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Compression Packing Cubes vs Standard Parking Cubes: Do They Actually Work?

If you’ve started doing some research on packing cubes and still have little idea what the difference is between standard packing cubes and compression packing cubes, then you’re not alone.

I’ve been travelling for years, and it was only once I really sat myself down and started to do some research that I realised that there are so many different types of packing cubes, and some a lot better than others.

If like me, you’re unsure of whether you should invest the extra bucks to get a compression packing cube over a standard cube, then this article should help you out.

In this article, I aim to answer the following questions:

  1. What is a compression packing cube and how does it differ from a standard packing cube?
  2. Do compression packing cubes ACTUALLY work?
  3. Types of compression packing cubes you can buy
  4. Is the “added” compression worth the extra dollars?

Towards the end of this article, I also provide some tips and recommendations on popular compression packing cube brands that are available online. Also, ensure to sign up for our FREE Solo Travel Bootcamp e-course, if you’re interested to learn more about solo travel.

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1. What is a Compression Packing Cube?

A compression packing cube is a type of packing cube that is said to offer greater compression when packing your gear compared to a standard packing cube.

They often include an additional zip and in many cases, it is recommended that you fold your clothing inside these types of cubes rather than rolling to get better compression and save space.

This differs from standard packing cubes in that rolling is usually the better method to include more while saving space and reduce wrinkles.

 

2. Do Compression Packing Cubes Actually Work?

This is a big debate among travellers.

Personally, I’ve found that those who use compression cubes, passionately advocate for and swear by them no matter what, whilst others claim they did very little.

As someone who prefers to be authentically honest with you guys, and base things off my personal experience – I’m yet to be convinced.

I can’t help but wonder if those in favour of compression packing cubes simply don’t want to admit that they’ve spent money on a product that doesn’t make a huge difference.

Given the mixed reviews about whether compression packing cubes actually work, I wanted to test these out for myself  so I could provide an honest and unbiased opinion.

….The classic “curiosity killed the cat” scenario…

To compare against my set of standard packing cubes, I decided to order the Tripped Compression Packing Cubes.

You can watch the full video of the review below:

On first impression, these packing cubes look to be a quality product, with high quality durable zips, slippery water resistant material and have some structure to the cell.

However, here are some of the key points and downsides that I highlighted from my observation.

Video Summary: 

  • In the video, I compare Shacke Pak’s standard packing cube versus the Tripped compression packing cube
  • I tested the packing cubes by filling both with similar amounts of clothing and comparing what they looked like naturally (uncompressed) and after being compressed (the Tripped compression packing cube)
  • The Tripped compression cube was slightly more difficult to pack, given it only opens around a third of the way, which was somewhat inconvenient
  • I also found that although it closed well with the same amount of clothing as the Shacke Pak cube, after compression it didn’t look a lot thinner – ie. it wouldn’t save you that much more space in your luggage. Given the majority of the compression occurred around the perimeter of the packing cube rather than consistently across the entire cube, I felt that both cubes looked pretty similar when compared with one another in terms of width.
  • I also physically showed the difference in the results due to rolling versus folding the clothing and as mentioned in the video, there wasn’t a lot of difference between the two.
  • In conclusion, I’m not convinced that this type of compression packing cube provides enough benefit to justify the extra price tag compared to a standard packing cube.

Some other downsides of these compression packing cubes:

  • The zips only open to around a half / third of the way which does cause cause some restriction while you pack. Not a deal breaker though.
  • The material is actually incredibly slippery. Combined with the smaller opening, I found that this made it harder to pack them, especially while stacked on top of one another.
  • In order for the compression to work, you need to fold your clothes, not roll. This does somewhat restrict the amount of clothing you can pack, especially for thick and bulky clothing
  • Despite marketed as convenient, the first time I packed these cells I couldn’t get the compression zip to zip up. It seemed like I had packed too much despite the cell being “just full”. I therefore had to unpack and repack, removing around a third of my clothes in the cell. This did add some frustration and extra time into the process compared to my old packing cubes.

 

Tripped Compression Packing Cubes

Does the compression work?

In terms of whether the compression works, my answer is a combination of Yes and No.

  • Did the second zip compress the cells? Yes.
  • But is it enough to really make a difference to your packing? I’m not convinced.

I tested my theory by packing the same amount of clothes into my old packing cells (very worn as you can see) and the Tripped compression cells.

  • I started with 7 items of clothing (a combination of jumpers, pants, skirts and tops), however had to remove 3 of these from the Tripped packing cube because it would’t compress. My old packing cube fit the 7 pieces of clothing comfortably.
  • Before compression, the Tripped packing cube was 7-8cm in width (the same as my old cube), and even after compressing, the parcel’s max width remained the same. This is because although the edges were thinned out by the compression, the clothes were simply pushed to the centre causing a bulge in the middle. Particularly true for large bulky items over small delicates (eg. undies, socks, and bras).
  • Although the packing cubes were somewhat translucent, it isn’t easy to tell what you’ve packed inside without unpacking (unless you know your clothes by colour – which is hard for me given I wear a lot of black).

I also demonstrated this in the video above.

Tripped Compression Packing Cubes

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Types of Compression Packing Cubes

In the video above, I only focused on the Tripped compression packing cubes, however there are many different types and brands of compression packing cubes that you can check out for heightened compression.

I have shortlisted a few of the brands I came across while researching online, so you can explore them further if these are of interest to you.

 

1. Tripped Compression Packing Cubes

Although they didn’t perform as much as I expected them to within the video, Tripped compression packing cubes still remain a popular and highly rated product on Amazon. 

These packing cubes are marketed as being created by travellers for travellers. However, I do feel they look A LOT like Eagle Creek’s compression cubes (below). Almost a cheaper copy, if I’m completely honest…

Compare the images of both of them and see what you think….

Overview:

  • Product: Set of 2 compression packing cubes
    • Medium: 36cm x 25cm x 3cm-10cm
    • Small: 25cm x 18cm x 3-10cm
  • Material: Made from water resistant, ripstop Nylon
  • Colour: Translucent white and Green
  • Reviews: 79% 5 star reviews, of 3000+ reviews

Pros:

  • These compression packing cubes are made from smooth rip-stop Nylon making them light-weight, translucent, water resistant and strong.
  • The translucent features allow you to vaguely see what is inside each cube, rather than having to open the cube every time. This can save you from opening multiple identical cubes to try and find what you need. 
  • This brand is advertised to have strong snag-free zippers and an easy to grab handle which makes it easier to pull the cube out of your backpack

Cons:

  • Some customers mentioned that the handle broke at first use, which isn’t ideal. 
  • These compression packing cubes don’t have a lot of structure. This means that a bulge tends to form in the middle of the cube after compression, rather than compressing evening across the entire cube.
  • Although advertised as having “snag free” zippers, some customers have mentioned that they experienced the zip catching on the bag’s fabric. It’s hard to know whether they just got a dodgy cube…or if this is a common trend. I did personally notice this happening when I had overfilled the bag, so may be something to keep in mind. 

View on Amazon AUS | View on Amazon.com

 

Tripped Compression Packing Cube

 

2. Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes

Eagle Creek is a well known brand across the globe, and also offer a range of compression packing cubes. However, are they worth the extra money? I’ll share my thoughts with you below.

Overview:

  • Product: Set of 2 compression packing cubes
    • Small: 25.5cm x 18cm x 8cm
    • Medium: 36cm x 25.5 cm x 8 cm
  • Material: Nylon
  • Colour: White and Green, Blue or patterned
  • Reviews: 81% 5 star reviews, of 1400+ reviews

Pros:

  • These compression cubes are made from strong non-rip Nylon material and are said to be light-weight, water-resistant, washable and contain anti-staining properties
  • Eagle Creek advertise that the cubes have a less than 1% return rate, with the cubes proven to make it easier to compress clothing and save space in your luggage
  • Eagle Creek offer a Lifetime Warranty and will replace the product in the event of product failure.

Cons:

  • Expensive. These packing cells are a lot more expensive than other packing cubes on the market
  • To make the cells lighter, the zipper only opens on two sides. This is similar to the Tripped compression packing cubes, and makes packing more difficult compared to standard packing cubes that you can open entirely / on 3-4 sides.
  • There have been some complaints of the compression zipper getting caught on the internal lining of the packing cubes. Therefore, although the material feels durable, you will want to take care when packing to ensure the material doesn’t rip. 
  • Some customers have claimed that there’s not much benefit of using these compression cubes compared to standard packing cubes for the additional price – the compression doesn’t seem to make a HUGE difference.

View on Amazon AUS | View on Amazon.com

 

3. Gonex Compression Packing Cubes

Gonex is another popular compression packing cube brand on Amazon, with a pretty solid reputation. In this section, I’ll be reviewing their compression packing cube set, which consists of three different-sized packing cubes.

Overview:

  • Product: Set of 3 packing cubes of various sizes
    • Large: 37cm x 27 cm x 9cm
    • Medium: 30cm x 22.5 x 9 cm
    • Small: 25cm x 19cm x 8cm
  • Material: Nylon
  • Colour: Black, Grey & other
  • Reviews: 70% 5 star reviews, of 1300+ reviews

Pros:

  • Gonex products are generally well-made, good quality and lightweight.
  • The compression functionality of these packing cells does seem to create more space within your luggage.
  • Product is typically delivered on time
  • Gonex offer a 30-day money back guarantee and 1 year warranty which is good. This allows you to easily return the product if there are any issues with it.

Cons:

  • Only 70% of the 1300+ reviews are 5 star which is quite low compared to the other products mentioned
  • Some customers have mentioned that despite appearances, these compression packing cubes don’t have as solid a structure as you’d think from the images. However, I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. Not having a rigid structure means that you can more easily stuff the cubes into your back pack and into the space you have available. 
  • Similar to the others mentioned above, the zipper doesn’t open entirely. This seems to be a shared issue amongst a few of the different brands of compression cells.
  • The expanding zipper can occasionally clamp your clothing, however this is easily fixed by pausing and pulling the zip back slowly.

View on Amazon (AUS) | View on Amazon.com

 

 

4. Is the Added Compression Worth the Extra Dollars?

I hope that I have helped to give you a bit more of an insight into compression packing cubes, and how they different from standard packing cubes / cells,

Although, the idea behind “compression” packing cubes is really great, I’d probably just stick with my standard Shacke Pak’s packing cubes.

In my opinion, I don’t believe that compression packing cubes provide a big enough benefit to justify the premium price tag compared to many of your standard packing cubes.

Based off my experience (and testing the two different types of packing cubes myself), I found that there really was little difference between the two cubes in terms of width and length, even after compression.

Although compression packing cubes do feel tighter and more compact once compressed, standard packing cubes will naturally compress as you pack them your bag (eg. a travel backpack). The extra air within them can naturally be pushed out of the bag the more that you fill your bag.

I would even go so far to argue that in some cases, compression packing cubes make it HARDER for you to unpack your clothes, given th double zips – meaning you have to open multiple zips to access your clothing.

If you are particularly set on getting compression cubes, I’d suggest trying one of the popular and highly rate options above. 

Alternatively, you can check out some of our recommended standard packing cube options below:

I hope this has helped you with your research. As always, if you have any questions on packing cubes, feel free to reach out.

If you want to learn more tips about travelling solo for the first time, you can also sign up for our FREE Solo Travel Bootcamp e-course,  to help you get started.

Happy travelling!

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Hey guys, I’m Ash & welcome to Adventure Travel Pro!

As a seasoned traveller, I share knowledge, advice and inspo for newbie solo travellers and thrill seekers.

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