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The 12 Best Packing Cubes for Travel

Streamline your pre-trip preparations with these time-saving packing accessories.

collage of different packing cubes

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.

How to Use Packing Cubes (the Right Way)

The truth of the matter is that packing cubes are really not that complicated, and if you just want to stuff and/or shove all your clothes into one, you can do just that. But if you want to maximize their effectiveness, there are a few tips and tricks you might want to follow — and we've outlined them below.


There are two schools of thought regarding how to pack in a packing cube. The first is that each cube hosts one type of item — pants in one, shirts in another, socks and underwear in yet another, etc. This can help keep you organized when you travel and will also ensure you're not rooting around in desperate search for a specific garment when the time comes. The other is that you can pack a full day's worth of supplies into a single cube — meaning you'd just have your full outfit in a single bag rather than multiples.

We've found that the latter method works best for shorter trips and the former works best for longer ones, generally speaking. But you can and should figure out what works best for you through trial and error.

Roll, Don't Fold

While folding (or hanging) your clothing might work at home in your dresser or closet, you can actually maximize your packing space by rolling your clothes into tight burrito-like rolls. Not only will this allow you to fit more into the same space, but it can help guard against wrinkles just as well, so long as you're cautious and conscientious with your rolling.

Be Strategic About Sizes

While there are no standardized sizes for packing cubes, you should be careful when choosing which ones to use for which bags. A huge packing cube isn't going to do you much good if it's the same size as your carry-on and your checked luggage will be a pain to manage if you have to stuff 50 different tiny cubes into it. Think of packing your cubes into your suitcase like Tetris — there are lots of possible winning combinations, but you still want to be clever and careful with how you pack them, which sizes you choose and where you put them.


If your bag has compression straps, we highly recommend using them. They'll help compress your cubes (and clothes) into a smaller area than you might be able to manage yourself, giving you more packing space than you might otherwise expect.

Don't Assume They're Good for Everything

Packing cubes aren't the end-all-be-all of packing. In fact, it can be risky to use them for all your travel gear. For instance, toiletries probably belong in a waterproof dopp kit instead of a packing cube, as they were designed for things like haircare and skincare products, whereas a packing cube might have a mesh exterior — meaning if you stuff some toothpaste into a packing cube and it bursts, you could end up with toothpaste all over everything in your bag. Use your noggin and you should be fine.

How We Tested

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collage of packing cubes
Gear Patrol Staff

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. We tested them, in some cases, over the course of months and even years — and all the ones we tested came along on at least one trip. Furthermore, throughout the process, we tested the cubes' capacity, ease of use, durability and even how well they Tetris-ed into place inside our suitcases.

To learn more about our testing methodology and how we evaluate products, head here.

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