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Anyone use compression sacks or packing cubes?

Posted by christay2009 on 5/8/2011 at 02:42

I am debating buying a compression sack (often used for compressing sleeping bags) and using it for my clothes. I got the idea from a blog (Legal Nomads) and it seems like a good one. Especially as I will have some 'work clothes' with me that will not be needed for the first month and, likely, the 4th month. I could just make sure there were at the bottom of said sack. Also, it seems like it would decrease the space taken up by clothing.

Then again, there are also packing cubes. I don't like the look of these as much and they seem to be dying out - not much availability in the UK - but wondered if anyone had used either of these things?? I am definitely considering a small cube just to keep all my dammed electrical cables nice and tidy.

Any input would be great. Not long to go now so need to sort myself out.

Actually, as we're on the subject of packing, does anyone use 'resealable' poly bags?? like those sandwich bags you get in a supermarket but more heavy duty. Not too sure how useful they would be in practice. Might be worth just getting a 10LT dry bag for small electrical stuff....

:)

#1 christay2009 has been a member since 8/2/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 414

Posted by busylizzy on 5/8/2011 at 05:07

Hey Christay - I use them, and I love them! But them, I'm a neatness freak....

I forget which brand they are, but I use ones that are nylon with part of the fabric being mesh to allow breathing (but not waterproof). I tend to use 2-3 small ones, and one medium sized one. Depending on where I am going and what I'm doing, my packing logic is this:

For stuff that I don't use everyday when on the road, I prefer to keep it separate and out of the way for the days that I'm not needing them.
- One small one is used for swimwear, snorkle mask, sarong
- One small one is used for thermals, socks, raincoat. Or this one might contain 'dress up' clothes that I don't expect to need often.

- One small one for underwear, nightwear and other small bits.
- Medium sized one for day to day clothing.
- I actually use a small toiletry bag for electronics. It's a bit sturdier and more compact, and provides better waterproof protection. I tried using a packing cube but found it too floppy. A compression bag might be better.

I find this allows me to always know where everything is, and keep the stuff that I don't need 'tucked away'. When leaving the room, I always leave my electronics, etc locked up in my backpack (stuff which is normally carried in my daypack when on the move). To make space, I just take out the bigger cube containing my clothing and leave that next to the pack. (I figure there is less risk of my clothing going missing than the electronics).

The best thing about keeping all your stuff in separate cubes (or whatever) - especially when travelling for an extended period - is that you always know where everything is, and can find things quickly. I have travelled with people who take the random 'throw it all in the pack' - and it frustrates the hell out of me when I have to stand around and wait as they rummage through their bottomless pit of chaos in their pack. :-)

(Just to reassure those that think I'm overpacking... what I pack depends on where I'm going and what activities I'm doing - ie SEA, US whatever. I don't always take it all!)

#2 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by savorygal on 5/8/2011 at 14:00

I started out with all packing cubes. 2 small for electronics, (chargers, cables etc) & another small one for incidentals that didn't fit into my very tiny toiletry bag. I also had 2 larger cubes for clothes, but I found that the square shape didn't really make the best use of space, so i now have all my clothing in compression sacks. they seem to conform to the curves of my pack a lot better, one has stuff i wear everyday & the other one has my quick dry towel, sarong, warmer clothes etc. I have been traveling for 8 months now & have a 40 L pack which seems to be the right size for me. I also have a small compression sack that I have strapped onto the bottom of my pack that holds a fleece blanket & pillow, both are a bit bulky, and a bit of a luxury, but I have been so happy to have them on cold trains & airplanes.

And like busylizzy I am a neat freak. I like a well organized pack.

#3 savorygal has been a member since 16/7/2010. Posts: 162
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Posted by savorygal on 5/8/2011 at 14:00

I started out with all packing cubes. 2 small for electronics, (chargers, cables etc) & another small one for incidentals that didn't fit into my very tiny toiletry bag. I also had 2 larger cubes for clothes, but I found that the square shape didn't really make the best use of space, so i now have all my clothing in compression sacks. they seem to conform to the curves of my pack a lot better, one has stuff i wear everyday & the other one has my quick dry towel, sarong, warmer clothes etc. I have been traveling for 8 months now & have a 40 L pack which seems to be the right size for me. I also have a small compression sack that I have strapped onto the bottom of my pack that holds a fleece blanket & pillow, both are a bit bulky, and a bit of a luxury, but I have been so happy to have them on cold trains & airplanes.

And like busylizzy I am a neat freak. I like a well organized pack.

#4 savorygal has been a member since 16/7/2010. Posts: 162
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Posted by busylizzy on 5/8/2011 at 16:28

A 40l pack? I'm impressed!

#5 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by Nokka on 5/8/2011 at 16:58

I use the Eagle Creek packing accessories and find them fantastic. I have one which fits shirts, shorts etc. It has a hard back and fold over arms with velcro to help keep everything in shape. Then a smaller one for underwear etc. Than a couple of smaller cubes for electrical stuff, toiletries and so on and finally a washbag with a hook on it for bathrooms. I also use an Eagle Creek hybrid backpack / pull trolley thing, which is very neat and fits all the different cubes really well. It can also expand in size if necessary.

I found packing and unpacking a doddle. They keep everything really neat and easy to recognise whether you are about to leave something behind.

I bought mine at Rohan in UK, though I think they have stopped stocking them now. Cotswold Outdoor stores still has them, though, I'm pretty sure.

#6 Nokka has been a member since 6/4/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 259

Posted by SBE on 5/8/2011 at 18:37

Blimey, what an organized lot you are! I like savorygal's idea for reducing the volume of a fleece blanket and pillow. These are quite bulky but oh so nice to have on long overnight bus or ferry trips, not to mention if you're camping anywhere or have to spend a night in an airport lounge.

I just use free supermarket plastic bags to separate underwear, T shirts and trousers and towels/sarongs. A waterproof drawstring bag that once held tent pegs keeps all my electrical stuff together. Sometimes airlines hand out socks, eye covers and earplugs in some nifty little bags useful for storing bits and pieces like visiting cards, medicines, padlocks and keys or any other small clutter that tends to get lost the depths of the rucksack otherwise. They're just big enough to act as a small overnight toilet bag for when you're actually on the move and don't have easy access to your main pack too.

A drybag is quite a handy thing to have as it can also serve as a bucket for washing clothes and can be used as a day bag on small boats/canoes or when it's raining. It would be good for carrying electrical gear as it provides some cushioning as well as being 100% waterproof. (Mine's more often in use as a bucket though). I have a 5L size and it's plenty big enough for all the uses I've mentioned...I wouldn't get a larger size as drybags are quite bulky and heavy.

PS. I have one of those vacuum compression bag things at home for storing blankets and pillows and winter clothes I don't use ...it weighs a ruddy ton! Reducing the bulk of your pack is certainly very useful but remember you won't be reducing weight you have to carry!

#7 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,004
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Posted by christay2009 on 5/8/2011 at 18:49

Wow, thanks for the great responses. I was sure this post would get lost in the abyss pretty quick!

Busylizzy, it sounds like we would get along well, I live to organize! haha My last trip I didn't know any better and just tried to organize in my main bag and, to be fair, the first time I packed it I did a good job - socks to the left, fleece on the bottom, footwear separate underneath etc - but I couldn't keep it up. I had some frustrating moments trying to find stuff and just ended up tipping everything out of the bag onto the floor haha messy but felt good.

Savorygal - I think I'm leaning more your way with the sacks, my bag is pretty long and thin. It's good to know you are happy with them too. There is not much in the way of user reviews out there.

Oh, the important question, what SIZE sack are you using? On ebay I have found Sea to Summit sacks in XL , M , S. I think XL is around 30- 35litres

Nokka - you can indeed get cubes in Cotswold outdoor as witnessed by me very recently. I tend to do buy most of my stuff online and they're available on amazon/ebay too. The only issue is that my bag is pretty thin, as above. I imagine your wheely thingy is abit wider? If If I had your kind of case I'd probably use the cubes too...

Overall,

I am leaning towards 1 or 2 compression sacks for clothing. Split them up so stuff I won't use much like my work clothes and fleece - (for use in China or if i'm in the far North of Laos / Burmese hills). Then buy a couple of small or medium cubes for electrical cables and my underwear etc

It adds to the pre-departure cost which I am not enjoying at all haha but I think it will be useful in the long run. It's not like they won't be useful in the future either... I have a drybag already which I tend to keep my electronics in - either in my day bag or main bag. I'm taking a netbook this time so that will probably live in its sleeve in the drybag

Let me know if you have any other suggestions and thanks again!! :)

#8 christay2009 has been a member since 8/2/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 414

Posted by busylizzy on 5/8/2011 at 19:59

"I had some frustrating moments trying to find stuff and just ended up tipping everything out of the bag onto the floor haha messy but felt good."

{shudders at the thought}

I read previously SBE's idea of using the dry bag as a washing bag - and it was one of the best tips I have ever picked up. I brought one for the intention of keeping electronics dry if on a dodgy boat in the rain and for kayaking trips (which never eventuated) - but instead I used it regularly for washing. Fill it up with water, pour in some soap, then shake vigorously while dancing to your favourite music. A few wines improve the agitation, which in turn, improves cleaning performance! Rinse and repeat. Highly recommended.

Our local camping/adventure store often has 50% sales - that's a good time to get the cubes, drybags etc if you've got the time to wait.

#9 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by Nokka on 5/8/2011 at 20:58

My bag is 36cm wide at its widest, so not so wide really. Its 56cm high. It isn't huge, but it packs very efficiently, plus it opens at the front rather than the top like most rucksacks. I had standard rucksacks when I was younger, dossing around the Greek islands and the like, but found them, generally, to be a pain in the arse.

#10 Nokka has been a member since 6/4/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 259

Posted by christay2009 on 5/8/2011 at 21:37

SBE - We must have been typing at the same time! Good point on the weight, I had considered this ... and decided i'm willing to take the hit. The compression sack I am looking at (a big'un) weighs around 500 grams which doesn't seem so crazy. Besides, me man, me carry big things no problem :)

Busylizzy - I have a MASSIVE dry bag and it is FAR TO BIG for my electrical stuff so maybe I should get a smaller one as you say. 30LT was overkill - my day bag isn't even 30 lt

Nokka - Yeah, top loader rucksacks are annoying. I actually looked for a more packing friendly case that zipped round the side (not with wheels) but they seem to be a rarity. Cotswold seem to sell 1 65lt one and that's it. In the end, I have a top loader already and didn't want to buy a new bag!! I appreciate the very exact measurements of your bag also, good knowledge.

Guess I should really get all my clothes out and see what kind of compression/cube I actually need. Like the idea of using old washbags too, i've got some knocking around....

#11 christay2009 has been a member since 8/2/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 414

Posted by Nokka on 5/8/2011 at 21:49

http://www.breakingfree.co.uk/product/3813/Eagle_Creek_Loche

No cheap, but made to last.

#12 Nokka has been a member since 6/4/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 259

Posted by wanderingcat on 6/8/2011 at 00:23

i use compression bags from Daiso. one edge of the bag = ziploc closure. opposite edge of the bag has 1-2 (depending on design) outlets for air to escape through a one-way valve. looks like this, this & this (not my photos). comes in various sizes, extremely light (how heavy can ziploc bags be), no need for vacuum cleaner to suck out the air, just roll it up/sit on it. also doubles up as waterproofing. costs SGD2 (~USD1.25) per piece in Singapore.

for electronics & toiletries, i use small lock&lock containers. together with the cushioning effect of clothing, the contents remain protected from damage no matter how many people sit & step on my bag in the aisles of buses in Laos. also waterproofs the electronics. & no worries about liquids leaking, any mess will be contained within. liquids are also protected from changes in pressure during flights.

#13 wanderingcat has been a member since 21/10/2006. Posts: 730
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Posted by SBE on 6/8/2011 at 01:02

I was talking about the weight of the contents, not the weight of the bag itself wandercat. The one I have at home is one of those heavy duty jobs you have to vacuum the air out of and it contains the entire contents of a large wardrobe (including lots of bedding). It's easy to shove under a bed but I can hardly lift it!

Those smaller ones you use look very good for travelling though, will keep an eye out for something similar.

#14 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,004
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Posted by christay2009 on 6/8/2011 at 02:54

cat - are you talking about compression sacks or zip lock bags or both? or are you using amazingly advanced zip lock bags that have a compressions system :)

SBE - I know you're not in the UK but Amazon.co.uk sells heavy duty zip locks (search for WEB-TEX brand 'heavy duty poly bag). They are selling at 12 for £5.00 - variety of sizes. Maybe you can find the same brand where you are. It seems to be a military company.

#15 christay2009 has been a member since 8/2/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 414

Posted by wanderingcat on 6/8/2011 at 10:44

#14:
ah i get you now.
the ones i use come in larger sizes too. but those are difficult to compress cos of their size...needed me + my sis to sit on it together while packing up all her winter stuff :P

#15:
it's a compression bag that looks just like a ziploc...see the photos i linked in #13.

btw i made a blooper - SGD2.00 = ~USD1.60.

#16 wanderingcat has been a member since 21/10/2006. Posts: 730
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