How to Pack Clothes in a Backpack Fast Like A Pro

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You are here because you want to know how to pack clothes in a backpack when going hiking, camping, backpacking or traveling.

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When backpacking, you want all of your clothes to fit in the smallest of spaces. You don’t want to hop from one airport or train station to another with your hands full of luggage.

After you order your backpack from (that is where I buy mine), look for one that will fit your purpose nicely.

Folding vs. rolling clothes in a backpack

There is an art to packing the backpack. If you want it to stay organized and fit all of the items that you are taking with you, pack it well.

There are mainly two ways to get your clothes to fit right in your backpack – folding or rolling them. Not all clothes can be rolled and not all can be folded. Watch the video below to understand better:

But first things first … sort the clothing out, audit your list of items and whatever should be left… leave it!

When traveling, backpacking or camping, here are the things that you would like to pack in your pack:

  • Clothing and footwear items
  • Travel toothbrush
  • Camping flashlight
  • A coffee mug to keep coffee hot
  • Others

As you can see, it is quite a tall order to fit everything in one pack. However, in this article, we shall look at how to pack your clothing items in a backpack in an organized way.

Steps for packing clothes in a backpack

Follow these steps to pack your backpack with clothes like a pro. It is not too hard at all.

1. Determine which clothes you will need

The secret to traveling light is to carry only what you need. Here is where your bit of planning will come in handy.

Study the places you plan to visit for hiking or backpacking. Get to know the climate and how the weather conditions will be like when you visit. Will it be hot, warm or cold? Ask around and get information from those who have traveled there before.

Now you will have an idea of which clothes to carry, instead of guessing.

Will you pack more warm clothes and a few summer clothes or just warm clothes? Will you need a raincoat?

The best clothes for hiking or backpacking are those made of synthetic materials. The reason being, they are lightweight and they won’t wrinkle a lot. These clothes take less space and they are easy to wash and dry.

You can’t say the same about clothing made from cotton fabrics. These can take a lot of space, not to mention the wrinkles when you fold them.

2. How much clothing to carry

Since you now know the type of clothes you will need for the trip, you will need to make the decision of the number.

This can be tough and indecisive. For instance, how many t-shirts will you carry? Will one jacket be enough? How many pairs of socks will you pack? Can you buy some clothing at your destination?

Your decision should be influenced by how long you intend to travel. If you are traveling for a few days, you can do with a few t-shirts, two pairs of jeans, a few pairs of socks and underwear. If you will be gone longer, you can consider adding a few more items.

What you pack will also depend on the size of your backpack. Remember, you will not only carry clothes, but you will also pack toiletries, shoes and other items such as electronics that you will need on your trip.

To save space, wear heavy items and pack the smaller items. So, if you plan to carry a heavy jacket and a light one, wear the heavy one and pack the light jacket.

Folding clothes right to pack a backpack

Ensure that you use the space in your backpack well so that all the clothes you intend to carry can fit in. How you fold your clothes plays a big part to ensure that they fit in the backpack.

1. Rolling clothes for packing in a backpack

One folding technique that helps save on space is rolling clothes. You can roll t-shirts, underwear, vests, jeans, shorts and socks. When you roll, the clothes occupy the least possible space in your backpack.

The only downside is the wrinkles you will get on clothes, but not so much of it that you can’t wear them. In fact, you will get fewer wrinkles by rolling clothes rather than folding and stacking them. Besides, rolling will save your space.

What is even better is the way you can roll several cloth items together. You can put a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, underwear and a pair of socks together and roll them tightly. When you want to wear, you will just pull the roll-out and wear. It’s a nice trick if you don’t want to worry about what to wear when you are traveling.

However, you should not roll skirts or a pair of trousers to prevent them from getting wrinkled.

Rolling only works if you are carrying just a few sets of clothes. Don’t try it if you will be carrying a lot of items.

2. Folding clothes to pack in a backpack

When it comes to folding some of your clothing items, you will need more time. Folding clothes is an art really, especially if you want them to stay longer in the backpack without getting any wrinkles.

Here are a few ways to fold a few items:

How to fold and roll a shirt

  • Lay the shirt on a flat surface, button side facing up
  • Invert the bottom a few inches only, say like 2 inches
  • Fold the left half of the shirt inwards
  • Fold the right half inwards
  • Roll the shirt in small measure from the collar towards the bottom. The inverted part of the bottom can hold the roll securely

How to fold underwear

  • On a flat surface, invert the waistband of the underwear
  • Take both edges and fold them to the center
  • Roll the underwear while compressing towards the waistband
  • The inverted waistband will hold the roll securely

How to fold pants

  • Lay your hiking pants on a flat surface front side facing upwards
  • Fold one leg on top of the other such that the back pockets are facing upward
  • Make sure the seams of the pants are on the outside
  • Fold the pant legs halfway over the buttocks area, fold it repeatedly until small enough
  • Alternatively, you can compress and roll the pants from the bottom of the legs to the butt area
  • When done, one back pocket should be visible


Packing the clothes inside the backpack

Now that you have folded the clothes and rolled others, it is time to pack.

One secret to carrying a small backpack is to pack the clothes by utilizing the space well. Store the clothes in any hollow space. For instance, if you are going camping, you can pack your rolled-up clothes in the spaces within the utensils. Put underwear and socks in the shoes.

Use a compression bag for how to pack clothes in a backpack

While rolling can help you to use the space in your backpack well, a compression bag will make it better. A compression bag gets rid of the air in clothes, which translates to more space.

When you put your clothes in a compression dry bag, they are more compact. They can fit in the smallest spaces in your bag. Your clothes can now fit in a smaller bag than if you only folded or rolled them.

Use packing cubes

Another option that you can use to pack clothes in your backpack is to use packing cubes that you can buy on You use these cubes to organize your backpack.

You can have a cube for jeans, another for t-shirts, and another for socks. The cubes are of different sizes so you can choose one that fits what you want to pack.

However, these will use more space, unlike a compression bag. They are suitable if you want to be organized without worrying much about space.

Use a clothing folder (amazon link)

Perhaps you like wearing button-down shirts, skirts and trousers. Can you still roll them or store them in a compression bag? Of course not.

You will need to pack them using the clothing folder.  The folders have a folding board where you place your shirts or skirts so that they don’t get wrinkled.

To pack, close the folder and put it into the backpack. You can place it on the sides where it won’t occupy a lot of space.

Organize Your Backpack

You don’t want to spend a lot of time searching for an item in your backpack.

Pack light things at the bottom. Next, pack things you don’t need to use frequently such as spare shoes, then pack the clothes.

Pack heavier items such as laptops or cameras in the middle. They will compress the clothes to create more space. The heavier items will also be protected by the lighter items that are at the bottom.

Pack the items you will need to use most such as your passport and toiletries at the top to make sure they are within easy reach.


That is it for how to pack clothes in a backpack. Hopefully, you can now fold them right so that they do not crease and pack them in such a way that they save space. The secret is to carry as many items as you need in a small backpack, which is easier to manage.