How to Pack a Suitcase


Everything you need to know about how to pack a suitcase efficiently, for the most stress-free packing experience ever.

Off on that much-awaited adventure? Learning how to pack a suitcase the right way can be a game-changer when it comes to the night or the day before. Not only does it make the packing process quicker, but it can save a ton of stress, especially if you're tight on space. 

Get prepared

Packing well means thinking ahead. This is why the first step in how to pack a suitcase or duffel bag efficiently is to make a checklist. Sit down with a pen and paper and make a list of everything you need. You’ll later tick off those items as you pack. 

The benefits of making a list are twofold. First, it helps ensure you don't forget anything, which is very important! Secondly, it helps avoid overpacking. Looking at the whole list once complete can help you make those key deletions of any non-essential items.

Roll your clothes

In the average bag, clothes are what takes up the majority of the space. So, how can you pack clothes most efficiently? One popular method is the roll technique. Instead of folding, roll your clothes. This not only saves space but also keeps wrinkles at bay. It can also make clothes easier to access as you can stack them side by side, as opposed to layering them one on top of the other.

Next, make sure you’ve got your ordering right. Put heavier items like jeans and jackets at the bottom, and lighter items like shirts and dresses on top. 

Again, take stock of your items as you pack. Too many nice-to-have items can mean an overstuffed suitcase. Think about mixing and matching clothes that will go together well, too - this can help save you from overpacking and make sure you always have an appropriate outfit.

Use empty gaps wisely

A suitcase that looks full might have some empty spaces hiding just out of sight. For example, shoes can be used to hold socks, belts, or other small items. (Just remember to put your shoes in a shoe bag or plastic bag to keep other items clean.) 

Keep everything tidy with packing cubes

Also, if you’re wondering how to pack a suitcase in a way that doesn’t leave everything all jumbled up, consider using packing cubes. These are small fabric containers that fit inside your bag. You can categorize items within these cubes, such as tops in one cube and bottoms in another. It's a simple but effective strategy for how to pack a suitcase with key travel accessories stress-free.

Keep your toiletries together

Toiletries can be tricky. They need to be accessible but also well-packed to avoid any spills. Use a toiletry bag and put it in an easy-to-reach spot. Keep in mind the liquid restrictions if you're flying. Also, wrap your toiletry bag in a plastic bag for an extra layer of protection against leaks. Perfumes and colognes might need their own extra plastic wrap if you’re taking them along.

First Aid kit

You never know when you may need a first aid kit, but it’s always safer to have one than not. Packing plasters, bandages, burn cream, and dressings will make sure you are fully prepared, should anything happen. When packing your case, leave your First Aid Kit until the end so that if you need it in a rush, it will be close to the top.

Advanced packing techniques for the pro packer

Mastered the basics of how to pack a suitcase? Then check out these extra tips to take your packing to the next level.

Master your use of space

Every suitcase is different, so look carefully at the unique structure of yours. For example, some suitcases have zip pockets on the outside. These can be used for items you might need quickly, such as travel documents or a book for a long plane ride.

No space in your shoes but want to pack a belt? Consider fitting your belt around the edge of the suitcase. This pro technique saves space and helps to keep the belt in shape, avoiding cracks and damage that might be caused by rolling it up small.

Lastly, if you’re packing hats, don’t let the space inside go empty. Socks, scarves, and underwear might fit inside happily.

Keep everything clean with laundry bags

Headed out on a long trip? Maybe with uncertain access to a laundry? Consider packing one or two laundry bags. They take up very little space when empty, but they will keep your dirty clothes separate from the clean ones as your trip wears on.


Small jewellery items can easily get lost in the depths of a suitcase. Use small containers such as a pill organiser to store your earrings, rings, and small necklaces. This storage approach also helps avoid any tangles in chains.

Electronics chargers

Bringing electronics? Remember that certain electronics must go in your hand luggage if you’re flying, so always check your airline’s policy. 

Chargers and cables can go in checked luggage and can be coiled and stored inside glasses cases. This protects them and saves space.


To help keep the contents of your suitcase safe, use a TSA-approved lock. If you're flying, security will be able to open the bag to check your suitcase without breaking your lock.

And lastly, don't forget to put a tag with your name and contact information on your suitcase. If your suitcase gets lost, this will help it get back to you.

Take a moment to consider the balance of your suitcase. This is a key step in terms of how to pack a suitcase correctly. Heavier items should be near the wheels to make it easier to roll the suitcase. If you pack heavy items near the top, your suitcase might tip over. And of course, take heed of any luggage weight restrictions if you’re traveling by air.

A great pack for a great trip

Learning how to pack a suitcase efficiently means being organized, strategic, and thoughtful at every stage. Making a checklist, using all those small nooks and crannies, rolling clothes, using packing cubes, handling toiletries carefully, and balancing the weight can make a big difference. 

Lastly, don’t forget to leave some room for souvenirs or other items you might pick up during your trip. If your suitcase is already at maximum capacity before you leave, you'll struggle to fit in any keepsakes or gifts.

At the North Face, we have all the backpacks, luggage and duffels and other gear you need for a great trip. Headed out camping? Check out our tents, sleeping bags and technical packs. Or learn more about the best backpack for the job. No matter where you’re headed, we’ve got the gear to make the experience a great one.