For the type of person who has a place for everything, packing cubes are the next step into complete compartmentalization. These matryoshka-like sets of stuffable squares have become popular among orderly travelers for their space-saving powers, while keeping you aware of what’s where in your luggage.

Since they allow travelers to quickly dive into a carry-on bag to find that one pair of warm socks or a sleep mask, frequent flyers sing their praises. Minimalist travelers appreciate the ability to sort and compress. Best of all, because they've grown so popular over the years, you’re sure to find one with just the right features for your type of packing and travel style.

Curious how packing cubes can be the ultimate travel trick? Here’s how to pack smarter with packing cubes.

Packing cubes help you travel smarter

Packing cubes are the secret weapon for anyone who wants to be a little bit more of a neat-freak. Just separate your necessities into your cubes and the suitcase will feel instantly organized in a quarter of the time it would have taken to find a spot for a week’s worth of clothes. Go beyond the wardrobe with a set of 6 or 7 (or 10!) to load up toiletries, shoes, towels, and electronics to achieve pro-packer status (at the very least you'll impress the TSA agents scanning your bag).

Packing cubes aren’t just built to contain, however. Travelers can find compression packing cubes, designed to further flatten your bulky sweaters and really max out a bag’s space, as well as waterproof, ultralight, and see-through options to prep your items for any kind of trip you’re planning. If uninitiated packers are still wondering just how crucial a few fabric boxes can be, these flexible offerings are sure to fit the needs of any type of traveler.

A travel packing cube with white fabric, an bright burnt orange zipper, and a lighter fruit-colored orange carrying strap is decorated with a pattern of brown bears, bear footprints, pinecones, green feathers, and pine trees randomly scattered over the surface.
Eagle Creek comes in several fun outdoors patterns © Benjamin Rex via Eagle Creek

For the space saver: Eagle Creek Pack-It Compression Cube Set

It's ok if you don't want to admit to overpacking – and these compression cubes will help keep your secret. With a simple and sturdy design, these packing cubes can compress even the most unwieldy wardrobe items. Eagle Creek’s packing cubes are built to last, but they do have their limits. Use them on things like winter gear or your favorite travel blanket instead of awkward, rigid gear like ski bindings to ensure a perfect fit — don’t worry, there will still be room in your bag for, say, a tripod or trekking poles in all the space these save. Combine with a suitcase that has its own compression system and you'll be able to really pack it in there.

$36.95, eaglecreek.com

Related content: Packing for a round-the-world trip

A clear, thick plastic bag with black edges shows the slightly distorted contents of a bright swimsuit in a pink pattern, an orange and pink chapstick, swim goggles, and other aquatic beach gear.
From kayaking trips to beach resorts, waterproof travel cubes offer extra peace of mind. © Nite Ize

For the aquatic adventurer: RunOff Waterproof Packing Cube from Nite Ize

Whether you're heading to a coastal dive site, a hotel with a luxe infinity pool, or a rainy locale like Oregon, you don't have to worry about the wet if you bring along Nite Ize RunOff packing cubes. These bags’ main feature is their sealed waterproofing that's able to lock out water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter underwater. Ideal for any trip where water is a definite, since they’re the perfect size to tuck in a beach bag, or carry on its own with its briefcase-like handle. 

These bags come individually, and a purchase of two or three in large, medium and small sizes are well worth it to ensure a dry and organized packing experience. The hydro-proof zipper offers a total seal on packed gear, while the translucent top panel lets you see exactly where you stuffed your running shoes in with your snorkeling system.

$24.99-$54.99, niteize.com

A blue travel packing cube filled with folded clothing sits against a white background with its white mesh cover partially unzipped. A white male hand reaches into the bag to lift a button-down shirt.
If you're worried about luggage weight limits or enjoy finessing your outdoor kit to its lightest for outdoor treks, eBags packing cubes are a good choice. © eBags

For the ultralighter: Super Packer Hyper-Lite Packing Cubes from eBags

Looking to cut down on weight and make those checked bag requirements? These Super Packer Hyper-Lite packing cubes should do the trick. With the set of 5 packing cubes weighing just over 8 ounces total, travelers can keep heavy or lightweight items organized with ease, as the cubes promise to hold their shape while loading and unloading. Blending highly-durable elastic and mesh, these cubes are set to go from the suitcase to the hotel drawer – or further afield to your favorite backcountry campground. A set of five packing cubes come travel ready for large clothes, gear, toiletries and accessories.

$64.99, ebags.com

A blue packing cube is shown with its mesh lid open, distinguished by a large blue x-shaped panel. Inside are folded clothes in neutral colors, including a grey sweater.
Long-haul travelers will appreciate the laundry bag that comes with Shacke Pak's packing cubes – a nice bonus if you're accumulating lots of dirty clothes between trips to the laundromat. © Shacke Pak

For the long-hauler: Travel Bags from Shacke Pak

Not all trips are quick weekend getaways, and not all packing cubes are built to support a life in transit like Shacke Pak’s take on travel organizers. These brightly-colored, friendly packing cubes are the road warrior’s best friend, made from wear-resistant nylon that binds whatever’s inside, while still offering mesh detailing to ensure everything is where it should be. A set of four cubes also comes with a laundry bag to keep track of what needs to get to the washing machine first, perfect for long stretches between laundromats.

$24.99, shake.com

Thrill blush pink packing cubes filled with clothes in muted colors fill a beige Away hard-side carry-on size suitcase against a white background.
Away's suitcases have become popular for their array of smart features and fun colors, qualities they've applied to travel accessories like packing cubes, too. © Away

For the completionist: The Insider Packing Cubes from Away

If you're a fan of Away's Instagram-famous line of suitcases with built in power banks, these packing cubes will turn your suitcase into a full-on packing system. Because they're designed to work with the brand’s compression features already within the suitcase, as well as its exact size and shape, you'll get a perfect pack each time. And if you're contemplating using Away's packing cubes with another brand of luggage, it's a chance to test-drive the company's wares with a smaller investment. The cubes come in a set of four, are made of waterproof nylon with a mesh top, and come in a full range of colors to match or coordinate with your bag.

$45, awaytravel.com

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