The Best Packing Cubes for Traveling

Use these top-rated organizers to shore up suitcase space and keep your essentials easily within reach.

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August 19, 2021

Here at HGTV, we’re all about maximizing the space you have to its full potential, from refrigerator hacks to utility closet storage. And we take that same state of mind when we travel. After all, a suitcase is just empty square footage to organize, and packing cubes make that task a breeze. We’ve rounded up our favorite packing cubes for every type of travel, from lightweight compression cubes you can throw in a camping backpack to sturdy shoe cubes that will keep fancy heels from getting squished to a nifty cube that promises to keep button-down shirts wrinkle-free. Check out our top picks below and see which packing cubes are best for your next trip.

What to Look for When Shopping for Packing Cubes

In the world of packing, there are a couple of different methods travel pros swear by, but the cube method is likely the most popular as it saves space and keeps items organized. Technically, rolling all of your clothing items like The KonMari Method will save the most space, but then you just have a suitcase stuffed with cloth logs that make finding one specific shirt a lot more difficult. However, if you have packing cubes, you can still roll clothing, but it’s contained in a handy pouch. Or you can lay items flat in a cube, like in a dresser drawer. I find that this is the best way to keep items even silk blouses — mostly wrinkle-free upon arrival.

Another great thing about packing cubes is that they come in tons of different materials. Lightweight mesh is best for packing clothes so you can see through the pouch and know exactly which outfit is where, but there are also water-resistant nylon packing cubes perfect for camping and road trips. If you’re a packing cube newbie, the first thing to know is that not everything should go in a packing cube. I don’t recommend using packing cubes for toiletries. Instead, you want a good toiletry bag. But for clothing and even shoes, packing cubes are clutch. Size is another factor to consider when shopping for packing cubes. Most sets are designed for larger checked luggage, so, if you’re Team Carry-On, make sure the packing cubes aren’t wider than your suitcase. Otherwise, you’ll end up with one large packing cube inside your bag, completely defeating the purpose.

Best Packing Cube Overall

If you want to try packing cubes without committing to a big set, The Inside Packing Cubes from AWAY are a great place to start. (The luggage company offers a 100-day, no-questions-asked trial period with free returns.) The basic set of four features a good variety of different sizes so you can pack shirts, pants, underwear, socks and more. Plus, the set comes in a series of the same colors that match AWAY's iconic bags. These also work well in both carry-on and checked luggage.

Best Packing Cube Set

For packing pros who already know the benefits of cubes, level up with this five-piece system from Calpak. Unlike other packing cubes of the same size and price, these feature a seriously handy label sleeve for ultimate organization. As a Virgo, I find this extra little label incredibly satisfying. It's perfect for organizing outfits by day or activity and makes specific clothing easy to find.

Best Compression Packing Cube

By nature, cubes create space in a suitcase by compressing items in the cube. However, there are packing cubes specifically designed to compress as much space as possible with extra zippers that squeeze the cube even tighter. This method does wrinkle clothes, but if you're a chronic over-packer and you know you'll iron your shirts anyway, compression cubes could be just what you need. Paravel's Compression Cubes come with glowing reviews from fans who use them on vacation and in their closets at home. These cubes also make a great gift as you can personalize them with a monogram or a word up to nine letters.

Best Vacuum-Sealed Bag

For even more space-saving compression, you could opt for a vacuum-sealed bag instead of a cube. There are so many options for these and I tend to favor the pump-activated, vacuum-sealed bags over the manual roll-out bags. Because here's a little budget secret: You could do the same thing with a gallon-size freezer bag. However, these vacuum-sealed bags from Amazon Basics come with a pump to squeeze out all the air in each bag. And this set comes in multiple sizes for carry-on and checked luggage.

Best Tech Packing Cube

If your carry-on has more tech than clothes, you can still use the packing cube method. But you'll want more sturdy cubes with padding instead of the flimsy mesh ones. Peak Design has a great tech case with folio-style pockets for all kinds of cords, chargers and smaller tech. And their camera cube is the perfect way to ensure larger tech such as camera lenses and iPads are secure and don't bump up against other items.

Best Wrinkle-Free Packing Cube

Basic mesh packing cubes keep clothes surprisingly, mostly wrinkle-free. But I've noticed that maxi dresses and collared shirts tend to still get wrinkled in transit. Enter the Eagle Creek Pack-It Garment Folder. This cube opens up like an envelope and features compression wings that keep up to 12 shirts or slacks perfectly in place and magically wrinkle-free.

Best Packing Cube for Shoes

Packing cubes aren't just for clothes. They're great at protecting fancy shoes and white sneakers from scratches or getting squished. But instead of using a regular cube on shoes, invest in a shoe-specific cube such as The Shoe Cube from AWAY. It's more sturdy than shoe bags and The Small Shoe Cube can fit up to a Women’s US size 11 and Men’s US size 9.5.

Best Lightweight Packing Cube

Packing cubes come in handy for backpacking and camping, too. It's a great way to ensure that your backup hiking socks stay protected from rain or a water bottle spilling in your pack. And cubes help compress extra jackets, gloves and even camping pillows. But for all of the space-saving benefits, you don't need the extra weight in your day pack. Eagle Creek's Pack-it Specter Cube Set is the best of both worlds. These cubes are super lightweight, water-resistant and perfect for a backpack or sports bag.

Most Stylish Packing Cubes

Did you know that Baggu makes packing cubes? Yes! The company famous for its sustainable grocery bags has recently expanded to accessories including toiletry bags, pouches and packing cube sets in the same fun and funky prints as their grocery bags. And, yes, these are made with the same recycled ripstop nylon, too, which means they're machine washable!

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