When it comes to travel, whoever said “half the fun is getting there” quite obviously did not have to pack his own bag. If you are anything like me – and I sense you are – you have a tendency to pack more than you need just in case you…well, need it. To compensate, you have to learn how to pack efficiently or accept the fact you will need a small army to carry your bags. Eagle Creek’s Pack-It cube system intends to help you with the first one, but the question is – can it? Read on to find out…
The Eagle Creek Pack-It Structured Cube starter set (lucky I don’t get paid by the word) is a set of nylon compression cubes designed to make whatever you put inside them, within reason, smaller. The set comes with one small cube, one medium cube and a second medium cube with a structured panel. More on the function of the panel in a moment. The medium-sized cubes are perfect for shirts but the structured cube is too small for most man-sized pants. For example, I wear a 38×32 pant – not a small size, to be sure, but not overly large either. With some creative folding, I was able to get 1 pair of pants into the medium structured cube, so clearly you would need a larger size structured or an unstructured to handle your pants. Not a fault by any means, just something to keep in mind.
The structured panel, I assume, is intended to help you properly fold clothing like shirts to fit in the medium structured cube. After folding, you can pack the panel at the bottom of the cube to help retain its shape. Personally, I would have preferred both medium cubes in this set to have that panel – it would have made this a very valuable travel companion starter set. Instead, only one of the cubes comes with this panel, an odd oversight.
Because I travel a lot for my day job and because I spend a lot of time in front of clients, I pack long-sleeve, button-down dress shirts. The medium structured cube will hold 3 of my XL-sized shirts along with the panel. The small cube will hold either a week’s worth of underwear or socks (not both).
As you can see, the medium structured cube is something of a tight fit with the 3 dress shirts packed along with the panel. Question is, does the compression actually yield any space savings in your bag?
And the answer: yes, it does. That is certainly less room than the 3 XL shirts on their own would take. I would guess that 2 of the medium structured cubes, 2 of the unstructured medium cubes to hold rolled up pants and two small cubes would handle a week’s travel and would allow me to downsize to a smaller suitcase.
The solution comes at a potential cost, though. I mentioned repeatedly that I pack dress shirts, and any system like this that relies on compression will wrinkly your clothing. On the 3 trips I have taken using the cubes I have had to iron my shirts every morning. Sure, that happens on occasion when free-packed in my bag, but there are times when I can get around that by hanging my shirt in the bathroom and letting the steam from the shower take care of minor wrinkling. Not so with this system. If I could wear t-shirts or a more casual shirt, this would not be an issue. Nor should it be something that deters you unless you are actually allergic to irons.
All in all, the system does what it says. My recommendation, however, would be to assess the kinds of packing cubes you might need and purchase accordingly rather than buying a one size fits some solution. For example, the medium unstructured cube holds 2 pairs of rolled-up pants. Two medium unstructured, two medium structured and two small unstructured would take me from a 25-inch checked bag to a 21-inch carry-on. One trip and I’ve made back the investment in the system. And that’s a good value in my book.