Packing Showdown: Folding vs. Rolling Clothes

fold vs roll
fold vs roll


Two different methods, one goal. Pack as much as possible into your luggage while making sure that your clothes don’t come out wrinkled and creased when you unpack at your destination.


Is rolling or folding clothes better when packing for travel?

This is an age-old question that travelers regularly debate and often have strong views on! While some travelers swear blind that rolling clothes maximizes space, others argue that folding clothes reduces wrinkles. Does one really save more space or keep your clothes from creasing? And which method works best when paired with a packing cube system?

Let’s take a look.


Does rolling clothes really save space in your luggage?

In some cases, the answer is yes, rolling clothes can save space in your luggage. In part this is because as you begin to pack rolled items into your bag it gives the appearance of having additional room verses adding folded items. Items like socks and underwear, lightweight t-shirts, pants, tops, and skirts are ideally suited to the rolling method. However, this is not true when traveling with bulky items like sweaters, which can actually take up more space when rolled. It’s also not a great idea to roll button-up shirts and formal wear as fabric gets bunched up when it is rolled, causing creasing.

One great advantage of rolling your clothes is that you can see the contents of your bag without having to lift layers of folded items. This can be handy if you’re staying somewhere like a hostel dorm where you don’t have space to unpack.


What types of garments are best packed folded?

As a rule of thumb, always fold clothes that are made from natural materials like cotton, linen, and wool. Cotton and linen crease and wrinkle very easily so they benefit from being folded, and woolen-knit items tend to be chunky, meaning that they will take up more space in your pack if you try to roll them.

Use zippered packing cubes to keep folded items secure in your suitcase and reduce the risk of wrinkles. Consider where you place any fold lines as these will be visible when wearing them a few days later. You should also layer similar items in the same cube for optimum organization.

If you’re traveling with button-up shirts or formal wear, pack them into a garment folder. Look for one that has stretch compression wings to help keep your items secure and looking sharp when you’re ready to wear them.

Packing tip: Learn how 15 top travel bloggers organize their packing cubes.


What items on my packing list can be rolled?

A large proportion of the items on your packing list can be rolled into packing cubes. Clothes that have an element of Lycra or polyester in the fabric are ideal for rolling as they won’t crease. Socks, underwear, and delicates can be rolled and secured with an elastic band before being stacked into a small packing cube, and bulkier items like t-shirts, shorts, and skirts are best rolled and packed into larger packing cubes or compression cubes.

Consider buying a set of different sized packing cubes and arranging your clothes by size or outfit type for maximum packing satisfaction!


Should you roll or fold clothes when using packing cubes?

One of the best things about packing cubes is that they can accommodate any method of packing. However, when rolling or folding your clothing, it’s important to choose the right size and style of cube to accommodate your items securely.

●      Compression sacs and compression cubes are best suited to clothes that won’t wrinkle

●      Traditional zippered-opening cubes work best with the folding method.

●      Slim cubes and extra-small cubes are ideally shaped for socks and underwear and will wedge into small spaces inside your bag, to help save space.

●      Use medium and large cubes for your general, non-bulky clothes—these cubes work well with both the rolling and folding method.

●      Garment folders always require folding your clothes inside.

Take a look at our full range of packing cubes, sacs, and garment folders to find the style that best suits you.

Packing tip: Fit more in your suitcase by packing with a plan, don’t just pack things in a random order.


Does rolling or folding clothes eliminate wrinkles?

With careful consideration as to how you pack each item of clothing, wrinkles don’t have to be a fact of life when traveling. In general, casual clothes should be rolled to avoid the hard edges that come with folding, and dressier items that would typically hang in your wardrobe should be folded into a garment folder or laid out at the top of your luggage, above your collection of packing cubes.

This handy video that shows you exactly how to pack wrinkle-free.

Do you roll or fold your clothes when packing for travel? Tag eagle creek on Instagram or Twitter and let us know how you pack for an adventure.


Related Products:

Pack-It Original ™ Compression Cube Set S/M

Pack-It Specter ™ Cube M

Pack-It Original ™ Starter Set

Related Links (from the Eagle Creek blog):

How to Pack and Organize a Backpack for Travel

Confession: I Was Using Packing Cubes All Wrong

Alternative Uses for Packing Cubes And Sacs


By Charli Moore on June, 12, 2020

Charli Moore is an adventure enthusiast who has been location independent since 2011. A freelance writer she blogs about her adventurous travels at Wanderlusters, and has a penchant for adrenaline highs and crunchy peanut butter. Follow her on Instagram to feed your wanderlust.