Protective Packaging – What’s Inside the Box?

Sometimes you need to think inside the box to deliver the best possible customer experience outside of the box. Nothing disappoints a customer more than opening a box to find damaged goods—not the ideal customer experience.

The hero of that scenario takes the shape of protective packaging. First you must determine which types of packaging accomplish your goals for shipment. Things to consider about protective packaging  include:

  • Cost
  • Weight
  • Strength
  • Storability
  • Ease of use
  • Purpose of use

Pros and Cons of Different Types of Protective Packaging

Loose Fill


Commonly referred to as peanuts, mainly used as void fill material.

  • Pros: Inexpensive, green alternative if it is plant or starched based, versatile – conforms to any product
  • Cons: Messy, poor product presentation to the customer, offers little cushioning, takes up considerable storage space
  • Substitute Products: Inflatables, foam in place, bubble, kraft paper


Bubble Wrap

Used for wrapping, interleaving, void fill and surface protection.

  • Pros: No equipment required, multiple put-ups (widths, bubble sizes, slits), good cushioning properties
  • Cons: Takes up storage space, more expensive when used as void fill
  • Substitute Products: Inflatables, foam in place, loosefill, kraft paper, die cut foams

Polyethylene Foam on a Roll

Polyethylene Foam on a Roll

Used for surface protection and interleaving.

  • Pros: Multiple put-ups, great surface protection qualities, can be used as interleaving and provide a small amount of cushioning along with surface protection
  • Cons: Takes up storage space, does not have great cushioning characteristics
  • Substitute Products: Poly / surface protection films, bubble, kraft paper

InstaPak Foam In Place

InstaPak Foam in Place

Used for blocking and bracing, void fill and cushioning.

  • Pros: On-demand custom packaging, superior cushioning and blocking/bracing, takes up very little storage space, multiple densities of foam to accommodate different weights of product
  • Cons: High priced compared to alternatives, equipment investment
  • Substitute Products: Inflatables, paper, die cut foams



Used for void fill and cushioning.

  • Pros: Cheaper than bubble, comparable to paper, the film comes uninflated so it does not require a lot of space, conforms to product being shipped
  • Cons: Requires minimum usage to get the equipment at no charge, traditional air pillows are not effective with heavier items
  • Substitute Products: InstaPak, Paper, bubble

Die Cut Foams

Die-Cut Foam Packaging

Used for blocking/bracing and cushioning.

  • Pros: Custom packaging to fit your product, nice product presentation, great for blocking, bracing and cushioning
  • Cons: Requires a tooling investment, minimum volume runs, can take up considerable space
  • Substitute Products: InstaPak, paper, loosefill, inflatables



Used for blocking and bracing, cushioning and void fill.

  • Pros: Many different put-ups to accommodate all products, conforms to products being shipped, can use stock rolls so that equipment is not required
  • Cons: Requires minimum usage to get equipment at no charge, takes up more space than air pillows, less memory than other forms of protective packaging, abrasive
  • Substitute Products: InstaPak, Inflatables, die cut foams, loosefill, bubble

Determine Which Protective Packaging is Right For You

Depending on how many products you ship, you may benefit from a wide variety of packaging types. HP Products packaging specialists know all the right questions to ask about your packaging and shipping processes to determine which protective materials suit your needs.

Contact HP Products today to maximize the benefits and avoid the negatives of your protective packaging.

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