[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]When it comes to organizing your pack, it is tough to beat the efficiency of packing cubes.  Until you use them, it can be hard to understand how such a simple item can be so convenient for packing, unpacking, staying organized, and saving space.

There are a number of different brands of packing cubes on the market.  Each has its own strengths and weaknesses.  For this review, we’ve picked from the range of most popular packing cubes:  Sea-to-Summit Travelling Light Garment Mesh BagsRick Steves Packing CubesKiva Compress-It system, and the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter cubes. We’ve put each of these packing cubes to the test on extended trips, and we’re ready to give you the low down on which has the best features, which ones are the lightest, and which one will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Packing Cubes

(L to R) Sea-to-Summit Garment Mesh Bag, Rick Steves Packing Cube, Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter, and Kiva Compress-It

Redefining Nomenclature

Each company offers several sizes of packing cubes, each with a different naming convention for its size class.  This makes equal comparison of the products difficult, so I’ve taken the liberty of standardizing the naming of the sizing convention throughout this review.  Here is a chart that explains my standardized sizing names versus the terminology used by each respective company:

Standard NameSea-to-SummitRick StevesKivaEagle Creek


Construction Material

While each of the packing cubes utilizes reinforced nylon in order to reduce weight, only the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter is constructed entirely of ripstop Silnylon.  This makes it extremely lightweight, but the lack of structural elements renders the cubes rather floppy.  In addition, the use of Silnylon in the lid of the Pack-It Specter cubes makes it difficult to quickly determine its contents.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter cubes

Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Full and Half cubes

The other cubes employ mesh elements, which aid in breathability and make it easier to view the contents of the cubes.  The Rick Steves cubes are almost entirely mesh, with only the bottoms being constructed from reinforced nylon.  Both the Sea-to-Summit and Kiva cubes contain nylon side walls, although Sea-to-Summit uses the lighter weight Ultra-Sil nylon.  Sea-to-Summit is the only manufacturer to use a heavier nylon fabric on the bottom of its Garment Mesh Bags, which provides additional rigidity and support. The Kiva cubes contain the lightest mesh weave, while the Rick Steves cube mesh seems to be the most dense.


Each of the packing cubes features YKK zippers, although they all differ in gauge.  The Rick Steves and Kiva cubes feature the heaviest gauge zippers, while Eagle Creek has the lightest.  Both Sea-to-Summit and Eagle Creek utilize concealed or “invisible” zippers that are hidden when closed.

The Sea-to-Summit and Rick Steves packing cubes each contain dual zipper pulls, which aid in convenience of opening and don’t seem to add hardly any additional weight.  Sea-to-Summit have also attached pull tabs at the end of their zipper openings which helps when closing the cubes.

Sea-to-Summit Pull Tabs

The Sea-to-Summit Garment Mesh Bags feature pull tabs for easy opening and closing.

The Kiva Compress-It packing cubes each contain an additional zipper that wraps around the outside of the cube.  These zippers are designed to compress the cubes to reduce bulk.   I found, however, that when the cubes are fully loaded, the zipper compression does not adequately compress the cube, and most of the time the compression zipper can’t even close completely without it pulling apart due to the strain.  Essentially, the compression system is more gimmicky than useful and adds unnecessary weight to the product.

Kiva compression system

The compression feature is pretty much useless due to the strain on the zippers. Note the zipper is already popping loose in this picture.

Additional Features

The Sea-to-Summit and Eagle Creek packing cubes contain lightweight handles – a nice feature, but not a game changer.

Features Winner: Sea-to-Summit Garment Mesh Bags win this category due to their smart construction materials, dual zipper pulls, pull tabs at the base of the zippers, and handles.

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In this round-up, Kiva’s Large bag is slightly larger than others in its class, while Rick Steves offers the most sizable Small cube.  Sea-to-Summit offers an X-Large bag (which they call a Large) which is designed for more robust clothing.  We rarely use this size when packing in a backpack, but suitcase packers may prefer the extra space.  Eagle Creek makes an X-Small cube (which they call a Quarter cube), which we find to be less useful when it comes to packing clothing and better suited for packing small odds-and-ends.

Garment Mesh Bag sizes

Sea-to-Summit’s Garment Specter Bags come in small, medium, and large (top to bottom) sizes.

Dimension Chart

ProductSea-to-SummitRick StevesKivaEagle Creek
X-Large15.7 x 11.8 x 3.5in
40 x 30 x 9cm
Large14 x 10 x 4in
36 x 25 x 10cm
14 x 11 x 5in
36 x 28 x 13cm
15 x 11 x 5in
36 x 25 x 10cm
14 x 10 x 3in
36 x 25 x 8cm
Small10 x 7 x 4in
25 x 18 x 10cm
11 x 8 x 5in
28 x 20 x 13cm
10 x 7 x 5in
25 x 18 x 13cm
10 x 7 x 3in
25 x 18 x 8cm
X-SmallN/AN/AN/A7.5 x 4.5 x 2.5in
19 x 11 x 6cm

Dimension Winner: When it comes to standard sizes (Large and Small), it’s a draw between Sea-to-Summit, Rick Steves, and Kiva.  Each of their cubes differ marginally in size, typically by a inch in one dimension or another.

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There is an adage when it comes to traveling light: to save pounds, shave ounces.  Ideally I’m interested in having packing cubes that will keep my bag organized while contributing very little additional weight.

When it comes to weight, the Pack-It Specter cubes weigh less than half of the competition’s offerings due to its use of 100% Silnylon, which is extremely lightweight yet durable.  The Pack-It Specter cubes also reduce weight by removing any additional elements that might otherwise add rigidity, and by employing lightweight, thin zippers. Rick Steves Packing Cubes are entirely mesh, which I though would be fairly light due to the porousness of the material and reduction of surface area.  Apparently the mesh materials weighs more than one would assume, while the heavy-duty zippers and rigid piping add considerable weight.  Sea-to-Summit Garment Mesh Bags take a hybrid approach, employing a combination of Ultra-Sil Nylon and mesh to provide a combination of durability, breathability, and viewability, all in a lightweight package.  The heaviest of the bunch are the Kiva Compress-It Packing Cubes, which are plagued by heavy materials and additional zippers.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter

The minimalist Pack-It Specter cubes weigh less than half of the other packing cubes.

Weight Chart

ProductSea-to-SummitRick StevesKivaEagle Creek
X-Large3.7oz / 105gN/AN/AN/A
Large2.9oz / 82g4oz / 113g4.6oz / 130g0.9oz / 26g
Small2.0oz / 57g3.1oz / 88g3.6oz / 102g0.6oz / 17g
X-SmallN/AN/AN/A0.4oz / 11g

Weight Winner: Eagle Creek has the competition beat, hands down.  It is unfortunate that the weight reduction is coupled with reduced functionality.

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Ease of Packing

Packing cubes function fairly simply: they unzip, you pack your clothes, and they zip up again, keeping things tight and organized.  The Sea-to-Summit, Rick Steves, and Kiva packing cubes all unzip 3/4 of the way around, allowing the lid to lay flat for easy access to the packing cube.  Clothes can be placed flat or rolled without the lid interfering with the packing process.  It’s interesting to note that the Sea-to-Summit Garment Mesh Bag opens longways, while the other two open sideways.  The different opening direction doesn’t affect packing functionality, but designing a longways opening has allowed Sea-to-Summit to reduce its zipper length – along with additional zipper weight – by nearly 10 percent.  Clever.

Clamshell packing cube

Most of the packing cubes open wide for easy packing and unpacking.

Unlike the others, the Eagle Creek Pack-it Specter cubes only unzip 2/3 of the way, forcing you to stuff your clothes into the cubes like a rucksack.  As we’ve mentioned before, this can be a real pain when it comes to extracting a single item of clothing without disrupting your other clothes.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter cube

The 3/4 zipper. Bah!

Ease of Packing Winner: It’s a draw between Sea-to-Summit, Rick Steves, and Kiva, all of which provide easy access to your clothing.

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While we’ve tested the Rick Steves and Kiva packing cubes more than the others, we’ve tested each of the packing cubes over the course of several trips and haven’t had any durability issues with any of the bags.  The material and seams have held together under stuffed conditions, and the main zippers have not failed.  We have concerns with the Kiva Compress-It’s secondary compression zippers failing.  In truth, we don’t use the compression system simply because it feels like the zippers may come loose under stress.

Durability Winner: It’s a draw between the four manufacturers.  All have held up well across multiple trips.  The only caveat would be the Kiva Compress-It compression zippers, which may fail under duress.



While the chart below outlines the cost of each of the products, the actual value is influenced by additional factors.  The Kiva Compress-It system – while the cheapest of the bunch – loses some value due to weight and functionality issues.  The Sea-to-Summit Garment Mesh Bags are by far the most expensive, which is unfortunate since many travelers may pass up on their excellent quality in lieu of something cheaper.

Product SizeSea-to-SummitRick StevesKivaEagle Creek
Large$21.95Sold as setSold as set$16
Small$17.95Sold as setSold as set$15
Set of 3Sold individually$17.99$14.45$38.00

Value Winner: Since all the packing cubes function essentially the same, the value of these products basically comes down to price, size, and weight.  The Rick Steves Packing Cubes come out on top since they perform well in the price and size category.  I’m partial to the Sea-to-Summit Garment Mesh Bags due to their outstanding weight and functionality, but budget conscious travelers may balk at paying nearly three times what the Rick Steves Packing Cube set costs.

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Editor’s Choice: Sea-to-Summit Garment Mesh Bags

When it comes to packing cubes, the Sea-to-Summit Garment Mesh Bags stand out above the rest.  The Garment Mesh Bag line has been well designed and contains the subtle features that make them a joy to use.  The Garment Mesh Bags function similarly to the other cubes, but at a fraction of the weight.  If you can afford the premium price, these are the crème de la crème of packing cubes.

Sea-to-Summit Garment Mesh Bag

The Sea-to-Summit Garment Mesh Bags are pricey but awesome packing cubes.

Best Buy: Rick Steves Packing Cubes

I chose the Rick Steves Packing Cubes as the Best Buy for travelers.  At just under $18, they are the best performing packing cubes in their price range.  They’re not the lightest and they don’t have many extraneous features, but they are sizable, functional, and durable.  If you’re not concerned with adding a few additional ounces to your pack, the Rick Steves Packing Cubes are the best value for your money.

Rick Steves Packing Cube

The Rick Steves Packing Cubes are constructed from heavy-duty mesh and feature solid zippers.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” bg_position=”left top” bg_repeat=”no-repeat” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” bottom_padding=”40″][vc_column width=”1/1″ animation=”none” column_padding=”padding-3-percent” column_padding_position=”all” background_color=”#4da8c7″ background_color_opacity=”0.2″][text-with-icon icon_type=”font_icon” icon=”icon-exclamation-sign” color=”Accent-Color”]While the products may have been graciously supplied by various companies, all opinions are our own. We would not recommend any gear that we don’t use and love.  For the record, eBags refused to submit their packing cubes for comparative testing.[/text-with-icon][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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