IN MY CONSTANT and obsessive quest to pack the perfect travel bag I usually fall short on the golden rule: roll clothes instead of folding them. I’ve read the folding tip countless times in travel articles advising the best way to pack, but I usually disagree with it. In theory, rolling makes sense. Rolled clothing takes up less space and doesn’t get as wrinkly as clothes that are folded and stacked in a bag.
But in practice, I’ve found rolling my clothes isn’t a miracle solution. Usually, I end up with half unrolled pants and a jumble of t-shirts askew in my backpack. Finding the exact article of clothing I want disrupts the entire flow of my bag. My once well-organized pack quickly turns into mayhem.
In the ever changing world of travel, my bag is usually the only thing I have 100% control over. To me, organization is bliss.
So when Sea to Summit sent me their TravellingLight Garment Mesh Bags, I was stoked. According to the website, the mesh bags are designed to compartmentalize packing, keep clothes neat, and fit multiple shirts and pants. I was packing for a trip from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon and I wanted to only carry on a bag, but with hiking gear and warm layers of heavy clothing, I wasn’t sure I could fit everything in one carry-on. The garment bags made it happen.
The large garment bag looks like a flimsy rectangle binder but holds 11 liters and measures 16” x 12” x 4.” For the first time in my travel career I was able to properly roll hiking pants, jeans, a fleece jacket, flannels, thermals, and t-shirts. I neatly placed them inside the orderly mesh rectangle.
The small mesh bag holds 4 liters and I was able to fit several pairs of rolled underwear, regular and wool socks, leggings, a sports bra, and underwire bras, with room to spare. Everything fit neat, tidy, and rolled. I was hooked.
Both garment bags fit easily in my carry-on bag and I didn’t have to worry about my hiking boots infecting my clean clothes with muddy shoe prints. I wasn’t backpacking on this trip, but in the future it’s good to know that the garment bags are water-resistant and made with extra durable zippers.
The garment bags are available in three sizes (small, medium, and large), and they come in three ugly colors: lime, midnight, and aubergine. When the bags are not in use they are virtually flat so don’t take up much room in storage, another necessity.
Upon arrival in Portland my clothes hadn’t moved an inch from where they were packed in my carry-on. When it was time to explore Wahclella Falls, I easily located my hiking pants without having to disrupt my entire bag. When I needed to find my jacket to grab dinner at Nutri Taco Truck, it took three seconds to see the rolled-up fleece through the mesh in the large garment bag. I removed the jacket and the rest of my clothes stayed put. It felt like a small travel miracle.
The garment bags worked so well at organizing my clothes and prioritizing space that on the return flight to California, I had extra room for a wool sweater I picked up at a vintage shop and organic dog treats I bought for the Beagle in my life. If I had only had Sea to Summit’s TravellingLight laundry bag to keep my dirty clothes separate, I would have reached packing Nirvana.