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The Best Garment Bags for Life on the Go

Delicate shirts and suits call for a bag of their own.

collage of 3 garmet bags

There are a number of tutorials on the Internet that show travelers how to pack a suitcase without causing wrinkles. Shirts, T-shirts, pants and suits... they can all be stored inside a carry-on without creases, but plenty of folks opt to avoid potential damage by using a dedicated garment bag.

The simplest ones are little more than a sleeve — a separate compartment for white shirts, crisp, new suits and the ilk. The most robust, on the other hand, double as duffles. Which you carry with you depends on where you're going (and what you're bringing). Here's how to pick the right one for you.

Types of Garment Bags


Some garment bags are essentially perforated, which means there are marked lines where the bag folds, often into thirds or fourths. These are less bulky than rolled bags (see below), but not as compact as most packable options.


Rolled garment bags pack together like a cigarette, or, if you're a serious packer, a cigar. When full, they assume the shape of a standard barrel duffle bag.


The best 2-in-1 garment bags switch from tall, open-hanging bags to true duffles. The difference between a 2-in-1 garment bag and a garment bag that rolls into itself is that the former looks convincingly official in either form, meaning it isn't better at being one version of itself than the other.


You can spot a packable garment bag by its thickness. It should be super-thin — thin enough to be folded a few times and put in a suitcase. It keeps delicates separated and untouched — unwrinkled, too, if you know how to fold them.


These garment bags are made specifically for the back of your closet or some distant storage unit. In most cases it's smart to get a waterproof one, especially if it's going in a warehouse you won't access 24/7, but a dense canvas works well if you're confident what's inside can get a little wet (and fully recover).



The whole point of a garment bag is to keep particularly important (or delicate) designs out of harm's way. A synthetic-based bag will keep water out (most of the time) while protecting it from dust and other debris.


Sure, water can penetrate if it's enough water, but a natural bag will do the job most of the time, too. It'll keep dirt and dust off your white shirt, protecting it from dirty floors and spilled coffee.

Garment Bag: Carry-On vs. Personal Item

Although consensus, at least in online chat forums, is divided, the TSA makes its stance on garment bags clear: they're a carry-on, not a personal item. That means you'd have to take your carry-on suitcase or your garment bag, not both — unless you're willing to check one of them. One might be able to sneak by security if the garment bag is small enough, but you'll run into issues when boarding the flight (unless you're flying first class and can bend the rules by hanging it up).

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