View Full Version : How Effective are Odor Proof Bags? Any AT Experiences?

09-10-2013, 22:41
These odor proof bags (http://litetrail.com/shop/litetrail-nylobarrier-odor-proof-bag) came up in another thread and I was hoping that maybe some AT hikers had put them to the test. Do they hold up over time? Do mice get into them? I'd love to make them a key part of my food storage system, and dare I say maybe even leave the bear hanging gear at home, but not if they're going to fail when it matters.

09-10-2013, 22:52
No plastic bag is odor-PROOF.

Some plastics are less permeable than others.

Its almost impossible not to have smells on the outside of the bag as well.

Consider this: A bears nose, is 5x greater than a bloodhounds. A bloodhound can smell where you stepped 12 hours before.

Bears can use their nose to find mates, which can be dozens of miles away.

turtle fast
09-11-2013, 02:14
I agree with MuddyWaters, that the bags are ultimately useless. I had a wildlife biologist tell me that when a dog smells a hamburger, he just does not smell the burger, but the ketchup, pickle, mustard, the bun....and then further the individual ingredients that make up the bun, mustard, ketchup. Now bring that keen sense of smell to a bear and now you see why it can smell food from 2 miles away if the breeze is right.

Northern Lights
09-11-2013, 07:46
I found that after one or two uses the bags sealing system broke. So I don't use them anymore.

09-11-2013, 07:54
Use it in conjunction with a hang. In the other thread where I mentioned it, I'm pretty sure I said it should be used with a hang or canister. No it's not 100%. Neither is sleeping with your food, hanging your food or using a bear canister. What it'll do is minimize the smell. Logically, that would reduce the chance of a bear smelling it or give the bears better targets in the area, and I'd hardly call that useless.

As cheap as they are, I'd replace them occasionally.

09-11-2013, 07:57
I will try to post pictures of a hole chewed through three layers of plastic suspended from a tree hang: (1) nylon stuff sack, (2) OpSak, and (3) ziplock bag.

Little bugger chewed through all three layers to get to some crackers in that ziplock bag...

09-11-2013, 11:49
So don't leave the bear hang gear at home huh.

That's amazing JustADude, I'd like to see that pic :) I figured the odor proof bags were odor proofed as advertised, but I guess nothing's %100.

09-11-2013, 12:46
Nothing is odor proof. If they truly worked, all the drug smugglers would buy up all the bags & backpackers wouldn't be able to find any.


Odd Man Out
09-11-2013, 13:47
I agree that nothing is odor-PROOF, but I'm not sure about being worthless. Perhaps it is like the old joke of not outrunning the bear, but outrunning your friend. If you bag smells less than you neighbor's, then....

09-13-2013, 18:48
I found that opsaks require that you do not fold or bend the top zipper part at all, lest the zipper un-zip. Now maybe other people are better, neater packers than I am (in fact, I'd bet on it), but I found it impossible to keep that bag zipped when I packed it.

And I was just testing things out....I've only done day hikes on the AT, and used the bags on a car trip, not even the trail.

09-13-2013, 18:51
Oh, and I see you're proposed bags are different from the bags I used....yours use twist-ties. Probably a better plan (with the fold over). But still, I'm thinking of forgoing them.

09-13-2013, 18:57
Nothing is odor proof. If they truly worked, all the drug smugglers would buy up all the bags & backpackers wouldn't be able to find any.


glad you mentioned the BPL article on the topic.

09-14-2013, 00:41
Not useless.
They can make your food bag water resistant
They do cut down on what YOU can smell for sure. So that your pack doesnt smell like your garbage and food to YOU.

I am not a bear, so I dont know how that affects them.

It obviously may reduce odor concentration, which reduces detectability.
Just not necessarilly something you should depend on as if it eliminated it.

09-14-2013, 09:32
Not on the AT, but on the JMT: As most know, canisters are required on the JMT. But we carried some OP sacks as well for "overflow" (stuff that didn't fit in the canister early in the hike, not wanting to carry two canisters!). OK, so worked fine when used the 1st couple days, then everything was in the canister. Got lazy one night and didn't put one OP sack full of G-ade powder in canister. 2am, big crash outside, bear was ripping pack to shreds, strolled away with OP sack in its mouth.

So much for "odor proof" OP sacks! I'll never fully rely on them, though I betcha they afford some protection against smaller critters, at least.

(happy ending, was able to hold pack together with straps and finish hike, and Osprey has an iron-clad, no-fault guarantee and replaced pack for free).

09-14-2013, 11:25
Saw a story about bears moving cans of sauerkraut away and taking other foods. The can was washed with pressurized steam during the canning process which should remove almost all traces of odor. A heavy duty Zip-Lock isn't going to fool them.

09-14-2013, 11:38
Looking back at the posts it seems like most people are referring to the Loksak bags and not these ones that I've been using. I have a few Loksak bags too and they're not nearly as good as these other ones from Lite Trail, so I'd encourage people to give them a try at least.The ones I'm using are bigger, big enough to use as an inner liner for my food stuff sack, and they seal with a zip tie, instead of the ziplock system that Loksak uses.