Last summer, I attended four weddings and one bachelorette across three countries in six weeks. I never adjusted to living out of my carry-on, and I lost several small items in the process: various bobby pins, lipstick tubes, socks and, most importantly, time looking for them. This summer, with my social roster just as full, I’ll be utilizing packing cubes to keep all my travel essentials organized.
Packing cubes are exactly what they sound like: small, structured packs that fit inside your suitcase and help keep your items organized for a stress-free trip. To learn more about the best ones to shop, we spoke to travel experts and bloggers, packing aficionados and home organizing experts on their favorite packing cubes and other general packing tips.
Our top picks
- Best overall: Eagle Creek Pack-It-isolate Cube Set
- Best expert pick: Baggalini Long Compression Packing Cube
- Best budget pick: JJ Power Travel Packing Cubes Set
How we picked the best packing cubes
When it comes to packing cubes and packing in general, a small investment can go a long way. The experts we spoke to recommend keeping the following factors in mind:
- Compression: Opt for packing cubes that compress, which can create more space in your bag and make it easier to navigate through all your essentials compared to fabric options. They can save you up to three times as much space, according to Anne McAlpin, a travel expert and author of “Pack It Up! The Essential Guide To Smart Travel.”
- Quality: Pay attention to price when shopping around, experts told us — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You might see packs of six packing cubes online for $25, McAlpin says, but “a good packing cube should be $10 or $15.”
- Warranty: The experts we spoke to recommend paying attention to warranties when shopping around. Brands like Eagle Creek (which we recommend below) offer guaranteed repairs, for example.
The best packing cubes in 2023
Below, we’ve rounded up expert-recommended packing cubes and Select staff favorites to help you stay organized while traveling.
Eagle Creek Pack-It-isolate Cube Set
Packing cubes by luggage retailer Eagle Creek come recommended by multiple of our experts, including Paul Healy and Mark Barnes, who run the travel blog Anywhere We Roam, Tara Cappel, founder and CEO of travel group For The Love of Travel, and McAlpin. The brand's Pack-It Isolate Sets are “known for being some of the lightest cubes on the market,” says Healy.
The set, like all of Eagle Creek’s products, are covered by the company’s repair warranty. The cubes’ durable compression zipper (a feature McAlpin suggests looking out for) compacts clothing to fit more items in a small space, according to the brand. They’re constructed with a lightweight ripstop poly fabric and are machine-washable and water-resistant. The Pack-It Isolate set cubes can be purchased individually or as part of various-sized sets.
Baggalini Long Compression Packing Cube
This long, skinny cube is one of McAlpin’s favorite options. But don’t let its odd shape throw you off, she says: “Most people look at that long skinny cube and go ‘what is this for? I'd never use that,’ and it’s [actually] really useful.” McAlpin places the cube between the handles of her luggage and says it’s great for rolling up a whole week’s worth of underwear, small bras and socks, and best for utilizing the space on the bottom of your rolling bag.
McAlpin also recommends Baggalini’s Medium Compression cube. Both options are water-resistant and lightweight, according to the brand, and have a clear panel to keep your items in view.
Briggs and Riley Small Luggage Packing Cubes
If you’re ready to invest in a quality set, McAlpin also recommends packing cube options from higher-end luggage company, Briggs & Riley. This set of three cubes is designed to place inside your carry-on (the brand offers a set for larger luggage, too). They’re made of a lightweight nylon and mesh fabric, allowing you to identify the clothing stored inside. Each set has a double-sided cube, which allows you to separate out any dirty clothes.
Bagsmart 7 Set Packing Cubes for Travel Essentials
“If [packing cubes] are all the same size it has an adverse effect — think about the space you need for underwear and socks vs the space you need for sweaters,” says Marina Radlinski, home organizing expert and owner of Palm Beach Organized. She recommends this Basgmart set, which consists of different-sized cubes. The set includes seven cubes made of nylon and mesh, allowing you to see your clothing options inside.
JJ Power Travel Packing Cubes Set
While McAlpin cautioned against buying cheaper sets under $25, Zoe Malin, Select’s associate updates editor swears by this option from Amazon. “They’re cheap and get the job done. I’ve used them for years and they haven't gotten worn out yet, so that’s a win,” she says. This set comes with two large cubes, one medium cube, two smaller cubes, a shoe bag and a toiletry bag. They don’t compress down, but the mesh exterior allows you to easily see what is packed in each cube.
How to shop for packing cubes
For years, McAlpin used Ziploc bags (as everyone did, she notes), before cubes came along. If you’re disorganized or tend to stress about organizing, she says packing cubes are a useful investment — and a sustainable one, too.
As you shop for packing cubes, our experts recommend keeping the following in mind:
- Compression packing cubes: If you’re buying your first set of cubes, you should spring for a compression option. They will help create extra space in your bag that a non-compression option most likely can’t.
- Material, weight and structure: Packing cubes should be lightweight, but not enough to forfeit structure. Most options are made of polyester or nylon (or sometimes a combination of the two), and McAlpin says she prefers these to solely mesh options, which often “snag, rip and just don’t have much structure.” For McAlpin, more structured options add just a few extra ounces, but are worth their organizational benefits (though they might not be the best fit for hiking or adventure travel). She also recommends looking for options with a translucent top that allow you to easily see and keep track of what’s inside the cube.
- Multiple colors: While a translucent top is preferred, buying cubes in different colors can help make unpacking easier, too. “I divide everything in my luggage into my packing cubes. I know the red cube has my swimsuit and [cover-up], the blue cube has this, the long cube has that,” McAlpin says.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Anne McAlpin is a packing expert and author “Pack It Up! The Essential Guide To Smart Travel.”
- Tara Cappel is the CEO and founder of the For The Love of Travel tour group, which specializes in group trips for young professionals.
- Paul Healy and Mark Barnes are travel bloggers who run the blog Anywhere We Roam.
- Marina Radlinski is a home organizing expert and owner of Palm Beach Organized.
Why trust Select?
Christina Colizza is an editor at Select and has been a product reviewer since 2018. She covers a range of self care and skin care topics like shampoos, eyebrow serums and more. She also writes and edits Select’s New & Notable column and Weekly Sales columns, which highlights exciting product launches and major sales.
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