The Ultimate Guide to Packing Cubes

The Must-Have Travel Accessory

Luggage packing cubes are the perfect way to maximise your suitcase space and stay organised. Think of them as drawers in your suitcase. Sort by item, weather or destination so that you know exactly where everything is.

How can this guide help you?

 

Welcome to the secret world of packing cubes! You're obviously here because someone has let you in on the secret - packing cubes are the only way to travel. You're probably wondering what all the fuss is about and how these little fabric cubes can have such a cult following. Well you've come to the right place. Here you'll find out all you need to know about packing cubes and how they will revolutionise the way you travel.

 

There's a lot of ground to cover - we'll explain everything from what they are, what the different types are for, to how to use them effectively. So grab a cuppa and prepare to learn something new. There's even a quiz at the end! No it's not like homework - take our quiz to help you find out what kind of packer you are and which cubes are best for you. Just relax, you'll be an expert in no time.

The Basics

What you need to know about Packing Cubes

What are Packing Cubes?

Packing cubes are lightweight, zippered bags or pouches that help you stay organised when you are travelling. They make it super easy to transform your luggage from a disorganised mess into a neatly organised suitcase that sparks joy. They help to keep clothes compressed (saving you space), as well as saving you time trying to find particular items, as everything has its place.

They are not necessarily cube shaped, coming in a variety of shapes and sizes. Essentially, they are a packing system for organising your suitcase. They are also known as packing cells, packing pods, compression cubes or travel organisers.

Do Packing Cubes Really Help?

When you pack items individually into a large backpack or suitcase, you end up with wasted space because of gaps between the contents.

Even if you’re able to fill up every inch of space, once the suitcase has been tossed and turned on its travels, the items aren’t arranged how you started. Then after you’ve been living out of your suitcase for a few days it becomes a chore to find the items you need. Clean clothes get mixed up with dirty clothes and it becomes a hassle to just dress yourself. Packing cubes will fix all of that.

 

How do packing cubes help when travelling?

Whether you’re a frequent traveller, the casual holiday traveller or a backpacker, there are many ways that packing cubes will make your travels easier.

  • Packing cubes will save you space
  • They will make packing and unpacking easier
  • They will keep your packing sorted and organised
  • They will protect your clothes and minimise wrinkles and creases
  • They are reusable over and over again!
  • They keep the contents of your luggage private during customs and TSA inspections
  • They make it easy to move items around if your luggage is overweight

 

How do you use packing cubes?

 

Using packing cubes is quite straightforward. Think of packing cubes as drawers in your wardrobe.

Simply group and sort your packing according to your preference.

Place them in appropriate size cubes, zip them closed and place the cubes inside your luggage.

It’s really that easy.

 

 

Are packing cubes really necessary?

Strictly speaking, no you don’t have to use packing cubes. If you’re someone who lives out of a clean washing basket instead of sorting your clothes into dresser drawers you’re probably quite happy digging around your suitcase to find clothes each day. However, packing cubes are a wonderful way to emulate your dresser drawers when you’re travelling. They keep the clothes sorted, wrinkle-free and can help you save space in your suitcase.

How to choose the right packing cubes for you

 

Which packing cubes are the best?

When choosing packing cubes, durability is ultimately the most important attribute – you want a strong material with good quality zips, so that you can fill them to the brim without them breaking.

Choosing cubes with a good range of colours and sizes is also of benefit to help you sort items to best suit your needs. Buying cubes in different sizes and colours help you to identify the contents. This is great for families sharing a suitcase, as each family member can have their own cube easily identified by colour.

Look for features that will help you to use the cubes – such as mesh for breathability, tags for identifying the contents and handles for easy carrying.

Look at the specific dimensions of the cubes you’re ordering as there is no standard for how big a large, medium, or small should be. Zoomlite cubes have generous sizing. For example, a Zoomlite large packing cube can fit as much as three large cubes from some other brands.

 

What size packing cubes do I need?

This is an important question and a difficult one to answer. There are some people who travel very light and can fit two weeks’ worth of clothes in a couple of small cubes. Those people are truly amazing! For the rest of us, the answer will vary depending on where you’re going and how long you’re going for. Clothes for a week at the beach will require less cubes than a week in the snow.

Our 4 piece starter set is a good way to try packing cubes and get a feel for the sizes and their capacity. The 4 piece set will suit most people for a long weekend (3-4 days worth of clothes). We have also created bundles to cover you for longer. Most larger suitcases (70-80cm) will fit our 10 piece bundle, and should cover one person for a couple of weeks. You may even have a few cubes left over for dirty laundry or keeping a change of clothes in your carry-on.

 

How many packing cubes do you need?

As with the question above about what size packing cubes are needed, the number of packing cubes you need will also depend on how you pack, where you’re going and how long for. We have put together this handy guide showing how many packing cubes will fit into different suitcase sizes.

 

How many packing cubes fit in a suitcase?

Well that depends on the size of your case or luggage. It is very hard to give a one fit solution for all, as each traveller's needs are different. Besides which, each manufacturer offers luggage in different sizes.

We have a guide here to illustrate a scenario for the most common suitcase sizes. It is actually a bit like playing a game of Tetris - you can have several combinations of sizes that can fit inside the same case.

 

What types of packing cubes do I need?

This is a matter of personal choice and your desired level of sorting and organisation. There are specialty cubes for shoes, laundry, tech accessories, bras & underwear, business shirts, ties & cuff links, toiletries, and medication.

There are also compression cubes that help squeeze more air from the packing cube. While all these cubes have their uses, you may find you don’t need them all. For some travellers, separating medicine and toiletries is important, whereas others can fit it all in together.

People travelling with multiple electronic devices, chargers, SIM cards, SD cards and power cables will find a tech organiser a must have. People who plan to hike in wilderness areas will find shoe cubes important for keeping their shoes separate from their other belongings. Think about how you travel and what items you need to take, and choose your packing cubes accordingly. Zoomlite offers a huge selection of specialty cubes to cover all your needs.

 

Compression Packing Cubes vs Vacuum bags

Where space is a premium, compression cubes or vacuum bags may help you to save further space. Compression cubes are packing cubes with an extra zip to further compress the cubes once they’re packed. Vacuum bags are sealed bags that you can draw the air out of. Both are particularly helpful when you are carrying bulky items, such as snow gear or a parka.

While vacuum bags compress down to the smallest space, there are a few things to note:

  • Packing cubes or compression cubes are easier to access as you don't have to release the air
  • Fabric cubes are more durable than plastic cubes
  • Packing cubes stack neatly into a suitcase
  • Clothing will be less creased than if you use vacuum bags.
  • Cubes with mesh for breathability will mean your clothes smell less musty

 

Using your packing cubes

 

Do packing cubes wrinkle clothes?

If packed correctly, packing cubes can help you avoid wrinkled clothes. If you leave a lot of space in your cubes the items will end up tossed around, leading to wrinkles. However, if you pack the cubes tightly, particularly if you roll your clothes, you can avoid wrinkles. Garment folders are a great type of packing organiser for keeping dress shirts and trousers neatly folded and wrinkle-free.

 

Is it better to roll or fold clothes in a suitcase?

Frequent travellers and packing experts suggest that rolling your clothes helps you to maximise your packing space and also keeps your clothing in the same condition as when it was packed.

Suitcase packing cubes are ideal for this by storing your rolled clothes neatly, even when your luggage is tossed around.

What is the best way to sort my clothes into packing cubes?

There is no right or wrong way to use packing cubes. It comes down to your personal preference. You can keep it really simple or you can get very creative. For example you can…

Pack by clothing type

One cube could be for your active wear, while another could hold your formal clothes.

Pack by climate

You could put all your warm weather gear in one cube and pack for your cold weather destinations in another.

Pack by size

Group similar items together. For example, all your socks and underwear can go in a small cube and all your shirts and shorts can go in a larger cube.

 

To help you identify what is in each cube, or who it belongs to we suggest-

Pack by colour

Choose cubes in different colours to further group your packing and help identify your contents faster. When packing for multiple people make sure everyone has their own designated colour, particularly when sharing a suitcase.

Get packing cubes with labels

Find a way to label your packing cubes or buy cubes with label windows to help identify what is in each cube. See-through mesh will provide some visibility, but labels are even better.

Use different types of packing cubes

Depending on your needs, you can use a tech cube to pack your tech gear, a specialist shoe cube for your shoes or a padded cube for your underwear and bras.

Our advanced packing tips below feature some other packing options for more daring packers.

 

What goes in each cube?

You can completely customise your packing by choosing any combination of colours and sizes. We offer 5 main sizes to suit all your packing needs. Many travellers like to pack by colour allowing them to identify the cubes easily - take your pick from 8 Zoomlite colours and 9 prints.

Large Packing Cube
Ideal for jackets, knits, jumpers and bulky items

Medium Packing Cube
Ideal for dresses, jeans, trousers, shirts & shorts

Slim-Medium Packing Cube
Ideal for t-shirts, activewear, tank tops, kids clothing. This is a reduced height version of the medium cube.

Small Packing Cube
Ideal for small items - socks, belts, gloves, undergarments

Extra Small Packing Cube
Ideal for undergarments, baby clothes, first aid, medication and any small items

 

How do you pack shoes in a suitcase?

Shoes are tricky as most are structured and take up a fair bit of room in your suitcase. To save space you can pack small items into your shoes, although this risks your clean clothing smelling like the inside of a shoe!

The other problem often encountered with shoes is that the soles pick up dust and dirt off the roads and paths you walk down. Leaving them loose may be fine at the beginning of a trip, but by the end you'll be bringing along dirt and dust as unwanted souvenirs.

We recommend using designated Shoe Organiser bags - packing cubes for shoes. They will help keep the dirt from your shoes off the other items in your suitcase. They're a great way to keep shoes together so that you're not digging around trying to find a matching pair.

What do I pack first?

Once you've sorted out the items you're going to bring and packed them into your packing cubes, look not just at how they will best fit into your suitcase, but also look at what are the heaviest items and what items need protecting from being crushed.

Pack the heavier items towards the bottom of your case - this will help the balance of the case when you're wheeling it around.

Put anything delicate or that you want to avoid crushing towards the top.

Make sure that items you need ready-access to are at the top or in your carry-on.

 

How do you pack the most in a suitcase?

If you're trying to maximise the space in your suitcase you will need to compress items as much as possible. Make sure you use compression cubes for bulky items like jackets, which will help you take the air out and keep it out until you open the cubes.

Standard cubes can also be packed tightly to make the most of the space. Good quality packing cubes are designed to hold your items in place and shouldn't tear when filled.

Just remember that compressing the cubes doesn't make them weigh any less, so the best way to save space is to only take what you really need.

 

Advanced Packing

 

Pack it your way

A further way of saving time on your travels is to pack by day, location or weather. A capsule wardrobe is one way to pack clothing for each day into the one cube instead of going to your large for your trousers, your medium for a shirt, your small for your underwear etc.

A long trip that takes you across multiple climates would be a time when packing by weather can be of assistance. There's no point digging through your beachwear while you're on the winter leg of your journey - so why not colour-code your packing and put warm weather clothes in red cubes and cold weather clothes in blue cubes?

Once you've used your cubes a few times you'll start to see ways to help save you time by packing to suit your own needs.

 

Next level organisation

For long trips or when travelling with a family, take your organisation to the next level with these packing accessories: garment folders, toiletry bags, tech organisers, pouches, slim cubes, bra & underwear organisers and medication cubes. Each are designed to make your travels easier by storing items together, saving you time and energy searching.

If you're travelling with multiple people and multiple suitcases we recommend splitting each person's belongings across the various suitcases. That way if one of the suitcases goes missing, everyone still has something to wear.

What travellers are saying

"Bought the cubes for a trip to New Zealand. They were perfect for keeping everything in an orderly fashion. We travelled around by hire car so knowing what clothing was in which cube saved pulling everything out. Highly recommend."

Kathy S.

 

"A friend recommended these and I am really pleased with them! I've always rolled my clothes when packing but found that my case would become such a mess. Now I can find everything more easily but have more room too. Less creases and less raking around plus better organisation - and rolling still works. It's a win win for me :)"

Gillian M.

 

"I have just finished packing with these cubes and our suitcases have never been more organised. Also, I was able to make all the clothing more compact with space to spare, instead of cramming everything in and applying force to the lids to close them"

Jennifer A.

 

"I’m currently travelling and using my new packing cubes. They really are fantastic! All of my clothes are super organised and I don’t have to unpack everything at each location to find what I need. Highly recommended... I’d like to try the compression cubes next."

Avrill F.

 

"Used my packing cubes for the first time last weekend for a quick trip interstate. Loved how it kept everything neat, tidy and organised. No fear of my smalls spilling out when I had to unzip my carry on for the swab test at the airport!"

Jenny T.

 

"Love the quality! Handles and labels are uber handy and packing and unpacking (in a very small space) has been a dream!! Best travel purchase ever. Personally I realised the medium were a more useful size than the large but managed to use a large this trip for 2 months in winter in the UK and was perfect for a big puffy ski coat and 5 jumpers/knits so I’m glad I had that size in the end."

Kate P.

 

"These guys scream durability. In fact, you could safely sequester your smalls in them, bung them straight on the luggage conveyor, and be reasonably confident your clothes would arrive intact at the other end, albeit a little dusty. Zoomlite is an all-Australian brand that’s all about strength and simplicity."

Catherine Best - Escape.com.au

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Useful Packing Tips

  • Always use a Packing List to plan your packing
  • Find out your airlines baggage policy
  • Use your carry on allowance wisely, check out what personal items you can take as well as a carry-on bag
  • Always use packing aids like packing cubes and garment folders
  • Roll your clothes instead of folding them
  • Check in your essentials and valuables
  • Invest in a lightweight suitcase
  • Only pack clothes that will go with everything. Stick to neutral colours appropriate for the season

More Packing Resources

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Prepare for a destination that you've never been before. A travel packing list will help you pack no matter where you plan on going.