Nowadays, more and more travelers are starting to use packing cubes. If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably decided to get a set for yourself. But you aren’t sure how many packing cubes should you get, what size packing cubes should you get, and which ones to go for. In this article, I’ll clear things up for you, so you can finally understand which packing cube set is right for you.
Should You Even Use Packing Cubes?
Before we talk about what size and how many packing cubes should you get, you should understand whether you actually need them. A lot of travelers buy a set of packing cubes, try them once, and decide that it’s not for them. Are you one of them?
If you’re in your house right now, just take a look around – is your room messy, is it perfectly tidy and clean, or somewhere in between? If you’re the type of person who lives in a messy environment, and you don’t really care about that, then packing cubes probably won’t be too useful for you. But if you answered that your room was very tidy or somewhere in between, it means that you value being in a tidy, clean, and organized environment. This means that you’ll love using packing cubes because they help you with staying organized during your vacations.
Some people think that packing cubes save space, and that actually isn’t true (I tested that.) They only help with organizing stuff inside your luggage. For instance, you can pack t-shirts in one cube, shirts, hoodies, and pants in another, and your underwear and socks in the last one. Whenever you need to find something inside your luggage, it’s much easier to do that, by not having to dig through your whole suitcase. Also, they really help with those vacations where you’re switching between different hotels, as it’s much easier to pack and unpack your luggage.
What Size Packing Cubes Should You Get?
Personally, I like to use one large packing cube (about 17 x 13 x 3.5 inches in size) for my larger pieces of clothing, such as hoodies, shirts, jackets, and pants; A medium packing cube (about 14 x 10 x 3.5 inches in size) for my rolled-up, smaller items, such as t-shirts, plain long-sleeve shirts, and shorts; And organize everything else in smaller packing cubes (about 11 x 7 x 3.5 inches in size).
One type of packing cube that is pretty common, and that I’d recommend avoiding is long, slim packing cubes (about 14 x 5 x 3 inches in size.) In my opinion, they’re pretty weird and not that useful. Sometimes they’re useful for packing a pair of extra shoes, but that’s about it. I personally like rectangularly-shaped packing cubes the best, where one side is only slightly longer than the other. They tend to work better in luggage when you’re trying to pack several of them inside.
You should avoid purchasing packing cubes that are too large or too small. I wouldn’t recommend getting anything above 17 x 13 x 4 inches or anything below 11 x 7 x 3 inches. An inch or two above or below doesn’t matter. Personally, I like to pack everything in smaller cubes whenever I can, because it helps me with being more organized.
Another thing that you should probably do is measure the inside of your suitcase. Make the measurements and try to visualize how that particular packing cube set that you’re looking at fits inside. Would there be too many gaps? Will all pieces fit inside? Try to answer these questions yourself, because it really depends on your own luggage.
How Many Packing Cubes Do You Need?
In general, having three to four packing cubes is enough for just about every occasion. But it really depends on how long will your vacation be, what size, and what type of luggage you’ll be using, and your dressing habits.
Personally, I’m more of a minimalist, and I can wear the same clothes for multiple days at a time. So for me having three packing cubes is usually enough, even for two to three-week vacations. But other people might need four, five, or even six packing cubes.
Another thing that you should do is understand what type of luggage you’re using. If you’re using a large backpack, go for smaller packing cubes. If you have a hardside suitcase, which is divided into two equal parts, make sure that your packing cubes will fit inside. I personally don’t like to use too many packing cubes with hardside suitcases, such as the Chester Minima carry-on (Full review) – maybe two or three smaller packing cubes at best.
How Many Packing Cubes for a Carry-On?
In a regular carry-on (about 22 x 14 x 9 inches in size,) you can usually fit only three packing cubes, with a little bit of space left for some extra items, such as toiletries, souvenirs, snacks, e.t.c.
How Many Packing Cubes for Checked Luggage?
In a checked suitcase (about 25-30 inches on the longest side,) you can fit a lot more packing cubes – usually about five or six. That said, I wouldn’t personally go over five packing cubes, because I like to leave some space for any items that I purchase abroad.
How Many Packing Cubes for Backpacks?
In most carry-on-sized backpacks you can fit two or three small to medium-sized packing cubes. I personally would go with two larger ones, and preferably compression cubes, such as the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter compression cubes (Full Review).
How Much Stuff Can You Fit in Each Packing Cube?
If you haven’t used packing cubes before, it’s kind of hard to understand how much each packing cube can fit inside. That’s why down below, I’ll cover the four most popular packing cube sizes and tell you how much I’m able to fit in each one.
Extra-large packing cubes (17 x 13 x 3.5 inches): These are best used for packing your largest items, such as hoodies, jackets, jeans, dresses, e.t.c. I can usually fit roughly two large hoodies in there, two sweaters or four buttoned long-sleeve shirts, and two or three pairs of jeans.
Large packing cubes (14 x 10 x 3.5 inches): These are best used for packing your t-shirts, shorts, sometimes folded shirts, and other items that aren’t too bulky. I’m usually able to pack about seven rolled-up t-shirts in there, two pairs of shorts, and one or two buttoned long-sleeve shirts.
Medium packing cubes (11 x 7 x 3.5 inches): The smallest packing cubes are best used for packing your underwear and socks, and other random items, such as scarves, beanies, hats, e.t.c. I’m usually able to pack underwear and socks for about 7 days there, with fresh undies and socks for each day.
Long/slim packing cubes (14 x 5 x 3 inches): The last type of packing cube that’s pretty common is the long/slim type, which is best used for any random pieces of clothing, your underwear, and socks, or a pair of sneakers. I don’t think they’re too useful, and I use them only for storing a pair of extra converse sneakers or my running shoes.
Which Packing Cubes Should You Get?
Honestly, you should just check out our guide for the best packing cubes, where we purchased 6 different packing cube sets and compared all of them to find the best one. But if not, here’s a quick rundown on what you should look out for.
First of all, you should decide if you want to go for packing cubes or compression cubes. While compression cubes save more space, packing cubes result in fewer wrinkles and they’re easier to use. For anyone traveling for leisure, I’d just recommend going with regular packing cubes, but if you’d rather get compression cubes, go with the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter compression cubes.
If you’d rather get regular packing cubes, get a four-piece set if you’re using a carry-on, and a six-piece set if you’re using checked luggage, or if you want to share the same packing cube set with your travel partner. That said, six packing cubes will usually fall a bit short for two people, and I’d just rather recommend getting two four-piece sets in different colors.
If you’re looking for something somewhat lightweight and durable, go with the eBags packing cube set (Full review), as they’re the best ones that we found. If you’d rather not spend that much, go with the Shacke Pak packing cube set (Full review), which is still pretty durable, and, honestly, your packing cubes don’t need to be that durable anyway.
Should You Roll or Fold Your Clothes in Packing Cubes?
If you aren’t lazy (unlike me,) you should definitely roll some of your clothes instead of just throwing them inside your packing cubes. Yes, rolling your clothes does save some space, but I find the largest benefit of rolling to be that rolled clothes are much easier to pack and unpack from your packing cubes or luggage. For example, it’s much easier to find something at the bottom, without reorganizing everything.
Personally, I roll only my t-shirts, but you can also roll your pants, shirts, boxers, dresses, e.t.c. That said, you should probably avoid rolling things that you don’t want to get wrinkled, such as your dress shirts.
If you haven’t used packing cubes before, then at first, it can be a daunting task to understand how many and what type you’ll need, and how to use them. But hopefully, this guide helped you out. Packing cubes aren’t for everyone though – if you aren’t organized in your life, you probably don’t need packing cubes. But if you do, try getting three or four cubes for your carry-on and five to six cubes for your checked luggage.