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The Versatile World of the Packing Cube

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Strangely enough, at least strangely to me, is that not everyone uses or is a fan of packing cubes. And I think more often than not most of us would say we love traveling but packing……..not so much. People seem to either pack in a rush close in to departure, or they pack a little at a time perhaps over the course of a few days.

I’m a devoted diehard packing cube user. When like me you’re a packing cube fan and you travel with people who don’t use them, a lot of interesting conversations develop. Mostly the conversations focus on why they don’t use them, why they can’t find what they’re looking for, and how on earth are we going to get that suitcase closed with the messiness and overflow of items. My favorite way to approach this is to make a joke and tell them they are “lacking cubes” when they need packing cubes!

You see for me one of the beauties of using packing cubes is that let’s say you designate a cube for your shirts. Once the cube is full, it’s full and no more shirts allowed! Cubes require you to make choices and leave out the “just in case” items. I think it’s the “just in case” items that are often the culprits in the overpacking scenario.

Some people question whether packing cubes are worth the money. Sure, it’s possible to use plastic bags to store your clothing, but actual packing organizers have several more benefits and don’t cost that much more money. I’ve asked around and here’s what people like me who use packing cubes have to share about the benefits of using packing cubes.

Advantages of Packing Cubes:

Organize clothing

They provide an easier way to keep your clothes organized. You can use one for your shirts and another one for your underwear, your kids’ clothes or anything you need to bring on your travels.

Minimize wrinkles

When you’re backpacking, you can’t expect your clothes to always be neat and wrinkle-free. However, you can reduce wrinkles by using travel packing cubes. If you’ve just ironed a shirt and you keep it inside a packing cube, it will be kept in the same position throughout the trip, keeping wrinkles to a minimum.

Easy to find what you need

I hate that feeling when you need something from your backpack or luggage and you have no idea where it is. You have to literally take all your stuff out of the backpack, find what you’re looking for and pack again. By using packing cubes, you’ll know where things are and you can find everything you need in a matter of seconds.

Many ways to use

You can use your packing cubes in many ways. You can keep electronic devices, travel accessories and other items inside them. Some people use them for cosmetic or personal hygiene bags. Depending on the situation, you can even use them as a comfortable pillow!

Maximize space

One of the biggest advantages of packing cubes, besides keeping everything organized, is that you can compress your clothes inside them. This way, you maximize your space, fitting more clothes into your backpack or luggage.

They can be washed

Packing cubes are designed to be washed. They’re made of resistant materials with strong seams. If you use them to keep dirty clothes, don’t worry! You can wash them from time to time in a washing machine.

12 More Benefits of Using Packing Cubes:

I’ve had mine for many years and use them a lot. Once you buy them, you’re set for years.


You can use a small/slim packing cube to compress your clothing and travel for any trip with just a carry-on bag. One friend said, “They literally weigh nothing. Packing cubes have changed the way I pack. They compress my things and force me to limit what I pack.” It is SO easy to organize a suitcase with packing cubes.


You can separate your clothing by clothing category, travel outfits, or even by weather. They keep your bag so much neater and organized.

Family use of packing cubes

Some families use different color cubes for each family member. This is a great idea! It makes things so much easier to find while traveling.


Ideal for organization/storage within a hotel/hostel when shelf space is limited. At a hotel I just put my cubes in the dresser.

Easy to Clean

Throw them in the wash (hang dry) after a trip or even during a trip.


Use them for clothing, shoes, electronics, and anything else you want to store. Recently a fellow traveler across the aisle from me on a plane used a packing cube as his carry-on tote. He organized into one packing cube all of his technology, and a few other items he might need during the flight. That was all he took down from the overhead bin.

Backpack Organizer

Use packing cubes in any bag for a more organized solution. They’re great to use in big backpacks or totes that don’t have any interior pockets. If you’re carrying a backpack, they’re especially good to use. With backpacks, you’re always digging around and ultimately messing up all the organizing you took time to do before you left on your trip.

Travel Pillow

On your flight, use a cube stuffed with clothing as a neck pillow.

In-Flight Organization

Carry your travel comforts, like a neck pillow, scarf, sweater, or blanket in a packing cube.

At Home Uses

Use them at home for storage or to maximize limited closet space. You can use them at home for keeping dust/dirt off of items you don’t wear as frequently.

Environmentally Friendly

Better than using plastic bags!

The bottom line is that using packing cubes is like having drawers in your luggage! They are a great choice for travelers who want to save space, pack in a more organized fashion, cut down on luggage weight, or to just travel more simply. I like being able to find the exact item I’m looking for. By using packing cubes, everything has a designated place, and I’m a big fan of things having a place!

Do you use packing cubes? Share your favorite tips in the comments!

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12 thoughts on “The Versatile World of the Packing Cube

  1. chris

    Also a Packing Cube fan. Two more benefits: Pre-packing and quick Unpacking. You can pack a cube days ahead with items you don’t need at home before you leave. When each pack is full just zip it up and set it aside instead of trying to keep a suitcase open and organized. Unpacking at your destination is much quicker with cubes. Just move the cubes to a drawer and unzip them to release the compression, done!

    1. Shelli Post author

      Totally true, Chris. Thanks for reminding me. I do usually pre-pack a cube or two. Thanks for taking the time to read and add to the conversation. It’s a conversation I never tire of :)

  2. lopere


    My favorite way to approach this is to make a joke and tell them they are “lacking cubes” when they need packing cubes!


  3. DaninMCI

    You actually put stuff in the dresser at hotels. I knew someone must use them :)

    I don’t use cubes because it “seems” like I can pack way more in odd spaces. Not everything I own is square. To me it’s like packing a bunch of little suitcases that have to fit in my small “big” suitcase. I do use cubes (mostly airline amenity kits to pack small stuff.

    Shoes are my biggest problem. I’m a runner and I travel for business so I just about have to pack either the dress shoes or the running shoes. Fine except I wear size 15 shoes so they take a ton of space in a small roll aboard or my under seat mini-roller.

    1. Shelli Post author

      HI Dan, Great comment. Lots of thoughts coming your way. Have you noticed how many hotel rooms no longer have dressers or drawers? One of my favorite hotel rooms just has flat surfaces in the closet. Another room I like has a big ledge that I suppose is where you’re supposed to unpack and keep things. So I think your point about people not using drawers is a good one.

      I think packing is part art and part science…..and a lot of geometry. I wish I had a bag packed right now so you can see the art part. Cubes don’t need to be square or have square things in them. You can even do bundle packing or whatever packing style you like and still put things in the cubes. And I too use the odd spaces. I take running shoes, though they are half as big as yours :) I use them as a packing cube and can fit items in the shoes.
      Packing is a challenge, and I’ve learned to see it as fun so as not to get my knickers in a twist when I pack. Twisted knickers never fit well in any packing cube! Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to write.

  4. cnmaz

    Shelli, I would love to see pictures of a suitcase using packing cubes. They sound great and we are now at the point where we are traveling to multiple cities in one trip so I can see how they would be handy. What I don’t understand is how they use up the little spaces in the suitcase. For instance the bars where the handle is at the back of the suitcase creates bumps. Right now we fill that space with socks and other small clothing items and then once we have a level surface we roll the larger items and fill up the suitcase in that manner. We only travel with carry on bags so if it doesn’t fit, it is already eliminated from packing without using the cubes. I think visual aids would help me see if this system would work better for us.

    1. Shelli Post author

      HI cnmaz, For a multiple city trip they are the best. I recently did a four country trip and they made keeping everything easily accessible and organized quite easy. I have cubes of different sizes and that helps. They are light and soft and if not filled to the brim they can easily be squished into corners. It’s more about keeping things IN something rather than the shape or size of things. They are like using plastic bins or something to organize your garage or office supplies or pens. Even your kitchen utensils with forks, spoons, knives kept in their own space is a good example of keeping like with like. You can have lose items stuffed in your bag, too. Right now I don’t have my cubes packed with anything, so maybe someone else who’s about to depart or is on a trip using cubes can post something. Sorry. Hope what I just wrote helps explain a bit more. If you’re someone who likes to be organized, they’ll work for you.

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  7. Erin MQS

    So your article was in the results when I searched, “Do they make packing cubes in shape of neck pillow?” I seriously want a U shaped packing cube. Does any cube mfr’er make such a two-fer?

    1. Shelli Post author

      Brilliant idea, Erin! I haven’t seen a cube in the shape of a neck pillow, but if I do I’ll post the link here. Thanks for reading.


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