Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Packing Cubes Review

Mar 21, 2014 | Gear, Review | 0 comments

Packing cubes are a great way to organize the contents of your bag.  There are a variety of manufacturers and sizes available, with most of them constructed from some sort of fabric/mesh combination for strength and visibility.  Eagle Creek has created quite a buzz with their Pack-It Specter series of packing cubes which employ ripstop silnylon, resulting in an ultra-lightweight product. And as any frequent traveler knows, reducing the weight of ones pack is always good goal.

Features

The biggest feature of the Pack-It Specter cubes is their weight (or lack thereof).  The lightweight ripstop nylon allows these cubes to be less than one-quarter of the weight their respective competitors.  Using the Pack-It Specter cubes as your travel organizers could mean shaving nearly half a pound of weight from your pack!

The Pack-It Specter line comes in a variety of sizes and colors.  Aside from the standard large and small varieties (which are classified by Eagle Creek as the Cube and Half Cube respectively), the Pack-It Specter line also offers a Quarter Cube, a Specter Sac, and various sizes of Specter Folders. All sizes are available in translucent white, and less translucent orange and green.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Spectre Packing Cubes (White)
Eagle Creek Pack-It Spectre Packing Cubes (Orange)
Eagle Creek Pack-It Spectre Packing Cubes (Green)

Size and Weight Comparison

The following is a size and weight comparison between the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter packing cubes and several of its competitors: Rick Steves Packing Cubes, and the Kiva Compress-It Packing Cubes.

ProductDimensionsWeight
Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube14 x 10 x 3 in / 36 x 25 x 8 cm1 oz / 27 g
Rick Steves Packing Cube (Large)14 x 11 x 5 in / 36 x 28 x 13 cm4 oz / 113 g
Kiva Compress-It Packing Cube (Large)15 x 11 x 5 in / 38 x 28 x 13 cm4.6 oz / 130 g
ProductDimensionsWeight
Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Half Cube10 x 7 x 3 in / 25 x 18 x 8 cm0.6 oz / 18 g
Rick Steves Packing Cube (Small)11 x 8 x 5 in / 28 x 20 x 13 cm3 oz / 85 g
Kiva Compress-It Packing Cube (Small)10 x 7 x 5 in / 25 x 18 x 13 cm3.3 oz / 94 g
ProductDimensionsWeight
Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Half Cube10 x 7 x 3 in / 25 x 18 x 8 cm0.6 oz / 18 g
Rick Steves Packing Cube (Small)11 x 8 x 5 in / 28 x 20 x 13 cm3 oz / 85 g
Kiva Compress-It Packing Cube (Small)10 x 7 x 5 in / 25 x 18 x 13 cm3.3 oz / 94 g

Value

The Pack-It Specter cubes retail as a set (1 Full, 1 Half, and 1 Quarter cube) for around $38, making it one of the most expensive packing cube sets available.  Cubes can be purchased individually, retailing at $16 for the Full cube, $15 for the Half cube, and $13 for the Quarter cube.

We find it unusual that Eagle Creek would choose to bundle a Quarter cube in place of a second Half cube in their set. We’ve never had much use for the Quarter cube, as it seems too small to be practical for packing clothing.  Perhaps the Quarter cube may be used to organize sundry odds-and-ends items, but there are other cheaper solutions for that.  Other brands’ packing cube sets generally combine a large packing cube with two small packing cubes, which more accurately fits our packing style.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cubes

Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Full and Half cubes

Ease of Packing

Up to this point, everything is looking pretty good, right?  After all, the Pack-It Specter cubes are stylish and lightweight. And not just lightweight; really lightweight!  Sure, the cubes are a bit pricier than other solutions, but technology doesn’t come cheap. But when it comes to packing, that’s where these cubes become annoying.

The first and most grievous flaw in the Pack-It Specter cubes is that they don’t zip all the way around. The zipper only opens about 2/3 of the way around the cube, so instead of packing your clothes clamshell-style, you’re forced to stuff your clothes into the cubes like a rucksack. This might not seem like a big deal, but it becomes a real pain when you need to remove an item. Everything has to come out of the cube and then be repacked after you’ve retrieved the desired item.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube

The 3/4 zipper. Bah!

The second annoying feature is the opaqueness of the material. Eagle Creek markets the translucent shell as a feature (“ultra lightweight silnylon ripstop allows you to see what’s inside”), but in reality, inner contents appear as a big colorful blur once you close the packing cube. If you have several of these cubes in your pack, chances are you’ll have to open each one to find the item that you need.

Finally, the nylon material is slippery. While this is a minor complaint, it can be annoying to stack the loaded cubes on top of each other only to have them slide off onto the floor.

Pros

  • Lightweight: A quarter of the weight of competing mesh alternatives.
  • Durable: It’s the same stuff that camping tents are made from.
  • Stain resistant: Or so Eagle Creek claims.  We haven’t had the opportunity to test this since we try to keep our gear pretty clean.
  • Carry handle: Kind of convenient.

Cons

  • Partial opening: The cubes zippered access doesn’t open all the way, which makes packing clothes into the cubes more cumbersome.
  • Reduced visibility: The translucent shell material that is heralded as a feature, allowing users to be able to see the contents of the cubes. In reality the contents aren’t nearly as visible as those in mesh cubes.
  • Breathability: Less breathable as cubes with mesh components.
  • Slippery: The ripstop nylon is slippery, so stacked cubes slide off each other.
  • Weight
  • Price
  • Features
  • Ease of Packing
  • Durability
3.2

Summary

We really want to love these packing cubes. After all, we’re always trying to shave valuable weight from our packs. While we love the concept of using ripstop nylon to create an ultra-lightweight packing solution, the frustrating functionality and high price make it difficult to recommend over alternative options.

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