Skip to Content

How to pack boots in a suitcase

How to pack boots in a suitcase

Are you wondering how to pack boots in a suitcase? Boots are a staple part of any Fall and Winter Capsule wardrobe. But due to their bulk they can be difficult pack. In this guide we will give you all our top tips for packing winter boots to maximise space in your suitcase while not damaging your shoes.

Important Note: This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click through and make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you!

Whenever I am packing boots the first thing I think about is what are the best boots for travel?

Choose the Best Boots for Travel

Boots are rarely on my packing lists for summer, as they tend to be too hot (unless you require hiking boots for specific activities).

However they are always on my Winter and Fall Travel Capsule wardrobe packing lists and sometimes on my spring too. But what are the best type of boots for traveling with?

Firstly, always check the weather at your destination both at time of booking and usually 7 days prior to travel in case of any unseasonable heatwaves or cold snaps which may affect the type of boots you need.

Now hiking boots will be necessary if you are doing hiking and other outdoor activities or heading to more countryside or natural settings i.e. Nigara Falls, Yellowstone, safaris etc. However if you don’t need hiking boots and are looking for the best boots for travel I would say there are 3 types to consider:

  • Ankle boots
  • Knee High Boots and
  • Snow Boots.

Ankle Boots

Ankle boots are always my number one boot for travel. That is because they are the most compact boot to pack taking in way less of your suitcase space.

They are also the most versatile style wise as you can wear ankle boots with skirts, dresses, leggings, jeans and trousers of any style comfortable. Longer length boots can be trickier to style as they need skinnier legged trousers to go over comfortably.

We also recommend a boot that has a thicker sole that has some good grip for different climates, as well as either having no heel or a thick low heel. Thin heels are on my what not to wear in Europe list as they don’t cope well with cobble stoned streets and difficult terrains.

I always look to pack leather ankle boots over suede boots as these cope better with rain and wet weather.

Click here to shop ankle boots for travel.

Knee-high boots 

Although I love wearing knee high boots at home I rarely pack these for travel unless I can wear them onto the plane. That is because they take up much more space in your case.

Just be sure if you do pack knee high boots that you have left plenty of room in your case or wear them as part of your airplane outfit.

Also it is worth checking that your boots work as part of a larger capsule wardrobe (check out our sudoku packing method and 54321 packing method for info on how to pack a capsule wardrobe). Knee high boots don’t fit well with all trouser styles so be sure to check out yours before you travel.

Cowboy boots can be a good compromise between an ankle boot and a knee high boot as they are the halfway house space wise.

Snow Boots

Snow boots are not essential on all winter packing lists. However if you are going to somewhere very snowy or icy these may be the best choice of boots.

For instance we always pack snow boots for Hokkaido in winter, Jackson Hole or Scandinavia in Winter i..e Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki for instance.

Click here to shop snow boots for travel.

How to Pack Boots in a Suitcase Tips

Boots and winter clothes on a suitcase
How to pack boots in a suitcase

So now you know how to pick the perfect boot for travel we will now turn our attention to how to pack boots in a suitcase in the most effective ways.

Do you need to pack your boots?

Woman at airport wearing boots with a suitcase
How to pack boots in a suitcase

But before you think about how to pack boots, it is worth thinking about if you need to pack your boots.

Boots are large and can be the bulkiest items in your suitcase. So if you can wear them onto the plane then this is a good idea and a great space saver.

Also comfortable walking boots can be one of the most important items on your packing list, so if you are checking a case you don’t want to risk a loss and losing your most important pair of shoes.

The only downside to wearing boots onto the airplane is:

  • they are bulky and can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time.
  • They can be time consuming to take on and off going through airport security and
  • may not be the most comfortable if your feet swell depending on the type of fastening they have.

Now you know what to think about in terms of wearing vs packing boots, we will turn our attention to how pack your boots for travel.

Clean Your Boots

No matter the type of boots I am packing, I always start by polishing where necessary and cleaning the sole of my shoes. That is because you don’t want to risk getting any of your clean clothes dirty from shoes in your case.

Click here to shop boot cleaning kits.

I also use shoe disinfectant to ensure there are no bad smells in the case.

Pack your boots at the bottom of your suitcase

Pair of brown ankle boots on the bottom of a suitcase
How to pack boots in a suitcase

Once your boots are cleaned, it is time to pack them. We always recommend packing them at the bottom of your suitcase or duffel bag.

The reason for this is that it is best to pack your bulkiest shoes at the bottom of the case to save space but also help stabilise the weight and spread the load.

When packing the boots I recommend packing them facing the opposite direction (tops to bottoms and heels to toe) to create a rectangular shape which again will help maximise the case.

Usually I will wrap each boot separately, just in case there is any dirt left on the sole even after cleaning. I usually use packing cubes to pack my clothes and shoes for travel however if you don’t have these then you could always use a plastic bag.

And if you don’t have this to hand and are staying in a hotel you could also use a shower cap to cover the sole.

Pack Smaller Items into your Boots

But before you put your boots in a bag and packing I recommend packing smaller items in the boots. By using the boots and stuffing socks, underwear etc.

Again this is a great way to maximise space in the case, but also help to keep your boots in shape.

You can also stuff small items around the heels again to make the best ways to make use of case space.

Use Boot Trees / Shoe Trees

However if you do not want to pack smaller items into your boots you could just use a boot tree / shoe tree to help maintain your boots shape.

If you do choose to use a boot tree, be sure to pick a lighter plastic one as opposed to heavier weight cedar boot shaper as you don’t want to take up valuable luggage weight limit with boot trees.

Click here to shop lightweight shoe trees.

Note: if you are packing longer length boots never be tempted to fold the boot leg. Folding boots will crease the leather and can cause long lasting damage and can ruin the shape of cowboy boots or knee high boots permanently.

Use Boots to Hide Valuables

As we have said, boots can be stuffed with other items to maximise space. Other than underwear and socks, another great thing to pack in boots is your valuables.

We never recommend packing valuables in the checked luggage – we also recommend keeping anything of value with you in hand luggage. However if you have no choice but to pack valuables it is best to hide them.

A great place to hide valuables is in your boots. For more information on how to pack jewelry for travel check out this post.

Try and separate boots away from expensive objects

Although we have mentioned above the best place to pack boots in a suitcase, it is worth noting about how to arrange other items in your case.

While you can pack items such as underwear in your boots, we recommend ensuring expensive items are not packed next to the boots. For instance I would always ensure that my expensive camera is not next to the boots in case of movement and damage.

And there you have it our best ways of packing boots in a suitcase. But what packing boots in other types of luggage?

Other ways of packing boots

How to pack boots in a backpack

If you are traveling carry-on luggage only or hand luggage only you may be looking at packing boots in a backpack.

Now most people who pack boots in a backpack decide to put them on the bottom. However we recommend packing them in the middle of the backpack (but ensuring expensive items are well protected).

The reason for this is that is will out less stress on your back and provides more even weight distribution.

Again you can use the boots to stuff items into your boots. You don’t want to leave empty space like this especially when tight on space as you will be when traveling with a backpack only.

Also I would always wrap the boots again to prevent dirt being transferred to clothes.

How to pack hiking boots in a backpack

Hiking boots and backpack next to camping items
How to pack hiking boots in a backpack

Hiking boots being packed in a backpack can be packed in the same way as above.

However some people like to pack hiking boots in a backpack by tying them onto the outside.

You can tie these on one shoulder strap, however we recommend packing one boot on each side as this more evenly distributes the weight and is better for your back.

The only downside of this method is that your boots can get wet or damaged and dirt can transfer to your clothes or bag when being stored outside of the bag.

For more information on how to pack hiking boots in a backpack check out this post.

How to pack boots in a duffel bag

Packing boots in a duffel bag is similar to packing boots in a suitcase. We recommend packing them in opposite directions from top to bottom and toe to heel to create a rectangle shape and stuffing them as above.

Again, I would pack them on the base of the duffel bag to keep the heaviest items on the bottom.

FAQS for packing boots

Should I use shoe boxes to pack boots?

Personally I don’t recommend using a shoe box to pack boots. That is because this will take up more surface area and space in your case.

Instead we recommend packing boots in bags or packing cubes.

And there you have it our ultimate guide to packing boots in a suitcase. But if you want to pack other shoes too be sure to check out our related shoe and Winter packing guides: