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Folding, rolling or packing cubes: how do you best pack a suitcase?



When it comes to packing clothes for a trip, is it all about wrinkles or roles? Or, maybe, is your go-to packaging method that happens to push clothes and shoes into your luggage and sit on your suitcase to close it?

Although I was traveling a lot, I never thought much about packing my suitcase. Until now. I put three popular garments to the test to find out which room is most effective, minimizes wrinkles and is worth the effort.

The results surprised me.


Chris Parker / CNET

Folding: Most People's Default

Folding your clothes naturally feels natural. Assuming you have organized chest of drawers or drawer shelves, most of your clothes are already folded, so you can easily grab them and pack them in your luggage. What is not already folded, can be in a few seconds.

The Pros:

It's quick and easy, usually requires little more effort than opening a drawer, grabbing a shirt, and putting it in the suitcase.

Wrinkles work well with structured clothing such as suit trousers, jeans, and button-down shirts. The last two items are usually folded on store shelves and you can easily replicate those wrinkles to minimize wrinkles in packaging.

The Disadvantages:

You get wrinkles in your T-shirts and other thin, soft garments when you fold them.

It uses the space less efficiently, takes up more space in your suitcase and leaves small gaps.

Stacking your folded garments on top of each other can make it difficult to get out the shirt you want to bury in the middle. You can avoid this by folding and stacking from front to back or from side to side.


Chris Parker / CNET

Roles: Compact and Versatile

Many swear by rolling their clothes. It may take more time, but the advantage is to pack more clothes in the case and reduce wrinkles in some cases.

The Pros:

You can put more clothes in your suitcase. To test this, I packed the same 16 garments – two dresses, four T-shirts, three button-downs, two sweaters, three jeans and two pants – in the same suitcase, once folded and once rolled. The folded suitcase was almost full, while at least three more things could be found in the rolled suitcase.

You can see your clothes more easily because they are not stacked on top of each other. This is especially useful if you are somewhere where you can not unpack your clothes.

The Disadvantages:

Rolling is great for t-shirts, pants, casual wear, bathing suits and pajamas, but not so good for bulky clothes like pullovers. They can take up more space when rolled or folded.

It is more difficult to roll shirts with buttons, and rolling is more likely to wrinkle as the fabric contracts as you roll.

Formal dress, such as a dress or a suit, does not go well with rolling.


Chris Parker / CNET

Packing Dice: Upgrading the Organization

I did not know how enthusiastic people are when it comes to packing cubes until I started this experiment. Apparently, once you buy a set, you'll never go again.

I did not quite override them, but I understand their value. Packing cubes help organize your outfits, compress your clothes, and isolate dirty clothes from clean ones.

The Pros:

They make organizing your clothes and outfits super light. With many different sizes to choose from, you can use pack cube in seemingly endless ways to fence your clothes.

Packing cubes allow you to move things around and find the item you want without worrying about your clothes falling out of your pocket. This is great if you want to get a sweater from your carry-on and do not want the rest of your clothes to come out of your bag before flying.

You can compress your clothes so you can carry more and have more luggage space.

The con:

Let's be real, you do not have to pack dice. Most sets start at $ 20 and get out there, and that's just another extra hassle. Most people will argue that they pay themselves quickly, but the truth is that you can do without the two methods mentioned above.


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OK, so how do I pack my clothes the best?

A mix of all three! Before this experiment, I was firmly in the team folded. Now I am converted. The combination of folds, rolls and packing cubes gives you the best of all worlds.

  • Fold-down button downs, jeans, formal dresses and dress pants will keep you from wrinkles.
  • When you roll your remaining clothes, you can make the most of the gaps in your suitcase. You can also pack more.
  • Packing cubes help you stay organized, and you can use one of two methods to prepare your clothes before you put them in a die. I found that rolled clothes in a pack cube occupy the smallest space in the trunk.

Check out CNET's best travel hacks, from cheap flights to the safety of your home during your absence.

CNET's Guide to Smart Living is a destination for tips, tricks, and guides to make your life smarter.


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