October 2nd, 2014

How To Pack a Duffel Bag

Think you know how to pack a duffel bag? Think again! The Eagle Creek pros offer expert advice on organization and space-saving.

When you imagine packing a duffel bag, what comes to mind? I’m going to guess that it’s a jumbled mess in a shapeless khaki or olive green lump, right? Well, duffels have changed, and packing them is a whole new process. We caught up with Eagle Creek experts to help answer travelers’ most-asked questions on how to painlessly pack a duffel.

When space is a real issue, what should I leave behind? Isobel, Brooklyn Park, MD

Shoes—bulky shoes to be exact. Or better yet, just wear them on the plane. Also, if you're bringing a jacket or sweater, consider just carrying it on as well or use it as a pillow. (Have you seen our Make-A-Pillow yet?) Also, a hair dryer is not necessary a lot of times if you're staying at a hotel—so you can ditch that. And picking up TSA approved travel bottles for your toiletries definitely helps keep your liquid contents under control. Otherwise, I'd just keep in mind what activities you're doing and only bring what’s truly necessary. Remember, you can always accessorize neutral colors.

What are the best packing organizers to maximize space in my duffel? Ken, Colfax, IA

Cubes are great because they come in all different sizes, and with and without the compression zipper. I'm a smaller lady (5'4")  so I really enjoy the half size Cubes because they fit my clothes well, but if I'm bringing jeans or bigger items, I also use the full-size packing cubes. And, of course, I always travel with a medium size sac for all my miscellaneous items. But if you want to travel with nicer clothes that need to be pressed, use the Garment Folder Medium. It fits in a medium sized duffel (and larger) and I always impress my travel companion when I use it in a duffel because it kept everything nice and neat… which is not what you typically think of when it comes to duffel packing.

How about safety? Can a duffel be as secure as a suitcase? Ana, Greenlawn, NY

Of course! Eagle Creek's No Matter What Duffels are covered by our No Matter What Warranty, which means we stand by the quality of the bag, no question. So you can count of the bag being super durable. The only thing you need to consider when traveling is whether to provide additional security. The No Matter What Duffels have #10 2-way lockable zippers, so just pick up a TSA approved travel lock to help prevent anyone from tampering with what's inside.

What's the best way to carefully pack toiletries in my duffel so they don't get destroyed? Xiomara, Randolph, MA

If you're carrying on, pack all liquids in a 3-1-1 Pouch (which is a quart sized bag). Be sure to tightly fasten all lids to ensure nothing leaks—but then put them in the Pouch just to make sure that if there is a leak, everything stays contained in the sac. Other than that, I'd say just provide some structure with your packing Cubes. I try to not put sacs on the outside of my bags, just so they don't get thrown, face-first into harder luggage… but that may just be a personal preference.

Need I sacrifice style for substance when it comes to choosing a duffel? Maddi, Escondido, CA

No way! We are definitely function-forward, but also very fashion conscience. We make bags that people would be proud to carry and look forward to using. We have lots of different styles of duffels, with all sort of features, and in tons of colors… so you need not sacrifice your identify for a travel bag.

What are your best packing tips for keeping your duffel tidy? Tell us in the comments below.

Product Recommendations

No Matter What Duffels

Pack-It™ Half Cube

Make-A-Pillow

Silicone Bottle Set

Related Posts

Minimalist Travel: 10 Ways to Pack 10 Pounds Lighter

What are the Best Uses of Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes?

What to Take in Your Airplane Personal Item

Shannon O’Donnell is a long-term traveler on the road since 2008; she travels slowly and supports grassroots tourism along the way. She wrote The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook and founded GrassrootsVolunteering.org to help travelers connect with ethical volunteering and travel opportunities on their round the world travels.

by Shannon ODonnell

Shannon O'Donnell is a long-term traveler who has been on the road since 2008; she travels slowly and supports grassroots tourism along the way. She is an acclaimed travel speaker and works with universities and businesses all over the U.S. to talk about supporting developing countries.

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