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Using a Duffel Bag for College Packing and Shipping 

Using Duffel Bag in College

Do you feel like you’re going to need 50 boxes to get all your clothes to college? What if there was a way to keep them all in one bag? That’s what duffel bags are for. A lot of college students use large duffel bags to transport their wardrobes between school and home because they can hold it all. Duffel bags do come in all shapes and sizes, making them great for college students that can use hybrid duffle bags for hiking or small ones as gym bags.  

Regardless of which type of duffel bag you choose to use, and maybe you’ll get a variety, you’ll need to know how to pack them.  

How to Pack a Duffel Bag

Using a duffel bag to pack your clothes for college can be very easy. It’s not the typical shape of a suitcase or box, but many students are able to fit their entire wardrobe for school in one duffel bag. That allows you to put more fragile items in a double-walled Signature Collegeboxes® Boxes for ample protection.  

Before you start packing anything, decide what you’re packing first. It’s easier to sort the clothes and organize them before putting them in the duffel bag. This way rather than constantly shuffling items in and out, you can put them in an order. We recommend bringing about 2-3 weeks’ worth of clothes to wear while at college. The versatility of your outfits will determine if you have more or fewer clothes. 

Once you’ve laid out your clothes it’s time to start packing. The best way to start pack in a duffel bag is by planning layers and using the army roll packing technique. The army roll packing technique creates more room in the bag and works well in its round shape.  

  • To start the army roll with a shirt, lay it out flat on a surface 
  • Next fold the bottom of the shirt upward about two to three inches 
  • From the left side of the shirt, fold 1/3 of the shirt toward the middle, and do the same with the right side. The shirt should look like a straight line now.  
  • Start from the collar of the shirt and roll the shirt as tight as possible until it’s fully rolled up. Now you can pull the edge of the shirt over the rest of the shirt and form a burrito shape. If rolled correctly these will stay neatly packed and allow for extra room in the bag.  

When loading your duffel bag, you want to load the large, bulky items like shoes in the bottom. If you’re using a hybrid duffel bag, be careful to not put any odd, lumpy sized items because it’ll touch your back. The rolled clothes; shirts, pants, socks should go in the middle and can naturally fill in gaps in the bottom. The top section should have lighter items that can be accessed easily such as a jacket or hat. Packing cubes and compression bags are great tools when packing  

Even for smaller duffel bags, if you’re using it as a carry-on or personal item on a plane, this order can be used as well. However, those bags typically have built-in organizers.  

Can a Duffel Bag be a Carry On?

Yes, a duffel bag can be a carry on. The duffle bag needs to meet the size requirements of the airline you are flying, be sure to check those requirements before traveling to your school. However, not all duffel bags are ideal to be a carry-on item because not every duffel bag is created equal. For a carry-on, it’s best to use a hybrid bag for the easy backpack use or one with wheels that can still fit in the overhead bin when flying.  

Now what about if you’re using a duffel bag as a personal item?  

Can a Duffel Bag be a Personal Item?

Yes, a duffel bag can also be a personal item. Remember a personal item is the smaller item besides your carry-on item that you can bring directly onto the plane. These are smaller than carry-on items. If you’re taking a duffel bag that you use for the gym that should fit perfectly underneath the seat in front of you. If you use a duffel bag as a personal item on a plane to go back and forth from school and home for breaks, find one with organizational compartments for headphones, snacks, toiletry items, extra clothes, and smaller items you might need during the flight.  

Can You Ship a Duffel Bag?

Yes, duffel bags can be shipped. With any packages there are weight restrictions, check with the shipping provider to intend on using to see if your duffel bag fits the requirements.  

When packing a duffel bag for direct shipping, there are a few things to keep in mind. You should still use the same techniques we mentioned earlier. However, if you’re shipping a bag you shouldn’t put anything fragile in it. Duffel bags don’t have external protection like our double-walled Collegeboxes Signature Box and those items could be damaged during transit.  

Here are a few do’s and don’ts for shipping a duffel bag:  


  • Fill the duffel bag with “squishy” (clothes, shoes, etc.) items that are safe to ship 
  • Use organization cubes and bags to keep your clothes from mixing together 
  • Use a shipping label pouch and a zip tie to ensure your label stays attached  
  • Print an extra copy of the shipping label and place it inside your bag. Shipping labels are lost or torn frequently and having an extra label will provide the shipping vendor with all the information they need to ship your bag and it’ll be the first thing they see when they open the bag if necessary.  


  • Pack fragile items in the duffle bag that can be broken 
  • Put too much stuff that will make it unaffordable or impossible to ship 
  • Forget to use moisture absorbing silica gel packets and/or cedar balls to keep your clothes fresh 

How to Ship a Duffel Bag

The easiest way to ship your duffel bag to college is with Collegeboxes. Whether you’re using our Storage and Shipping service, Ship to School, or Direct Shipping service, all you have to do is sign up with us, pack your bags, and we’ll handle the rest. Plus, if you don’t want to store your duffle bag in your room, we can store it in a nearby U-Haul storage facility that you can access at any time when you use our Storage and Shipping service.  

We are the No. 1 Student Storage and Shipping Provider and serve over 350 schools. Thousands of students have trusted us with shipping their belongings and you can trust us with your duffle bag.