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To put it mildly, my packing skills leave something to be desired. According to our Packing Personality Quiz, I’m a “Systematic Suitcase Stuffer.” I pack for a trip by trying to shove most of the things I own into a suitcase. This strategy doesn’t get me too far.

Enter the Eagle Creek Pack-It Compression Sac. I’ve wanted to try travel compression sacks, also known as Space Bags, for ages. They’re airtight, space-saving bags that compress your items by allowing most of the air inside the bag to be pushed or sucked out. Some bags, like most Space Bags, require a vacuum nozzle for air removal. Other brands, such as the Eagle Creek bags I purchased, don’t need a vacuum; these are more useful for travelers who won’t have access to vacuums in their destinations.

The list price for the Eagle Creek Pack-It Compression Sacs is $20; I bought mine on Amazon.com. My set came with one small and one medium bag. Here’s the product:

eagle creek bag

I’m traveling to Europe for 10 days, so I need a lot of clothes. Here’s what my suitcase looked like before I used the compression sack. You’re looking at a bag packed with eight shirts, two jackets, one dress and one raincoat:

Suitcase packing clothes

I folded everything in a sort-of neat fashion and slid the clothes into the large compression sack. According to the instructions on the package, you have to “roll to expel air and compress.” The bag is designed so that air gets pushed out when the bag is rolled. As I twisted and rolled, I could hear the air shooting out of the far end of the bag. Toward the end of the rolling process, things got a little difficult, and I had to use my knees (and a coworker’s knees) to push out the remaining air.

rolling compression sack

I’m impressed with the results. My clothes are condensed into a tight bundle, and now I have tons of space left in my suitcase.

 Compression Sac Results

There are, however, two things you should keep in mind when using compression bags. First, I get the feeling that my clothes are going to be as wrinkled as raisins by the time I arrive at my hotel. Second, this bundle of clothes is like a brick — it’s very heavy. Watch out for airline weight limits when packing with compression sacks.

Have you packed with a compression sack? Would you try it?

— written by Caroline Costello

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23 Responses to “One Easy Way to Fit More Stuff in Your Suitcase”

  1. Sherry says:

    I love Chico’s Traveler’s collection. No Wrinkle, mix and match, dress up or down..and of course those wonderful space saver bags. thing is they don’t last long and if you’re not careful, the weight builds up quickly.

    • maureen says:

      I love Chico’s Traveler’s collection also. But watch out-those wrinkle free pieces are heavy. I took one pair of slim pants, a tank top and a slim jacket on a recent trip. This outfit weighed 3 pounds!

  2. Nisha says:

    One tip I would like to share here. I roll socks and stuff them into my shoes. Mostly 2 pairs of nylon socks go in one shoe. Space saver again.

  3. TravelBird says:

    Yes, I’d try it. Especially when traveling home over the holidays. Extra space is always needed for gifts etc. The bags are quite expensive though, so I’ll be interested to hear if you’d recommend them after you return from your trip.

  4. Geni Chariker says:

    You have plenty space using these bags but the weight is still the problem. Using spacebags you can make the bags flatter which I think works better and prevents wrinkles. If you are staying at a hotel, you can usually sweet talk housekkeping into lwtting you borrow the vacuum. And you don’t mind so much if the bag is messy on the way homef

  5. Maria S Marcano says:

    I use regular, big (2 gallons) zip lock bags. I put underwear, socks,handkerchiefs, etc. in one, blouses and t shirs in another, etc. I close the bag leaving a one inch open space at the end. I then sit on the bag in a
    cushioned sofa or chair, and after the air is expelled I finish closing it
    before I get up. It works beautifully and the clothes do not wrinkle.

  6. Caroline Hanson says:

    I also use the jumbo zip lock bags. I prefer Hefty with the zipper closures. I usually just roll them to get air our and then zip the last inch. Why pay for the ‘space” bags. These Hefty bags have lasted us through several trips.

  7. Ms Cruiser says:

    I picked up some compression sack bags from a local dollar store and they work great.

  8. Mary says:

    I also use the 1 and 2 gal. zip bags, but NOT the ones with the zipper – they leak air back in. I pack by putting each days’ outfit in a bag and sealing it. I also used to pack my “brand new fancy pants” when I traveled. Now I pack my oldest rattiest undies and throw them out each day.

  9. edy says:

    Two problems with compression bags–although they can be handy at times. Mine leak air thus losing the effect. If the trip is a series of one-night in each hotel, they are just too much work. Take fewer clothes.

  10. Lisa Elias says:

    Compression bags do condense your contents and provide more space. I’ve also used Eagle Creek’s cubes and their envelope that uses a folding board. They all work well for neater packing and being able to carry more. The truth is what you pointed out already, you may end up with much more weight than you expected. Also, you may end up over packing and not leaving room for items you may want to bring home.

  11. Helenaaaxox says:

    i dont have any air compression bags, im 13 and mum says they are too expensive. i love my bags shoes and clothes and im going on holiday on sunday. im taking 2 siutcases both are massive and i have the extender on both and i have 1 very big hand luggage. im not going on a plane, but im only going for 1 week. i have to have clothes and shoes in my hand luggage. does anyone have any siggestions that does include air compression bags or anything so i can try and fit my clothes inot the suitcases instead of hand luggage and/or fit it all into 1 suitcase? many thanks helenaaaxox (13 years old)

    • Hi there,

      You might want to try using large, zip-top plastic bags for your clothes; as with compression bags, you can usually squeeze out most of the air, and they cost much less. I also recommend rolling your clothes rather than folding them, as that helps conserve space. Finally, be sure to use every nook and cranny: underwear and socks fit nicely inside shoes!

      Hope this helps and that you have a great trip.

      Sarah Schlichter

    • Helen says:

      Limit the things you are taking to one bag. It sounds as if you are taking too much for one week. Take two pairs of pants two pairs of shorts, seven pieces of underwear, two pairs of shoes and five pairs of socks and five tops and a jacket. Add your toiletries and you are ready to go. You will never regret it.

  12. Helenaaaxox says:

    doesnt******** include air compression bags

  13. Jacquie says:

    I use SpaceBags compression bags. I usually pack 2-3 tops and a bottom, plus underwear in each bag, then I cross pack (I throw one or two of the bags in my hubby’s suitcase, and I take a couple of his). I also put one of mine in my carry-on, so that if one of our suitcases were to be lost, we’d still have a change of clothes. Also, if our suitcases should be exposed to rain or inclement weather for any period of time, the clothes inside the compression bags will remain dry. Some compression bags don’t last long, but I’ve had some luck with Space Bags. I have a few that I bought 3 years ago which still maintain their seal, so while they can be pricey they’re worth it in more ways than one.

  14. BabsComer says:

    Traveled for 21 days ,cruise,train,plane, & car. Couldn’t have made it without the bags!

  15. rick says:

    i always use gallon zip locks. bras, underwear, socks, etc. i also have dress pants that don’t wrinkle. i fold them into a gallon zip lock, blow in some air and close. socks also fit into shoes. small things go into dress purses. use everyplace you can, and alwyas pack less :)
    bring along smaller zip locks. i use one for an ice pack if necessary or store loose change if i don’t feel like carrying it around.

  16. Kai Wakeenah says:

    I have used a similar brand with the same concept, and I also bought the product online. While it does work to free volume in your travel luggage, it does not eliminate any weight. Personally, I choose to travel with a less hefty suitcase, and pack only the necessary items needed for my trip.

  17. Bree says:

    I know this was years ago but maybe you still travel, however you know to keep clothes from wrinkles you can just roll them up, plus you’ll still save space in those things.

  18. Never even thought of the hefty bag idea…def doing this for my trip to iceland for 4 days before continuing to england. I’ve been wondering how to deal with the downfilled coat and this really solves the problem!

  19. Ashley says:

    I get my compression bags from Daiso (or Yoko Ya Ya 123, a smaller Daiso location in my homecity) for $2 each. They come in various sizes, colours and prints, and they last well (only a couple have broken on me over the years, I’m guessing from me overstuffing them; I ran out of room in my bag and desperately needed to use them to get my stuff home…). If anyone has a Daiso near them I’d recommend checking them out before buying more expensive ones.

  20. Denise says:

    I’m trying a space bag on my trip tomorrow. Since I’m only able to take a carry on this may be the solution for packing a small bag. Thank you for your suggestion.

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