So my family and I are getting ready for our first BIG family vacation in... forever. Seriously. Our last big vacation was the summer before my daughter was born (that would be back in 2006!). And the biggest trips we've had since my daughter was born have been to Disneyland. Now don't get me wrong, I LOOOOOVE Disneyland, but we drive the near-7 hours down, and stay for 4 days. But this summer, we're going bigger: Walt Disney World! It'll be my daughter's first time flying, and we're staying (on property!) for 10 days! Yippee!!!
Obviously a trip of this magnitude requires quite a bit of planning. One of the first things I thought about purchasing for this trip were packing cubes. I had heard about them, and read a LOT of reviews; and by and large, people can't say enough positive things about them. However, when I hopped online to make the purchase, I was completely overwhelmed by how many companies are making packing cubes!
Now, there's no way I could possibly review ALL of the cubes out there (well, not without taking out a second mortgage on my home), but neither am I one to just pick one at random and be happy with my choice; knowing that somewhere in that sea of cubes, there may be another one better suited to my needs (yes, I am that "Type A"). So what I did was order several sets of cubes, choosing only popular brands that had overwhelmingly positive reviews, to review up close and in person. Please check out my YouTube video review for all the details and for close-up images here:
For those of you who prefer reading about the subject, I'm more than happy to recap. :) I ordered six sets of cubes from the following brands: Go Cube It, Eagle Creek, Trek Ready, eBags, Pro Packing Cubes, and Shacke Pak. I've created this chart to quickly reference the differences, including how many pieces you get per set, the price, sizes of each cube, colors available, fabric and zipper type.
Go CUBE It
The only negative that could possibly be said about the Go CUBE It set is that it only comes in black. The fabric and zipper quality are fantastic (IMO the fabric is nicer than ever-popular eBags), and the price is hard to beat ($7 less than eBags!). And as a bonus, the Go Cube It has a 4-inch depth; whereas most of the packing cube sets that I reviewed have depths of about 3". This is important if you want to cram more items into your suitcase!
I really like the fabric of this cube set. It's nylon like all of the other cubes, but it feels like canvas. It's very thick and sturdy and keeps its shape really well. This is also the only set that I found whose mesh is the same color as the bag fabric. This obviously doesn't effect its performance, but it's a nice design touch (the bags are available in four colors). The big negative with this set is that the sizes are significantly smaller than all of the other sets that I reviewed. The large bag of this set is comparable in size to the medium bags in all other sets. Eagle Creek does offer a set of packing cubes (called the "Pack-It Starter Kit") which contains a packing "folder" which has similar dimension to the size "large" of some of the other packing sets; however this set is currently $43.99 at amazon.com!
That's just too expensive! Plus, I'm not a huge fan of the whole "folder" concept. Because everything has to be folded to the dimensions of the folder, and then you fold in the sides, top and bottom and velcro the whole thing closed, you don't have the flexibility to stuff in a few smaller items that didn't fit elsewhere as you would with zippered packing cubes. But I digress. Despite the size/price issue, the Eagle Creek packing cubes do seem to be very well made.
Trek Ready Packing Cubes
These have GOT to be the most popular packing cubes on the web - and for good reason! They're well made with sturdy nylon fabric and high-quality YKK zippers, and they come in about a zillion colors! Well, ok, 10 colors in reality (see photo above), which is at least twice as many as most companies offer. Other than being slightly more expensive than some other cube sets, there's really nothing bad to say about these babies. Plus, the company also offers individual or sets of their "Slim Packing Cubes" - these are great and versatile cubes for rolling up smaller things like tube socks, boxers, tank tops, or even for packing random items like charging cables or snacks. So if you don't mind paying more for extra sizes, this is a wonderful brand.
Pro Packing Cubes
I really like the Pro Packing Cubes, but they fabric is very different than the others. While it's also nylon, it's a very thin rip-stop nylon. Nylon is a very strong material, but I would imagine that after repeated use, these cubes may wear out faster than other cubes with thicker fabric. For some people, the thin fabric will be a pro because it makes the cubes much lighter, and will theoretically take up less space in your suitcase. To others, it's going to be a con because they don't keep their shape as well when you're packing (or if you've stuffed them really full). So your take on fabric is really going to be a matter of personal preference. As far as construction, they are very well made and include high quality YKK zippers.
The Pro Packing Cubes come in five attractive colors, but the biggest pro for me is going to be that it's a 4-piece set. The three largest cubes are comparable in size to most of the other sets that I reviewed, but the 4th cube is a smaller organizer cube and I LOVE the size! It's the perfect size for rolling up panties, sock, swim suits, or for random things like keeping snacks in your back pack, or charging cables, batteries, etc.
The Shacke Pak is one of my top picks. It comes as a 4-piece set, plus a dirty laundry bag, and is currently the SAME PRICE as the eBags 3-piece set! Yes folks, I'm a sucker for a good value. Plus, the fabric is outstanding. It's nylon as are all the other cube sets, but unlike most that are a medium-weight diamond nylon, the Shacke Pak uses a very thick, tightly woven, slick, sturdy fabric. It's probably the thickest fabric of all the cubes that I reviewed. The one and only negative to be said about the Shacke Pak is that it only comes in the one color! If they had more color options, it would blow the other cubes out of the water. And they wouldn't even have to change the main fabric - if only they offered sets with trims other than blue, that would be awesome. Hopefully they'll offer more color choices in the near future! <crossing fingers> Unlike the Pro Packing Cubes, whose 4th cube is smaller than the typical three sizes, the Shacke Pak's 4th cube is an in-between size. To clarify, Shacke Pak's XL bag is comparable to eBags Large bag; Shacke Pak's Medium is comparable to eBags Medium; and Shacke Pak's Small is comparale to eBags Small. So Shacke Pak's "Large" is a size in between the eBags Large and Medium (maybe they should call it a "Largium?" Or a "Mediarge?" Just a thought....). I'm not sure how I feel about the 4th cube being sized between a large and a medium. My first instinct is to wish that they offered a smaller cube like Pro Packing Cube's smallest cube, as I think that's a great little organizing tool and very versatile. But who knows. Maybe once I'm all packed up and ready for our trip, I'll have a different tune to sing. We'll see.
So what did I deduce from my research? Pretty much that it's hard to go wrong. As long as you select cubes that have been well received (LOVE amazon customer reviews), you'll likely have zero complaints. So which did I end up with...?
Pro Packing Cubes AND Shacke Pak!
Yes, I couldn't pass up the outstanding VALUE and QUALITY of the Shacke Pak, but I also really wanted to get a pink set for my daughter. That still means we need a third set, as we are a family of 3; but I haven't decided on that one yet! It'll likely end up being another Pro Packing cube set or a set of eBags (and possibly a set of eBags slim packing cubes).
Hopefully this helps with your own shopping experience! Happy Travels!