If you dream of a winter getaway filled with fun in the snow, drinking hot chocolate, and feeling cozy in a chunky sweater, you’re in luck! Winter is a great time to travel and snag some great deals. However, packing for this kind of trip can be a headache because of all the bulky clothing winter requires, including that cozy sweater.
The best way to pack bulky sweaters in a suitcase is to roll them instead of folding them. You can also use tools such as space-saving bags and packing cubes to conserve space in your suitcase. Compression straps are another option to explore, as is wearing your bulkiest items when you travel.
Let’s take a closer look at the best ways to pack bulky sweaters in a suitcase so you can book your winter getaway without worrying about the packing portion of the trip.
1. Roll the Sweater Instead of Folding It
Whether it’s best to roll or fold clothes for packing in a suitcase is a hotly debated question, but according to travel experts, rolling is a much more effective way to save space and prevent wrinkles.
Rolling clothing ensures that you make the best of the space in your suitcase because it eliminates air from between folds. However, this is only true if you roll your sweater correctly.
To roll your sweater, follow the following steps:
- Lay your sweater on a smooth surface with the front facing upwards.
- Fold the arms towards the opposite side of the sweater so they cross each other, making an “X” shape.
- Start rolling from the bottom of the sweater at the hem. Roll it like you would roll a poster and try to keep the roll as even as possible.
- If the sweater looks uneven or is too bulky, unroll it and try again.
- To keep the sweater secure in its roll, wrap a rubber band around it in the center. You could also secure the roll by tying a string around it.
For more help with rolling sweaters, take a look at this YouTube video.
2. Fold Smaller Clothing In With the Sweater
Another way to conserve space in your suitcase has less to do with how you fold the sweater and more with how you fold the other items in your bag. To save space, you can fold smaller, more lightweight items, such as undershirts and underwear, in your bulky sweater.
Your sweater will take up space regardless, so you can take advantage of this space by tucking smaller pieces in the folds. This way, you won’t need to take up additional room in your suitcase with the smaller items.
3. Pack Sweaters in a Space-Saving Bag
Space-saving bags are designed to compress everything in the bag, reducing the amount of space those items take up. Most of these bags have an airtight seal with a valve, and you can use a vacuum to suck out the extra air.
There are many different kinds of space-saving bags available. Before you purchase yours, you should consider the following:
- Size of the bag. How many bulky sweaters are you trying to fit into your suitcase? You should purchase the smallest possible bag to still accommodate all the sweaters you’re trying to transport to save room. A small bag, usually around 16 inches wide and 24 inches long, can hold approximately six sweaters, so this should be sufficient.
- Sweater material. Some materials don’t do well if they are compressed for an extended period and can therefore be misshapen if they spend too much time in a space-saving bag. I don’t recommend using space-saving bags to pack sweaters made with wool, suede, or down.
- Hand pump vs. vacuum. Some space-saving bag sets come with a hand pump that can pump the excess air out, eliminating the need for a vacuum to perform this task. This option might be a wiser purchase, as you can pack the hand pump and bring it with you so you can use your space-saving bags on the way home.
The following table outlines some of my favorite space-saving bags. All links are to Amazon:
Spacesaver Premium Vacuum Storage Bags
This purchase will get you six different bags: two small, two medium, and two large. The small bags can hold six to eight sweaters, the medium can fit eight to ten, and the large can fit ten to twelve.
The double-zip seal and triple-seal turbo valve are great for getting every ounce of air out of the bag and keeping it out. This product also comes with a travel pump that you can take with you on your travels.
BoxLegend Premium Vacuum Storage Bags
This bundle comes with two small bags, two medium, two large, and two jumbos, so if you think you’ll need space-saving bags for items other than sweaters (such as bedding), this is a great choice!
The bags have an airtight double seal, which protects your sweaters from any debris, moisture, or mildew that could ruin them.
BoxLegend also has a guaranteed replacement on all defective bags for life.
Hibag Vacuum Storage Bags
This set gives you great value for money. It comes with twenty bags of various sizes, including eighteen vacuum seal bags (two small, two medium, two large, and two jumbos) and two travel-size roll-up bags.
I also like the stay-on clip that comes with the bags, which makes it easier to seal the zipper.
These bags are waterproof, so if you frequently travel to wet areas or environments with high humidity, these bags will protect your sweaters from water damage.
Chestnut 8 Space Saver Bags
These bags are ideal for travel because they don’t require a vacuum or a pump. All you do is zip up the bags and roll them, which pushes the air out of the valves at the bottom.
Once all the air is out, you can choose to keep the bag rolled or unroll it to put it in your suitcase. Either way, you’ll be saving space.
The bags are airtight and protect everything inside from odor, dust, dampness, and bugs.
With this set, you get four large bags and four medium bags.
Storage Master Vacuum Storage Bags
If you need extra-durable bags, these are the best choice for you. The flexible and thick plastic is embossed, so you can use these bags repeatedly.
The double-zip seal and triple-seal valve take out every bit of extra air, so you’ll be able to take all your favorite sweaters with you on your trip.
The bags also come with a small hand pump that you can bring with you on your travels, and they are compatible with any standard vacuum hose.
How To Make Your Own Vacuum Storage Bag
If you don’t want to purchase space-saving bags, you can try to make your own. You’ll need a garbage bag and a vacuum with a hose to do this. Once you have these materials, follow the following steps:
- Fold your sweaters and place them in the garbage bag.
- Hold the bag closed with your hand.
- Insert your vacuum hose into the top of the bag so your hand is now circling the hose.
- Turn the vacuum on and suck the air out until the bag stops shrinking.
- Tie the bag shut.
This DIY version isn’t as effective or neat-looking as official space-saving bags, but it is a good option if you’re in a pinch or don’t have the budget for new bags.
4. Pack Your Sweaters in Packing Cubes
Packing cubes don’t necessarily have to be cube-shaped. They are simply flexible bags that help compartmentalize clothes and save space within a suitcase. Everything is kept in a cube, so it is easier to keep track of things and move them around while traveling.
Here are my recommendations for the best packing cubes. All links are to Amazon:
SUITEDNOMAD Compression Packing Cubes Set
This three-piece set comes with three different-size bags to suit all your needs. I love the durability of these bags, as they’re made with water-resistant material that doesn’t snag or tear thanks to the reinforced seams.
I also like that these bags have top handles, which makes them easier to pull out of your crowded suitcase.
The zippers on these bags are premium and high-quality so that they won’t break off halfway through your trip.
You can get these bags in cool gray, slate gray, navy blue, Caribbean blue, and deep blue.
LeanTravel Compression Packing Cubes for Travel
This set has two large, medium, and small cubes. The medium size is great for sweaters; you can use the other sizes for undergarments and larger coats.
These cubes boast high-quality polyester and durable mesh, so you can see what’s in the cube without opening it and minimizes odors because the mesh allows for more breathability.
I also like that these bags have an extra zipper feature, which creates additional compression for extra space. The zippers are high-quality and made with anti-catch technology.
Gonex Compression Packing Cubes
These may look small and narrow, but they can hold a lot, including your chunky sweaters! Each set has four bags: small, medium, large, and extra-large.
The double-zipper feature keeps clothes compressed and creates extra space in your suitcase. I also like the grab handle for easy access.
The waterproof nylon fabric will protect your sweaters from debris, rain, snow, and anything else you might encounter on your travels.
You can get eight colors: black, deep gray, blue, green, purplish blue, purple, apricot, and pink.
Hopsooken 5-Piece Packing Cubes Set
This value set includes two large cubes, one extra-large cube, and one medium cube. The cubes are high-quality fabric, and the finished interior seams increase durability and longevity.
All the bags have a mesh top panel so you can easily identify what’s inside, and ventilate your clothing. The double zipper feature makes opening and closing the cube easy and increases compression.
Various colors and patterns are available, including purple, black, floral leaf, dark blue, pineapple, teal, and rose.
Veken 6 Set Packing Cubes
This set comes with six cubes and is available in ten colors, including cyan, holy blue, indigo, light purple, pink, and white marble.
The cubes are made of 290D nylon fabrics, thicker than other cubes on the market, and more weather resistant.
The waterproof fabric will protect your sweaters from getting wet, and the material is environmentally friendly and recyclable
These products are great ways to limit your sweater’s space and keep yourself organized while on the road.
5. Use Compression Straps To Compress Your Luggage
Another way to reduce the amount of space your sweaters take up in your suitcase is to compress them with compression straps. With this method, fold your sweaters as you would usually (don’t roll them) and stack them on top of each other. Then, wrap compression straps around the stack and tighten them as much as possible.
Alternatively, you can also use compression straps with your packing cubes. If your packing cube is overfilled with your bulky sweaters, wrap a strap around it and tighten it until you can’t tighten anymore. This method will reduce how much space your cube takes up.
I recommend the MAGARROW Strap Buckle Packing Straps from Amazon.com. You can easily adjust the length of these straps thanks to the single stitching on the fixed buckle, and if the straps are still too long, you can cut them to make them the length you need. The buckle is extremely secure, so it won’t come undone during your travels.
6. Don’t Pack Your Sweater; Wear It
Okay, so this isn’t a packing tip per se, but one of the best ways to free up space in your suitcase is to wear your larger items. Consider wearing your bulky sweater on the plane or whatever mode of transport you’re taking instead of trying to shove it into a suitcase.
This method saves you from the headache of trying to fit your sweater in your suitcase and allows you to have more room for your other items. Furthermore, most airplanes are cold anyway, so you might be grateful that you chose to wear your sweater instead of packing it!
There is no reason why you should struggle to pack bulky items for travel. To recap, the best ways to solve your packing woes are:
- Roll up your sweaters
- Fold smaller items inside the larger items
- Use a space-saving bag
- Try packing cubes
- Use compression straps
- Wear your bulkiest clothing when you travel.
- YouTube: How to Pack Thick Clothing in Your Suitcase
- Mental Floss: 6 Tips from Travel Experts for Packing Winter Clothes
- Pacsafe: Is Rolling Clothes Really the Best Way to Pack?
- Instructables Living: DIY Vacuum Packing
- Pilot: Best Packing Cubes