Zpacks Packing Cubes, which are misnamed because they aren’t cubes, are brick-shaped packing pods that come with compression straps so you can shrink the volume that gear takes inside your backpack. This can allow you to carry a lighter weight, smaller volume backpack, or carry more food, so you can stay out longer and hike further.
Available in small (2L / 17g), medium (4L / 21g ), and large sizes (8L / 27g) sizes they’re made with seam-taped 1.0 oz/sq yd Dyneema Composite Fabric and a waterproof zipper that makes them highly water-resistant. All the cubes have a single webbing compression strap that links the two ends of the bag to form stackable bricks when compressed, making them good for packing backpacks as well as more conventional luggage.
Here’s what the medium-sized, 4L Zpacks cube looks like with a Feather Friends Flicker 40 quilt sleeping bag inside when zipped up and compressed.
I tried these Zpacks Packing cubes because I’ve noticed that the packing pods I own from Hyperlite Mountain Gear aren’t very effective when it comes to compressing gear so it uses less volume in my backpack. They’re good organizationally, but the smallest volume pod that Hyperlite Mountain Gear makes is 6.9 liters in a size small and 1.2 oz / 34 g in weight. When I put the same sleeping bag in a 6.9L HMG packing pod, it fills it completely and takes up close to twice the volume of the 4L Zpacks packing cube.
This is a simple example, where size does matter, especially if you have a couple of these packing cubes in your backpack. If your goal is to maximize the utilization of space in your backpack, I think Zpack’s Packing Cubes are a better solution than Hyperlite’s Packing Pods and those of other vendors because they have a built-in compression component.
Disclosure: Zpacks donated packing cubes for this review.SectionHiker is read supported. We independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.