When frequently reading how to pack tips on other blogs, it really bugs me when I read that the best way to pack your clothes is by rolling them. This bugs me as it’s simply not true.
I will admit, when I first started travelling, this was how I used to pack my clothes into a backpack.
Nothing wrong with learning through trial and era and I’m happy to pass on my techniques to you to ensure you don’t make the same simple mistakes.
After many years on the road, I’ve downsized my backpack from 80 litres to a more comfortable 35-litre check-in sized, backpack.
I’m able to pack down the large volume of my clothes mostly due to compression.
This can be done by using a packing cube or a dry bag also known as compression bags.
Here I will explain by packing tips. Packing is personal, feel free to adapt my tips to create your own personal packing style.
How to pack clothes correctly: Use Air tight, dry bags
(You can purchase airtight, waterproof Compression dry bags rather cheap on Amazon)
There is no secret sauce to this method. It’s simply down to pushing unneeded air out of your clothes and shaping your packing cube to fit more dynamically into the shape of your bag. That’s it!
When rolling your clothes, you’re simply reshaping them, not compressing them.
Which won’t be using all the space in your backpack.
Treat packing clothes into your backpack like playing Tetris. Make the clothes fit better into your backpack by controlling the space they will take up.
Plus a large majority of the unneeded air is still within the clothes.
One great example of compact packing is by simply looking at why Japan harvests square watermelons?
Funny example to use I know, but because they are square they fit better within a fridge.
All you’re doing is taking this concept and applying it to your backpack.
You want your clothes to fit perfectly within your backpack, allowing all areas of empty space to be used.
Two round watermelons in a fridge create lots of unused space which you could use instead to pack other things.
When using a compressed airtight dry bag, you can mould the shape of the bag to fit better within the space in your backpack creating more space for other items.
You don’t need to purchase those cheap plastic Vacuum bags that you frequently see on the TV shops.
A simple outdoor branded dry bag that’s airtight will do the trick just as well.
If a dry bag is waterproof, this is a good sign that the bag will be airtight.
You should inspect the top of the dry bag and make sure that the rim and clip will do a good job of securing the bag and keeping it airtight to lock in the vacuum.
In the picture above you can see a good example of a solid clip and rim on a dry bag, that’s what you should look out for to ensure a good vacuum-tight lock.
Another added bonus to dry bags are they keep your clothes waterproof as well.
I’ve also seen backpackers use standard supermarket plastic bags and they don’t last long and make a lot of noise whilst packing which is not a great idea for your fellow backpackers trying to get some sleep.
You don’t want to confuse these Airtight dry bags with packing cubes.
Packing cubes normally don’t have the capacity to push out air.
However, you can purchase a selection of packing cubes to fit dynamically into your backpack. This could work if you find a good selection that will fit well.
Packing cubes work as good organizational tools if you’re light on packing, but they are not good for air compression. That’s the key difference between the two.
Before and After: Using compression dry bags and packing cubes for your backpack
My clothes before packing
my clothes after using dry bags
As you see from the above pictures, pushing out all the air can save a lot of space.
Dry bags will also help to keep your items organized as well, making packing quicker and simpler.
I like to divide clothes into different dry bags to make them easy to navigate around my backpack and to make packing more quicker.
It’s a good idea to purchase multiple colours and sizes to make organisation easier and packing quicker.
It’s also a good idea to keep one spare dry bag to store laundry items so you don’t mess up your clean clothes and to stop your backpack from smelling.
If you happen to be constantly jumping from one place to another on your travels, this type of packing makes everything simpler, quicker as well as saving a lot of space in your backpack.
How Not to Pack clothes into your backpack
(You might have already seen this packing video.)
I take my hat off to this man, it’s an awesome video and I enjoyed watching it. I’m amazed at how he packs all these clothes in his bag.
However, would you like to pack this backpack every day on your travels like this? What if you just want to grab a jumper!
Also, do you need this many clothes?
Most importantly, if you want to take this backpack onto a flight as hand luggage, good luck.
I can already predict that this backpack is over the 10kg Hand luggage limit set by many airlines.
Sorry to be a party pooper!
Cut down on your clothes, travel with less, use compression dry bags to fit better into your backpack and you shouldn’t have a problem.
This is generally the secret to packing light and fitting all your clothes into a backpack.
I would also like to add one bonus tip I just discovered:
Bonus tip: Army compact rolling
(Using an army technique to combine both methods)
I’m against rolling, but I’m all for compression. How about combining the two? This is the method shown in the video above.
As you can see this is a trick they use in the army to pack downlight.
Common packing tricks such as compact rolling are normally first discovered in the army and I have to say I’m impressed.
Rather than simply just rolling, it’s done in a compact way that all the air is compressed out of the fabric to minimize space.
This could be a useful packing method you can use to packing clothing in a backpack if you need to travel tomorrow and haven’t had time to pick up some dry bags or packing cubes yet.
Thank you for checking out my packing methods
I hope you found this blog post useful and have taken away some useful packing tips to help you travel better.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section below. You can also send me an email or a tweet over at: @traveldaveuk.
Happy travels and remember to always travel smart!