You’re ready to get out of Dodge. Spend a weekend alone in the woods, avoiding the shrill ping of emails and the time-consuming nuisance of showering. Reconnect with a spouse or a friend at a luxurious hotel. Whatever trip you’ve got planned, you will need to pack.
There’s the normal way of packing (folding everything neatly). There’s the hurried way of packing (tossing it all in and hoping it magically fits). Then there’s the army way of packing.
No surprise, the army method of packing is by far the most space efficient method. You can stuff a ridiculous amount of clothing into a small suitcase with this approach. When I packed for three months of living in Italy, I fit most of my wardrobe in about a third of my luggage. This method works.
This packing technique involves rolling, rather than folding, clothes. It allows you to keep your clothes wrinkle-free while taking up as little space as possible. Check out the videos and the step by step guides below to discover how to pack a t-shirt, jeans, a jacket, socks, and underwear.
How to Pack a T-Shirt
- Locate a workspace with a good firm surface, like a table or the top of your dresser. Lay the shirt on top of it. Smooth out any wrinkles. You’re a gentleman, not a caveman after all. Keep it classy. Keep it wrinkle free.
- Picture how long of a cut you’d tolerate before reaching for a bandage. Take those few inches at the bottom of the shirt and flip the fabric inside out, making a sort of pocket.
- Smooth out the pocket’s corners and any wrinkles. Bulges not only look sloppy, but they take up more space in your suitcase.
- Fold one side of the shirt over the center and then fold the sleeve back towards the outer edge. Repeat with the other side. Now you should have a perfectly aligned rectangle.
- Grab the top part of the shirt and roll it slightly towards the bottom. Make it around the thickness of a cigar.
- Push down on the shirt as you roll to make it as tight as possible. The tighter the roll, the less space it takes up and the less likely it is to come undone.
- Once you roll up to the end, take the extra inches in the “pocket” and wrap them around the roll. Now you should have a compact t-shirt ready to throw in your bag.
How to Pack Your Jeans
- Start by doing what you should always do before leaving the house – check to be sure your fly is zipped and your pants are buttoned.
- Fold over the top few inches of your jeans so the pockets are showing. Tuck them in and keep them flat.
- Lay out the jeans on your firm surface, smoothing out wrinkles.
- Fold the legs over onto themselves and make your cigar-sized starter roll.
- Push down on the material as you roll, keeping it tight.
- Once you reach the top, wrap the extra few inches around the roll.
How to Pack a Hoodie or a Jacket
- Place your jacket on your firm surface, smoothing out any wrinkles or bulges.
- Just like with the t-shirt, fold the sides towards the center so that you have a rectangle.
- Here is where packing differs from rolling a t-shirt. Instead of rolling from the collar down to the bottom, you roll from the bottom up to the hood.
- Once you reach the top, tuck the roll inside the hood. The roll will be looser since you are not tucking the fabric into the folded over the bottom of the shirt. If the hood has drawstrings, you can tighten those to make the roll more secure.
How to Pack Socks
- Pack a pair of socks at a time, placing one sock on top of the other, smoothing them out.
- Start rolling from the toe of the sock up to the top.
- Fold about an inch of the end of the top sock down.
- Once you reach the top, use the top of the bottom sock to wrap around the roll.
How to Pack Underwear
- Turn about an inch of the top part of the underwear inside out and smooth over the underwear.
- Fold both sides over to the center, making a rectangle.
- Roll up from the bottom towards the top, keeping it as tight as possible.
- Wrap the roll in the pocket.
Army rolling is pretty straightforward. Pack your suitcase efficiently, leaving as much room as possible for whatever else you need for your trip. I recommend jerky. You can never have too much jerky.