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I have used Trekmates Volume Reducers on a number of occasions. The first time was when I was going to South America and as we needed to take a wide variety of clothing (both hot and cold clothing, casual clothes, walking gear, beach wear etc) I though I would try these volume reducers out in order to limit the size of the case I had to take with me. I like to travel as light as possible, but this trip did seriously challenge me in terms of packing and so anything that could help was tried! In each pack of Trekmates Volume Reducers you get two volume reducing bags and this pack costs £9.99 from Amazon (www.amazon.co.uk) and so that equates to about £5.00 per bag. As these bags are essentially just plastic I don't think they are as cheap as they could be, but I was willing to pay that out as they are reusable and so potentially very useful.
The bags essentially just look like large zip lock freezer bags. They are clear and so you can see the clothes which are packed inside. The idea of the bags is to reduce the bulk of the clothes you are carrying by up to 80% by removing the air and then compressing the fabric tightly so that the volume is smaller. The bags do come with instructions which are both written and displayed in visual diagrams. There is a little bit of a knack to using them and I had to have several attempts before I got it right - and so the bags are not as easy to use as the instructions seem to lead you to believe. So, in order to use, you put your clothes in the bag - and one of the tricks is really not to over-fill the bag. I tended to put my bulkier items in the bags and then my less bulky items were just packed normally. Once the clothes are in the bag and it is laid flat, you then zip lock the bag completely, and then roll the bag with the clothes away from you so that you are removing all of the air from the bag. There is a one way valve on the bag which means that the air cannot get sucked back in once it has been squeezed out. To begin with it is actually quite hard to roll the bag as it was so bulky and it helps if you put all of your weight on it as you do it, but it does get easier once you roll again for the second time. I would generally roll the bag about three times to ensure all of the air possible was squeezed out and the bag was as compressed as possible. The bag is then ready to be packed.
As to whether it works? Well, there is no doubt that the volume is reduced and so you can squeeze more in your case. However, there is no way that the volume reduction is 80% and I would estimate that it is about 50% at best. It's also important to remember that although he volume is reduced that the weight doesn't really alter and so if you are traveling on an airline with a weight restriction allowance then it's important to bear this in mind. The other thing I found was that the package became hard and so it was less malleable and so more rigid in the case and harder to squish things into the corners of the case because of it. A bonus, other than the volume reduction, is the fact that it also protects your clothes from getting wet if you are traveling somewhere where that could be a problem (we were!!) and so this is added protection for the inside of your case / rucksack.
It is also a nice way to segregate and organise clothes, so I had a bad with warm clothes in and a bag with clothes for warmer climates in and so obviously this is useful if you are traveling to a region with a diverse climate, like South America. Another thing though that I found was that my clothes got very creased because they were compressed to tightly and so I have learnt to confine the stuff I put in the Trekmates Volume Reducers to clothes which are not prone to excessive creasing, so things like fleeces, jeans etc are ideal candidates.
As I said, the bags can be reused and they are fairly sturdy and so it takes a while for the zip locks to start getting loose. Once the zip locks do become loose then they are useless as volume reducers although they can still obviously be used as organisers and so they are still handy.
Overall, I think these Trekmates Volume Reducers have a place and they are worth considering.
Trekmates Volume Reducers allow you to pack up your bulky items and reduce its volume by up to 80%. The one way valve lets the air out as you roll it creating an air and watertight vacuum.