same MOLLE webbing system that’s used by the US Armed Forces. The bundle pack works for cameras, cords or even beers. The pockets have a lifetime guarantee.
Away The Insider Packing Cubes
These structured packing cubes from one of our favorite wheeled carry-on luggage brands, Away, come in six different sizes. 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. These bags come in nine colors — the most of any options on this list.