Lately, packing cubes have become incredibly popular among serious travelers. They make your carry-on more organized and less cramped. But which ones should you get?
To make the task of picking out the right ones easier for you, we purchased six of the most popular packing cube sets and tested them out for a while. We’ve been using some of them for over a year, and some for a few months. Now, we’re ready to reveal the best packing cubes for carry-on luggage (based on our own tests and experience.)
Video Version: Best Packing Cubes Compared
Things to Look out for When Buying Packing Cubes for Carry-On Luggage
- Do they keep their shape when packed full? Some packing cubes just don’t stay in a rectangular shape when they’re packed full. For instance, the IKEA Forfina packing cubes, which essentially turn into a bunch of squished round balls. While that’s not necessarily bad for backpacks, in suitcases, round packing cubes are inefficient, because a lot of space is lost in the corners.
- How large is each packing cube, and how many come with the set? If you’re getting packing cubes for your carry-on, then you should measure the interior of your carry-on first, and try to calculate whether the packing cubes will be used efficiently. The interior dimensions for most carry-ons tend to be about 18 x 13 x 8 inches. The best combo is usually one large packing cube that takes up half of the total space (roughly 18 x 13 x 4 inches,) and two smaller ones that go on top (roughly 13 x 13 x 4 inches, and 5 x 13 x 4 inches.) In general, you’ll be able to fit three or four packing cubes inside your carry-on. If there’s still a little bit of space left, that’s not a big issue, as you can put other stuff in there, such as souvenirs, shoes, e.t.c.
- If buying for a family or a couple, are they separated by color? We’d suggest getting each set in a different color, so it’s easy to identify which packing cubes belong to which person.
- Is a laundry bag included? A laundry bag is really useful for storing your dirty clothes. If the set doesn’t come with one, your clean clothes will mix together with your dirty ones and won’t smell as fresh.
- How much do they weigh? If you’re flying with budget airlines, usually, the weight limits for carry-ons are pretty strict. So we’d suggest getting a packing cube set that isn’t too heavy.
- What materials are they made from? Ideally, you want your packing cubes made from nylon, as it’s more durable than polyester. Also, try to get packing cubes with a tear-resistant fabric. Another thing that you should look out for is the zippers. Try to get packing cubes with YKK or SBS zippers, as they’re the most durable zipper brands.
- Is there a fabric mesh panel on top of the packing cube? If you want to easily see what’s packed inside each packing cube without opening them, try to get packing cubes with fabric mesh panels on top.
Packing Cubes vs. Compression Cubes
If you don’t know the differences between packing cubes and compression cubes, here’s a quick breakdown. The most important thing that you need to know is that regular packing cubes come with one regular zipper, that closes the main compartment, but compression cubes come with two zippers, where the second one is meant for compressing all of the items inside.
In another article, we did a test and found out that packing cubes save about five to ten percent of the total space and compression cubes about 15-20%. But while compression cubes are better for saving space, they do result in more wrinkles. One pro for packing cubes is that they’re quicker to use, and you can easily identify what’s packed inside each cube because the top part is covered with a fabric mesh panel.
Usually, compression cubes are used by backpackers, and packing cubes by regular travelers. I tend to switch between both, depending on how full my suitcase is and where I’m going.
Sometimes you just don’t care about wrinkles, for instance, while hiking and compression cubes make more sense. But if you’re mostly traveling with a carry-on, and you don’t care about saving too much space, then we’d suggest going with regular packing cubes instead of compression cubes.
1. Best Overall: Ebags 6-Piece Classic Packing Cube Set
What’s Included: 1 extra-large packing cube (17.5 x 12.75 x 3.25 inches,) 1 large packing cube (13.75 x 9.75 x 3 inches,) 1 medium packing cube (11 x 6.75 x 3 inches,) 3 slim packing cubes (2.8 x 14 x 5 inches.)
Weight: 17 oz
Materials: Polyester, YKK zippers
If you’re looking for the best overall packing cubes set, that’s not too cheap or too expensive, then go with the eBags packing cube set. We purchased the 6-piece set, but you can also find them in three or four-piece sets, which should do just fine for a single person.
We’ve used the eBags packing cubes for over a year now, and they still look in a good condition. They feel very premium and they’ve used very durable materials on these packing cubes. Although they’re made from polyester, it doesn’t feel like the material will rip anytime soon. They come with YKK zippers, which is the most durable zipper brand. And best of all, they’re backed up by a lifetime warranty, so if anything goes wrong, eBags will fix it for you. Although this isn’t the most lightweight set on the market, they aren’t that heavy either.
Really, the only downside to the eBags packing cubes is that they’re slightly more expensive compared to similar affordable options. Another thing that we didn’t like is that, in the 6-piece set, there are three slim packing cubes that aren’t that useful because of the weird sizing. If you’ll be using this set in a carry-on you’ll most likely use only the three largest packing cubes.
Full Review: Ebags 6-Piece Classic Packing Cube Set ReviewCheck Price on Amazon
2. Best Affordable: Shacke Pak 5-Piece Packing Cube Set
What’s Included: 1 extra-large packing cube (17.5 x 12.75 x 4 inches,) 1 large packing cube (13.75 x 12.75 x 4 inches,) 1 medium packing cube (13.75 x 9.75 x 4 inches,) 1 small packing cube. (11 x 6.75 x 4 inches,) 1 laundry bag (17.5 x 12.75 x 4 inches.)
Weight: 19 oz
Materials: Polyester, YKK zippers
Now if you’d rather not spend that much on packing cubes, there still are some great choices out there that are less expensive. Personally, we think that the Shacke Pak packing cubes are currently the best affordable packing cubes that you can get. Not only are they one of the most affordable options, but they’re also one of the most popular and well-reviewed ones.
We purchased the Shacke Pak packing cubes a few months ago, and we’ve been testing them ever since. They come in a five-piece set, with four packing cubes and one laundry bag for your dirty clothes. All of the cubes are sized perfectly. The three smaller cubes fit perfectly in a single carry-on, and all four are perfect for a checked suitcase.
Compared to other options, the Shacke Pak cubes are made from a thicker and more puncture-resistant polyester fabric, which explains why they’re a bit heavier. They also come with YKK zippers, and overall everything seems decently made. Of course, with the lower price, you’re compromising on support and warranty, but if you won’t be traveling that often, it might not even be that important to you.
Full Review: Shacke Pak 5-Piece Packing Cube Set ReviewCheck Price on Amazon
3. Best Overall: Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter 2-Piece Compression Cube Set
What’s Included: 1 large packing cube (13.5 x 9 x 5 inches,) 1 medium packing cube (10 x 6.5 x 3.5 inches.)
Weight: 3.9 oz
Materials: 30D Ripstop Silnylon (water-resistant,) Eagle Creek zippers
We’ve owned the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter 2-piece compression cube set for over a year now and still have yet to find any issues. Personally, we find ourselves using these compression cubes the most out of all the packing organizers mentioned in this list.
They’re incredibly lightweight. Other packing organizers that we’ve mentioned in this video don’t even stand close to how lightweight they are, except for the IKEA FORFINA set, but we wouldn’t really consider them as a solid long-term option.
Another pro is that they’re made by Eagle Creek – a very reliable outdoor gear company, and they’re backed up by a lifetime warranty. They’ve used premium materials for these cubes, such as Silnylon and YKK zippers, and the fabric is also semi-water-resistant. In terms of compressing, you can really do a lot with the Eagle Creek compression cubes.
However, there are a few cons to this set. One is the cost. For a two-piece set, they’re pretty expensive. Another is that sometimes the fabric gets stuck in the zipper, which is annoying. And lastly, there aren’t any fabric mesh panels, so it’s harder to see what you’ve packed in each cube. But other than that, these cubes are great, and we think that they’re the best compression cubes on the market, especially for backpacking.Check Price on Amazon
4. Best Affordable: LeanTravel 3-Piece Compression Cube Set
What’s Included: 2 large compression cubes (15.5 x 11.5 x 4 inches,) 1 medium compression cube (11 x 11 x 4 inches.)
Weight: 20 oz
Materials: Polyester, SBS zippers
If you aren’t willing to spend that much on compression cubes, there’s another option – the LeanTravel 3-piece compression cube set. In terms of cost, this three-piece set costs about the same as the Eagle Creek 2-piece set. It offers more value because all three cubes are much larger, and can fit much more inside.
They come with SBS zippers, which are good zippers, but not as good as YKK. What’s good about them, is that there’s a fabric mesh panel on top of each cube, which lets you see what’s packed inside each cube. In terms of compression, they do the job perfectly, because overall, the LeanTravel compression cubes are very thick and massive, which makes the job of compressing easier to do.
One negative is that these cubes are pretty heavy because they’re built from a very thick fabric, and they come with reinforced seams in the corners. Another one is that they’re made by an unknown brand, which means no support or warranty.
Full Review: LeanTravel 3-Piece Compression Cube Set ReviewCheck Price on Amazon
Other Great Alternatives
5. Great Value: AmazonBasics 4-Piece Packing Cube Set
What’s Included: 1 extra-large packing cube (17.5 x 12.75 x 3.25 inches,) 1 large packing cube (13.75 x 9.75 x 3 inches,) 1 medium packing cube (11 x 6.75 x 3 inches,) 1 slim/small packing cube (14 x 5 x 2.8 inches.)
Weight: 12 oz
Materials: Polyester, unbranded zippers
Another solid option in the affordable range is the AmazonBasics 4-piece packing cube set.
They’re priced similarly to the Shacke Pak 5-piece set. But in terms of value, you get a bit less because the AmazonBasics packing cubes don’t come with a laundry bag, and the fabric and the zippers are less durable. Also, they aren’t rated as well as the Shacke Pak packing cube set. What might make them a better choice, is that they’re backed up by Amazon, not some unknown brand, and they’re much lighter.
If you think that the AmazonBasics packing cubes look very similar to the eBags packing cubes, you’re not alone. We’ve noticed that they’re using almost identical fabrics, similar zippers, and overall, they look and feel very similar. If you didn’t know, it’s a known strategy for Amazon to replicate best-selling products from other brands, and then sell similar ones under AmazonBasics. So our guess is that they’ve taken a lot of inspiration from the eBags packing cube set.
We’ve been using the AmazonBasics packing cubes for over a year now, and we haven’t noticed any major issues. All the seams and zippers look in good condition. So if you’re looking for affordable packing cubes but you don’t like the Shacke Pak cubes, then the AmazonBasics set is a very solid alternative.
Full Review: AmazonBasics 4-Piece Packing Cube Set ReviewCheck Price on Amazon
6. Ultra-Affordable: IKEA FORFINA 6-Piece Packing Cube Set
What’s Included: 1 large packing cube (13.5 x 10 x 3.5 inches,) 2 medium packing cubes (10 x 6 x 3.5 inches), 3 slim/small packing cubes (10 x 3.5 x 1 inches.)
Weight: 4.2 oz
Materials: Polyester, unbranded zippers
And now let’s talk about the IKEA FORFINA 6-piece packing cube set, which costs just 10 bucks. Yes, you heard that right – for 10 dollars, you get a six-piece packing cube set.
But as you’d already guess, you get what you pay for. Although you can use them for their intended purpose, they feel really cheap, and they don’t really stay in a rectangular shape when packed full. Also, the zippers feel really fragile.
One thing that they got going for them is the weight. If you’re looking for the lightest packing cubes on the market, and you don’t really care about how well they perform, then the IKEA FORFINA 6-piece set is a pretty good choice. However, don’t expect them to last for years. In our opinion, these are best used only as a short-term option.Check Price on IKEA