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in: How To, Skills

• Last updated: July 29, 2021

How to Pack a Bag Using the Ranger Roll

When you join the military, you’re going to learn some new life skills. How to make a bed. How to shine your shoes. And, how to effectively pack a bag.

When we recently asked former and current members of the military who follow AoM on Instagram for their best packing tips, we got a ton of responses. Far and away the #1 submission was this: Learn to roll your clothes. 

An effective packing technique whether you’re a soldier headed out for a deployment or a civilian headed out for vacation, the Ranger or Army Roll is a method of “folding” your clothes that keeps them both compact and tidy. It makes your clothes look like tight, well-rolled burritos, and minimizes the amount they wrinkle, as well as their footprint in your bag. Ranger-rolled clothes take up less space in your suitcase and keep it better organized. On the latter front, you can also roll up outfits — shirt, socks, underwear — together into a single, action-ready pouch.

The only downside to the Ranger Roll is that it does take longer to do than simpler folds — at least before you’ve practiced it a lot and gotten the technique down pat. You’ve really got to focus on making a nice, tight roll for each piece of clothing in order for this method to work. But the tradeoff in time is worth it, as it allows you to pack more in a single bag, saving you from schlepping around multiple pieces of luggage and paying the attendant fees for those extra bags if you’re flying. 

Below we highlight how to Ranger roll four different pieces of clothing. Follow the instructions with military-esque precision, and you’ll be packing your bag like a seasoned veteran in no time.

And if you’re curious as to what additional packing tips came up in our Instagram survey, here are some of the other most popular responses (thanks to everyone who submitted their tips!):

  • Collect and assemble everything you need and lay it out to create a visual checklist; then pack it in bag.
  • Pack the stuff you’ll need first/most frequently on top of the bag and in easy-to-access side pockets.
  • Pack the bigger stuff first; the little things will fit in the cracks (good packing advice; also good general life advice).
  • Pack light: “ounces makes pounds.”
  • Stick your rolled up socks into your shoes to save room.
  • If you’re packing a sea bag, bang it on the floor to settle what you’ve packed already and create more room to add items.
  • If you’re packing a backpack/rucksack, pack the lighter things towards the bottom and the heavier things higher up, close to your back/body.

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