Tortuga Packing Cubes Review
The Tortuga Packing Cubes are tailor-made for their Travel Backpack and have enough structure to help keep clothing wrinkle-free.
- Fabric and zipper quality almost overkill for packing cubes
- Mesh lets you see inside without opening
- Rigid structure reduces wrinkled clothing
- Limited size options and cannot be purchased separately at the time of review
- Hard to distinguish dark clothing through the mesh
- Relatively thick piping adds to the cubes’ overall bulk
0.52 lb (0.2 kg)
12.4 in x 8.9 in x 3.5 in (31.5 x 22.6 x 8.9 cm)
(large) | 8.9 in x 6.1 in x 3.5 in (small)
Recycled Polyester, Ripstop Polyester, YKK Zippers, DWR Coating
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As advocates of the one bag travel style, we wholeheartedly recommend packing cubes. They’re not only a convenient way to keep clothing organized once they’re unpacked, but they also optimize the amount of space it occupies. We know this, and brands do as well, which is why some of them have gone through the hoops and hurdles to develop their own packing cubes tailor-made to their travel bags.
In this review, we’ll look at Tortuga’s Packing Cubes—a straightforward name to go with a straightforward purpose. Pragmatism aside, this three-piece set fits perfectly inside their Travel Backpack and has enough structure to tell they’re still cubes even when they’re empty. That may sound like we’re just throwing shade at other less-structured packing cubes, but stick around, and we’ll explain why that structuredness in packing cubes matters, as well as the rest of the pros and cons of Tortuga’s offering.
The main fabric used in Tortuga’s Packing Cubes is their SHELL70RS, similar to the SHELL200 used in the Travel Backpack. SHELL is a recycled sailcloth-like material made of three layers and is quite durable, lightweight, and water-resistant. On the outside is a polyester face with DWR coating, polyester cross-ply in the middle, and recycled ripstop polyester at the back. While the Travel Backpack uses the 200-denier version of this polyester fabric (hence the “200” in the name), the Packing Cubes use 70-denier ripstop material on the outer layer—sensible, given that a packing cube should occupy as little space as possible.
That all sounds very impressive, and it is; it may even be a bit overkill in some aspects. Packing cubes live most of their life inside bags, so the water resistance and the three-layer fabric feel more like nice-to-haves than must-haves. That said, we dig the high-quality Tortuga presents here. They even used YKK zippers, which are as reliable as they get when it comes to zippers. Don’t worry; we didn’t take their reputation for granted; we’re glad to report that they didn’t jam or break over the course of testing.
The Packing Cubes come as a three-piece set, with two small cubes and one large cube. Two small cubes have roughly the same footprint as one large one, and there’s no medium cube at the time of writing. The cubes open like lunch boxes, with the top cover folding over once you’ve unzipped the zippers. There’s no need to open the cubes if you want to see what’s inside since you can see through the fine mesh cover. However, we mostly travel with dark-colored clothing, so it’s tricky to discern what we’re looking at; those with lighter-colored clothing shouldn’t have this issue.
We have no issues using the large-sized cube. Bulky clothing like pants and shorts are easy to fit, especially when you roll them first. Since the shape is squared, you won’t have to fuss around too much with folding. A half-fold and roll should do the trick.
The same can’t be said for the small ones, though. We like small-sized packing cubes for tops (t-shirts, button-ups, etc.). However, even though Tortuga’s are the same width as Peak Design’s Small Packing Cubes, they aren’t as long. This means the XL-sized tops we’re packing have a trickier time fitting in, and we have to squeeze and bend them inside after rolling them.
To be clear, it’s not a deal-breaking issue, nor is it too hassling. It’s just that Peak Design’s small-sized packing cubes handle large-sized tops marginally better than Tortuga’s.
It should be no surprise that Tortuga’s Packing Cubes fit perfectly inside their Travel Backpack 40L. That said, “perfectly” doesn’t mean there’s no leftover space for anything else. There’s still some wiggle room around the edges to fit a slim-sized pouch or a packable sling if you need to. Plus, Tortuga left room for the Travel Backpack 40L’s mesh pocket expansion (if you’re packing it).
Torgtuga’s Packing Cubes work just as well inside any other bag, although they’re optimized for the Travel Backpack. So, if you already have a bag with a capacity of around 40 liters and are looking for some trusty packing cubes, then this set might fill it nicely. Your mileage may vary, though, as the rated capacity can come in different main compartment volumes and/or shapes.
For comparison, the Eagle Creek Pack-It Reveal Cube and Peak Design Packing Cube would be the Tortuga Packing Cubes’ close peers. We’re not that interested in comparing sizes since all three brands offer a variety of dimensions, and you can overcome most of the related limitations with some clever rolling/folding. What’s more interesting are the features the three bring to the table.
The Eagle Creek Pack-It Reveal Cube has a more open mesh that’s easier to see inside. Meanwhile, the Peak Design Packing Cubes can open really quickly thanks to their Hypalon pull tab “quick-access system.”
All of that said, what makes Tortuga’s Packing Cubes compelling is their rigidity. Among the three, it’s easily the most structured, thanks to the relatively beefy piping around the edges. Empty out the Tortuga Packing Cubes, and they still stay up, almost like a desk caddy. Based on our experience, we’re not too keen on this much structure since they add to the cubes’ bulk. However, they do a better job keeping clothing wrinkle-free since they’re not as prone to warping as less-structured cubes are.
- Designed to fit inside the Tortuga Travel Backpack
- Fabric is slightly crunchy
- Mesh is great, so you can see what’s inside
- There’s structured piping on the top and bottom, so the cube keeps its shape relatively well
- Found it a bit difficult to use the smaller cubes—one held socks and underwear just fine, but it’s a little different to pack for tops
- Larger cube works great for bulky items like bottoms and sweaters
- Fits really well inside of the Tortuga Travel Backpack—not only in width and height but depth as well