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

If you’ve just started doing some research on packing cubes, then you may be finding yourself feeling a touch overwhelmed by the level of choice out there.

I know that because, well, you’re here.

I’ve loved to travel for years, and it was only recently (after I did some in depth research) that I discovered the amazing benefits of packing cubes – and the various types of packing cubes available.

Who would have thought that a small material bag could be so diverse…

Anyway, depending on the sources and images you reference, it can be really confusing to clearly differentiate between standard packing cubes and packing cubes with compression functionality, and the various brands/products available on the market,

If you’re anything like me, you may also be wondering whether it’s worth investing the extra coin into buying a compression packing cube – given they are often more expensive compared to a standard packing cube.

But have no fear…In this article, I’m going to do my best to help you by answering 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 you can buy online for added convenience and cost-saving.

But, before we jump into that, let’s first consider why you would even want to buy a packing cube with compression functionality in the first place.

 

1. What is a Compression Packing Cube?

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

They often include an additional zip so that they can more effectively compress the air out of your clothes, supposedly helping to create additional space within your luggage.

Unlike standard packing cells, it is often recommended that you fold your clothing. It is believed that this will give you better compression. I can actually vouch for this as I have tested rolling vs folding myself.

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

Related Articles: 

 



 

2. The Benefits of Packing Cubes For Travellers (With and Without Compression Functionality)

Some of you may be wondering – “Are packing cubes worth it?”.

In my opinion, one of the main benefits of packing cubes overall is that they help you to organise and save space in your travel backpack. They also make it much easy to find and remove items from your luggage, without having to disrupt the entire pack.

When I travel, I use packing cubes to:

  • Keep my bag orderly and organised
  • Separate my winter / bulky clothes from my lighter clothes
  • Protect my clothing from any leaks in my bag
  • Hide and secure identity documents or valuables within my clothes (eg. passport, credit cards, small tech, cash and valuables).
  • Protect my fragile items when moving between destinations (by rolling them securely amongst my clothes)

According to some, the added benefits that packing cubes with compression functionality is that they save more space. However, from my experience with different packing cubes I do feel that this can be a bit hit or miss.

 

3. Do Compression Packing Cubes Even Work?

Before doing some research, I often found myself wondering whether compression packing cubes actually work and whether they’re worth buying at all?

Personally, I’ve come across travellers who passionately RAVE about compression packing cubes, as well as those who don’t understand the hype.

I must admit I fall into the second group… (sorry, not sorry!)

As someone who prefers to be authentically honest with you guys, and base things off my personal experience – I’m yet to be convinced that the extra zip of the “compression” packing cubes, really makes a huge difference.

Sure… when outside of your bag, the packing cubes with added compression functionality look to be more condensed than standard cubes.

But once inside your bag, I find that both cubes act very similarly, with any extra air compressed naturally as you start to add everything else in. 



 

The Compression Test

Given the mixed reviews about whether compression packing cubes actually work, I wanted to do a bit of a test.

At least that way I feel like I can 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:

For every product, there’s going to be some kind of downside, even if small. Here are a couple for the Tripped packing cubes.

  1. 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.
  2. The material is actually incredibly slippery. Combined with the smaller opening, I found that this made it harder to pack them, especially when stacked on top of one another.
  3. 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
  4. 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

So, 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 sure.

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

Related Articles: 

 



 

4. Best 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.

Here are some of the best compression packing cubes brands and products I shortlisted after spending hours of research on

 

1. Tripped Compression Packing Cubes

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

These packing cubes with compression functionality are marketed as being “created by travellers for travellers”. However, I do feel they conveniently 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….

Tripped Compression Packing Cube

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 aneasy 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

 

 

 

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.

 

Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes

 

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.

Gonex Compression 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

 

 

5. Is Compression Functionality 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 the 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. 

 

6. Do Compression Packing Cubes Save Space?

Depending on what they’re used for and how they’re packed, compression packing cubes can help to save some space in your luggage – especially for bulkier items.

They also help with compartmentalising your clothes, preventing you from having to unpack everything to find a specific piece of clothing or misplaced items.

Most compression packing cubes provide designated pockets so you can clearly categorise your clothing and belongings, ensuring a tidy and space-efficient packing experience.

Standard packing cubes strike a balance, offering compression and durability without burdening you with extra weight.

On the other hand, compression packing cubes step up when dealing with bulkier items, perfect for winter getaways or business ventures with specific wardrobe demands.

 

7. What are the factors to consider when choosing the best compression packing cube?

To choose the best compression packing cube for your needs, I’d suggest weighing up the below factors. Here are some pivotal considerations:

1. Zipper Opening Style:

Decide between a full clamshell-style opening and a half opening. A clamshell style provides direct access whereas a half-opening style only allows you to open it halfway when packing. Personally I prefer packing cubes with a “half opening” style.

3. Zipper Pulls and Quantity:

For convenient opening and closing, look for packing cubes with 1-2 zipper pulls on them. This can help to provide added functionality and flexibility. Dual zippers also simplify opening and closing.

4. Handles:

Handles, while not essential, can aid in lifting cubes, especially from top-loading backpacks. Opt for handles that are flat and sit close to the cube when not in use.

5. Durability:

Choose packing cubes crafted from robust “rip-free” materials. I also suggest assessing the seam and stitching quality to help ensure prolonged longevity.

6. Brand Reputation:

Favour renowned brands with positive reviews for reliability.
Research customer feedback on specific packing cubes to gauge their performance.

Some good brands to check out include Eagle Creek, Tripped or Kathmandu.

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!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are compression cubes good for packing?

Compression cubes can be used to optimize packing space. With an additional zip mechanism, they can help to compress clothing, providing a compact and organized solution for travelers. They’re particularly beneficial when dealing with bulkier items like winter clothes or a specific business wardrobe (unless you’re looking for a wrinkle-free solution).

Do compression packing cubes reduce weight?

While compression packing cubes don’t directly reduce the weight of your clothes, they contribute to a more efficient packing strategy. By compressing items and creating more streamlined organization, they may indirectly help manage the weight distribution in your luggage, preventing unnecessary bulk.

Is it better to roll or fold compression cubes?

Some argue that folding provides better compression, while others find rolling more efficient. Experimenting with both methods can help determine which works best for your specific clothing items and the type of compression packing cube you’re using. Personally, I prefer to roll my clothing when using standard packing cubes and fold if using a compression or 2-sided cube.

Do clothes get wrinkled in compression packing cubes?

Delicate fabrics may experience some wrinkling, so careful folding or rolling is advisable. Wrinkling in compression packing cubes can vary. While the compression feature aims to minimize wrinkles by eliminating excess air, the effectiveness depends on factors such as the fabric of your clothes and how tightly they are packed.

A little tip: If you want to unwrinkle your clothing when travelling, try putting it on a coat hanger and hanging it on the back of the bathroom door during your next shower. The steam from the shower can help to smooth the material out.

 

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services, and may earn a commission from purchases made after clicking links on this site. Learn more

Profile Image: Ashleigh - Adventure Travel Pro

Hey guys, I'm Ash. Welcome to Adventure Travel Pro!

As a seasoned traveller, I love sharing knowledge, advice and inspiration for newbie travellers and thrill seekers seeking their next adventure of a lifetime.

You can learn more about my story here, or get started right away with our FREE Solo Travel Starter Pack & Video Series. In this pack, I provide insights into what you must know and consider before booking your first solo trip overseas.

I hope you enjoy our site!

Follow us on:

Get Your FREE 10 Step Solo Travel Checklist
Get Your FREE Solo Travel Starter Pack