Packing Cubes For Backpacking – Can You Live Without Them?

Packing cubes

The links to Amazon on this page are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate South East Asia Backpacker earns from qualifying purchases.

When it comes to packing for a backpacking trip, things can get complicated. With so many must-haves, it’s difficult to figure out just how everything will fit into one backpack… That’s where the awesome invention of packing cubes come in! However, making all your vital equipment fit into your backpack is just the first challenge, keeping it organized takes the game to a whole new level. Packing cubes for backpacking will completely revolutionise the way you think about packing and make life a breeze once you hit the road… 

What are Packing Cubes?

Packing cubes are small bag-like containers that are used to compartmentalise your clothes and other equipment within your main travel bag or backpack. These travelling organisers are often made of fabric and come in a rectangular shape. They zip up to keep your belongings in place and you can use them to get your pack organised in the most efficient way. They separate your cleans from your smellies and not to mention, they compress your clothes and other belongings to make space for extra belongings! Using packing cubes is like having a portable dresser in your backpack throughout your travels.

Are Packing Cubes Worth It?

Everyone has their own packing style, but packing cube sets can make a big difference in anyone’s pack. According to our readers, packing cubes are that one inexpensive travel accessory you simply don’t want to miss out on. Taking the time to organize your equipment before you head out on your adventure will help you stay organized and save you time throughout your whole trip. If you appreciate an easy to manage backpack as you transition from place to place during your travels, then investing in packing cubes is well worth your while!

Benefits of Packing Cubes for Backpacks

If you’re still not sold on the idea of using packing cubes, consider the wide range of benefits…

  • Use them to separate your dirty clothes from your clean clothes.
  • Keep your backpack organized from start to finish.
  • Keep your clothes wrinkle-free.
  • Make unpacking and repacking at each destination super easy.
  • You can categorize while packing saving you precious holiday time.
  • Functional packing for all equipment including clothing, toiletries, gear, shoes, and more.
  • You will reuse them for many trips.
  • Help keep your belongings protected during travel.
  • Better than a plastic bag for the environment.
  • They are very easy to keep clean.
  • Can be used as a backup yoga pillow!
  • Or, even a travel pillow for flights, bus, and train trips!
Packing cubes for backpacking.
Separating your laundry from your clean clothes is one of the big advantages of packing cubes!

How to Pack with Packing Cubes?

Of course, before you start thinking about how you will use packing cubes to organise your backpack, you need to have a solid packing list. It’s also important to measure your luggage, so you know just how much space you’re working with. Once you’ve settled on what will be coming along for your trip and how much room you have, it’s time to determine your packing system!

There are many ways you can go about using packing cubes:

  • You can colour code your clothes; light tops in one cube, dark tops in another. Or, you can separate your clothes in terms of warmth; tank tops in one, long-sleeved tops in another.
  • An obvious way to use packing cubes is to separate your belongings into completely different categories like clothing and toiletries. First, decide which collection of belongings best fits in each cube. Smaller packing cubes work well for toiletries and accessories. Large cubes work well for bulkier clothing and medium cubes are ideal for lightweight belongings.
  • Use double-sided packing cubes as a laundry bag to make sure that you keep your clean clothes as fresh as possible.
  • If you’re heading off on a beach trip, it may be a good idea to look for a set of packing cubes that has at least one water-resistant cube to pack your wet swimsuit and/or wet towel away if you’re making a quick transition.
  • To maximise the space of the packing cubes, you can roll softer clothing before packing. If you have stiff clothing, stick to folding it so it doesn’t get damaged.
  • Don’t overpack your cubes. Make sure that you can zip the cubes closed easily, while still filling them up. You don’t want to break the zip!
  • Once you’ve packed all your belongings into cubes, start loading your backpack. The best strategy is to load the larger cubes first, followed by the smaller cubes. This will allow you easier access to all cubes.

FAQs about Packing Cubes

How many packing cubes should you buy?

The number of packing cubes you will need depends largely on two factors: 1) the size and type of your backpack. 2) the amount of clothes and equipment you plan to carry. As a rule of thumb, it may be helpful to organize your belongings, take stock, and start with a set of up to 6 cubes in different sizes. That way you can adjust accordingly while packing.

What size should they be?

This is another decision that should be made based on the size of your backpack and how much you plan to pack. Generally speaking, small, medium, and large cubes will fit comfortably in most packs. However, you may prefer to use a larger collection of smaller cubes or just a couple of larger cubes depending on the contents of your load.

Backpacking Packing Cubes
Large packing cubes are great for bulkier clothes and toiletries.

What are common mistakes people make with packing cubes?

First of all, remember that you don’t have to put everything into a cube! There may be some equipment that you want to pack as is. One common mistake people make with packing cubes is how much they put into them. It’s easy to underfill and overfill them. Packing cubes compress your clothes, so you can pack them tight. Just make sure the zipper closes without a struggle. Pay attention to the washing and drying directions on your cubes, as they may need to be hand washed.

What if you can’t afford packing cubes, then what can you use?

Some decent alternatives to packing cubes include:

  • Plastic bags
  • Zipper bags for things like toiletries
  • Small containers or boxes you have lying around
  • The bags from toiletry kits or makeup bags
  • Vacuum and space-saving bags

6 Best Packing Cubes for Backpacking!

1. AmazonBasics Packing Cubes (4-Piece) – $20 USD

With a variety of packing cubes on the market at varying prices, you may wonder if it’s really worth spending more money on a more expensive set or if a basic cheaper set will do? In our opinion, this set of 4 medium-sized cubes from AmazonBasics Packing Cubes is a great start! The set comes in different colours so you can match your cubes with your pack. These cubes are made with durable zippers and mesh tops, making them a good choice for dirty laundry, since they will be ventilated.


2. Packing Cubes Value Set for Travel by U-MISS (7-Piece) – $17 USD – *Best Value Buy!

The U-MISS Packing Cubes are another cheap and reliable choice when you’re looking for efficient packing cubes for backpacks. This value set comes with 7 pieces at a super affordable price. So, if you’re on the fence about travel packing techniques, these cubes are a good test option. The set includes cubes in different sizes with suggested uses like underwear bag and bag for toiletries. The U-MISS packing cubes are availabe in three colour schemes, so you can choose the one you like best. The waterproof and durable material will keep these cubes in the backpacking rotation for many trips to come.


3. PRO Packing Cubes (5 Piece) – $27 USD

The PRO Packing Cubes are sturdy yet lightweight, making them ideal backpack packing cubes. This set comes with one large cube, three medium cubes, and two slim cubes for versatile use. The piles of clothes and equipment you’ve prepared for packing will be easily compressed and organized with the PRO Packing Cubes. They even come with a lifetime guarantee, so there’s nothing to lose!


4. TravelWise Packing Cube System (5 Piece) – $22.95 USD

The TravelWise Packing Cube System includes five cubes to get your backpack organized before you head off on your next adventure. Each cube is made with durable fabric and is designed with mesh ventilation. The two-way zipper on these cubes makes packing and unpacking faster and easier. Each cube is outfitted with a handle, so you can carry them individually when needed.


5. BAGAIL 6 Set Packing Cubes (6 Piece) – $24.99 USD

The BAGAIL set of packing cubes is super practical as it provides you with two cubes in three different sizes (6 in total, for those struggling with their maths). This leaves plenty of room and flexibility for fitting everything you need neatly into your backpack. You’ll probably have space to spare. The cubes are made durably with finished interior seams, so you won’t need to worry about having a packing breakdown during your travels. Take your pick from a wide selection of color schemes.


6. Shacke Pak – 4 Set Packing Cubes (4-Piece) – $24.99 USD

Another great backpacking packing cubes pick is the set of Shacke Pak cubes. This set of 4 offers a collection of all different sizes, so you can organize your clothes and equipment in the way that works best for your needs. The cubes are made of a water-resistant and durable material to keep you in business for many trips to come. With your set of 4 Shacke Pak cubes, you also get a separate laundry bag to keep your dirty clothes isolated. 

Hannah Rivera is a freelance writer and Clinical Psychology graduate student. She left the hustle and bustle of New York City and made her way to Athens, Greece for a tastier and more relaxed lifestyle. When she’s not writing, Hannah spends time volunteering and feeding Athens’ street cats and dogs. Are you interested in writing for us?

Join Our Community!

  • Join Our Facebook Group: South East Asia Backpacker Community.
  • Join Our Newsletter: Find out about opportunities to review trips for free.
  • Our Recommended Travel Resources

  • Travel Insurance: True Traveller and World Nomads.
  • Transport: Skyscanner (Flights) and 12Go.Asia (Local Transport).
  • Accommodation: and HostelWorld.