Packing cubes are a funny thing. I’ve recently observed that people fit into two camps - one is the group that is so passionate about them, they would never leave home without. These folks argue excitedly about the pros and cons of each model, always curious about the features and ways they can eke out more convenience and ease on their trip. To give you an idea, comments in our previous post about favorite packing cube brands were lengthy, and full of great tips.
The other is the group who just doesn’t get it - they don’t see the point, and feel like it was one extra thing to pack and purchase. I mean after all, it’s just another bag inside a bag, right? Maybe it even adds more clutter.
I get this perspective, because I used to be the same way. I just didn't get what was so useful about packing cubes. And priding myself on being an efficient traveler and a hopeful minimalist, it just felt like extra bulk. Until one day, a traveling partner gave me a few extra ones which I begrudgingly used. In spite of myself, as we hopped from place to place, I started to love the convenience of living out of my suitcase in an organized way and of not feeling chaos around the experience of packing.
Since then, I produced my own best selling travel cube. But, in going back to basics, I see that the real convenience of them boils down to 6 simple things.
Maximize the space
Some packing organizers, like the BluffCubes, are actually designed for total compression, so you can compact your clothes as tightly as you want, leaving space to pack more things, or get your items into a smaller bag. Ours has an adjustable strap (rather than a zipper) so you can reduce them regardless of how full they are.
Organize your things
Contrary to my previous opinion, the more packing cubes for travel, the better. This is because organization thrives on categorizing things into designated spots. Like, you have a cube for your workout clothes, one for your tops, and one for your bottoms – which makes unpacking painless, since you can move the contents of each directly to the right shelf or drawer. Some cubes include compartments within them, but it’s also easy to get a brand that offers multiple sizes. I now even use them for daily needs on the go - especially for the gym or any outdoor kit.
Because cubes flatten and compartmentalize everything, it's a bit easier to travel with less - you can downsize to a smaller bag, or leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs on the way back. There are organizers designed specifically to be lightweight so as to add the least amount of extra bulk to your stuff. But - these usually aren’t going to provide the same level of serious compression, since compression cubes tend to be heavier and more structured. Our cubes range in weight from 2.0 oz. - 4.5 oz. to provide the best of both worlds
Stuff or roll, not fold - to avoid wrinkles
When your clothes are jostling around in your suitcase, they tend to get wrinkled or open up unless they are folded and pressed together. Compression packing cubes allow you to roll your clothes or - if they’re easy care and wrinkle resistant - just stuff them in. It’s a much less time consuming and tedious way to get your bag together.
Find and insert things more easily
If you’re traveling in short spurts, or not unpacking fully, packing cubes with mesh side panels and zippered access allow you to get in and get out easily. You don’t have to toss the whole contents of your bag out to dig around, since you already know what cube you’re looking for, and you can get it without an explosion of stuff or the hassle of repacking. Easy and effective.
I mostly like to use breathable, mesh lined packing cubes so that items like clothes can breathe and don’t mildew. This is great if you need to do laundry while traveling. But, there also comes a time, like when your shampoo explodes all over your suit, that a watertight cube is helpful. I stow all my toiletries and liquids in cubes that prevent spills onto my other things.
I now think that once folks try them, they may never go back to traveling without using a luggage organizer. And then the question is, what kind? Turns out, there’s more to the design of these things than shaping a box - it’s like another form of designing purpose built luggage. We had tons of fun designing our packing cube set to solve challenges that we know travelers face and other brands hadn’t quite met in the same way. Check them out below, and may we all travel safely soon.
P.S. Packing is something we’re passionate about, and we have a feeling travel is on the up and up. If you found this post useful, check out more packing posts below:
- Our Guide to Packing Cubes
- Our Packing Philosophy
- What to Pack for a Trip
- Packing Bags for Travel
- Conquer the Overwhelm of Packing
- The Best Way to Pack Clothes