By Martha C. White
January 29, 2019

People who travel a lot have plenty of ideas about “must have” gear. Backpackers, whose adventures often involve public transportation, hostel stays, and low-price vacation destinations, tend to love practical travel products like theft-resistant backpacks and sarongs (which can pinch-hit for a blanket, towel or skirt, just to name a few). Business travelers, on the other hand, praise accessories that help them survive long flights and breeze through airports, including Bose noise-canceling headphones and Away carry-on bags.

But frequent fliers of all stripes, demographics, and budgets just can’t say enough good things about one particular travel product: packing cubes.

For the uninitiated, packing cubes are pretty much just what they sound like. They are semi-structured zippered bags — usually made of nylon, sometimes including mesh panels for visibility and ventilation — that corral different categories of stuff inside your suitcase, duffel, or backpack. Packing cubes can help even the messiest travelers stay organized, and it’s no surprise this category of product is hot given the world’s newfound obsession with the Marie Kondo method and tidying up.

Since they come in different sizes and colors, packing cubes basically give you an infinite number of ways to categorize your stuff to make finding what you need easier — no having to dig through half a week’s worth of clothes to find a pair of socks. Some people divide their clothing and accessories by type: T-shirts in one cube, underwear in another, and so on. Others swear by the method where you give each day’s outfit its own cube. Parents responsible for organizing family trips say assigning each family member their own color cube streamlines everything, especially if two or more people are sharing space in the same suitcase.

What are the best packing cubes? There are a plethora of packing cube brands out there, but Eagle Creek consistently rises to the top among professionals and regular travelers alike for its durable fabric, solid stitching, and well-constructed zippers. Eagle Creek packing cube kits regularly rack up four-plus star ratings on Amazon and kudos from sites like The Wirecutter, which says its top-choice Eagle Creek packing cube set is”well built with easy access.”

Two Eagle Creek packing cube kits that get a lot of love are this water-resistant trio of bags with an amazing 4.8 out of five-star Amazon rating and its nearly-identical cousin that offers a variety of bag sizes and comes recommended by more than 90% of reviewers on eBags.com.

Courtesy of eBags

Eagle Creek also has lots of variations on their basic packing cube kits to cater to travelers with particular needs. If you need to carry dress shirts, for instance, Eagle Creek this three-piece Specter kit ($42 on Amazon) that includes a unique “garment folder,” a sort of envelope that helps keep wrinkles at bay. You can also buy the garment folder on its own in regular and large sizes.

Courtesy of Amazon

If you want to separate clean clothes from dirty ones, many Eagle Creek bags include a water-resistant divider in the middle. (You also can just designate one or more cube for dirty laundry.)

If you’re a chronic over-packer, compression packing cubes come to the rescue by helping you cram even more into the inside of your suitcase, and kits from Eagle Creek’s super-lightweight Specter line are ideal if you tend to find yourself at airport check-in, cramming stuff into your carry-on so you don’t get dinged with an overweight bag fee. (And can we also recommend a pocket-sized luggage scale to avoid that situation in the first place?)

Courtesy of Amazon

Although all of the Eagle Creek sets are quite affordable, if you’re looking for the best deal on packing cubes, you can’t beat this six-piece eBags kit, currently just $35 when you use the coupon code TRAVEL at eBags. With a 98% approval rating on nearly 10,000 reviews, this set is the real deal when it comes to delivering serious value.

Courtesy of eBags

For that matter, Amazon has an even cheaper packing cube deal, sold through its AmazonBasics line of products. This AmazonBasics 4-Piece Packing Cube Set includes two each of large and small mesh-sided bags for around $23, and a choice of six colors means you can color-code to your heart’s content.

Courtesy of Amazon

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