Bluffworks BluffCube (Sport & Pro) Review
The Bluffworks BluffCube's unique style and design feature dual openings that cleverly work together for a more organized packing experience.
- Compresses down really well
- Mesh sides for breathability
- Two ways to access clothing
- Compression is concentrated around the middle
- A bit more complex than zippered clamshell packing cubes
- Strap needs some adjustment to secure the hook and loop properly
Large (Sport & Pro) | 3.9L - Small (Sport & Pro)
2.7 oz (76.5 g)
(large), 2.0 oz (small) - Sport | 4.5 oz (large), 3.2 oz (small) - Pro
16 in x 10 in x 4 in (40.6 x 25.4 x 10.2 cm)
Large (Sport & Pro) | 10 in x 8 in x 3 in - Small (Sport & Pro)
Ripstop Nylon, VELCRO®
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“Packing cubes are magic.” That’s what we were told all those years ago before we first tried out packing cubes for ourselves. These simple bags-in-your-bag have one goal, and that’s to keep clothes organized inside the tub that is your travel bag. So, are they really magic? Well, we tried them once, loved them, and never looked back.
For the most part, most packing cubes look, feel, and work the same way (that tends to happen when everyone has the same goal in mind). But sometimes, it never hurts to add a dash of difference, even on simple but useful tools. Bluffworks’ BluffCubes are such an example, and, at first, doing things differently can mean complicating things. But as you’ll see, there’s definitely room for innovation in terms of accessibility, compression, and even build quality. In this review, we’re reviewing the Pro model, so let’s get into it.
Materials & Aesthetic
Packing cubes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Yes, you read that right. Even when they’re called cubes, some brands play around with the shape from time to time with interesting results. The BluffCubes don’t look like your typical packing cubes. Look at one for long enough, and you might say that they resemble heritage-style backpacks with a mix of contemporary design cues. Whatever the impression it gives you, it’s definitely in Bluffworks’ own style.
The samples we’re looking at here are the Pro models, and they look very business-y and professional, especially in this Steel Grey colorway. We don’t even mind the orange and white straps; they provide a nice trim against the brushed gray fabric. These aren’t the most discreet cubes out there, definitely leaning more towards flashy, if anything. If gray’s not your thing, there are other colorways available at the time of writing: Jet Black and Cobalt Blue. We’re going all-in with the professional look here, but we can’t ignore the sporty looks of that Cobalt Blue variant.
Speaking of sporty looks, the BluffCube also has a Sport version, which looks very similar to the Pro. The difference is that the Sport is made with lighter materials, but they otherwise look and work like the Pro. The main fabric on the Pro is lightweight ripstop nylon, which is pretty much the de facto material of choice for plenty of packing cubes. Why? To save space, of course. This fabric is noticeably thinner than your typical high denier ballistic nylons. The trick is that they have a grid of reinforcement that stops tears and prevents them from growing further. That’s good enough for us since packing cubes spend most of their time inside sturdy travel bags and wherever you’re staying. Unfortunately, the buckle and the zipper are unbranded, which gives us durability concerns in the long run. However, we can say that they haven’t jammed or broken so far.
Whether it’s the small or the large size, the BluffCube Pros feel very sturdy and structured. Despite the ripstop nylon being lightweight, the fabric doesn’t feel flimsy or easily collapsed. On their sides, though, the BluffCube Pros have breathable mesh material that allows them to expand and compress, which really helps maximize the volume available.
Usage & Features
The most standout feature of the BluffCubes is the way they open. Typical cubes like the YETI Crossroads have fully clamshell openings (that’s the one where the front opens up like a notebook) or through a simple zippered opening like with Heimplanet’s Packing Cubes. Both are tried and tested designs, and each has its own pros and cons for sure.
Bluffworks takes a different approach. A BluffCube opens through a knapsack-style flap at the top, secured by an adjustable strap through a hook and loop fastener. It’s a lot simpler once you actually use it but somewhat less straightforward than the simpler solutions we mentioned above.
The most finicky part of closing the flap is securing the strap to the strip of loops at the back of the cube. It’s a relatively small target to hit, and since it’s behind the cube, a bit of guesswork is involved when you’re in a hurry. We’re not going to exaggerate and say it’s like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube while blindfolded—it’s just not as simple as a zipper.
So why go with something more complicated? Based on our testing, it’s compression. First, the strap is length adjustable, so you can have the hook side of the fastener as far or as close to the flap as you want. Say you only have two or three shirts inside the large cube; you can really tighten the strap down to minimize the bulk. This is a lot more adjustable and granular compared to the zipper compression of, say, the WANDRD Packing Cubes or Aer Packing Cubes (V2).
That said, since the BluffCubes’ compression is a single strap that’s along the middle, you get a squeezed or bowtie effect when you really cinch it down tight. In other words, compression is concentrated around the middle allowing the sides to still bulk out noticeably. This does affect the way these cubes sit inside a bag since uniform cubes are much easier to stack than irregularly shaped ones.
As for packing the BluffCubes, clothes are fed from the top, as you would with something like an everyday backpack or roll-top bag. Under the flap, the opening itself is elasticated to help keep clothes secure and sit steadily inside. Don’t worry, though, in our experience, we didn’t have to maneuver clothes through the elastic with any notable difficulty. Admittedly, the top-loading style doesn’t seem like the most ideal for a packing cube since clothes at the bottom can’t be reached without messing with clothes at the top. However, Bluffworks has thought of this and made a clever way to make unpacking easier.
Around the back of the BluffCube is a vertical zipper on the left which opens up the mesh. Just like that, you have a secondary means of opening the BluffCube that’s also, more importantly, convenient. This works really well with our preferred style of rolling clothes for packing. Simply stack them through the top flap, and when you get to your destination, access them through the mesh where you can pull out any item relatively easily.
The size difference between the small and the large is substantial (3.9 and 10.5L, respectively); a 2:1 ratio that’s good for stacking cubes on top of each other. The large model is big enough for shirts and pants for our use case, but not quite for large towels or puffy hoodies. You can certainly get bulky clothing like that inside, but just one or two depending on how big they are—as usual, your mileage may vary. As for the small model, it’s a good size for the likes of socks and underwear.
One noticeable difference between the two sizes is that the large comes with a wide nylon handle while the small settles for a small loop. Both solutions aren’t anything fancy. In fact, the handle on the large cube feels just a step up from the type of ribbon one would use to wrap presents with; not very robust. But whether it’s the small model’s loop or the large model’s thin handle, either is enough for the short trip between hotel rooms.
Bluffworks has a set of interesting cubes on their hands with the BluffCubes. The way clothing goes in and out is different from the usual, and we like seeing clever designs like this one. They’re not the most space-efficient when you really max out the compression, though, so stacking these cubes inside a bag requires some strategizing. But, once you have that sorted, the BluffCubes are a fine choice for getting and keeping clothes organized on trips.
- The Pro feels a little more structured than the Sport
- Knapsack-style opening
- The sides are made of mesh for expandability
- We like that these cubes are trying something different in a sea of similar packing cubes
- The compression strap down the middle does a good job at making the center of the cube skinnier, but not the sides, which is more important for packing
- Mesh zippered opening is a nice touch for access and adds breathability
- The Pro version feels very Bluffworks—the brushed fabric feels robust and somewhat canvas-like in the hand
- When not full, the zippered opening, flap, and hook-and-loop fastener strap can flop all over the place—there’s a lot going on