Packing cubes sat in the back of my closet for years before I ever used them. Why do travelers think they’re saving space by lugging along these extra containers?, I wondered. I tried every other alternative packing technique (rolling, bundling, folding), finding them all useless, until I finally dusted off those packing cubes and gave them a whirl. And now I never go on a trip without them.
Packing cubes actually work. They compress all your clothes and accessories into neat modular cubes, allowing you to use every square inch of your suitcase. When you unzip your bag, you can place each cube into your hotel room drawers and know exactly where everything is—no rifling required. And they easily allow you to separate your clean clothes from the dirty laundry. Simply put: Packing cubes are travel magic.
Want to make your summer travel a breeze? Stock up on these seven packing cubes before your next vacation.
Paravel Packing Cube Trio, $55 at Paravel
Ever feel nostalgic for the golden age of flying? The days of dressing up for the airport may be over, but you’d never know it by the vintage-inspired designs of the packing cube trio from Paravel. The containers come in four classic colors (green, black, red, and navy), with crisp white trim and upscale leather zipper pulls. Handy viewing windows on the corner of each cube give you a glimpse of what’s inside. Plus, you can get these packing cubes personalized with custom-embroidered initials for an even more stylish look.Buy Now
Packing cubes from Peak Design are among the most functional travel accessories on the market. The minimalist gray cubes, which come in two handy sizes (small and medium), replace traditional u-zip openings with “tear-away zippers” that let you access your stuff in a flash. Internal dividers in the cubes help keep your clothes organized and compress a large volume of items into a small space. And with their self-healing, weatherproof outer shells, these packing cubes can take some serious abuse. No wonder they’ve earned awards for their smart design.Buy Now
Briggs & Riley has already made a name for itself as a traveler-favorite luggage company. But now the brand is helping jet-setters get organized with its set of large packing cubes (there’s also a smaller set for $44). The trio of containers nestle perfectly into a Briggs & Riley checkable bag, along with just about any other suitcase you already use. Double zippers make it easier to close each cube when you’re squeezing them full. And when you want to slide them out of your suitcase, just yank on the packing cubes’ durable handles. Buy Now
If color-coding your stuff gives you peace of mind, you’ll love the pack pods from Six Moon Designs. The set comes in three random colors (some combo of green, orange, black, and blue) so you can assign one category of items to each hue. Taped seams help the cubes resist moisture, saving travelers the nightmare of messy, wet clothes if their toiletries happen to leak. Weighing in at just about an ounce per pod, Six Moon Designs packing cubes are a backpacker’s best friend. Buy Now
Marie Kondo devotees, eat your heart out: Well Traveled’s three-piece compression packing cube set sparks joy every time you set your eyes on the bold designs. From the ocean sunset on the small cube to the snowy peaks on the large one, the original artwork on these containers will perpetually remind you of your favorite adventures. But these packing cubes aren’t mere eye candy—they’re durable, lightweight and functional, as well. You’ll never take to the skies without them. (You can also snag a 4-piece set with slightly different designs for $26.97.)Buy Now
Designed for National Geographic explorers, Eagle Creek’s Pack-It storage compression cubes are built with a durable coated material that protects gear from rain, sleet, and snow. The two-way zippered opening makes it a breeze to pack every last item. The small cube can also mount to backpacks and suitcases. And since these cubes are backed by a lifetime guarantee, you can feel confident taking them on your most rugged adventures. Buy Now
TravelPro, the luggage brand beloved by flight attendants around the world, has just released a new piece of luggage for packing cube fanatics: The Crew VersaPack. Its versatile design allows travelers to zip-in a variety of packing cube organizers, giving travelers more personalization options than ever. The organizers range from smaller mesh containers and laundry sorters to a garment bag-inspired packing cube that will help your clothes stay wrinkle-free. It’s the ultimate way to stay organized and use every nook of your suitcase.Buy Now