The DeLuca Tight-Wrap: The ultimate $0.25 space-saving, super cool minimalist DIY packing aid.

(Which incidentally you can also use to tie up your significant other.)

When I travel, I like to pack light. But I also like to have everything I need. This means I have to save space wherever possible, usually by squishing stuff as small as possible. Only problem is, a lot of stuff doesn’t stay “squished.” And nothing stays “together.”

At first I tried bungee cords. They helped sometimes, but they’re not adjustable; they either fit or they don’t. They’re either too tight, too loose, or they slip out of your hands and whack you in the face.

One day, when I was idly practicing my Fisherman’s knot with a piece of spare cord I had lying around, I tied half a Fisherman’s knot and just slid the knot up and down another piece of cord. Suddenly I had an adjustable loop that I could pull extremely tight…but easily loosened if I pulled it just the right way. Then it dawned on me: this was the perfect solution to my packing problem.

After some practice and refinement, I’m posting the idea up on Medium — which is probably a dumb place to put it, but who cares — so it can help other wandering people who like to squish things really small and have super-organized backpacks.

Enjoy — the DeLuca Tight-Wrap. (I had to call it something.)

Required tools:

This simple invention only requires two items, one of which is technically not necessary. The picture says 1–3', but it’s best to aim longer.

All you need is a lighter and a piece of cord. Technically you can do this without a lighter, but I like to burn the ends of my cord to keep them from fraying.

I use 550 Paracord, which you can buy online or at any military surplus or outdoor recreation store. It’s pretty darn cheap.

Burning the ends of the cord keeps them from fraying and looking ugly. If you love your cord just the way it is, you don’t need to do this step.

Step 1. First, burn the ends of your cord so they stay neat. If you’re using synthetic stuff like I do, burn the ends just enough that they melt and fuse together. Don’t breathe in the smoke; that’s a great way to get lung cancer.

Tie one Ashley (Oysterman’s) stopper knot at each end of the cord.

Step 2. You’re going to need something to hold on to at each end of the cord, so make a nice, tight Ashley stopper knot at each end. If you don’t know how to make an Ashley knot, there are many helpful guides on the web.

I call these knots the “pull knots” because they’re what you’re going to grab on to to tighten and loosen this packing device.

The Ashley knot is named after a guy named Ashley. Clifford Ashley, to be exact.

Step 3. After you make your two Ashley knots nice and tight, you’ll need to make another stopper knot on only one end of the cord. Nothing fancy; an overhand knot will do. Make it 1.5–2 inches away from the Ashley knot.

For future reference, we’ll call the end you just knotted “the end with the extra stopper.” We’ll call the other end “the other end.”

(Looking ahead, this stopper knot ensures that when your device is fully loosened, you still have something decent-sized to pull if you want to tighten it again.)

Step 4. This is perhaps the hardest step, but it’s really not that hard. Anyway, it’s the most important step, because this knot is what gives the device all of its functionality.

Look at the end with the extra stopper. You’re going to tie the other end around the end with the extra stopper using one half of a Double Fisherman’s Knot. You want to tie this new knot further down than the overhand knot. This knot should be able to slide up and down the cord, so don’t over-tighten it.

Pull the end with the extra stopper to tighten the loop. Of course, don’t pull it all the way. Doing that will undo your lovely half Double Fisherman’s knot.

You can use the DeLuca Tight-Wrap to make any piece of luggage really small and manageable.

For example, a simple t-shirt.

This is one of my favorite t-shirts. It’s a custom design drawn by yours truly.

All you need to do is roll up your t-shirt into a tight little sushi roll. Then, place the DeLuca Tight-Wrap around the roll, and pull the end with the extra stopper while holding the shirt firmly in your other hand.

Once you’ve tightened the Tight-Wrap, your little sushi shirt roll won’t come undone. If you really love to save space, you can fold the shirt one more time before rolling it up.

You end up with a cute little shirt roll, like something someone fires out of a cannon at a rock concert or a baseball game.

You can roll up pretty much anything and use the Tight-Wrap to keep it small and neat.

For small rolls, you can get by with about 3 feet of cord. But you can make Tight-Wraps of any length, and they still tighten and loosen the same way.

Thanks for reading! If you like this simple invention, give me a big ol’ ❤.