The many minimalists among us will assert that there is really only one right way to pack luggage: 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, they offer some modularity (so you can customize them to the suitcase you're packing) and you can even use them to compartmentalize your travel gear (keeping your travel pants separate from your dress shirts and other travel gear, for instance). Whether you’re packing a hard-sided roller, a duffel or a carry-on 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 little by little, here are several highly recommended options that will keep your gear organized and easy to access no matter how long your trip is.
As you might have expected, the best way to test packing cubes is by, well, packing them — and that's exactly what our testers did. We packed for big international trips, shorter weekend getaways and everything in-between. Throughout the process, we tested the cubes' capacity, ease of use, durability and even how well they Tetris-ed into place inside our suitcases.
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. There's also a shoe pouch that's perfect for bringing along footwear. 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.
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.
With a whopping six size options to choose from, OEE takes the cake for most versatile packing cube option. The nylon cubes are washable, water-resistant thanks to YKK zippers and have interior buckles to keep everything in its place. Use these to pack items from toiletries to clothing, and everything in between.
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.
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.
Mystery Ranch is known for its bomb-proof outdoor items, and its Zoid Packing Cubes continue that trend. Three different sizes (245 cu-in, 505 cu-in and 885 cu-in) mean you don't have to compromise your wardrobe on the go, and lightweight yet durable 210d Hitra Robic nylon and YKK zippers up the hard-working aspects of the packs. The mesh lid provides visibility into the cube, making it simple to grab and go.
This nylon packing cube does double duty with dual compartments — and it has a larger brother to expand on its versatility and organizational options. At under half a pound each, Tumi's packing cubes fit everything you need, and nothing you don't. The dual compartments make it easy to organize by clothing type, or for the cleanliness-conscious, to divide worn and unworn items.
Anybody that travels a lot can tell you that every ounce makes a difference when it comes to packing. Unfortunately, that means your packing cubes are eating up some of your bag's weight. You can limit that as much as possible, however, with these incredibly lightweight cubes from lauded pack brand Osprey. This three-pack will have you organized and ready to go without costing you too much on weight.
As rugged as it can be, nylon isn't for everyone. If you're a fan of the finer things, however, you're not out of luck when it comes to packing cubes. That's because the folks at Leatherology have made this set out of top-grain leather (in your choice of five different handsome colorways). And while they work great in-use, they also nest inside one another to make storing them easier when you're not using them.