Traveling around the world is always more amazing and exciting than expected, but whether you’re heading to Europe, Southeast Asia, or South America, keeping your whole life in a backpack organized can be more exciting than we’d like. This list of the best packing cubes for backpacking and adventurous travel has the perfect solution to fits your needs and travel type.
From simple packing cubes, to ultra lightweight options, to packing cubes that double as backpacks, are water resistant, have amazingly cool and colorful designs, and have secret compartments, this list is guaranteed to have the exact packing cubes to fit your travel needs.
Read on to discover how to choose the best options for your adventure and discover the 25 best packing cubes for backpacking and adventurous travel.
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Contents of this List of the Best Packing Cubes for Backpacking
- Why You Need Packing Cubes for Backpacking Adventures
- How to Use Packing Cubes
- What to look for in Good Packing Cubes
- Our List of the Best Packing Cubes for Every Type of Traveler
As exciting as wandering the world with your whole life can be, having your whole life on your back can become a bit disorganized when you’re caught up making new friends and exploring new cities. This might not sound that bad now, in the comforts of home with all of your clothes hanging neatly in the closet or folded in your drawers while all of your other belongings sit (somewhat) neatly on shelves.
…but…after a month of travel, when the clean clothes have mixed with the dirty, you can find your socks in the ball of clothes, your phone charger is nowhere to be seen, and you have to account for everything in the partial darkness at 2AM in a hostel dorm, you will really wish you had used packing cubes. Trust me, this is all from experience and why I started using packing cubes. The breaking point was when I was frustrated, packing and accounting for everything before a flight while my friend quickly placed her packing cubes in her backpack, accounting for everything within 5 minutes. I was sold.
Every backpacker and traveler needs packing cubes. Here’s why…
Why You Need Packing Cubes for Backpacking Adventures:
Packing Cubes turn your backpack into a dresser with drawers — this makes it easier to stay organized and access things quickly
In short, packing are invaluable because they…
- Keep your belongings organized
- Make things easier to find and access throughout your bag
- Save space, allowing you to pack more into a carryon sized bag
- Easily compartmentalize dirty and clean, quick access items and unused items
- Allow for fast unpacking and packing
- Avoids wrinkly clothes (not that I care)
- Great for keeping things organized in small carry on backpacks for weekend travel
Packing cubes keep your belongings organized
With several separate cubes, it makes it easier to separate shirts, pants & shorts, underwear, socks etc., which makes it quick and easy to find what you need
Make things easier to find and access throughout your bag
For those times when you arrive late to the airport and need that long sleeve shirt to keep you warm on a flight, or need to quickly grab your swimsuit before heading for the rafting day trip, packing cubes make it easy and quick to find and access whatever you need
Save space, allowing you to pack more into a carryon sized bag
Aside from rolling your clothes to save space, using packing cubes is the most efficient way to pack and fit more clothes into less space. Packing cubes are the way I have been able to travel the world for over a year with only a 45 liter Carryon Sized Backpack
The Peak Designs compression packing cube (pictured above) manages to fit all of these clothes, into much less, keeping it all organized
Easily compartmentalize dirty and clean, quick access items and unused items
This is probably the best benefit. Having a water resistant packing cube for dirty clothes makes it easy to avoid accidentally wearing those dirty clothes and also keep the funk from spilling over to the clean clothes
Allow for fast unpacking and packing
Whenever I get to a place I’ll be at for more than a week or two, I simply takeout my packing cubes and lay them out and I’m unpacked. The packing cubes still act as dresser drawers and keep me organized while making everything accessible. When its time to go, I zip up and run.
Keeps things organized in small, carry on backpacks for weekend travel and overnight trips
Got an overnight trip? Instead of taking a whole, extra bag, shove your cloths into a packing cube and place that in your backpack/shoulder bag. This way, you maintain a single bag and can easily offload your clothes from your backpack at your destination.
How to Use Packing Cubes
- Decide what you need from a packing cube (e.g., water resistance, compression, padding, durability, etc.)
- Measure your backpack
- Pick the ideal sizes (Medium and Small)
- Divide clothes by type, purchase enough cubes, pack each type of clothing in a single cube
- Fold flat to fit packing cube
- Extra Step: Pick Specialized Packing Cubes that Give the Function You Need
1. Decide what you need from a packing cube (e.g., water resistance, compression, padding, durability, etc.)
Every traveler can benefit from packing cubes to stay organized, but we all travel differently – so – you will need a different type of cube than other travelers.
(Note: Don’t worry, I go into each type of packing cube in detail with recommended packing cubes below or click here (or on the packing cube type) to jump ahead)
If you’re an adventurous traveler or traveling long term, aim for something durable (like the GORUCK packing cubes) and possibly water resistant (like the Patagonia Black Hole packing cube). Having one water resistant packing cube for laundry and general use is a great idea.
If you tend to overpack, consider compression packing cubes to make the most of your space
If you’re a minimalist traveler, with a bag of 35L or less, consider the specialized “onebag” packing cubes with extra compartmentalization that helps you use space and stay organized even better.
If you’re the stylish type, aim for a packing cubes with fun & stylish designs to brighten your day when you open your ag.
Finally, if you’re as simple as I am and just need good, basic packing cubes check my recommendations below for great, durable, cheap options for your travels.
2. Measure your backpack
Ideally, your backpack will fit your packing cubes just perfectly so they’ll stack in neatly without wasting space or spilling over. To make sure this happens, measure the length, width, and height of your backpack and then compare it to the dimensions of the packing cube.
3. Pick the ideal sizes (Medium and Small)
Once you know the size of your bag, pick your cubes. Aim for several small and medium packing that will fit in like Jenga blocks and allow you a separate compartment for each type of gear. At the least, I recommend a separate cube for each of these:
- Pants and Shorts
- “Dry and Warm” stuff not used often (rain jacket, fleece, long underwear, etc.)
- Socks and Underwear (aim for a small or long packing cube for these)
- Dirty Clothes (Special laundry packing cube or a water resistant packing cube)
Avoid getting large cubes that take up the whole length and width of your backpack. Midsized and small sized cubes that take up ½ or ¼ of your backpack’s length and width (or less) are perfect and make it easier to keep your belongings compartmentalized and organized
For me, the perfect number is three medium sized packing cubes (for clothes) and two small packing cubes with an additional for dirty clothes
4. Divide clothes by type, purchase enough cubes, pack each type of clothing in a single cube
Now that you have a cube for each type of clothes, load them up and pack them in!
5. Fold flat to fit packing cube
Fold all of your clothes flat (instead of rolling) and lay them into the packing cubes to make the most of your space
The exceptions are socks, underwear, and bras (for the ladies). These things are so unruly, rolling and placing them in the cube works best
6. Extra Step: Pick Specialized Packing Cubes that Give the Function You Need
If you have special items, like camera equipment and electronics, considered a specialized packing cube or a padded packing cube, like the GORUCK Field Pocket or a specialized camera packing cube from Koolertron to keep things safe and organized.
What to look for in Good Packing Cubes
You now know a bit about packing cube. Now, here’s what to look for in a good, functional packing cube that will last through your adventures without leaving you wanting more..
- Nylon Outer: for durability
- Mesh venting: to easily see what’s inside, shave weight, and allow your clothes to breathe
- Durable Zippers: YKK or other durable zippers
- Convenient sizes relative to the size of your bag
- Good, consistent reviews and a lifetime warranty if possible, but expect to pay more for that
- Handles making it easier to grab and go
- Modular, Conveniently sized and low-profile, which creates “dresser drawer” like setup
- Extras: Style, compression, and multi-function to fit your tastes and needs
Now that you’re a packing cube expert, let’s jump into the list of the types of packing cubes available and the best packing cubes for backpacking and long term, adventurous travel
The Types of Packing Cubes for Backpacking
- Simple Packing Cubes: Get the job done at a great price with no frills
- Fun and Colorful Packing Cubes: Just in case the inside of your backpack needs a little “pop”
- “One Bag” Packing Cubes: Advanced designs and compartments make better use of space for carryon only travel
- Compression Packing Cubes: Compression straps and zippers help you fit more into less
- Multi-function and Specialized Packing Cubes: From protecting camera equipment and electronics to hiding valuables, these have a few extra tricks
The Ultimate List of the Best Packing Cubes for Backpacking
- Quick Comparison Chart of Packing Cubes for Travel and Backpacking
My 8 Favorite Packing Cube Picks
As awesome as the other packing cubes on this list are, these are the cubes I’ve been using for the past year and they work like a charm with my GORUCK GR3. They’re no frills, but made with durable nylon and large, durable zippers for overstuffing. Partial mesh in the fabric makes it easy to quickly see what’s packed inside (e.g., pants, shorts, shirts, cookies, etc.) and a handle makes toting easy. Also, the medium and small cubes fit my clothes and my pack perfectly.
For the price, these cubes are a bargain.
Keep in mind that if these aren’t your style, virtually any set of well review (4.5 stars or higher) packing cubes on Amazon will get the job done if you want something simple.
- Features: Handle, durable nylon, mesh for ventilation and seeing what’s inside easily, 100% satisfaction guarantee
- Pros: Cheap, simple, durable, effective
- Dimensions: 2 @ 4″x 12″x 17″, 2 @ 3″x 9″x 13″, 1 @ 3″x 6.5″x11″
- Material & Construction: Durable nylon, dual zippers, vented mesh
- Where to Buy: $21.99 on Amazon.com
2. Eagle Creek Pack-it Spectre – Compression Cubes
Eaglecreek’s lightweight and compressible Spectre packing cubes help you shave weight and space without compromising durability. Translucent fabric allows you to see what’s inside your cube without rummaging (too much).
- Features: Carrying handle, “self-healing” zipper, Eagle Creek’s Lifetime Warranty
- Dimensions: Sm. (6.75 x 9.75 x 1.25), Med. (10 x 13.5 x 1.25)
- Expanded Dimensions: Sm. (6.75 x 9.75 x 3), Med. (10 x 13.5 x 3.5)
- Material & Construction: Durable and lightweight silnylon material
- Where to Buy: $39.95 on Amazon for a 3 Cube Set
A cool option for minimalists that are trying to stay organized and save space. This packing doubles as a backpack.
The Tom Bihn Packing Cube Backpack was designed completely based on customer feedback and requests in the travel forums, this is a piece of travel gear thought up by travelers (like you and me) and iterated by a traveler (Tom Bihn) based on continuous feedback to be the piece of gear you never knew you needed.
- Features: Lifetime guarantee
- Pros: Reduce your load by having one piece of gear do the work of two
- Cons: You’ll have to unpack the packing cube to use it as a backpack
- Dimensions: 18.1″ x 12.2″ x 3.5″ / 46 x 31 x 9 cm
- Material & Construction: Durable 200 denier nylon outer, YKK zippers, Duraflex buckles, made in the USA
- Where to Buy: $55 at TomBihn.com
Also checkout the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30 Packing Cube backpack
4. Patagonia – Black Hole Cubes (Water Resistant)
Created along the same lines as Patagonia’s awesome Black Hole Duffel bag the Patagonia Black Hole packing cubes bring outdoor centric function to organizing your bag for travel. Weatherproof ripstop polyester and daisy chains make this cube something you can use for packing or as a tote for camping, hiking, and whatever else you can imagine.
- Features: Durable Water Resistant Coating, daisy chain webbing, eco-friendly construction and footprint
- Dimensions: Sm./2L (8” x 5.5” x 4”), Med./4L (11” x 7” x 5”), Lg./6L (13.5” x 8” x 6”)
- Material & Construction: 450 Denier Polyster Ripstop coated with a Durable Water Repellant (DWR) polyurethane layer
- Where to Buy: Starting at $29.99 at REI online
Tough & rugged yet equally functional, the GORUCK packing cubes make packing life easier by squeezing multiple packing cubes into one with their “open-flat” design. Whereas you would normally need two packing cubes, the wrap around zipper and dual mesh divider allow you to store almost everything with a single cube – and only needing two cubes at most for a 40L-45L backpack.
- Features: “2 in 1” packing cube design, individually zippered mesh divider
- Dimensions (Closed): Lg./20L (10.25″ x 15″ x 6.5″), Sm./10L (8″H x 10″W x 6.5″D)
- Dimensions (Open – each compartment): Lg./20L (10.25″H x 15″W x 2.75″ D), Sm./10L (8″H x 10″W x 2.75″D
- Material & Construction: 200D Nylong, Lifetime guarantee through GORUCK SCARS warranty
- Where to Buy: $59 at GORUCK
A great set of expandable packing cubes from one of my favorite brands. Each cube is made of tough, ripstop nylon with a mesh viewing window to see what’s inside.
Cubes expand from 4 liters up to 6 liters (Small), 8 liters up to 12 liters (Medium), and 13.25 liters up to 20.5 liters (Large).
- Features: Carrying handle, expandable, viewing window
- Dimensions: Sm. (7.75” x 6” x 6.25”), Med. (11.75” x 7.75” x 6.25”), Lg. (14” x 10” x 6.25”)
- Material & Construction: Ripstop nylon
Where to Buy: $44.95 at REI Online for a set of 3
(I know what you’re thinking and yes I’ve absolutely put this budget packing cube option on this list with high dollar items – because sometimes our ambition exceeds our budget AND I was broke during the times I wanted to travel the most…here’s to you, young Carlos…)
Heavy duty ziploc bags make a perfect packing cube option – partly because they’re cheap and partly because they work so well. Oddly enough, this is the only packing cube option on this list that is completely waterproof making Ziploc bags of various sizes perfect for outdoor adventures like the Everest Base Camp Trek or Patagonia.
Additionally, you can use these like vacuum bags by squeezing the air out or sucking the air out with a straw
Be sure to get the heavy-duty option, as they’re thicker and take more abuse than you think. Also, load up on bags of different sizes to fit your clothes (just as this article suggests) but also to waterproof and cluster your valuables, like your passport, phone, and your tablet.
Personally, I take a handful of 10-20 large, heavy duty Ziploc bags with me stuff in the bottom of my bag and end up using them all by the end of my travels. Get the bags with slider and changing colors if you plan on getting things wet. Gallon sized bags work well as small packing cubes and “Big Bags” work well as medium sized packing cubes.
- Features: Fully waterproof when zipped closed, work as vacuum bags as well, insanely cheap
- Pros: Cheap, effective, waterproofed
- Cons: Durability – these haven’t lasted as long as my Travelwise Packing Cubes
- Dimensions: Big Bags – 15 x 15 inches
- Where to Buy: $11.67 for 5 on Amazon
A fun as hell option for packing cubes thanks to the playful designs
- Features: Carrying handle, breathable mesh window,
- Pros: Makes opening your backpack kinda fun
- Cons: Polyester (much less durable than nylon)
- Dimensions: Envelope: 13” x 10” x 1.5” / Small: 12” x 8.8” x 3” / Medium: 15” x 11” x 3” / Large: 17” x 12” x 3”
- Material & Construction: Polyester outer and lining
- Where to Buy: $48 for a 5 Piece Set from Calpak
Simple Packing Cubes
If all you’re looking for is a straight forward packing cube that’s durable enough to survive your travels and comes in convenient sizes for your backpack size and personal needs, these are the cubes for you
Great, straight forward, and proven packing cubes that get the job done.
- Features: Carrying handle, mesh venting and viewing window, polyester outer and nylon lining
- Dimensions: 1 x Lg. Cube (14 in x 10 in x 3 in), 1 x Med. Cube (10 in x 7 in x 3 in)1 x Sm. Cube (7.5 in x 4.5 in x 2.5 in)
- Material & Construction: 300D Polyester with nylon lining
- Where to Buy: $27.95 on Amazon.com for a 3 Pack
Simple, durable packing cubes in fun colors.
- Features: Durable nylon, mesh ventilating window, durable YKK zippers
- Dimensions: X Lg.( 17.5″ x 12.75″ x 4″), Lg. (13.75″ x 12.75″ x 4″), Med. (13.75×9.75×4), Sm (11″ x 6.75″ x 4″)
- Where to Buy: $24.99 at Amazon for a 4 cube set
A straight forward and well-priced packing cube set with great quality and all of the features you need to stay organized during your travels, easier.
- Features: Durable nylon outer, vented mesh window, carrying handle, laundry bag included
- Dimensions: Lg. (13.8″ x 12.2″ x 3.5″), Med. (13.4″ x 9.6″ x 3.5″), Sm. (10.6″ x 6.9″ x 3.5″) Laundry bag (13.8″ x 9.4″)
- Material & Construction: Nylon
- Where to Buy: $18.99 on Amazon for a set of 4
In line with Tortuga’s awesome Outbreaker travel pack, Tortuga delivered these awesomely robust packing cubes that will help you fit more into less. Durable yet functional materials, like durable and waterproof sailcloth in the outer material with YKK zippers, grab handles, and stiffer (non-floppy) fabric make these easy to use and durable enough to last a lifetime.
Though they fit perfectly with the Tortuga Outbreaker, these will go just as well with any other backpack or luggage.
- Features: Waterproof & durable sailcloth outer, durable grab handle, mesh window,
- Dimensions: Sm. (6.75″ x 10.5″ x 2.5″), Lg. (13.5″ x 10.5″ x 2.5”)
- Material & Construction: Outbreaker’s Sailcloth, mesh
- Where to Buy: $59 for at Tortuga online for a set of 3 packing cubes
A straightforward set of 4 durable packing cubes in 4 varying sizes make packing life easier. And the included dry is an awesome perk for protecting your valuables.
- Features: Carrying handle, ventilated mesh window
- Dimensions: Lg. (12.75″ x 16.75” x 4.5″), Med. (9″ x 12″ x 3.65″), Sm. (7″ x 10.5″ x 3″)
- Material & Construction: Ripstop nylon
- Where to Buy: $39.95 for 4 Travel Organizers
14. Amazon Basics Packing Cubes
Another cheap option for simple, basic packing cubes that will last through your travels.
- Features: Carrying handle, ventilated mesh,
- Dimensions: 2 x Med. (13.75 x 9.75 x 3 inches), 2 x Lg. (17.5 x 12.75 x 3.25 inches)
- Material & Construction: Durable, lightweight Nylon and mesh
- Where to Buy: $22.99 for a set of 4 packing cubes
Fun and Colorful Packing Cubes
If all you’re looking for is a straight forward packing cube that’s durable enough to survive your travels and comes in convenient sizes for your backpack size and personal needs, these are the cubes for you
A cool set of packing cubes covered with artwork inspired by US National Parks
- Features: Venting mesh window, carrying handle, standard 4” with to stack neatly into your bag
- Dimensions: Lg. (16” x 11.5” x 4”), 2x Med. (13.8” x 9.8” x 4”), 1x Sm. (11” x 7”x 4”)
- Material & Construction: 600 Denier Polyester
- Where to Buy: $26.67 on Amazon for a 4-Piece Set
“One Bag” Packing Cubes
When true minimalism is your preferred style of travel, then these “one-bag” package cubes are your best option. With special designs, dividers, and tricks, these packing cubes will help you squeeze more into your carry on backpack as your “one bag” for travel
Designed to max out how you use space in a rounded backpack (like Tortuga’s Setout travel backpack), these packing cubes help you fit more into your single, carry on bag.
- Features: Designed to fit the curvature of backpacks, mesh top
- Dimensions: Sm. (7” x 11” x 2.5″), Lg. (14” x 11” x 2.5″)
- Material & Construction: 900 Denier Heathered polyester, YKK zippers
- Where to Buy: $35 at Tortuga online for a 3 packing cube set
Compression Packing Cubes
When you need a little extra space while staying organized, compression packing cubes fit the bill. These packing cubes are made of more durable materials to withstand the stress of compression, and designed with a double zipper system so once your packing cube is packed, you can zipped out the air in your clothes, creating more space.
Compression packing cubes are a great option for minimalist and onebag travelers
A “higher tech” packing cube option that combines “weather proof” construction with a compression cube design
- Features: “Weatherproof” with water resistance treated fabric, tear away opening, compression style design, guaranteed for life by Peak Design
- Dimensions: Sm. (12.6″ x 6.7″ x 3.1″), Med. (12.6″ x 12.6″ x 3.1″),
- Expanded Dimensions: Sm. (12.6″ x 6.7″ x 6.7″), Med. (12.6″ x 12.6″ x 6.7″)
- Material & Construction: (External) 70 Denier abrasion and water resistance treat nylon/poly blend, (Internal) Silicone coated mesh internal helps keep things dry
- Where to Buy: $29.95 per small cube and $39.95 per large cube at Peak Design online
Gonex compression packing cubes allow you to fit more into less with a dual zipper system that allows you to partially or fully compress air from between your clothes, reclaiming precious packing space.
- Features: Carrying handle, durable and water resistant ripstop nylon
- Dimensions: XL (17.3”x13”x3.54”), Lg. (14.5”x10.6”x3.54”), Med. (11.8”x8.9”x3.54”), Sm. (9.8”x7.5”x3.54”)
- Material & Construction: Durable and water resistant nylon,
- Where to Buy: $25.99 on Amazon for a set of 4 packing Cubes
Multi-function and Specialized Packing Cubes
At times, it helps if your packing cubes can do a few extra tricks – like turning into a backpack, or storing electronics well – in addition to just holding clothes. In those cases, these specialized packing cubes will do exactly what you need…
The GORUCK Padded Field Pockets are a tough as nails way to keep your valuables and electronics organized and protected. 1000D Cordura nylon outer, abrasion and water resistant, means this pouch will protect your gear whether inside or outside of your pack.
If you opt for this, don’t forget to check out our list of GORUCK discounts to save some cash
- Features: 1000D Cordura nylon outer, padded exterior, zippered mesh organization interior, MOLLE paneling for internal or external mounting on GORUCK backpacks or military inspired travel packs, SCARS Lifetime Warranty
- Dimensions: 9” x 8” x 3”
- Material & Construction: 1000D Cordura Nylon
- Where to Buy: $69 at GORUCK online
A collapsible and foldable camera packing cube made of velvety soft, padded material to protect your gear, all at a very reasonable price
- Features: Soft, padded material throughout, removable dividers, collapsible/foldable design
- Dimensions: 10.6”x4.7”6.2”
- Where to Buy: $19.99 at Amazon
A near waterproof option for storing those (potentially dirty) shoes and keeping them organized while you travel, without getting the rest of your gear dirty
- Dimensions: Lg. (18.1” x 10.6”), Med. (15.7”x9.10”), Sm. (15” x 8.3”)
- Material & Construction: PVC and Polyester
- Where to Buy: $14.99 on Amazon for a set of 3
Other Packing Tips to Improve How You Travel
- Pick the right materials for travel clothing: Nylon, Polyester, and wool make travel life easier
- Bring a drybag for conveniently washing laundry instead of using the sink
- Use an airline carry-on sized backpack(40L-45L) to save money and move through the airport quickly
- Use a hanging toiletries bagfor convenience, organization, and accesibility
- Use an externally attachable stuff sackto add temporary space to your backpack
Choosing the right backpack for your travels
Do you want to amp up how easily you travel and stay organized along the way? Easy, just pick the right backpack. These 15 carry on backpacks have gotten rave reviews over thousands of adventures, and I guarantee the perfect backpack for you is on this list…
Other Great Travel Packing Related Content
- Rick Steve’s Packing List…Adapted for Adventurous Travelers
- The 8 Best Travel Shoes for Men
- 5 Great Men’s Travel Shorts for Every Kind of Traveler
- The 15 Best Men’s Travel Pants