Everyone has their own preferences in packing cubes. For some, it's of utmost importance to cram as many clothes as possible into the smallest space. Others want to organize the contents of their luggage Some want their clothes to fit perfectly and emerge from a suitcase with as few wrinkles as possible.
After extensive research and testing, we can tell you that the Eagle Creek Pack-It Isolate Cube Set(available at REI) are the best packing cubes to buy. They’re lightweight, resilient, easy to pack clothes into, and water-resistant. For those who travel infrequently, the Ikea Rensare (available at Ikea) are a smart value purchase that will serve you well.
These are the best packing cubes we tested ranked, in order:
Eagle Creek Pack-It Isolate Cube Set
Osprey Ultralight Packing Cube Set
Lululemon Travel Packing Cubes
Away Insider Packing Cubes
Herschel Travel Organizers
Shacke Pak Travel Organizers With Laundry Bag
Amazon Basics 4-Piece Packing Travel Organizer Cubes Set
eBags Classic Packing Cubes
Eagle Creek Pack-It Isolate Cube Set
Eagle Creek’s super lightweight Pack-It Isolate Cube Set includes three packing cubes, sized as x-small (7.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 inches), small (10 x 7.25 x 3.25 inches), and medium (14.25 x 10 x 3.25 inches). The total capacity of the three is 22 liters (1,240 cubic inches) and their combined weight is a minuscule 2.9 ounces.
During testing, we found that the largest cube could hold 14 folded men’s t-shirts. What's more, it only took two of the three cubes in the set to fit all of Johanna's weekend clothes into. If you need to bring folded dress shirts or a sweater or two, they will fit—but this isn’t a good set if you regularly bring suit blazers or a lot of bulky clothes.
The Pack-It Isolate’s lightweight material (50-denier diamond ripstop polyester), is water-resistant, durable, and treated with Protx2 antimicrobial to prevent bacterial growth: something that should help your clothes stay dry and fresh even if your trip is to a humid rainforest. These cubes unzip wide, along one short side and almost all the way on both long sides. Thanks to the Pack-It Isolate’s self-healing zippers and high-quality zipper pulls, the cubes are easy to open and close, even when tightly packed.
The tags on these packing cubes say that they should be hand-washed, though Eagle Creek’s website says they’re machine washable. We'd rate these packing cubes as just about perfect, if their washing instructions were clear and if they unzipped just a little more so that the top flap was completely out of the way during packing.
IKEA’s Rensare clothes bags are similar in style and size to the Eagle Creek and Osprey cubes we tested for this guide. The set comes with one large bag (13.5 x 9.75 x 3.25 inches) and two small bags of the same size (9.75 x 6.75 x 3.25 inches each). The large cube held 14 t-shirts, just like our Best Overall pick did. During testing, Johanna found that she could squeeze all of her weekend clothes into the large bag and one of the smaller ones, leaving an extra cube for miscellaneous items.
The Rensare’s polyester shell—a minimum of which is made from 90% recycled material—feels slightly thicker, heavier, and stiffer. The largest of the Rensnare’s cubes is dark gray in color and hard to see through. The two smaller cubes—one white and one light gray—are transparent enough that it's possible to make out what's inside of them.
Unfortunately, The Rensare cubes each come with a single plastic zipper with a fabric pull. While it stood up fine during testing, the zipper's questionable build quality could lead to them being a bad investment for frequent travelers.
While on the subject of its zippers, we were disappointed to see that the cubes don’t unzip on all three sides. That it only opens on the longer side of the cube and on one of the short sides makes them less convenient to pack than packing cubes that open up like a suitcase. Finally, the Rensare doesn’t come with grab handles.
If you travel infrequently and on a budget, these packing cubes should serve you well.
Johanna Read is a freelance travel writer/photographer and management consultant. Thanks to both jobs, she travels a couple of times a month (pre-pandemic). She might be on a tiny float plane somewhere in her home province of British Columbia, Canada, or jetting around the world on a research trip. She’s learned how to make travel as stress-free as possible and know which gear helps and what isn’t worth the bother, price, or added weight.
Séamus Bellamy is the senior editor for Reviewed’s The Best Right Now guides. A near-constant traveler, he devised the testing methods for this guide and wrote the original iteration in 2019.
To compare how much the largest packing cube in each set of could hold, Johanna counted the number of folded large men’s t-shirts that she could fit into it (we chose men’s t-shirts because they’re fairly standard in size and fabric weight, unlike those designed for women). She checked to make sure that the t-shirt stuffed cube would still fit into a standard clamshell-style carry-on suitcase.
Johanna also checked how easy it was to pack all the clothes she’d bring for a long weekend trip into the cubes: a pair of pants, two skirts, a dress, four shirts, a pair of shorts, a light sweater, and a light jacket, a few pairs of underwear and socks, a bra, and a bathing suit. While conducting this test, details such as how well her clothing fit into the cubes--especially if the cubes were so large that clothing slid around and wrinkled--were also considered.
We examined the quality of each packing cube set’s construction and materials, taking note of useful features like grab handles and fabrics that allow travelers to see what’s inside of the cubes without opening them. Additional data points, such as whether the cubes came with mesh panels, a compression system, and whether or not the cubes are machine washable, were also taken into account.
What You Should Know About Buying Packing Cubes
What to look for when buying packing cubes depends on what’s most important to you when you travel—organization, wrinkle resistance, compression, or the perfect combination of all three. No matter which of these are a top priority for you, there are a number of general guidelines to keep in mind when shopping for these popular travel accessories.
Size: If you travel light and want to avoid checking a bag, smaller packing cubes are better. If you want multiple outfit changes or have bulky items like sweaters, you’re likely a person that likes to travel with a checked piece of luggage. You’ll be able to benefit from a set of larger packing cubes—especially those with a compression system.
Keep in mind that there is no standard definition of “small”, “medium”, and “large”, so be sure to check the cube set’s measurements to determine if they’re right for you. Finally, don’t forget to confirm that the largest cubes aren’t bigger than the suitcase you plan to put them in.
With this in mind, it’s also important to note that, generally, cubes that hold the most stuff are likely not your best choice.
When packing cubes are too big, you lose the compression and wrinkle-resistance that a tightly-packed cube provides. A half-full packing cube helps keep you organized but otherwise doesn’t provide much benefit over a plain old suitcase. Several smaller cubes are better at keeping things organized.
Versatility: Packing cube sets that offer a variety of cube sizes give you more flexibility for how you pack your bags. Small packing cubes are great for things like charging cords and batteries, snacks, workout clothes, and underwear. Having a mix of cube sizes also makes it easier to separate the clothes you need for different parts of your trip, so you can, for example, keep your beach togs packed up and out of the way until you need them.
In order to optimize your packing cube setup, you might find want to purchase one set of larger cubes and another set of the smaller lightweight ones featured in this guide.
Compression: All packing cubes provide some degree of compression when they’re fully packed, reducing the amount of space that your clothes take up in your suitcase. However, some have an additional compression system to help pack your clothes into an even smaller space. Compression packing cubes work by having an extra zipper built into them that squishes the contents of your fully-packed packing cube to make it thinner.
While a cube’s compression system might help you fit a little more into your suitcase, they’re not magic. You won't gain more than an inch or so of space inside of your luggage. And don’t forget that your packing cube has to be quite full for the compression system to work.
Ripstop: There are many materials used to make packing cubes. The best lightweight packing cubes are typically made from ‘ripstop’ fabric. What this means is that the fabric has been woven through periodically with thicker threads to reinforce it. This helps make rips and tears less likely to occur and, if they do, keeps them from growing bigger.
Mesh: Being able to see into your packing cubes helps you find items quickly. Medium-weight fabrics are typically opaque, so mesh panels are added as a window into the cubes’ interior. These mesh panels are often billed as “breathable”—but why would clothes in your suitcase need to breathe?
Mesh panels can actually be a drawback, as they can cause dirt, sand, spilled liquid, or stink from dirty laundry to get into your clean clothes. They may also add unnecessary weight and tend not to be as strong as the rest of the packing cube.
Double zippers: Many high-quality packing cubes have double zippers to make closing the cubes, especially when packed full, as easy as possible. Double zippers are especially helpful when packing cubes have square rather than rounded corners, giving you another zipper option if one side gets stuck. And in the event one of the zippers breaks, your cubes are still functional with the second zipper.
Accessibility: Packing cubes that unzip so that the top flap is completely out of the way to make packing and unpacking faster and easier, and are better for preventing wrinkles. If your packing cube doesn’t open very wide, you’ll likely need to do more stuffing rather than placing of your carefully folded or rolled clothes, which takes more time and might mean more wrinkles.
Washability: Ideally, you should be able to toss packing cubes into the washing machine and have no worries about colors running or zippers and seams remaining intact. The ability to handwash cubes in the sink is ok, but not as good. We'd never buy cubes that aren’t washable at all. If a container of handcrafted Mexican cocoa powder leaks into your suitcase (yes, this has happened to one of our testers), there’s a suspicious smell, or—knock on wood—a bed bug encounter, you'll want to wash those packing cubes. Unless they’re super cheap (like the IKEA ones we tested), we expect packing cubes to survive for many years of frequent washes.
How To Use Packing Cubes
The best way to pack a packing cube is to place a pile of folded (or rolled; you decide) clothes on the cube’s bottom and then, once it’s quite full, zip the cube partially closed. You should still have room to add a few more rolled items before zipping the tightly packed cube fully closed.
Other Packing Cubes We Tested
Osprey Ultralight Packing Cube Set
The Osprey Ultralight Packing Cube Set doesn’t unzip as wide as our Best Overall pick does. Their zippers aren’t as well set up, either. While they’re of good quality, we’d have liked to have seen two zipper heads instead of a single one. These cubes feature metal zippers with a fabric pull (using fabric instead of metal saves a couple of grams of weight.) The bags zip open along one short side, about two inches on one long side, and between ¾ and ⅞ of the way down the other long side. That makes packing them a little more challenging as you might need to stuff rather than place clothes into the cubes.
The Osprey cubes are slightly smaller than the ones we chose as our Best Overall pick. During testing, Johanna found that she could only fit 11 t-shirts into the Osprey, versus 14 in our Best Overall cubes. Her weekend clothes, however, fit fine into the three cubes, with room to spare.
The Osprey cubes have a higher denier count than Eagle Creek’s—400-denier ripstop nylon compared to Eagle Creek’s 50-denier diamond ripstop polyester—though they feel almost identical to the touch. All three of the Osprey cubes have a grab handle.
The Lululemon Travel Packing Cubes have a zipper compression system that squeezes your clothes tighter and somewhat reduces the thickness of the cubes. The cube set's fabric is 100% polyester, with a lightweight beige grid fabric (as tested) and a mesh panel. As you can see what’s in each cube by looking through its lightweight fabric, their built-in mesh windows are superfluous.
With reinforced seams and YKK brand zippers, these cubes are well-made. However, there’s just one zipper pull for each cube’s main closures and a single zip for their compression system. Double zippers, which can make packing easier, would have been appreciated.
These packing cubes hold a lot. If you pack them to capacity, they’ll measure over four inches in thickness. This could be less than ideal if you need to fit them into the restrictive space of a hard-sided carry-on.
During testing, Johanna was able to fit 20 t-shirts into the largest cube. However, with this many shirts in the cube, we couldn’t zip its compression system closed. In order to do so, five t-shirts had to be removed, which defeats the purpose of having a built-in compression system. We were pleasantly surprised, however, that Johanna could fit all of her weekend clothes into just the largest cube. Though it took some effort, she was even able to get the compression system’s zipper closed. However, that still meant the cube was more than five inches thick.
These cubes open wide on three sides plus a little extra on the fourth. So the top flap stays well out of your way during packing. Each cube has a grab handle, though those on the two smaller bags are set quite close to the cube itself, making them a bit harder to grab.
Away’s Insider Packing Cubes comes with a set of four versatile sizes. If you’re using the AWAY Carry-On, the Insider set is designed to fit into one side of the suitcase.
The Insider cubes are made from opaque, lightweight nylon with a mesh panel that allows you to see what’s inside. While the Insider is billed as water-resistant, the holes in the mesh would allow liquids to seep through. There are no washing instructions for these cubes on Away’s website or on the cubes themselves.
The Insider cubes open wide—completely unzipping along three sides and a touch on the fourth side—making them easy to pack. Johanna could fit 15 t-shirts into the largest cube. With some effort, and with some resulting wrinkles, she was also able could stuff all of her weekend clothing into just that one cube, leaving three empty ones for other items. All of the Insider cubes are equipped with double zippers. The metal zipper pulls are large and easy to grab.
Unlike most of the other products in this guide, the Insider cubes don’t have handles.
Herschel Supply Co. Standard Issue Travel Organizer Set
Herschel Standard Issue Travel Organizer cubes include a large size that measures about the size of one side of a standard clamshell-style carry-on suitcase. Each cube comes with metal double zippers. There was a little resistance pulling the zipper around the corners of one of the cubes when they’ve been fully stuffed. However, having the double zipper makes this a minimal concern.
The Standard Issue Travel Organizers are made from opaque 700-denier ripstop polyester fabric. Because you can’t see the cube's contents through the opaque fabric, Herschel added a see-through mesh top. Except for the large mesh panel, the cubes have a double layer of ripstop fabric. They’re marked “exclusive of decoration do not wash”.
These are large and roomy packing cubes that open wide on three sides; the largest cube fits 21 folded t-shirts. All of Johanna’s weekend getaway clothes fit into the largest cube with room to spare. While this sounds great, in truth, it means that she wasn’t able to take advantage of the cube’s natural compression to keep items neatly in place and wrinkle-free. It’s worth noting that, while the small and medium Standard Issue Organizer cubes have grab handles, the large cube does not.
The Standard Issue Travel Organizer cubes are a good choice if you routinely pack for longer trips or with bulkier clothes.
Shacke Pak Packing Cubes with Laundry Bag (5-Piece Set)
With a cross of medium-weight nylon and four mesh panels built into their lids, Shacke Pak’s cubes look a little different than the other products in this guide. The company claims that their lid design will ensure that their packing cubes stay “…sturdy even when you pack more” and “prevent the fabric from folding in the middle allowing for a more secure packing experience”. During testing, we found these cubes offered little difference in capability when compared to the other medium-weight packing cubes in this guide.
With four cubes in this set in four different sizes plus a laundry bag, the Shacke Pak Cubes offer a lot of versatility in how you pack for a trip.
Shacke Pak’s extra-large size cube was the largest packing cube of any we tested for this guide. Twenty-six folded t-shirts fit inside of it! That said, when packed to its max, the extra-large cube barely fit into one half of the clamshell-style carry-on suitcase we used for testing. Even the set’s smallest cube is larger than you’d need for a few days of socks and underwear, even if you added a bathing suit into the mix. If you’re a light packer, you may find that you need to pack more clothing into them than you’d prefer, if you want to benefit from the wrinkle resistance and compression that comes with a tightly-packed cube.
We liked the Shacke Pak’s tough YKK zippers. Unfortunately, the fabric that the cubes are made from feels plasticky. And while these packing cubes are said to be water-resistant, their mesh panels ensure that any liquid will be able to soak your clothes.
As their name suggests, the Amazon Basics Four Piece Packing Cube Set comes in a set of four. Unfortunately, all four of the cubes are the same size: 13.75 x 9.75 x 3 inches. This lack of variety makes them far less versatile than the other products featured in this guide.
The medium-weight fabric is 100% polyester and feels tough, but the tags say “do not wash”. Because the Amazon Basics cubes’ shell material is opaque, mesh panels had to be sewn into them so that users can easily identify their contents—an important feature, considering that all four of the cubes are identical. Unfortunately, this leaves the contents of each cube open to odors or liquids that might be found inside of your suitcase.
Each cube features double zippers, with metal zipperheads and a fabric pull. You’ll also find that each cube has a grab handle on its long side. The cubes open fully on all three sides plus a little on the fourth side, making them very easy to pack.
Fully packed, one cube held 15 folded t-shirts. We were able to stuff all of Johanna’s weekend clothes into one cube. However, doing so wrinkled the clothing.
Like many of the other products in this guide, the Amazon Basics cubes come with no washing instructions.
When we ordered the eBags Classic Packing Cubes three-piece set for testing, we were mistakenly sent a set of five packing cubes, so we tested the three cubes that are included in both sets.
Made of medium-weight techlite diamond nylon with nylon mesh windows, the largest cube fit 23 folded t-shirts. When Johanna packed her weekend clothes, there was tons of extra space—meaning the cubes might be too big if you prefer to pack light and might cause clothes to slide around and wrinkle.
When packed full, the largest cube barely fit into one side of the clamshell carry-on suitcase we used for testing. Even the smallest cube in this set is too large to compress a weekend’s worth of socks and underwear.
The Classic Packing Cubes’ self-healing, double YKK zippers are of good quality, zipping open, fully, on three sides of each cube and a little on the fourth side, making for easy packing.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.