How to Pack Like a Pro

Packing is arguably the most important part of a trip, but it’s often saved for the last possible minute. No one likes to pack; it’s stressful trying to make sure you have everything you (think you) need.

What further complicates the issue is then trying to combine all of those things into a bag that won’t cost you extra to check (my policy: never check bags!), or get you heckled as you’re trying to stow it in the overheard bin. Add all of these together, and you have a recipe for a pre-departure meltdown.

Enter the compression sack. A compression sack (or two in my case) enables you cram more gear into less space and remove the air in between.

Rolling your clothes to save space isn’t a new idea, but combining this method with the compression sack will greatly increase the amount of things you’re able to carry, and do so in far less space. BONUS: If you get waterproof compression sacks, you can nearly go anywhere without worrying about damaging your gear.

Once you’ve embraced the compression method, you need luggage that maximizes space and is easy to carry. I love the “Base camp duffel” series by The North Face. I have one in medium, and it easily fits two packed compression sacks, as well as shoes, toiletries, and other essentials.

What makes this bag so great is that you can carry it in your hand or wear it as a backpack. I’m also able to use my medium duffel as a carry-on bag–so I  can plan for several weeks of travel without worrying about checking bags or hauling around heavy gear.

Top: Before, Bottom: After

before and after

See how it works: 

On a recent trip to cottage country in Ontario, I brought a lot of things for a week’s worth of camping, hiking, lake swimming, and running (also sleeping and beer drinking). I packed up everything you see below and carried it on the plane without issue.

Compression sacks make packing light doable, no matter where you’re going or how long you’re staying. Give them a shot!

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Adam Warner

Adam WarnerAdam lives in Washington, DC and is a Computational Linguist. Never heard of that? Don’t worry—you and everyone else. Adam has lived all over the United States and also abroad in Korea and India, where he taught ESL and computer skills. Adam wrote the blog, I am the Narwhal, with travel tips and ideas for exploring East Asia. His passions include planning for new adventures, photography, good beer, and dog whispering.

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