When it comes to flying carry-on only, every square inch of suitcase space counts. So if you want to maximize every corner of that bag, should you use packing cubes or roll your clothes?

Packing Cubes Vs. Rolling: The Verdict

The verdict? Rolling. In general, rolling your clothing saves more space than using packing cubes. Packing cubes take up the most space, compared to rolling or even folding.

Rolled items take up less room and can be configured to fit into otherwise wasted space (like putting rolled up socks inside your shoes).


Related: How to Pack for an Extended Trip in Just a Carry-On Bag


However, for bulky items such as sweaters or jackets, rolling might take up more space than laying the item flat or folding it, in which case you might want to try a compression packing cube.

The Game-Changing Packing Cube

A compression packing cube, like this set from Eagle Creek can help you save almost as much space as folding, plus keep you significantly more organized. Try incorporating a mix of compression packing cubes; for example, pack your shirts in a packing cube and then fill in the gaps around the cube inside the suitcase with socks and underwear. Or, roll the majority of your clothes but use a compression packing cube for heavy sweaters or jackets.

Compression bags are similar to packing cubes, but allow you to get even more air out and make your clothing take up even less space. These ones from AmazonBasics are particularly good for travel, as they don’t require the use of a vacuum (which can be tough to find in your hotel as you’re packing up to go home). Just beware of overpacking while using compression bags, as you can quickly exceed the weight limit of your bag by packing even more in.

You can also combine packing cubes with rolling, and roll your clothes before neatly stacking them inside a packing cube. This will help prevent wrinkles, keep your clothes easy to find, and save tons of space.

The Secret Packing Cube Hack

Even if you’re a staunch roller, you may want to bring one or two packing cubes along on your next trip. You can use them to contain your dirty clothing and keep it neatly separated from your clean items.


Related: 7 Must-Pack Items to Keep You Healthy While Traveling


If you want to cram as much into your suitcase as possible, go for nothing but rolls of clothing. If you want to keep some delicate items wrinkle-free and stay organized without having to leave anything behind, opt for a combination of rolling and packing cubes.

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