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  1. #1
    Registered User Vegan Packer's Avatar
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    Default Base Camp Odor Barrier Bags vs OPSak

    I took along a few OPSaks on last season's backpacking trips. Overall, I was not very excited about their durability. Closing was always a finicky procedure. I didn't really have problems with tearing of their bigger bags, such as my food sack, but their little bags easily tore above the zipper lock, making using them after a chore. The big sack (I think it's 20x25) was about 1.3 ounces.

    After some searching, I came across Basecamp Odor Barrier Bags. Apparently, they used to be known as NyloBarrier Bags, made by Lite Trail. Lite Trail still maintains a Facebook presence, and I see promotions there, but its web page seems to no longer exist. I now see these for sale on Amazon and eBay.

    Reviews of the bags are positive. They are much lighter than an equivalent OPSak, something like .4 ounces for a size similar to the one I mention above. They use the equivalent of a twist-tie to close (in addition with a suggested twist procedure of the bag closure), and users seem satisfied with using this closure method. They seem to be competitively priced, or even less expensive than the OPSaks.

    Has anyone had any experience in using these bags? Has anyone used these and the OPSak, and can give a recommendation of one versus the other?

  2. #2
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    I got a sample pack of nylobags before lite trail went away. I have the large size that I use as a pack liner and a medium size I use as a liner in my food bag. Used them on a 4 day hike this summer and a weekend in the fall. Have been durable but that is light use. I think they have done a good job on odors. I know last year I could definitely smell food odors from my food bag and I worry about them permeating my food and sleeping bag. There are now two layers beywwen my food and other gear by using both bags. There is no clue but the bags are big enough so I just twist them shut and fold the neck over.

  3. #3

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    i bought a pack of them on amazon. I was puzzled by the yellow plastic thingy that comes with them to close them (in pic on top of bag). Clunky thing and I just can't see relying on it. I never used them. The large one does weigh less than a trash compactor bag, though.

    IMG_0513.jpg

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    I don't see how it can be "odor proof" using a twist tie ...

    I've found that OpSaks seem to last about three weeks before the closure fails. That seems like reasonable durability to me for the cost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coffee View Post
    I don't see how it can be "odor proof" using a twist tie ...
    I never assume any container is odor "proof" but rather odor barriers.

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    ummm. Never heard of Reynolds turkey bags for food storage? Same thing. get them at grocery store.

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    I would think these bags much have activated charcoal or something to absorb the odors, not just a plastic barrier, anyone know?

    Quote Originally Posted by Coffee View Post
    I don't see how it can be "odor proof" using a twist tie ...
    It appears that the sealing clip is a bit more complicated then a twist tie, it looks like you place the neck through the device that closes, then again place the neck around a second time, and close it again.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starchild View Post
    I would think these bags much have activated charcoal or something to absorb the odors, not just a plastic barrier, anyone know?...
    I'm pretty sure they are just plastic bags. Just a type of plastic that is less permeable to odors. Mine are colorless and translucent plastic. BTW, while doing an on-line search for odor barrier bags recently, I found another potential source. It seems that the growing legalized marijuana industry has created a large demand for odor barrier packaging. These could be re-purposed for backpacking food and gear.

  9. #9
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    Like others, I tend to think of minimizing odors, not completely eliminating them. I don't buy into any "odor-proof" claim. I've seen dogs hit on suitcases at airports and cruise ship terminals on both food stuff and other contraband that was wrapped in multiple layers of sealed bags, watertight containers, and even disguised with other scents. And bears supposedly have a sense of smell 7 times better than a scent hound's. I would think odor resistant is the very best that can be claimed. And even then, you get your food odors all over everything when you eat and cook anyway. The scent of your food is on your hands, travels to the clothes you are wearing while you cook and eat, gets transferred from there to your gear, etc. I don't doubt that such bags and canisters and such help minimize these odors. But odor-proof? No way possible.
    I was self employed once, but it proved too stressful. My boss was a jerk and my employee was a slacker - I didn't know whether to quit or fire myself.

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    I was always a skeptic of opsak as well until reading about Andrew Skurka's use of the product. That led me to give it a try. I've kept my food in my tent with me on several occasions as never had any kind of animal issues. I usually hang my food if possible and I use a canister where required but it sure is nice to have just a small advantage when I have to keep my food with me.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    Like others, I tend to think of minimizing odors, not completely eliminating them. I don't buy into any "odor-proof" claim. I've seen dogs hit on suitcases at airports and cruise ship terminals on both food stuff and other contraband that was wrapped in multiple layers of sealed bags, watertight containers, and even disguised with other scents. And bears supposedly have a sense of smell 7 times better than a scent hound's. I would think odor resistant is the very best that can be claimed. And even then, you get your food odors all over everything when you eat and cook anyway. The scent of your food is on your hands, travels to the clothes you are wearing while you cook and eat, gets transferred from there to your gear, etc. I don't doubt that such bags and canisters and such help minimize these odors. But odor-proof? No way possible.
    Exactly. The best bear deterrent is the smell of a human but the food smells will always be there too. The objective is to make sure your smell overwhelms the smell of your food. As for rodents, they don't seem to be afraid of humans so the best you can hope for is to slow them down.

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    Hmmm, I bought a packaged set of two DOUBLE SEAL LOKSAK OpSak in the 12.25"x 20.75" size in 2006. I've used the two of them nearly every time I'm backpacking extensively in Grizzly Bear territory and more times than I can recall in Black Bear, coyote, raccoon, ringtail cat, and rodent areas to protect my food from leaking odors. I'm STILL using them.

    http://www.antigravitygear.com/shop/...age-bags-12-5/

    I always wash them extremely well multiple times first with unscented detergents and then in repeated clean water washings periodically during long treks and after wards. The seals still work just as new; they are still WP as well.

    OpSaks, in themselves when NEW AND used with care and consideration of our human behavior NOT possibly transferring food or other odors that wildlife might be attracted to on the OUTSIDES of the OpSaks, ARE 100% odor proof. Let's not confuse CONSUMER BEHAVIOR USE with the product being 100% odor proof.

    Actually, bears are NOT always deterred by the smell of humans. Exactly the opposite often occurs! Bears are inquisitive by nature. They can be patterned to associate human odors with the possibility of food...easy to obtain food. All it takes is for a ignorantly littered candy wrapper with perhaps a bit of food scraps in it and food odors WITH HUMAN ODORS ALSO on the wrapper and the association of human smells and food is enforced when a bear sniffs out the wrapper. Then, what happens? The bear is blamed for that which it naturally does... forages for food... just like humans do. Human activity which led to the "problem bear" is ignored or unaccounted for! This scenario is OFTEN REPEATED as humans enter the woods oblivious of their behavior affecting the larger world around them.

    I would imagine if you use the other Odor Proof bags some have described it would be extremely important to properly seal the opening as Starchild and Coffee recommended as well as continuing to be mindful of transferring odors to the outside of these bags.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    Like others, I tend to think of minimizing odors, not completely eliminating them. I don't buy into any "odor-proof" claim. I've seen dogs hit on suitcases at airports and cruise ship terminals on both food stuff and other contraband that was wrapped in multiple layers of sealed bags, watertight containers, and even disguised with other scents. And bears supposedly have a sense of smell 7 times better than a scent hound's. I would think odor resistant is the very best that can be claimed. And even then, you get your food odors all over everything when you eat and cook anyway. The scent of your food is on your hands, travels to the clothes you are wearing while you cook and eat, gets transferred from there to your gear, etc. I don't doubt that such bags and canisters and such help minimize these odors. But odor-proof? No way possible.
    Friend is a LEO w/ a K9 drug sniffing unit. It's the tiniest amount of contraband odors on the outside of the improperly sealed drug packaging or distributed in transportation that the K9's hit on. It goes even further than that though. K9 units also hit on associated odors other than the contraband itself. Plus....

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    Dogwood, I'm amazed by the longevity of your opsaks ... after 3-4 weeks of daily use, what happens is that the plastic of the zip lock separates from the bag itself and I no longer can seal the bag at all. One bag lasted almost for the entire Colorado Trail (it failed the last few nights). The bag I started with at Campo this year failed a few nights before Kennedy Meadows. But that was OK as I switched to a canister at that point and didn't need an opsak again for the duration of what became a section rather than a thru hike. The bag I'm currently using has just a few days of use so far. I'm not sure what I might be doing to shorten the lifespan so dramatically.

  15. #15
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    Should have bought when I bought. Mine from 2006 were probably manufactured in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Mexico, Japan, England, etc and NOT Made in that other Chintzy manufacturing country.

    I would return them directly to OpSak for a replacement Coffee.

  16. #16
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    BTW Coffee I've seen what you're describing on a couple of occasions. Don't know why that is happening though.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    Like others, I tend to think of minimizing odors, not completely eliminating them. I don't buy into any "odor-proof" claim. I've seen dogs hit on suitcases at airports and cruise ship terminals on both food stuff and other contraband that was wrapped in multiple layers of sealed bags, watertight containers, and even disguised with other scents. And bears supposedly have a sense of smell 7 times better than a scent hound's. I would think odor resistant is the very best that can be claimed. And even then, you get your food odors all over everything when you eat and cook anyway. The scent of your food is on your hands, travels to the clothes you are wearing while you cook and eat, gets transferred from there to your gear, etc. I don't doubt that such bags and canisters and such help minimize these odors. But odor-proof? No way possible.
    I agree. Backpackinglight tested OPSACK "odor-proof" barrier bags, (LOKSACK Inc.) vs Meijer reclosable quart storage bag as controls. They used drug sniffing dogs under controlled circumstances.

    When analyzed statistically, these results were not significantly different between groups. Average search times were 86 seconds in the odor-proof group and 84 seconds in the control group. Again, results were not significantly different between groups.

    In short, OPsacks were a failure. An expensive waste of money. My Watchful Eye Designs "odor proof" bags not only failed to contain odors, they leaked water rapidly in the corners.

  18. #18
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    Colter, how have you protected your food from wildlife in your two Alaska trips? Just asking.

  19. #19
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    I remember reading the conditions of that test on BPL. I immediately was skeptical of the conditions of it specifically cross contamination of odors onto the outside of the Meijer and OpSaks as were several others making comments on BPL. I was also highly skeptical of the so called "controlled conditions" in that the OpSack containing OPENED can of sardines was placed in a USED outer food sack because it(the used sack) could easily have already been contaminated with odors from previous food storage. With food odors possibly on the outside of both food bags one might expect the CANINE units EQUALLY hitting on both food sacks EXACTLY as what was observed!

    Just the act of having an opened can of sardines, a notoriously odorous food, in the vicinity of gear, and any food stuff sack, can expose the exterior of the food sack(s) to odorous sardine molecules not even detected by the human sense of smell.

    Here are some of the BPL threads concerning this "controlled test":

    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-...hread_id=65132

    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-...=417575#417575

    BTW, who the hell stores open cans of sardines in a food sack?

    ONE of the reasons why it may be some, including myself, are noting very good results with protecting food from various wildlife in odor proof food sacks is that we're very considerate of avoiding cross contamination. Additionally, when I'm feeling I NEED to have a HIGH DEGREE of food protection 1) food is mostly left in it's original unopened fully air sealed packaging 2) then it is carefully handled with clean finger tips into a new Ziploc 3) then it is stored inside an OpSak 4) then it is stored in a usually new food stuff sack or well cleaned(thoroughly washed) bear can. It's my contention that I''m having less risk of cross containation of food/food odors to the outside of my food storage bags, at leats initially, this way. I'm frequently additionally cleaning/washing my other gear including backpacks and apparel. And, in potentially very problematic bear issue areas I'll alter the food I carry and consume. For instance, I will not carry sardines, salmon, bacon, grilled/processed meats, sausage, etc. I agree with some of what Andrew Skurka said on SectionHikers Bear Bag Rant thread: "I think the role of good campsite selection is under-discussed — the problems usually arise when bears get too comfortable around humans, which visibly is the case around car campgrounds and heavily used backcountry sites." I too observe MORE PROBLEMS with wildlife and MANY other possible issues in frequently used camping areas or doing what the backpacking masses do. When humans concentrate or repeatedly frequent areas they can actually be the cause of issues in the environment. As simple as that is we can forget that.

    http://sectionhiker.com/bear-bag-rant-its-not-about-protecting-your-food/

    BTW, even though I don't share all of Philip Werner's opinions on this thread I thought he wrote a good article and made an impassioned thought provoking case for protecting the "wilds" of Wilderness Areas.

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    I agree with some of what Andrew Skurka said on SectionHikers Bear Bag Rant thread: "I think the role of good campsite selection is under-discussed — the problems usually arise when bears get too comfortable around humans, which visibly is the case around car campgrounds and heavily used backcountry sites." I too observe MORE PROBLEMS with wildlife and MANY other possible issues in frequently used camping areas or doing what the backpacking masses do. When humans concentrate or repeatedly frequent areas they can actually be the cause of issues in the environment. As simple as that is we can forget that.



    that is true about the campsites-----just look at the more popular sites in GSMNP..................or beech bottoms in cohutta................or shining rock...............

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