How To Use Packing Cubes For Travel: How To Pack Using Packing Cubes Explained

packing cubes

Written by Shannon O’Donnell on

Shannon O'Donnell is a long-term traveler who has been on the road since 2008 and has lived everywhere from Southeast Asia to Barcelona, where she now calls home. She travels slowly and supports responsible tourism along the way, winning numerous awards for her work advocating for the communities impacted by travel and tourism.

packing cubes


With so many different sizes of packing cubes, and so many different types of clothing, it begs the question: How should you actually go about packing your jeans, shirts, bras, undies, and more? Here’s everything you need to know about packing your suitcase with packing cubes.


Once you’ve embraced the knowledge that yes, packing cubes can revolutionize the way you pack for travel, you might start to wonder how to get the most out of your cubes so that everything fits in your suitcase with ease (and organization). Should jeans and sweaters share a cube? How about socks and undies, surely they make good packing cube friends? Rest assured that no matter what you want to pack, there’s an easy way to fit it into your cubes and into your suitcase—it just comes down to assessing what types of cubes you have and if you’re a clothes roller or a clothes folder, and then choosing the packing cubes fit for the task.

So how do you use packing cubes for travel? Keep reading to find out how you can begin using packing cubes to organize your belongings and maximize the space in your luggage.


Before you learn how to use packing cubes for travel, you should have a basic understanding of what they are. Packing cubes are small, lightweight cubes designed to help you organize your suitcase while traveling. They’re made from a variety of durable and breathable fabrics and come in several sizes to accommodate different items, from large bulky sweaters to accessories.

The most significant benefits of using packing cubes are maximizing the available space in your luggage and keeping everything clean and organized. Compressing your clothes into cubes allows you to use even more space, reducing the need for large suitcases. Instead, depending on your needs, you may only need a carry-on.

Packing cubes also allow you to keep your most used items, such as toiletries, particular clothing items, and electronics, in a separate space where you can easily find them. You can even label or color-code your packing cubes to help you easily find the items you’re looking for.

So whether you’re packing for Europe or organizing your road trip essentials, packing cubes can help you organize your belongings while maximizing the available space, no matter the size of your luggage.

Later in this article, we’ll discuss how to pack using packing cubes, but the general idea is to choose the right size, sort your belongings, roll your clothes, and arrange the packing cubes in your luggage. In addition, you should try to use the entirety of the cubes while avoiding overstuffing them.

When used correctly, packing cubes can help you organize your luggage and utilize your available space, making packing and unpacking easier and more efficient.

How Many Packing Cubes Do You Need?

You need enough packing cubes to fill your bag. Most people would say you need enough cubes to fit your clothes, but that’s not how packing a suitcase works. You have one bag, and your packing cubes should slide together in the base of your bag like a satisfying game of Tetris. That means you have larger cubes holding the bulk of your cubes, and then slimmer cubes and a toiletry kit to fill the odd and rounded spaces around the edges of your bag.


If you’re a minimalist traveler or carry-on packer, your bag will be smaller and you’ll need fewer packing cubes. Those checking a bag or packing for cold weather might want a few extra cubes (including compression cubes and sacs).


How to Pack Shirts in a Packing Cube?

Packing shirts is one of the easiest parts of organizing your suitcase. That’s because they are usually a fairly uniform size whether you roll or fold ‘em, and they fit perfectly in packing products—that’s right, packing cubes are ideal for both rolling and folding, it’s up to you which method is the right fit for the packing task.


● For t-shirts, use a medium sized packing cube. You can fold each shirt into rectangles the same size as the packing cube and stack them vertically into the cube—if you've selected a medium compression cube, once the shirts are loaded in then you just zip them down tighter to save space. (It’s a bit of packing magic to watch a cube of shirts cinch down an extra inch or two!) For rolling fans, use a modified KonMari folding method to get your t-shirts into a uniform width. At the final stage of your KonMari folding (before folding it into thirds), just tightly roll the tee until it’s a little sausage—then line your shirt-sausages into your cube.

● For dress shirts or wrinkle-prone tops, use a packing folder rather than a cube. Packing folders help minimize wrinkles and are also really easy to use—every folder comes with a helpful folding instruction board so that packing perfectly-folded shirts is a breeze.

● For blouses or other tops, consider packing them right alongside your t-shirts in a medium cube. Some items, like tank tops, seem unwieldy until you wrangle them into perfectly folded squares or shirt-sausages, then they easily pack all alongside t-shirts in a cube!


How to Pack Jeans in a Packing Cube?

Ah, the eternal question of packing jeans. There are some who argue that you shouldn’t even pack jeans for travel—they take up a ton of space in your suitcase and they take forever to dry (meaning they can suddenly start smelling horrible if you’re traveling during the rainy season). But, they’re also comfortable and the go-to bottoms for a lot of people. So, how do you fit your beloved jeans into a packing cube? Rolling jeans into a tight bundle and then adding them to a large packing cube works best—this cube can also contain any sweaters, shorts, or bulky items (also rolled tightly).


  1. Lay jeans flat and smooth out any wrinkles.
  2. Fold jeans in half lengthwise.
  3. The two pant legs should make it almost to the waistband (folded about 80% of the way).
  4. Roll jeans very tightly from the knee all the way up to the waistband.
  5. Store rolled jeans in a large packing cube.


How to Pack Bras in a Packing Cube?

Your strategy for packing bras should come down to which cubes you have on hand. Generally, a dedicated packing cube for bras and undies works best so you can be sure the bra cups keep their shape during your journey. Use one of these three strategies to keep your bras safely packed in a cube.


Bra packing cube: A sturdier packing cube that’s designed to hold bras is the safest approach. These cubes ensure the cups hold their shape, and still have extra space to store the rest of your undergarments.

Slim packing cube: Slim cubes work very well for undergarments like socks, underwear, and yes, even bras. You can stack several bras on top of each other and lay them in the slim cube. Then use socks and underwear to help the bra cups keep their shape before zipping them safely into the cube.

Slim packing cube alternative approach: Folding and tucking the cups of your bra into one another sound strategy. You might not want to go this route for expensive bras, but it works even with underwire bras. Simply twist and fold each bra so the cups of a single bra are nested against each other. Now your bras can fit into a smaller packing cube (though you still might want to use socks or underwear to pad the cups since small packing cubes are soft-sided and you still want to protect the shape).


How to Pack Everything Else?

As noted earlier, there’s a packing cube for every scenario you could imagine for yourself. You need the right packing cubes for your gear and your trip. Here are a few other options to easily pack your suitcase with items that are sometimes hard to fit very easily.


How to pack shoes: Shoes can get dirty or muddy while traveling, so carry a lightweight shoe sac or cube to keep dirt and stink contained.

How to pack accessories: Everything from hair ties to belts to scarves should slide into a packing sac. Packing sacs are like magic for finalizing the last of your suitcase organization. Once your clothes are in place, all those last bits fit into a packing sac and slide into the edge of your case.

How to pack dirty clothes: Get yourself a laundry sac, first and foremost. That way you can easily keep track of your dirty clothes throughout your trip. Also consider using clean/dirty cubes so you can keep things tightly organized in your bag, but still contain the stink.

How to pack electronics and cords: Packing sacs for the win here as well! You might want an electronics organizer if you’re carrying a lot, or slip those chargers, cords, and odds-and-ends into packing sacs that will easily fit in your backpack or personal item.

How to pack camera gear: Studier gear packing cubes are best for items that need a bit of protection—the water-resistant features are a bonus protection that you just won’t get unless you’re using packing cubes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you pack more with packing cubes?

The most significant benefit of packing cubes is that they allow you to pack more and save space in your suitcase by maximizing the available space. Many packing cubes use compression features like zippers or panels that allow you to compress the contents inside the cubes, reducing their volume. In addition, they allow you to make more efficient use of space because you can neatly organize your belongings into separate cubes.

Packing cubes are also designed to be stacked easily. You can layer them on top of one another, allowing you to take advantage of vertical space in your luggage. And finally, packing cubes prevent you from overpacking your suitcase. When learning how to use packing cubes for luggage, most travelers will separate their items into specific cubes, which can help you avoid bringing unnecessary items that won’t fit.

What size packing cubes should I use?

The right size packing cubes depends on what you’re packing and how long you’re traveling for. In most cases, you should consider your luggage capacity to help you determine the best size packing cubes and how many you need. A combination of sizes should fit your luggage best and allow for the most efficient use of space.

  • Small packing cubes are best suited for smaller items like socks and underwear but can also be used to pack jewelry and electronics.
  • Medium packing cubes are the most versatile option and accommodate various items like shirts, lightweight pants, toiletries, and smaller items like socks and underwear.
  • Large packing cubes are ideal for bulky clothing like sweaters, hoodies, jackets, and jeans. They’re particularly useful if you need to pack heavier items that take up more space in your suitcase.

Of course, you can also use a set of packing cubes with various sizes to mix and match based on your specific needs. Eagle Creek carries various sizes of packing cubes to suit your needs, but we recommend using a combination of small, medium, and large sizes to organize your luggage properly.

Should I roll or fold my clothes for packing cubes?

Rolling your clothes is typically the best way to pack your clothes in packing cubes. However, whether you prefer to fold or roll is a matter of personal preference. But in general, rolling saves even more space because it creates small, compact bundles and can help prevent wrinkles.

Some travelers prefer folding their clothing because it provides a more organized appearance. Folding also works better for bulky items like sweaters and jackets that may not roll very well. You can also use a combination of rolling and folding to suit your needs and use your packing cubes more efficiently. For instance, you should roll small items like t-shirts, socks, and underwear and fold larger items like sweaters.

Are packing cubes suitable for all types of travel?

Yes, packing cubes are suitable for all types of travel regardless of the size of your luggage or the type of luggage you use. They’re a good option for long trips, backpacking, weekend excursions, and work trips because they keep all your belongings organized and clean while maximizing the available space in your suitcase.

Packing sets are a perfect way to start your collection—each set contains a variety of two or three packing cubes or folders so you can perfectly pack every item in your suitcase!



Related Links (from the Eagle Creek blog):

6 Ways to Use Packing Cubes for Families

4 Ways Travel Pros Use Packing Cubes When Not Traveling

How to Pack the Ultimate Gym Bag