Packing 105: To fold or to roll, that is the question

Though some people roll their clothing to pack it in a suitcase claiming that it takes up less space and doesn’t wrinkle as much, I prefer to fold most of ours.

I learned to fold and pack from a master. When I was a child my father spent several years commuting between Powell River and Vancouver almost every week. Every week my mother did his laundry, starched and pressed his dress shirts and repacked his suitcase. I remember watching her with fascination. She could fold a shirt so that it looked like it had just come out of it’s original package.

Every summer, our family of six would pile into the big blue and white International Travelall and set off on a camping adventure that often lasted several weeks. Mom would pack everything we needed into the back of the vehicle. There was no such thing as a nylon tent in those days but she could fit the bulky canvas tent, six sleeping bags, foam sleeping mats, the Coleman stove, dishes, food, clothes, life jackets and fishing gear and a multitude of other things into the space behind the back seat.


One summer we chartered a float plane and flew into Garibaldi Lake nestled high in the coastal mountains. Mom had to weigh every single item that went on that trip to make sure that we didn’t exceed the plane’s weight limit. Yes, she was definitely a packing wizard!

Float plane_2

But I digress! Though I fold the majority of our clothing, I often roll things like pyjamas to fit into small unused spaces between other items. On our upcoming trip to China, I’m also going to try a packing technique that I’ve never used before. By packing bulky items in ziploc bags and squeezing the air out before sealing them, they’ll take up much less room in a suitcase. Richard’s navy blue fleece hoodie is two sizes larger than my red one but look at how much less space it needs.


And before I bring this packing series to an end, here’s one last tip: It’s amazing how much you can pack inside the shoes that go into your suitcase. Stuff them full of socks, underwear, pantyhose, pill bottles, anything that will fit!

Do you fold or roll?


14 thoughts on “Packing 105: To fold or to roll, that is the question

  1. Emily’s Explore group use some sort of stuff bag that you can suck all the air out of and make it even more compact than your ziploc bags. They are probably sold at camping supply stores.

    • Yes, a number of places that cater to backpackers advertise waterproof compression stuff sacks that are designed for carrying sleeping bags and other bulky items compactly.

  2. I predominately fold, but like you, roll pjs and t-shirts to fit in the smallest space possible. Plus my shoes are always packed with socks or underwear, usually in a couple of small plastic bags in case I need somewhere to separate dirty clothes.

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