How To Pack Clothes In A Backpack (Suits, Shirts & More)

Packing is an art form; getting everything perfectly into a backpack takes time and patience. Having all the essentials in one place can also be quite daunting to a novice.

But fear not! This guide will show you how to pack clothes in a backpack and the benefits of different packing techniques so that you can prepare yourself for any scenario.

Choosing the Right Clothes: What do I Need for a Trip?

Before you begin packing, consider the place you are going to. Your clothes should be appropriate in terms of the climate and the activities you’ll be undertaking.

It is also important to make sure you are comfortable in terms of use and style; don’t pack clothes you won’t wear. Travel clothes should be functional and comfortable.

Make sure your backpack is durable as well. Consider if you have one of the best travel backpacks that will withstand your adventures.

3 Methods of Packing Clothes in a Backpack

1. Rolling and Folding

For T-shirts, lay on a flat surface and invert the bottom 5 to 6 inches outwards. Fold the left side into the center and fold the sleeve over, repeating on the right side to the left. Roll the top to the bottom and tuck the roll into the fold on the other side. You can also do this with underwear using the waistband. Shorts and pants should be folded to avoid creases.

2. Strategic Clothing Storage

This method involves planning; you should make a list first. Start with lightweight items, like shoes, accessories, etc., and pack them to the left. Make use of the shoes and place rolled shirts and underwear inside. Heavyweight items (pans, camping gear, electronics) are packed in the center for easy access and padding on both sides. Medium weight items (umbrellas, jackets, hats) should be stored on top for quick access.

3. Storing and Organizing

Purchase a compression bag for camping and hiking; these remove a large portion of air for more space and protects from the elements.

Packing cubes are small plastic bags with zippers for a more organized storage of clothes. Use a backpack that has pockets and mesh and multiple compartments, as these will all come in handy for storage. More compartments in a backpack means better organization!

How To Pack Clothes In A Backpack

How to Pack Clothes in a Backpack: Tips and Techniques

Above we explored 3 methods to help with your packing, but these aren’t always useful to each individual. Below are some tips for more specific packing needs. For camping and hiking, see our guide on packing sleeping bags and tents.

1. Packing a suit in a backpack

With the jacket upright, take one sleeve and pull it inside out. Take the other shoulder pad and tuck it into the other side. Drape it along the side of your bag, the lining facing outwards. Fold the pants into quarters and tuck them into the jacket and fold them into your bag.

2. Packing ironed clothes to avoid wrinkles

Use wrinkle-resistant fabrics, nylon, lycra, and polyester. Rolling your clothes instead of folding is a better protection against wrinkles. Smooth out your clothes before you pack, giving maximum protection. Use tissue paper in between to cut down on friction or use dry cleaner bags to pack outfits.

3. Packing clothes in a hiking backpack

Hiking backpacks are useful for short and walking-heavy trips. The best way to pack is in three stages; start with items you don’t need during the day, sleeping bags, extra clothes, etc., followed by heavier items such as cookware and food, and finish off with essentials such as raincoats, lunch, electronics. Always fill in the gaps with loose clothing for padding.

How To Pack Clothes In A Hiking Backpack

Importance of Packing Lightly: Travelers Tips

  • Travel with ease
    Carrying less eases travel stress; fewer bags to watch and easier to carry.
  • Easier trip preparation
    Pack only the essentials and eliminate extra weight. You’ll have less to worry about while preparing to go.
  • Easier to secure things
    You can feel much more secure knowing that everything is in one place.
  • Save money
    If you only have one bag, there’ll be less travel fees, for example, if you're over the carry weight, giving you more spending money.
  • Provides more flexibility
    There is less weighing you down so that you can maneuver busy areas easier with one bag.
  • Things are easier to carry
    Lightweight bags are easier for you and don’t weigh you down even when lightly packed.
  • Free from muscle pain
    Less luggage means your muscles aren’t working as hard, giving you more energy.
  • More practical
    With light packing, you can carry everything from A to B with no hassle!
  • Courtesy to other travelers
    With packing lightly, you can avoid causing issues for other travelers and enjoy your trip.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Which is better, rolling or folding clothes in a backpack?

It depends on the item; light clothing such as t-shirts or sweatpants saves space rolled, but sweaters and jeans take up less space when folded.

How do you pack a week of clothes in a backpack?

Using the methods above for clothes, you can use dry cleaner bags to pack outfits for each day and stack them in your bag for quick changing.

How do you pack the bulkiest items in a backpack?

Pack the bulky or heavier items in the middle of a backpack, this will lighten the load on your muscles, and the weight will be more even.


Packing lightly doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. Packing only the essentials and using the methods above to organize your backpack gives you a smoother and more fun experience while traveling. Don’t weigh yourself down too much, and enjoy the journey you go on. Happy travels!

  • Updated November 2, 2021