How to pack your messenger bag for carry on

Want to use your messenger bag for carry on? Here are some tips:

Screw the extra bag fees, just carry on your luggage. Easier said then done right? Not really, if you are smart enough, you can eliminate any checked bags and have everything you need to use the best messenger bag for travel.


First thing you could do is just get the biggest bag possible that will count as carry on. This is where the Patagonia MLC comes in. The MLC stands for “Maximum Legal Carry on”. If the name doesn’t give you a hint, this bag is the biggest you can get that the airlines will allow you to carry on. So there’s your first option. If you do a lot of traveling, this is probably your best bet of messenger bags to have at your disposal. The best part is this is still a messenger bag. You won’t have to hear the click-clack of the wheels as you drag it across the airport floor, and you won’t look like a nerdy business traveler anymore. When the plane lands you can just grab your bag and head on out to the nearest hipster bar serving Pabst, or your hotel, whatever your preference is.

Smaller bags

Let’s say you just want to use your everyday messenger bag. How are you going to get everything to fit? First off, you need to really think about what is a necessity and what can stay home. The first tip to flying light is to just leave everything out, you can fly with an empty bag easily. But that’s not going to work is it? So first things first, make a list of all the necessities. This can vary depending on the purpose of your trip, the length of your stay and gender, but remember, only the necessities. Jeans are good because while they take up some space, one pair should serve your needs as they can take a lot more abuse without showing wear. With other items, remember that most hotels have a dry cleaning service and will usually give you an iron if you need it.

Roll it

Roll your larger items and put them at the bottom of the bag. Rolling it takes up less space and makes it easier to fill in all of the voids. The other advantage of rolling is that it reduces the amount of wrinkles in the clothes. Your pants, dresses or shirts should serve as the base of the bag. Anything that can be rolled should be used to fill in any remaining nooks and crannies.

Fold it

Smaller items should be folded and placed on top of the rolled base. These include items such as underwear and socks which can also be great void fillers. These items don’t lend themselves to rolling and thus can just be folded neatly, and besides who cares how wrinkled your underwear is?

Miscellaneous items

Everything else should go on the top or in one of the side pockets if you have them. These should be easy access items that you might need during a flight. Tablets, magazines, or books should all be readily available without having to unpack your bag to get them, otherwise the whole plane could see your underwear. Also on top should be your laptop, as you will likely need to take it out during security, unless you have a TSA compliant bag. Any toiletries and liquids keep under three ounces and put in a separate plastic bag for going through security as well.

Still overflowing

If you’ve gotten it down to the bare necessities and it still doesn’t fit, you could try taking one of your large items or a small towel and place it over all of the items and push it down, tucking in the loose items. This can keep everything from getting in the way of closing the bag. You may need to loosen the straps to the edge of it barely clasping, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

So with all of these tips, you are ready to be a hip, savvy traveler with your messenger bag in tow and you can smile as you walk past the baggage claim and all the business people click-clacking there way down the airport. What tips do you have to pack your messenger bag while traveling? Let me know below in the comments.