Product Reviews, Travel

Packing Cubes vs. Compression Cubes: Know the Difference & Which One is the Best for You

If you are traveling around the world and using packing cubes to organize your belongings, way to go! It’s such a great way of being more organized and ensuring extra space in your luggage.

But did you know that there are different types of packing cubes? Do you own packing cubes or compression cubes? Although they serve the same function, there are some slight differences between the cubes. Depending on the type of traveler you are, you may also use certain types of cubes.

What’s a Packing Cube?

A packing cube is a cube, whether it’s small, medium, or large in size, that’s very light weight and is meant to organize your items. Generally, travelers put their articles of clothing in the packing cube but you can put whatever it is you need for your travels in there.

Packing cubes usually have one zipper that opens and closes the cube. They tend to come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. Some have thicker materials but usually they’re on the more light weight side. Once your clothes, or whatever it is you’re packing, you zip the cube up. It organizes your things and reduces the amount of clutter in your luggage.

My favorite packing cubes thus far is the Eagle Creek Specter Cube Set, which you can check out here. However, I do enjoy using the Osprey UL Packing Cube Set which you can also check out here.

What’s a Compression Cube?

A compression is a cube that compresses or reduces its size to maximize more space in your luggage and decrease bulkiness. It’s essentially like a packing cube because you can still pack your things into it, however the main difference is that compression cubes compress those items.

A compression cube compresses itself with a double zipper system. The first zipper closes the compression cube. The second zipper compresses the height and thickness of the cube to ensure it’s as small as it can possibly be.

The compression cubes I purchased about a couple of years ago are the Tripley Compression Packing Cubes Set. I found this small, family owned business on Amazon. Although it appears this particular cube set can’t be found on Amazon anymore, there are tons of options.

Similarities between the Cubes

At first sight, a compression and packing cube look the same. I mean, they both have similar functions. Both cubes serve as a means of organizing and packing your clothes or anything else you put in there. However, there are a few differences as well.

We’ll start with the similarities. Compression and packing cubes are both cubes. Both generally are made of light but strong materials. You pack your clothes (or whatever you want) into the cubes to save space in your luggage. Compression and packing cubes allow you to easily open and close the cube without any hassle.

In addition, both types of cubes come in different shapes, sizes, and designs. You can find different size sets and designs amongst compression and packing cubes. From width to height and depth, you can find packing and compression cubes in any size.

At the end of the day, both cubes are going to be perfect for organizing and storing your clothing for any travel trip you take! That’s what they are build for, so either a packing or compression cube will serve you well.

Differences between the Cubes

Yet, there are a few differences between compression and packing cubes. For starters, compression cubes are just that. They’re cubes meant for compressing the size of the cube to the smallest it can be. This great for longer, thicker clothing as they take up so much room! Think of fall and winter clothing for travel.

Another key difference between the cubes is that compression cubes have two zippers on them. The first zipper closes the cube and the second zipper serves as the compression component. This is how the cube becomes smaller in size.

It’s not uncommon to find light weight compression cubes. But I’ve found, more often than not, that compression cubes have more strong or durable materials. Since their primary function is to compress the cube which stores your items, the material needs to be a little bit stronger so it can withstand that compression part.

Product Review

I’ve been using the Tripley Compression Cubes set for a couple of years now. For the newest additions to my cube collection, being the Eagle Creek and Osprey packing cubes, I’ve been using them since late 2020. So, I haven’t been using the cubes for a very long time but it’s been long enough that a product review is in order!

Tripley Compression Cubes

We’ll start with the Tripley Compression Cubes. In my opinion, the material used is very durable and sturdy. They don’t feel as though they’re going to break. I love the double zipper feature as well as that’s held up nicely over time.

I’ve packed some heavy materials in here, such as thick leggings, tops and pants, and I’m impressed with how well the cubes held up. Once the items are compressed, they aren’t going anywhere. This is good because you want a compression cube to compress your items, keep them in place, and hold up with everything that’s packed in them.

However, I have to say that the cubes are a bit bulky when everything is compressed. Even when I’ve used separate cubes for items, after they’re compressed the cube still looks thick or big.

I’d say that’s the one downside of this particular compression cube. Depending on the clothes you pack, the thickness of them and whatnot, when they’re compressed the cube is going to take on the shape of the items if that makes sense. Meaning, if you pack thick tops in one cube, even when compressed, the cube is going to look somewhat bulky because of the tops.

In addition, because of the material these cubes are made out it, it doesn’t contour and fit into the luggage you use for travel. In other words, whatever shape the cube is after its been compressed, it’s going to stay and you have to find a way to make it fit into your luggage. This can be a negative, because it may end up taking more room in your bag than intended.

If you’re traveling during the spring or summer, and have light clothing, then you shouldn’t encounter any problems. However, for fall and winter clothing it may make the compression cube still seem a bit big and oddly shaped despite the compression feature.

But overall, I’d say it’s still a good compression cube.

Eagle Creek & Osprey Packing Cubes

I could do separate reviews on these packing cubes but I decided to group them together. The material for both cubes is basically the same, I have them in the same shapes and sizes, it’s just the brand and design that’s different.

As for these packing cubes, they’ve held up very well for the trips I’ve taken so far. Whether I was going on a weekend trip to NYC or on my first solo trip, these cubes were wonderful.

The material is very light and thin. You feel as if they’re too thin and that they may break. As long as you don’t stuff the packing cubes with too much clothing, they should be fine and hold up.

Not only are they light and thin, but they’re also flexible and durable as well. Once the clothing has been packed, because the material is thin and flexible, you can easily shape and press the clothes until everything is smooth.

This design also allows you to pack it into your luggage, and configure it to the space inside without it being too thick or bulky. I’ve found that this is amazing for different types of luggage or suitcases you use for travel.

I love these packing cubes for traveling. They take up no room at all when stored in my room because they’re so small and thin. They’re perfect for most clothing. However, be careful when packing bigger or bulkier stuff as it may cause the packing cubes to tear or break.

Which one is Right for You?

Overall, packing or compression cubes are an amazing tool to have for any type of traveler! But which one is right for you and your travels?

If you’re the type of traveler that travels to colder climates, or require thicker clothing for hiking and whatnot, I’d recommend getting compression cubes. The compression cube will compress those bigger articles of clothing but will be durable enough to ensure it won’t break.

If you’re the type of traveler that travelers during warmer seasons or to warmer places, packs light to medium thickness clothing, I’d recommend packing cubes. They’re still durable but are very flexible, have thinner material, and can contour to the space in your luggage to ensure an easy and smooth fit.

The Tripley compression cubes I have would be better for thicker/bigger items I pack. Items, such as jeans, sweatpants, sweatshirts, etc. would hold up well in the cube. Although you may sacrifice some space in your luggage, just trust they’d keep those heavy items in place.

The Eagle Creek and Osprey cubes are generally my go to packing cubes for traveling. They’re super easy to use, feel light even with clothes stuffed into them, and are easy to mold and shape if they seem a bit bulky and out of shape. Whether I’m packing shorts, shirts, leggings, dresses, these cubes fit all types of clothes perfectly into them.

In the end, do what’s best for you and your travels. Just be careful, no matter the cube you’re using, as to not over stuff them to prevent breakage and tears. Either way, compression or packing cubes are the perfect item for all travelers to have to organize their stuff for whatever adventure lies ahead!

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