Here's How to Pack an Organized Duffel Bag

Written by Caroline Eubanks on

Caroline Eubanks is a freelance writer from Atlanta, Georgia whose work has been published by BBC Travel, Afar, Thrillist, and National Geographic Traveler and is the author of the book This Is My South: The Essential Travel Guide to the Southern States. You can follow her work at

Flat to Packed

Watch our Travel Expert, Rosie, show you how to pack your Migrate Duffel with lots of Pack-It™!


If you love an organized bag, don’t let packing a duffel bag intimidate you. Just because there’s one compartment doesn’t mean you should toss in everything randomly! We have a packing strategy to get your duffel shipshape.


Travel is not one size fits all, so neither should be your luggage. Not every trip is suitable for a  rolling suitcase or traditional  backpack—that’s where duffel bags save the day. You might find that these bags are best for longer trips, expeditions, and even moves! They fold flat for  storage, making them easy to hide away when you’re not on the go. 

For all the pros (and there are many!), packing one efficiently seems daunting for first-time duffel owners. After all, you’re dealing with one large compartment rather than many pockets. Packing a duffel doesn’t have to be stressful, though! Here are four essential tips to pack like a pro. 


Choose the Right Duffel

Not all bags are equal—thankfully Eagle Creek has something for everyone. Different trips call for different types of bags. A few considerations include: 

●     Which size do you need? Duffels come in multiple sizes, including carry ons,  packable bags wheeled duffels, and  duffels with backpack straps for easy carrying. 

●     What will you subject it to? Durable material is a must-have, especially for those inevitable  toiletry bag spills. Look into versatile  water-repellent duffels and  rugged all-purpose ones

●     Do you need pockets? Despite what you think, some  duffels have pockets! Exterior pockets a good feature, especially for those plane tickets and smaller items that can get lost in the main compartment.


Keep Everything in Its Place

Packing cubes are the best resource when it comes to keeping your  duffel bag organized. These handy cubes keep your items in one specific place. Rather than dumping everything out when you arrive at your destination, you can quickly grab the cube for exactly what you need. When everything has its own place, you’re less like to lose things along the way. 

For example, place all of your tops in one cube, all pants in another cube, and your toiletries or  electronic cords in another. The  Isolate collection of packing cubes are ideal for duffels because they take up hardly any room when you don’t need them and hold plenty of items. There’s even a  sac for your shoes! When it comes to clothes, rolling tends to be the best way to fit your stuff inside the cubes. 


Pack Like a Puzzle

Channel your inner 80s child when you pack. Treat your duffel bag like a game of Tetris. Once your belongings are in packing cubes, place them in a pattern along the bottom. Remember: This is a game! Experiment with the best fit as some might work up and down rather than sideways. 

To up your packing game, arrange cubes or pieces in the order that you’ll need them on your trip—pack the least important at the bottom of your bag. If you’re traveling with collared shirts or  packing items you don’t want wrinkled, use a  packing folder and place it at the very bottom so that it won’t get crumpled and build your puzzle around it. 


Fight the Urge to Overpack

The best way to organize your duffel is to avoid overpacking, especially if you plan on carrying the duffel on your shoulder. Because of uneven weight distribution, it can be tough to go great distances with it hanging on one side. A cross-body strap tends to help this problem, and Eagle Creek duffels have backpack straps to ease this pain-point. Bring only a few outfits that you can wear multiple ways with plans to do laundry on the go. Ideally, you should be able to easily zip the bag without straining. Give the bag a good shake to let things settle. 


Now that you know how to pack that duffel like a pro, use our  packing checklist  to make sure you have all the essentials when you hit the road!


Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):

Duffel Or Suitcase: Which Is Best For Your Next Trip?

Buying Guide: Duffels

10 Best Tips for Packing Light