Remember the good old days when the nice stewardess or steward would hang your garment bag in the closet in the front of the plane? Well, those days are long gone, along with any spare space on a plane, such as a closet. That can make traveling for business -- especially if your business requires professional wear -- or going to a wedding or other formal event a major pain.
The biggest issue with taking a traditional garment bag is that, unless you're lucky enough to be seated in the first class cabin, it has to be shoved into an overhead bin, which negates the wrinkle-free factor. That's why our top choice in this category is the SkyRoll Garment Bag (Est. $150). This cleverly designed bag features a hollow cylinder with a wrap-around garment bag. You lay your suit or dress in the garment bag and zip it closed. The hollow cylinder holds a pair of shoes, the included toiletry kit (or you can use your own) and other accessories or items of clothing. There are also mesh pockets on the outside of the garment bag. Once you're done packing, you roll the garment bag around the cylinder and you have a neat, cylindrical package that measures about 24-inches long. While that normally would preclude you from using it as a carry on, because it's so narrow it can be stored diagonally. We saw no reports from any reviewer that they were not able to take their SkyRoll on a plane.
The SkyRoll garment bag has been tested by a number of travel writers and experienced travelers, and most say it works as advertised and their clothing arrived at its destination with nary a wrinkle or crease. A few users disagree, and say not only were their clothes wrinkled, but the rolling caused the wrinkles or creases to be so set in they were difficult to remove with a hotel iron. However, that may have been a function of the packing process, since the SkyRoll gets such praise from very experienced travelers. This garment bag is reported as easy and comfortable to tote around, thanks to its carry handle and padded shoulder strap. One caveat: it has a very small capacity, so it's best for short trips of one or two days.
Most airlines will allow you to bring a traditional garment bag as your carry-on; however, they also have size restrictions, which vary by airline. In general, the garment bag need to be able to be stowed in the overhead bins; as we noted above, there won't be anywhere to hang them.
For a more traditional garment bag that you can fold to store in the overhead bin, then hang up when you reach your destination, Wally Bags produces an extensive line of soft-sided fold over garment bags that get raves for effectively keeping dress clothes and specialty items like wedding gowns neat and wrinkle-free. The Wally Bags 40-inch Garment Bag (Est. $35) gets raves from users for its ability to fit into the overhead bin and for keeping their clothes wrinkle free when they get to their destination. It's a basic, but well-made bag, they say, and it has a lock to secure your hangers at the top of the bag to keep your clothing from slipping through. It comes in five colors; larger sizes are also available for longer clothing like wedding dresses.
While small carry-on bags, like those we discuss in our separate section on the best carry-on bags, don't do a great job of keeping professional clothing looking pressed, our top picks in spinner and roller luggage, the Travelpro Magna 21-Inch Expandable Spinner Suiter (Est. $220) and the Travelpro Magna 22 Inch Expandable Rollaboard Suiter (Est. $235), have dedicated tri-fold suiters that can help keep clothes from creasing and wrinkling and business travelers say they work well.
If all else fails, or you prefer dealing with wrinkles when you get to where you're going, a travel garment steamer might be a good accessory to take along. Our Best Reviewed garment steamer, the Conair Travel Smart (Est. $20), weighs just a pound and barely makes a dent in your available packing space. You can read more about it in our separate report on garment steamers.