How to Do the Military Clothing Roll

Written by brian gallagher
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How to Do the Military Clothing Roll
Rolling these items would allow for more room. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

With new restrictions on the weight of carry-on and checked baggage, it's more important than ever to be able to pack light when travelling by plane. The way you fold your clothes has a significant impact on how much you'll be able to pack into one suitcase or duffel bag. The military roll, used by enlisted men and women to keep their baggage easy to transport is one of the most effective folding techniques, plus it leaves your clothes wrinkle-free upon arrival!

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Clothes to be folded
  • Suitcase or carry-on bag

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    Shirts, Blouses and Jackets

  1. 1

    Button the buttons and zip the zippers on your tops.

  2. 2

    Lay your first item facedown on your flat folding surface.

  3. 3

    Fold back the sleeves so that they cross in an X-fashion behind the back of the garment. If the sleeves are not long enough, just fold them so that they would cross in this fashion if they were longer. There should be no part of either sleeve hanging over the sides of the top's back.

  4. 4

    Smooth out any wrinkles that are present before rolling.

  5. 5

    Fold the very bottom edge of the item upwards, then begin rolling tightly towards the neck.

  6. 6

    Place the roll in your suitcase and continue on to your other items.

    Trousers and shorts

  1. 1

    Lay out the trousers or shorts so that the inner hem of each leg are lined up. It should have the appearance of a pair of trousers seen from the side when someone is wearing them.

  2. 2

    Work out any natural creases and wrinkles present with your hands.

  3. 3

    Fold up the bottom cuff then roll the garment tightly, working your way to the waist.

    Dresses and skirts

  1. 1

    Lay out the item flat on your folding surface.

  2. 2

    Fold in one side then the other over that, as if you were folding a letter into thirds to fit it inside an envelope.

  3. 3

    Roll upwards into a tight roll, starting at the hem.

Tips and warnings

  • Wrinkling in any silk items can be prevented by putting them in a plastic dry cleaning bag before doing the rolling then packing them into the suitcase last.
  • Underwear or socks are not as important to keep wrinkle-free, but you can still roll underwear similarly to how the trousers were rolled, and place socks inside whatever extra pairs of shoes you are packing.

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