These are the best compression bags for travel 2021

As a travel writer, I should have packing down to a science — or at least a fine art. However, even with all my best tricks and the help of this handy 4-in-1 toiletries container, I still struggle to fit everything I need into my suitcase.

Fortunately, I own some of the best expert-recommended luggage. It puts up with my abuse. My poor carry-on has survived three years of me sitting on it and fighting the zipper to force it closed. But I’m tired of starting every trip out with my bags bursting at the seams. So, recently I decided to try these bestselling roll-up space savers that I found on Amazon. Here’s why I think they’re worth the hype.

12 bags for $19

I’m too cheap to pay a baggage fee, so the idea of paying $19 for a few plastic bags was a hard pill to swallow at first. I like that these Hibag Travel Compression Bags — which have a 4.4-star average rating from over 3,500 reviewers — come with 12 storage bags. That’s less than $2 per bag. I also like that they come in two sizes, medium and large. I mostly use the larger ones because it only takes two of them to pack all I need for a week in my carry-on. But even the medium bags can fit 4-5 days’ worth of clothes. Personally, I don’t need 12. However, I think that number is great for families or big groups trying to save space.

You can save up to 80% of space while using these travel compression bags.Courtesy Katie Jackson

Fill, zip and roll

Initially, I was worried that these bags wouldn’t work that well since they don’t require a vacuum. My vacuum seal bags, which I use at home for larger items like blankets and puffy coats, work great. But that’s because my powerful Hoover can suck out all the air in a matter of seconds.

Getting the air out of these compression bags is a little trickier. First, I fill the bag with my clothes. Some people roll their clothes to save more space, but I prefer to lay mine out in a pile like you’d see in a shop. Next, I zip it shut, making a few passes with the zipper to make sure there are no openings. Remember: Air is the enemy. Thankfully, the bags have a double-zipper design and come with stay-on clips that keep the zipper securely shut.

Finally, I roll the zipped-up bag to remove the air. This step requires some manpower and sometimes a bit of maneuvering. It takes a lot of pressure if you just use your forearms to roll the bag. Since I don’t have that much strength, I put my entire weight onto it. It may look silly, but it’s an effective way to push the air out. In just a few seconds, the bag is much flatter and easier to roll.

I’ll do whatever it takes to expel the air from these roll-up bags! Courtesy Katie Jackson

It’s easy to follow the instructions since they’re conveniently printed directly onto the bag. I think the biggest mistake people make is trying to load them past the fill line. It’s better to use two 2/3-full bags than one overstuffed bag. The latter will be too hard to roll, and you’ll end up trapping the air inside.

I have so much more packing room

The Hibag compression bags claim to save up to 80% of space. While I haven’t achieved that result (yet), I’ve definitely noticed that my carry-on seems to have grown. I’m only using half the space that I’m accustomed to cramming clothing and essentials into. These problem solvers have practically taken 100% of the pain out of packing. (Though, I still have to decide what to bring which is always hard).

Honestly, I don’t even need an upcoming trip as an excuse to use these storage bags. If you could see under my bed (which I’m thankful you can’t), you’ll find at least five room’s worth of stuff neatly packed there. While I normally use my regular vacuum seal bags for underbed storage, the Hibag ones work just as well.

So, if you like the challenge of starting each trip with a packing puzzle, stay away from these compression bags. They’ll make it too easy. But if you’re like me, tired of having to sit on your suitcase to close it and always worried about not having room to bring home souvenirs, these space-saving bags are a life saver.

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