Wondering how to keep your stuff neat and organized when you go backpacking? Packing cubes are your lifesaver. These are our top choices for the best packing cubes for backpacking.
Loading up your backpack for a long hike, weekend camping trip, or long-haul flight to begin your digital nomad travels can be frustrating.
Filling up your pack is often like playing a real-life version of Tetris. But instead of handling neat square-based Tetris shapes that slot effortlessly into your pack, you might be juggling charger cords, spare pairs of lumpy socks, and awkward-fitting camping supplies.
Not to mention a bunch of stinky laundry that you don’t want touching your last remaining clean outfit.
Fortunately, you can make your packing process a little simpler by converting your chaotic backpack contents into neat squares and rectangles with the help of packing cubes! Read on to discover the best packing cubes for backpacking and embrace a simpler, more organized way to prepare for your travels.
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1. BagSmart Packing Cubes – Best Overall
Keeping your gear dry is one of the greatest challenges of backpacking. But, sadly, there are few waterproof packing cubes available. One of the most notable exceptions are these BagSmart Packing Organizers.
This is a five-piece set of compressible cubes made of waterproof polyester. Though they feature mesh fronts, the bottom, sides, and back are waterproof, providing the ultimate mix of visibility (you can see what’s in the cube) and protection against leaks.
Another neat aspect of these cubes is the way you compress them. Instead of launching your body onto these packing cubes to push the air out, you zip them up along the bottom to squeeze them shut.
- Waterproof materials: These BagSmart packing organizers have mesh fronts, but they’re primarily made of waterproof polyester, helping to keep your items dry.
- Labeling: These packing cubes come with plastic-protected label pockets so that you can label each bag for easier organization.
- Zipper-based compression: Instead of using your body weight to squeeze out the air from these compression cubes, you need only zip up the zipper.
- Plenty of pieces: Each set comes with five multi-size pieces (two small, two medium, and one large), so you can choose the cubes that best fit your backpack and items.
- Rippable mesh: The mesh front can rip away from the polyester if you overpack these cubes.
- Not entirely leak-proof: Because these packing cubes have mesh fronts, they’re not 100% leak-proof.
2. BAGAIL Compression Packing Cubes Set – Best for Cube Variety
Sometimes you need a packing cube to keep your toiletries from bursting and leaking onto your clothes, and sometimes you need a mesh cube that makes it easy to tell which bag is full of socks and which is full of snacks.
The BAGAIL Compression Cubes Set is one of the best choices in terms of variety, as it comes in mesh-front and mesh-free styles.
You can be prepared for virtually every packing situation by purchasing a handful of these sets. They come in four-piece, five-piece, and six-piece set sizes, so you can select an option that suits your trip length and bag size!
Besides, these cubes even come with a water-resistant shoe bag to keep your spare shoes or muddy sneakers separate from your clean clothing and electronics.
- Water-resistant material: Though these cubes aren’t waterproof, they are made of water-resistant nylon.
- Included shoe bag: Keeping a spare or sopping wet pair of shoes separated from your gear is simple thanks to the included zip-up shoe bag.
- Multiple set sizes: These BAGAIL packing cubes are available in multiple set sizes to ensure you only pay for what you need.
- Mesh or mesh-free: These packing cubes come in mesh and mesh-free options, allowing you to choose a set that best fits your needs (visibility vs. leak resistance).
- Weak handles: Some buyers have reported issues with the cube handles coming off after only a few uses.
- Inflexible: Because these packing cubes are made of durable, water-resistant nylon, they don’t flex as easily as cubes made of thin plastic or mesh. This can be problematic when attempting to pack oddly-shaped items.
3. Cambond Packing Cubes – Most Compact
If you’re planning a short backpacking trip, you might be tempted to invest in small packing cubes that only hold a few items.
This isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but it might be better to choose cubes that can compress to a fraction of their size instead—like these Cambond Packing Cubes.
Though they’re not airtight, they can flatten to fit into your pack more easily, allowing you to fill the space with additional items like snacks, camping supplies, and reading materials.
Available in eight color options, these stylish packing cubes are slim enough to slide into virtually any backpack, making them a top-notch choice for both weekend and multi-month backpackers.
- Compressible: You can squeeze the air out of these cubes to make them smaller, allowing you to pack more items in your backpack.
- Codable: These packing cubes come in eight shades, allowing you to mix sets and color-code your items for easier retrieval.
- Multiple closures: Some packing cubes have a single zipper, but each of these cubes has two zippers. This design feature offers additional security, keeping your items from falling out into your pack’s main chamber while traveling.
- Not airtight: Though these packing cubes compress, they’re not airtight. Consequently, they can “reinflate” to their pre-compressed size while in your backpack.
- Easily stuck: If you pack these cubes with too many items, the zippers may rub against the internal lining, resulting in stuck closures.
4. Osprey UL Packing Cube Set – Best for Outdoor Adventures & Nomads
Osprey packing cubes are well-known among backpackers and digital nomads – thanks to their durability and water resistance. Unlike other cubes, these don’t have mesh covers that let in water and air. As such, they’re far easier to keep compressed and compact while traveling.
This packing cube set comes with three bags, each outfitted with sturdy handles for quick retrieval from your pack. They come in four striking colors, so you can purchase multiple sets and mix and match your cubes based on item type.
- Durability: The tear-resistant nylon can withstand dozens of uses without showing signs of wear and tear, making these cubes one of the better choices for backpacking trips in the great outdoors.
- Water resistance: These packing cubes are made of water-resistant material, providing an extra layer of protection for your items when backpacking outside on rainy days.
- Easy-grab handles: You won’t need to grab onto the cube to yank it out of your bag. Each one features an easy-to-grab handle for fast removal.
- Low capacity: These packing cubes could be a great choice for those departing on weekend backpacking trips, but they may be too small for backpackers taking on multi-week journeys.
- Not leak-proof: Though these packing cubes are made of water-resistant nylon, this material isn’t leak-proof. The single zipper can also be problematic for those hoping to keep wet items separated from dry ones.
5. Amazon Basics 4-Piece Travel Cubes Set – Best Value Choice
Because travel can be expensive, it’s crucial to save money whenever and wherever you can (within reason). Fortunately, this four-piece set of Amazon packing cubes is affordable enough to suit almost any budget.
Though this set isn’t as flashy as other packing cube sets, it’s a straightforward option that’s well-suited to single-day or weekend backpacking trips.
- Affordability: This is one of the most affordable packing cubes for backpacking, making it a budget-friendly choice for those keeping an eye on spending.
- Visibility: These packing cubes have mesh covers that make it easy for you to identify the items in each cube. You won’t need to open every cube to find the item you need.
- Multiple colors: Color-coding your items is simple with these packing cubes, as you can choose from five solid-colored sets. So, if you want your medical supplied in red cubes and your clothing in gray ones, these sets could be a satisfying choice.
- Not waterproof: These packing cubes have mesh fronts, so they’re not a water-resistant or water-proof option.
- No compression: If you’re hoping to maximize your backpack space, these packing cube sets might not be the best choice, as you can’t compress them to make them smaller.
Packing Cube FAQs
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the best packing cubes for backpacking. So, if you have a few lingering questions about these packing tools, you might find the answer you’re looking for right here.
Are packing cubes worth it for backpacking?
Storing your supplies in packing cubes before backpacking could make it easier for you to access crucial supplies while on the go. Additionally, compression packing cubes can free-up pack space, ensuring that you don’t need to leave anything behind.
Considering how affordable packing cubes for backpacking are (typically less than $50 per set), adding them to your gear list probably won’t break the bank. For these reasons, packing cubes are well worth it when it comes to preparing for an upcoming backpacking trip.
How many packing cubes do I need for backpacking?
The number of packing cubes you need for backpacking varies depending on your pack size, the duration of your trip, and where you plan to go backpacking.
For example, if you’re planning on taking a weekend backpacking trip to your local nature park, you might only need two or three packing cubes to keep your supplies organized, secure, and compact.
However, if you’re planning on exploring a foreign destination for several weeks or months, you will need a larger backpack and several packing cubes.
Do packing cubes waste space?
Packing cubes are designed to create more space in your pack, allowing you to bring everything you need for your journey. Though these items are made of various materials, most are thin (but durable), ensuring they don’t consume any precious pack space.
Final Thoughts – Best Packing Cubes For Backpacking
No matter where you plan on traveling or the duration of your trip, packing cubes can help you keep your items secure and organized.
Compression packing cubes are particularly valuable assets for backpackers, as they flatten into sheet-like parcels, allowing you to pack more clothing, emergency supplies, and souvenirs!
Before choosing packing cubes for your upcoming adventure, consider your backpack’s size and the sizes of your preferred cubes. Doing so can ensure you choose cubes that slip into your pack with ease, making the packing process stress-free and simple.