The idea of compression packing cubes or space saver bags is great. We all want more room in our luggage.
But if all that squashing leads to wrinkled clothes then what’s the point!
Unfortunately there is no simple answer to the question. It depends what you are packing and how you pack it. Compression packing cubes can help you avoid wrinkles but it’s more complicated that you think.
Let’s first consider what causes wrinkles, There are 3 main factors to consider:
You can sometimes reduce or even eliminate folds on your clothes if you use the rolling technique.
It depends on the size of the garment. You will need to fold large garments before you can roll them.
But you might be able to reduce the number of folds or change the location of the folds by using the rolling technique.
The less folds you have the less change these will develop into visible creases.
So it’s a good idea to roll your clothes before you put them inside the compression packing cube. This will usually help to reduce wrinkling.
Less folds = Less Wrinkes! Try to have as few folds are possible by rolling when you can.
Compression packing cubes apply extra pressure to your clothes. That’s what they are for!
But it’s important to remember that the amount of extra pressure they apply depends how tightly you pack the cube. If you stuff lots of clothes in and force the zip closed you will apply lots of pressure on those folds. This will increase that chance that the folds turn turn into visible creases that won’t fall out.
You need to have enough pressure so that the garment does not become move around and become crunched up. A crunched up garment that has been squashed will develop wrinkles all over it not only at the folds.
The sweet spot keeps the clothes in place. It stops the rolled up clothes from unrolling but still squashes your clothes down a little.
Too much pressure will result in huge creases along any folds that you made when you packed it into the cube.
Vacuum spacer saver bags provide the most efficient compression. That can be useful, but they crunch up the clothes and result in more wrinkles across the garment.
Less pressure -= Less wrinkles! Don’t over- pack your compression packing cubes.
You also need to consider the material that your garment is made of.
Some materials like linen will winkle just if you look at them.
Other materials like wool are very resistant to wrinkles. That’s one of the reasons why I love merino wool t-shirts and Wool & Prince dress shirts.
Lower wrinklability (my new word I just invented it!) = Less Wrinkles!
A lightly folded dress garment that is protected inside an air pillow will not crease too badly. The air pocket stops the other things in your suitcase from squashing the items in the air pocket. Make sure you put the heavy items at the bottom of your bag and the zip-lock air pocket sit on top.
If you want to get super-fancy then packing foam inside the zip-lock bag along with your garment will reduce the chance of it slide around. Once, sealed it’s the air pressure inside that bag that stops the pressure on your garments. The foam just keeps things in place.
Hang your suit or nice dress up as soon as you arrive at your destination to lets the creases fall out.
You can go to the ball Cinderella! (Or Prince Charming)
It’s true, you can’t do this trick with too many items but you can do it with a suit or a dress shirt for that meal out at the fancy restaurant you are planning. You get the idea!
If you are traveling with a small bag you’ll need to make space in your luggage to have room for these air protected pockets. For that reason alone I highly recommend both travel space saver bags and compression packing cubes.
Remember that those sealed zip-lock bags will actually expand when you are at higher altitude. So don’t have them fully inflated at ground level.
Here’s how to know what to do. Seal the zip lock and try to push your hand against the clothes inside. If the air pressure inside the bag stops your hand from pressing hard on the clothes the same thing will happen inside your case!
So compress the heck out of any thing that either won’t crease because it’s a wrinkle-resistant fabric or where you don’t care if it wrinkles.
Use the space you saved to protect special clothes with air pockets created with Ziplock bags.
Getting some wrinkles is just a fact of packing a suitcase. Compression packing cubes alone don’t stop this from happening but if you use them correctly as a tool in your packing tool kit you can arrive at your destination with at least some clothes that are ready to wear for a night out.
Maybe you don’t need to pack that travel iron after all!