Back when I traveled a lot, I had never head of packing cells/squares/modules. I used to just put all of my clothes in a suitcase and close it up. Then whenever I was looking for an item of clothing, I usually ended up messing or emptying the entire suitcase up looking for it.
Enter packing cells. I was browsing in the shops one day and came across a sale (my favourite kind of shopping) and bought some of these packing cells from the Australian retailer Kathmandu at a great price. I tested them out on a work trip and found that they worked very well.
Packing Cubes – Review
The blue one above is the medium sized cell. I bought two of these; I used one for underwear/socks/bras/swimwear, and the other for tshirts/shorts. The trip I used to test these on was 4 days, and even allowing for a few spare changes of clothes with me, these cells had tons of room. I rolled up all my clothes before I put them into the cell, and this way I managed to put one layer of clothes on top of the other within the cell.
This bag folds up into a pocket in-built into its base, and also has straps that mean it can be used as a backpack. I chose this one to be the dirty washing bag, to make sure even the dirty clothes were kept organised (and more importantly, separated from the clean clothes).
I chose this bag to be my travel gym bag, so it contained gym shoes, shorts, shirts and towel. This bag also folds up into an in-built pouch. I haven’t managed to get it back into the pouch since I opened it, but I am a terrible folder and all items like this, even ‘easy stuff sleeping bags’ are a great challenge to me.
As a traveling organisation system, I highly recommend buying a few of these. It actually saves you time and effort in locating things in your suitcase. There are always going to be moments when traveling when you need to go back to your room to slip on a jacket or different top or something, and if your clothes are organised and easily reached, then it means you can get back to your holiday sooner.
I’ve only used these on local work trips so far, none by plane, but I think it’s reasonable to say that it would make for suitcase inspections by security a lot easier, and more discreet, as there is no risk of your underwear spilling out onto an airport floor).
They’re also great for non-travel use. Below is a photo of the two medium cells in a small suitcase. I used this recently to take props and materials to a photo shoot, and once again, it makes things go easier and faster when you can just unzip and find what you want straight away. Someone I know uses these medium sized cells for keeping A4/foolscap notebooks in to carry around for work.
My main suitcase has a mesh section in it’s lid, so I use that for electrical items such as chargers. If I didn’t have this, I would also look at buying a smaller cell to keep all my chargers in one place.
If space is an absolute premium for you, packing cells may not be for you. If you’re moving house across the globe, you usually have to pack more items into your baggage allowance. The downside of packing cells is that they do take up space in your suitcase and don’t allow you to cram quite so much in.
As for which brand, and quality, that will depend on what stores are near you. I can recommend these Kathmandu branded ones, they seem very durable, the medium cells fit a large amount of clothes, and the zips have never caught on the cell or any of my clothes. In Australia, I’ve found that mainstream handbag/suitcase shops had no idea what I was talking about when I went in to purchase packing cells, so I think that the best bet is to find a retailer that is more outdoors/backpacker oriented. Always check for store loyalty card discounts too, you might be able to get a discount.
Have you ever used packing cells (or packing cubes or packing modules, or any other name they go by)? Do you find they help keep you organised or do you feel they’re more bulk than convenience?