Packing cube strategies!
This past winter I bought a steel/solar Aeronaut and have been in love with it ever since. I travel anywhere from 5-8 weeks a year for work, mainly internationally, and have found the bag to be the perfect travel companion-- dependable, flexible, & stylish. I'm ready to take my set-up to the next level though, and would like to get a set of Aeronaut packing cubes, some more small organizer pouches, and a waist strap. (I opted out of this when I ordered, thinking I would mainly use the shoulder strap. That was before I realized how much easier it is to carry as a backpack!)
Ive been reading through some of the previous posts about packing cubes, and haven't seen (perhaps my search hasn't been thorough enough?) a good discussion of how people chose the particular combination of packing cubes that works for them. Two big? One big and two small? What are the advantages to one set-up or the other? How many of you use the cube that doubles as a shoulder bag or backpack? I dont think I'm going to get any end cubes, as I tend to put shoes in one end compartment and a dopp kit in the other. I'll look forward to your collective wisdom!
I am a bit off topic on this because I use a Tri-star not a Aeronaut, but I have a small, two medium and a large PCB that I use when I pack.
I put socks and underwear in the small cube with briefs rolled and socks folded on top. I roll polos in a medium packing cube and roll or fold t shirts.
I like the large packing cube for larger or bulkier stuff (pants or a dress jacket) and it makes a great day bag.
As jeffmac implied, look at what you would be bringing along and use that to pick your cubes and accessories. I have a WF and use a 3-d cube for toiletries, packing cube shoulder bag for unmentionables, swim, sleep, and foot/leg ware as well as a few tee's. My packing cube backpack handles my long sleeve shirts, skirts, dresses and pants. Lastly my clear quarter packing cube for non liquid toiletries, and overflow from my packing cube shoulder bag.
I have some packing cubes from before my TB days, so I can't say which TB cubes work best. But I do love packing cubes of all sizes. I would hate to travel without them! I have one very large one, about 10x14, a couple 8x10's and a smallish one, about 6x8. I use the big one mainly for folded pants and tops, and the medium and small ones for grouping shirts (rolled or folded), pants (rolled), and underwear/socks. If I were to buy TB cubes, I'd be all over the packing cube shoulder bag. It looks like it would be great as a bag, and fine as a cube.
With my Aeronaut, I have a large packing cube, small packing cube, end packing cube, one quarter packing cubes, one 3d organizer cube, and a partridge in a pear tree. (Oh wait, I don't think I got that last item from Tom Bihn.)
How I use them changes for every trip. Right now, I use one quarter cube as a toiletry/laundry kit and the 3d organizer cube for all my miscellaneous stuff including immersion heater, folding cup, mini-flashlights, backscratcher--yes, the infamous backscratcher--and anything else that's small and may fit. I have a separate, clear on both sides, packing cube made by Daymakers which is slightly larger than the 3d cube and holds my electronic accessories--chargers, wires, headphones, etc. I used to put all the stuff in the 3D and Daymakers cubes in an additional quarter packing cube but that caused havoc at the xray machine so I moved them to two separate packs. (The security person couldn't tell what everything was since the quarter packing cube shows up as one big area rather than two separate compartments. )
I have a whole bunch of pouches but, right now, I'm not really using any in my Aeronaut. That may change.
As for the clothes cubes, the large one holds pants, shirts, and sweaters. The end one holds socks, undies, tshirts and gym shorts. I use the small for anything else I may need or I may leave it home. (Like I said, my packing changes for every trip.)
I have packing cubes from lots of different manufacturers but I find it best to use the TB cubes in my Aeronaut. If you already own other cubes, they can be made to fit. If you don't, why not buy the ones made for the bag you use most?
BTW, my 3-1-1 bag goes into the small side pocket in a plain ziploc bag. I have used the 3D organizer cube in the past but one airport security guy flipped out on me about it since it was not "clear" on all sides. He made me transfer everything to a plain ziploc bag. Luckily, I always travel with them so I didn't have to go back to the end of the line to get one.
Thanks guys! Some great tips and examples. I definitely have a clearer picture now of what I could do with each size cube. No final decision yet though. I need to do some thinking about the type of things I'm packing and which sizes go best with which items...
I'm on a 2 week European trip right now and use my Aeronaut with one end cube (shoes), one 3D cube (toiletries in the other end). In the main compartment, I have a large packing cube and 2 small ones. In the large cube, I put polos, pants, button down shirts, etc. In the two small ones, I put my underwear, tshirts, gym shorts, etc.
The great thing I've found is that for a few days of use, I can re-arrange the cubes so that the large cube has all clean clothes and the two smaller ones have dirty clothes. We're in Lyon France right now and I have two small cubes with dirty clothes. When we arrive in Paris tomorrow, I'll take everything out of the two cubes and throw it in the wash (thankful for Paris apartment rentals with washer/dryer).
Put in my order this weekend for one big cube and two small cubes--I'm looking forward to testing them soon. Felt like the best combo for me in terms of flexibility and the ability to use different packing strategies according to the needs of the trip. I also added in a new steel dyneema/solar Synergy that I'm VERY excited about! :-).
I admit... I cheat. On this trip I packed one EMPTY packing cube to be my dirty laundry bag. They take no space, so an extra is no big deal. By the time I fill the empty, I've got another close to empty and can swap that one in. When I go to do laundry, I snatch up the 'dirty' bags and hit the laundry. Easy peasy.
I love the idea of bringing an empty large cube for laundry. In the past I have brought our diaper pail liner. . . It's thin fabric, waterproof, gets thrown in with the wash, and large enough to accommodate everybody's dirty clothes. When I get home I don't have to sort it all out. Your method is similar, but better for shorter trips, or trips when the larger bag won't work, like when flying!