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Everyone has their own packing style when it comes to preparing for a trip. Some like to roll their clothes, while others prefer them neatly-folded and stacked. Some swear by sliding hardcover books or magazines between their garments, to keep them wrinkle-free. And then there are those who just toss everything into a bag and hope it all fits.
But what if there was one simple hack that could eliminate all your packing dilemmas? Frequent flyers and organizational experts alike will tell you that there is nothing more satisfying then using a luggage organizer.
The best luggage organizers (also called “packing cubes”) help to divide up your bag into sections, even if the actual bag doesn’t come with dividers. As their name suggests, these packing cubes look like mini cases or pouches, that can hold everything from your sweaters to toiletries with ease.
Rather than shoving everything directly into your bag, the trick is to put items into the packing cubes first. Use a large organizer for your sweaters and jeans; use a smaller cube for socks and underwear; then use a zip-up pouch to store all your accessories and grooming products. By dividing everything into separate cubes, you not only keep things neatly organized and easy to find, you also keep things from getting wet or dirty. There’s nothing worse than having your cologne or shampoo spill all over your bag, but by keeping those items in a separate pouch, you’ll contain the mess if it happens. Same with shoes — by putting your shoes in their own luggage organizer, you’ll keep your dirty soles off your clean clothes.
Aside from helping you organize your stuff, luggage organizers can help reduce bulk. Some of the brands on our list say their packing cubes can effectively reduce the bulk of your luggage by up to 30%. Zip the cubes up and push out the air, for a vacuum seal-type effect. Unlike a box, these packing cubes are made with soft-sided materials like nylon and polyester, making them flexible enough to fit your stuff, and light enough to not weigh down your luggage.
The best packing cubes can also be used to separate dirty clothes from clean clothes, and they can help prevent your shirts from getting wrinkled while traveling (which often happens when different items — like jeans and T-shirts — rub up against each other in the bag).
Even if you’re not traveling right now, we like using these organizers in our closet, say, to store winter clothes during the summer months, or to protect garments from dust and moisture. Whether you’re constantly on the move or just like to keep things in their place at home, we’ve found three sets of storage cubes that will keep your clothing and accessories secure, separated, well-packed and neatly organized.
1. PRO Packing Cubes for Travel
This set of packing cubes has you covered for your next trip, with four medium-sized bags for pants, T-shirts and sweaters, and a smaller cube for socks, underwear and toiletries.
The company says it uses a “hi-tech” fabric that is specially engineered to be thin and lightweight without ripping or fraying at the seams. Authentic YKK zippers are super durable and won’t fall off either.
Mesh panels allow for breathability, and let you quickly see what’s in each compartment without turning the whole thing inside out. The top-loading flap makes it easy to grab what you need quickly and conveniently.
This set comes with five packing cubes. The four medium cubes measure approximately 13.75 x 9.75 inches. The single small cube measures 11 x 6.75 inches. Choose from six different colors (our suggestion: choose a bright color so you don’t mix up your stuff with someone else’s).
PROS: Ripstop-style fabric holds up to repeated use.
CONS: Fabric can be easily wiped clean but it’s not recommended for machine washing.
2. June Bugz Packing Cubes
If you’re traveling with a family, or going on an extended vacation with your partner, you’ll want to pick up this set, which gets you 12 different packing options, from cubes to pouches.
The set includes two large luggage organizers (15.5 x 12 inches), two medium cubes (12 x 10.5 inches) and two small cubes (12 x 7.5 inches). You also get three sizes of zip pouches: the largest one measures 13 x 10.5 inches, the medium pouches are 10 x 10 inches, and the small pouches are 9.5 x 6 inches.
Use the packing cubes for your clothing and shoes; the largest organizer can fit jackets and bulky sweaters. The pouches are great for smaller accessories, like jewelry, flip-flops, toiletries and underwear. We like using the small pouches for our dirty clothes too, as the zipper enclosure will lock in any heavy smells.
The durable nylon and polyester material is water-resistant (though there is a see-through mesh panel on the cubes), and the cubes come with a top handle for easy lifting and moving.
PROS: Machine-washable. Pouches add versatility and the largest pouch can even hold a 13-inch laptop (though it’s not padded).
CONS: The pouches come with a printed-on slogan; some may prefer a plainer design.
3. VAGREEZ Travel Luggage Packing Organizers Set
We like how lightweight these luggage organizers are, which will barely add any weight to your bags, whether you’re carrying them on the plane or checking them in. The entire set weighs just 15 ounces.
This set includes four different-sized packing cubes, each with a convenient handle. You also get a toiletry bag, laundry bag and an additional zippered pouch, great for things like chargers, pills, etc. The brand doesn’t give exact measurements for the storage bags, but does say the large cube can hold 10-12 shirts, the medium can hold 7-9, and the small cube can hold 4-6 shirts. They recommend using the fourth packing cube, the smallest one, for socks and underwear.
The cubes are made from a waterproof oxford fabric material, though the mesh top means water can get through the top.
PROS: Ten different colors available. Variety of sizes make for more packing options.
CONS: Hand wash only. Thinner material than some of the other options on our list.