In this Packing 101 series of blog posts, we’re going to be talking about packing. ‘Packing’ is the name given to when somebody who doesn’t have a penis places padding or an object in their underwear to give the impression that they have a penis or bulge. While—for a long time—there were few commercial products designed for packing, there are now plenty of products specifically designed for packing (such as the Archer and Pierre from New York Toy Collective).
Products used for packing are called packers, with some people making a distinction between ‘soft packers’, which resemble flaccid penises, and ‘hard packing’, which generally involves a more traditional strap-on. The term ‘packer’ is sometimes also used for DIY solutions, such as rolled up socks.
Some people consider their packers to be sex toys, while others think of them as prosthetics or even as parts of their own body.
In this post, we’ll cover why people pack, the kinds of packers that are available, choosing a packer, and caring for your packer. In part 2, we’ll also discuss packing underwear, how to pack, some common issues you may need to troubleshoot, and having sex with packers.
Why Do People Pack?
Lots of different kinds of people pack for a variety of reasons. The primary market for packers is transmasculine people—transgender people who were assigned female at birth, and are transitioning in a more masculine direction. However, people of all genders can pack, including both cis and trans women, nonbinary people of all genders, and cis men.
For some people, wearing a packer may be sexually exciting, either on its own or as part of experimenting with gender during sex. Experimenting with gender might also not be sexual for some people—they may find it helps to experiment with presentation, even if they don’t necessarily identify as transmasculine. Other people may feel wearing a packer helps them ‘fill out’ clothes intended for cis men more, or that the change it causes to the way they walk gives them extra confidence. For cis men who have lost their penises in accidents, wearing a packer can help them feel more at home in their bodies, or help them escape scrutiny.
Transmasculine people also pack for a variety of reasons. As well as the reasons I’ve already mentioned, it may ease somebody’s genital dysphoria to feel a ‘weight’ or see a bulge in their underwear. It may also—as with cis men who’ve lost their penises—help transmasculine people to avoid scrutiny in environments like changing rooms, keeping them safe from harassment or unwanted questioning.
What Kinds of Packers are There?
There are a few types of packers available, from soft packers to STP packers, pack-and-plays, and 3-in-1/4-in-1 prosthetics.
The ‘STP’ in STP packer is short for ‘stand to pee’. While STP devices aren’t always usable as packers, some are designed to be more phallic shaped so they can be tucked away in underwear and create a bulge. There are more simple STP device designs out there, but having one that can also be used for packing makes the use of urinals in male bathrooms easier and more discreet.
Pack-and-play toys, such as the NYTC Shilo are usable for both everyday packing and more conventional strap-on sex. They generally either have a bendable core that means they can be worn as hard strap-ons or flaccid-ish packers, or have an insertable ‘rod’ that can turn a packer from soft to hard.
Prosthetics tend to be on the higher end in terms of both realism and cost. A ‘3- in-1’ prosthetic means that it can be used for packing, play, and as an STP device. A ’4-in-1’ is generally similar, but has a textured surface that the wearer can grind onto, giving them physical stimulation during sex.
Generally packers are made of one of three materials— silicone, TPE, or TPR. TPE and TPR are broadly similar, with the main differences being TPE is less prone to discolouration and longer lasting, and safe for people with latex allergies. However, both TPE and TPR are porous materials, meaning their surfaces have large enough pores for bacteria, fungus, and other germs to embed themselves in the surface. Because of this, they can’t be sterilised in the same way that silicone can. TPE and TPR packers do tend to be cheaper than silicone, as well as more light
and squishy, meaning some people find them more realistic feeling. However, they tend to get sticky and can sometimes ‘sweat’ the oil used in their manufacturing process, causing breakouts for some people if worn against the skin.
Silicone doesn’t have large enough pores to act in the same way, so is a lot safer for pack-and-play toys and soft packers intended to be used for sex. However, it’s a bit firmer, which can make silicone packers feel less realistic. Additionally, while cheap silicone packers do exist, they’re generally more expensive than TPE or TPR packers.
How To Choose A Packer
Different packers are better suited to different people’s desires and needs. Because there’s such a wide variety of ways in which and reasons why people want to use packers (let alone different personal preferences when it comes to shape and size), it can be helpful to spend some time thinking before you decide to buy your first packer.
Firstly, what kind of function do you want your packer to have? Do you just want a soft packer to use for non-sexual daily wear? Do you want a packer you can also use for sex? One you can use to stand-to-pee?
Outside of these basic questions, how are you planning on using your packer? Do you want a packer you can wear while swimming? If so, TPE may not be a good match for you, just as it might not be if you’re planning on wearing your packer in a way that means you have a lot of skin-to-skin contact with it.
Something to have in mind when choosing a packer is size. The average flaccid penis is quite small—around 3.5 inches in length—so if your goal is to fit in, you may want something on the smaller side.
However, while body size and penis size don’t have any strong correlation in cis men, if you’re larger framed, you may feel a larger packer feels more ‘proportional’. Packers also tend to create less noticeable bulges on plus-size than the same packer would on a straight-size person, which may or may not be something you want. If you’re packing for primarily sexual reasons, a larger packer may feel sexier to you! And people who are planning on having phalloplasty (a genital surgery for transmasculine people that constructs a penis) later on are generally advised to
pack big, as the average post-phalloplasty penis is between 5 and 8 inches in length even when flaccid.
After this, there’s other questions of personal taste. Some people prefer their packers to be as realistic as possible, which can include malleable testicles and
painted veins. Others prefer their packers to be generally non-representational, including fantasy shapes like tentacles. Others prefer something in the middle. There’s no wrong answer to the question of what kind of packer you’d like to wear, regardless of your gender or any other aspect of your identity.
How To Clean A Packer
Keeping a packer clean is just as important as keeping any sex toy clean, especially if you wear your packer every or most days. The best way to clean a packer depends partly on what material it’s made of.
As we covered in the ‘Packer Materials’ section, TPE and TPR packers can’t be sanitised in the same way that silicone packers can be. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be cleaned. They should be washed with warm water and a gentle soap, and then left to dry fully to avoid it developing bacteria or mould. Washed TPE packers can become sticker, and cornstarch can be used to reduce this stickiness.
Silicone packers can also be cleaned with warm water and soap. However, if you want to properly sanitise your packer, it can also be boiled. Submerge your packer in boiling water for three minutes, and then remove it with tongs. If your dishwasher has a sanitise setting, you can also place packers in them without soap.
Packing 101 was written by the wonderful Kelvin Sparks. Kelvin is a trans man who blogs at kelvinsparks.com.