What do you put in your packing cubes?
If you're a packing cube user, what exactly do you put in each of your cubes, and how do those contents change while you're on the road? For example, does dirty laundry go back into the same cube it came from, or does it go into a separate cube, leaving the original one no longer packed tightly?
So far I've found I can pack a pair of thin-fabric pants, a T-shirt or thin-fabric long-sleeve shirt, a pair of underwear, and a pair of socks into a single Eagle Creek Half Tube Cube, and the result is a snug tightly-packed day's worth of clothing. This seems like it fulfills the "I get to my room and pull out the top cube, and I'm done unpacking" claims of cube lovers. Is that a typical practice?
I'm a naturally messy person so having a place for each item helped me keep track of my things at all times.
I think that's the absolute best use of packing cubes... helping inexperienced or chronically unorganized travellers to get a system together.
For others they're simply useless extra weight and hassle because they're completely unnecessary.
I like cubes because they help me pre-sort my bag. I don't have a fancy pack, it's primarily one big compartment with a few nice pockets. With cubes, you can divide things into clothes, accessories, electronics, toiletries, etc. And I've found the weight and space they take up to be negligible. I mean, they're like a few mms thick (if that's not accurate, bear with me. I'm still learning metric). My point is, really thin and lightweight.
They make double-sided cubes that would be handy for clean->dirty clothes, but I just have a drawstring nylon gym bag I use for dirty laundry.
Since my bag doesn't have a bottom access panel, cubes are great for when I need something from the bottom. Unpacking a few cubes is a lot easier than having to re-roll all my clothes, especially because if I'm not putting down roots in one place I like to keep my bag as close to ready as possible. Grab-and-go, if you will.
Also, if I'm headed to the bathroom, I just grab the cube with my razor/toothbrush. And if I'm on a long bus trip but I want to stow my bag, I just grab the one with my MP3 player and small electronics in it.
I wouldn't say there's any typical way to use cubes, so if you haven't left for your trip and you want to give cubes a try, I'd buy an assortment of different types/brands. Then take all the gear you want to bring/think you need, and figure out how you like to pack.
I never found the half-tube cube to be very useful while backpacking, for example. But back home I used it all the time as a basic bicycle toolkit. It's just large enough to fit a handpump, wrench, and some patches.
For the Voyageur, you'd probably do well with an assortment of half-, quarter-, and full- Eagle Creek cubes. Maybe a pack-it folder or two if you're traveling with nicer clothing that you don't want to wrinkle (now that I'm working in Australia, that matters a lot more than when I was backpacking around SEA).
If it turns out they're not for you, hell, just sell them on eBay. By the time you figure out what kind of traveler you are, you'll have wasted a lot more money on travel gear that's a lot less potentially useful than cubes.
-One half cube holds all my bras, undies and socks
-One half cube holds 2 bathing suits, 2 sarongs & a bandana or two
-One quarter cube holds electronic gadgetry - batteries & charger, plug converters, phone charger, extra memory cards for the camera & card reader, etc
-One quarter cube is my bedside table - it holds earplugs, eye-shades, glasses case, chapstick, fingernail file, alarm clock & headlamp and a clothespin that I don't remember how it ended up in there but has proved useful more often than you would think!. I keep this cube in my carry-on for long plane or bus rides.
- in a full cube, all of my shirts, clean and rolled
- in a half cube, clean undies, bras and socks
- in a quarter cube, electronic do-dads, pens, miscellany
Helped me keep everything tidy, and if I need a specific thing I don't have to dump out my whole bag, especially nice in airports, bus stations, etc.
Kept all my dirty laundry in the bottom of the separator thing (rather than the bottom-bottom that has access via the zipper) in my 40L hiking bag.
I love Deanna S's idea of a bedside table cube! Genius
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