Packing your clothes in your backpack may not sound like the most challenging thing in the world to do, but ask anyone who’s done it and undoubtedly they’ll admit it’s one of those things that’s harder than you would think.
For the last couple of years I followed the methods on the OneBag site which worked OK, but not perfectly. The bundle method promoted over there is certainly effective, but I found that in a backpack, your bundle of clothes shifted around and made a mess of things.
I’m getting ready for another trip to Morocco and during a trip to my local REI I came across the Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder. I had walked by them before and passed them as nothing more than a gimmick, but after one too many trips with my clothes stretching out because I packed them too tight, I decided to give it a shot. It had great reviews online and was on sale for about $20. Score an REI coupon code for further savings on this pack and other great finds.
The concept is simple. Pack your clothes neatly inside the folder and fasten the sided down to smash everything together tightly. The key, of course, is to fold and pack your close neatly which everybody knows is no easy feat. The Pack-It folder makes it pretty fool proof though.
Fold your pants in half on and lay them on the bottom of the folder.
Use the included folding sheet to fold any shirts or tops you have neatly. It’s just like the stores do it. Lay the thin plastic card on the back of your shirt and fold the sleeves over the sides. Flip up the bottom of the shirt and remove the card. Lay the shirt on the top of your folder and repeat until you’re done with all of your clothes. The card even has directions on it in case you can’t figure it out.
Finally, lay the card on the top of your pile and fold the sides of the folder over. You can cinch them down and fasten the velcro to keep it all tight. There’s even a handle to carry it easily if it’s not going inside a backpack or luggage.
If you’re familiar with the bundle wrapping technique, you’ll notice this isn’t too far off. The main difference is that the folder keeps the clothes together rather than wrapping them around each other.
Your clothes will be neatly packed in a considerably smaller space than you are used to. The folder isn’t much larger than a laptop (depending on what size you purchase) so you’ll be saving a lot of room in your backpack.
As with anything that helps you fit more things into smaller spaces, you’ll be tempted to pack more than you need. Fight the urge and take only what you need. You’ll have extra room in your backpack if you need it for other things while traveling and you’ll save some strain on your back.
The other minor (and I mean very minor, to me at least) drawback is that your clothes will not stay wrinkle free. Wrinkles will be minimized but they will get minor creases from the folding but to me that is not a big deal. They’re much more wrinkle-free than if I were to fold and pack them myself. So far this doesn’t bother me at all.
Some people may complain about paying for another piece of gear, but at around $25, I think this is well worth it. I can enough to last me for two weeks in less than 5 minutes and into a convenient size that’s not much larger than a laptop computer.
The Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder comes in three sizes: 15, 18, and 20. After trying all three, I found the 20 too large and the 15 too small and the 18 just right. I packed one pair of pants, two pairs of shorts, 2 dress shirts, and 5 t-shirts in the 18 with room to spare.
You can probably find an Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder at your local outdoor retailer, but you can also order them on Amazon for around $25 depending on the size.