Packing light – how much space do jeans take up?

For my next travel adventure — which involves jaunting around south-west England for a few weeks before attending the 2013 World Fantasy Convention in Brighton — I’ve set myself the challenge of carrying only a 35L backpack (Kathmandu Cane Toad) and a computer bag (my trusty lime green Crumpler Considerable Embarrassment).

I’m pretty sure I can pull it off, but it’s going to require some planning and discipline. Since I revealed my penchant for planning and preparation last week, it will doubtless come as no surprise that I’ve been thinking about my travel wardrobe for the past couple of months.

One of the things I’ve been pondering is which pair(s) of jeans? And how much space do jeans take up really?

So tonight I rolled up three of the possibilities to see how they compared against each other for space.

The jeans test
The jeans test

Left to right we have:

  • Loose-fit travel jeans (quick drying, light fabric)
  • Denim-look jeggings (ideal for wearing under shift dresses etc)
  • Standard ‘skinny jeans’

I’m afraid the photo doesn’t really illustrate the outcome very well. Interestingly, the travel jeans roll up the tightest and are probably lightest as well. There’s less difference between the jeggings and the skinny jeans than I expected, with the jeggings rolling up marginally tighter — and they would certainly be more comfortable to wear as well.

However, there’s probably not enough difference in bulk between all three for this experiment to have a massive influence on my ultimate decision. It will come down to how they balance out with the rest of the wardrobe.

But at least now I know and can stop speculating about the jeans at least. (And, yes, there will definitely be a full trial pack in the not too distant future!)

And here’s another thought on stuffing everything into nothing larger than a 35L backpack: It’s about all any of my fantasy characters would be lugging around with them. And maybe my D&D character too (although she has armour, a shield and weapons… or she did). None of that computer/electrical stuff though. pshaw!

Anyone else think about your travel wardrobe for months beforehand? What’s your take on packing light? Do share any packing tips!


17 thoughts on “Packing light – how much space do jeans take up?

  1. We are so alike in our thinking it’s kinda scary. I ALWAYS think about what I’m needing to pack months before I leave. Especially if it’s an international trip. I also do a trial pack a few weeks before in case I need to go out and buy something.

    I traveled for 18 days in Italy with just a carry-on suitcase and a backpack. The only way that worked for me was to bring a travel clothesline (Rick Steves has THE BEST one) and some packets of laundry detergent. I washed my clothes every 3-4 days and was able to keep the amount of clothes I packed down to a minimum.

    Shoes are the hardest for me. I’ve struggled with that every time I traveled. I’ve searched in every dusty corner of the internet and every shoe store within a 100 miles of my house for the perfect shoes that blend both comfort and style. (Still searching…) I usually end up bringing more shoes than I need.

    My packing tips are ones that you probably already use. Here are my two biggest ones: roll your clothes instead of folding them (saves space and they’re less wrinkled that way) and when planning your wardrobe, pick one or two main colors and only pack clothes that complement them. Blacks and blues are my go-to travel wear. It includes denim and mixes with lots of colored tops. I also make sure every bottom (pants, jeans, skirts) can go with at least two tops.

    So envious of your up coming adventure! You’re going to have so much fun. Take lots of photos. 🙂


    1. Ha, Tami! 🙂
      I’m with you on the clothes line. I’ve figured out you need to overnight somewhere at least 2 nights so you can string your clothes up to dry. I try to hand wash small volumes as regularly as possible – doesn’t take too long if you don’t let it build up.

      I rarely take more than two pairs of shoes. At the moment I’m debating what combination will work best. I’ve never travelled with long boots before and I really want to take them, but a) they’re obviously bulky and b) I don’t want to wreck them…

      Yep agree re rolling and colour schemes. I obsessively plan wardrobe combinations beforehand… This trip the colour theme is purple, black, denim (which goes with everything) and perhaps a splash of red. 🙂


  2. I travel for extended times and take one small roller and a good travel back pack plus camera bag. My roller is not large, but because of arm issues I check it because I can’t get it in the overhead bin easily. Do you have any contraptions that can hook your suitcase and computer bag together? That’s essential for me so I only have to keep track of one object. As for the clothes, I’ve started traveling more with leggings or GOOD black yoga pants because they roll, are comfortable and the yoga pants have wicking. Instead of jeans, I go to outdoor stores and buy pants there because they are lightweight and sturdy. They don’t all look like you’re climbing a mountain, but you can.


    1. Yeah my travel jeans are from an outdoor store. They dry fast too! I don’t tend to string luggage together. The computer bag slings over my chest and the backpack will be really small and light. 😉


  3. I don’t really have any tips, but I *do* start packing early for any trip. I have this phobia that I’ll forget something really important. So I give myself enough time to go over it several times, and usually I make a master list and cross stuff off as I pack it. I’m just a wee bit obsessive. 😉


    1. Yep I work from packing lists too. It’s all about getting the combination right with clothes. With electrics, it’s about making sure I don’t forget any adapters and chargers – heh!


  4. Shoes take up heaps of space, particularly if they have heels. If you can get down to two pairs of shoes for the whole trip, you’ll be winning. Often if you’re going anywhere with a beach, you’ll need a spare towel rather than just a chamois-type travel towel. I keep really threadbare towels just for that purpose… and you can throw them out at the end of the trip and have more room in your luggage on the homeward trip.


    1. Heels? Beach? I do not recognise these words! But I figure if I was going on a beach holiday I’d be fixed in the one spot and could take LOTS of luggage… For the itinerant beach traveller, though, I like your threadbare towel tip… And the sarong too. 🙂


  5. Whenever I’ve gone to Norway, I would just take a couple pairs of those quick-drying adventure pants you can get from outdoors stores, and wash them in the sink in my hotel rooms. It really paid off to travel light, because I had to carry all my stuff on my back all the time and didn’t want a bunch of weight and bulkiness.

    And I was buying all kinds of stuff for months in anticipation of my first trip, including stuff I ended up not actually taking 🙂


    1. yeah, in the past I’ve bought stuff I’ve not taken as well… so annoying! I agree that hand-washing regularly is the way to go. Nothing worse than having to waste half a day in a laundramat!


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