How to Pack Big Hats in a Small Suitcase

My last holiday called for serious sun protection so I brought 1 small, 2 large and one very large hat with me. Since I travel with carry-on luggage only, several of you asked how I got my enormous hats to Mexico. Here’s how I packed to get them home Sunday.

I use a 19″ Hartmann rolling bag that’s at least 25 years old. I love it because it but qualifies as carry-on size for every airline I’ve ever encountered.

I don’t recommend this for true straw hats. I travel with “packable” hats which are nylon, paper or other flexible fibers. I own many real straw hats but they only travel on my head, which means one per trip:)

I line the bottom of my suitcase with a thin layer of soft clothes.

how to pack a hatNext, I stack my hats inside each other with brims of decreasing depth on the inside.

packing big hat in small suitcaseI place them, crown side down on the bottom of my suitcase. The widest brims do stick out past the edges of the suitcase. I lift the largest brim at one side and begin layering clothes. I snug them up to the crown and all the way to the edge of the suitcase.

packing a large hat into a small suitcase

Then I lift the other side and do the same. I continue in this way until my clothes are level with the brim on all sides.

how to pack large hats into a small suitcase

When the brims are fully supported with clothes I stuff the crown with my softest clothes. You need to pack the crown fully to prevent it from collapsing.


pack large hats in small suitcase

As I go, I fill suitcase corners with eyeglass cases etc. Nothing hard is packed next to the crown of the hats. That all goes near the outside of the bag.

Finally, I top the brims with more soft clothes.

supporing the brim of a large hat in a small suitcase

I layer the clothes to the edge of the suitcase and fold the brims back over this layer of clothes. I top it off with one final layer of clothes and zip it closed.

My hats come out of the suitcase crease and wrinkle-free. Remember, this works best with hats made from flexible materials that only appear to be woven straw. Increasingly, my hats are all switching over to packable because they are also infused with the SPF factor.

Thanks for reading and have a great day.


  1. I agree about packable hats. I just found a company that I was unaware of you probably are not called Wallaroo. They are packable, great looking, and reasonable!

    1. I have seen them and they’re great!

  2. I’ve always wondered how to do this! Now I know!!

  3. This is genius! You are my fashion role model.

    1. So funny. Thanks Cindy

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