Jan 7, 2014 at 12:17 pm #1311863
I have never used OPsacks before but I am thinking I should on the A.T.
I am wondering how many nights I can expect a OPsack to last for?
Should I plan on replacing them weekly or just a few times over the course of the trail?Jan 7, 2014 at 1:32 pm #2061277
My use of them has been pretty scattered so it's hard to give a number, but they seem to last on average for 20-30 days before something goes wrong. Usually something fails around the closure, but once in a while I'll get a cut in one. I've been through about 5 over the past couple years.
I'm sure this is highly care dependant. They could last much longer or much shorter.Jan 7, 2014 at 4:19 pm #2061331
"I have never used OPsacks before but I am thinking I should on the A.T."
Before you commit to using the expensive OPsacks, you might want to investigate the Nylobarrier sacks sold by Lite Trails. They are made entirely of the odorproof material that is laminated to a thicker non odorproof layer in OPsacks. They are much lighter, .4 oz, for a larger storage capacity, cheaper, quite durable, and a whole lot easier to use. I can use them for several trips if I don't outright abuse them. Simply turn them inside out, wash them, hang 'em up to dry, and they're ready for the next trip. It is wise, however, as with an OPsack, to check for leaks by sealing them up and applying pressure from time to time. They're light enough that I usually carry a spare or two in the field. Love 'em.Jan 7, 2014 at 4:23 pm #2061333
Needless to say I was not impressed.Jan 7, 2014 at 7:14 pm #2061385
Before you buy OPsacks or any other "odor proof" sacks, you might want to take a look at this excellent controlled study recently done concerning the actual effectiveness of these bags at sealing in odor:
In short, the bags are not odor proof. They failed to fool trained drug-sniffing dogs, which by nearly all accounts possess less acute olfaction than bears.
To my knowledge, there is no bag currently on the market that has actually been proven to be "odor proof" in a controlled, blind experiment. Until proven otherwise, I would treat these bags as a gimmick. All "proof" to the contrary that I have seen is anecdotal instead of coming from a controlled experiment (and, hence, proves nothing).
Remember that waterproof and odor proof are not the same thing.
On the AT, you will want to hang your food, especially in the vicinity of shelters (a.k.a. mouse hotels). Mice and squirrels will be a bigger problem for you than bears, but hanging your food properly should deter all of these threats.
Good luck on your hike!Jan 7, 2014 at 11:07 pm #2061448
I appreciate the warning, as there is little I hate more than wasting money.
But its actually rodents I am most worried about. I want to protect my gear from critters, and I have heard that rodents will chew through many food bags. I am going to use the zpacks blast food bag, but I am still concerned mice will damage my stuff. If I could prevent them from smelling it then OPsacks would be worth the cost and weight penalty.
But if they are truly ineffective then I will have to just try to prevent mice from getting to my bag, which as I understand is nearly impossible.Jan 7, 2014 at 11:11 pm #2061449
The other issue is that while backpacking I ALWAYS wake up at 5 or so really really hungry. I have to eat something or I cannot go back to sleep. I thought I might be able to put a few bars in an OPsack and keep it with me, and that would keep the rodents away (I'd also of course use an OPsack with the rest of my food bag.)Jan 7, 2014 at 11:26 pm #2061452
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"Nylobarrier sacks sold by Lite Trails"
Same as Nylofume bags that are distributed by termite fumigation companies. I've given all of mine away.
–B.G.–Jan 8, 2014 at 6:15 am #2061478
@sparticusLocale: Atlantic Canada
Even before the BPL article, I was dubious about the claims that OPsacks were truly odour poof. I left one with a ziploc bag full of dried humus on a table in Bothy. The next morning both the OPSack and Ziploc had been chewed through by rodents.Jan 8, 2014 at 3:36 pm #2061663
"I've given all of mine away."
Why?Jan 8, 2014 at 3:47 pm #2061667
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
First of all, I was not using them. A person on this forum was interested in them, so I sent him a package of them. Then another friend needed the rest.
I don't really need them, because virtually everyplace where I operate, there are either bear canister requirements or else strong recommendations. Nearly all of my individual food items are bagged anyway, so I don't really need an extra layer that is odorproof.
I might need a sheep-proof bag if I head over Baxter Pass this summer.
–B.G.–Jan 8, 2014 at 4:30 pm #2061685
There is a vendor that sells food bags made of interlocking chain… as I recall a bit like the old chain mail armor of the gallant knights… but not as heavy as you would think…
I don't recall the vendor, but they have posted on BPL before…
the bags would keep small critters out and perhaps you could line it with an op-sack… though they are not odor 'proof', they do reduce the odors emitted.
perhaps someone will remember the vendor's name… or you could do a search for it…
BillyJan 8, 2014 at 4:44 pm #2061690
@billreyn1Locale: North East Georgia Mountains
I carried these on my 2013 AT thru along with the cuben zpack food bag and had no problem with rodents getting in. Worked fine.Jan 8, 2014 at 5:00 pm #2061695
"First of all, I was not using them. A person on this forum was interested in them, so I sent him a package of them. Then another friend needed the rest.
I don't really need them,"
Does this mean your decision to give them away had nothing to do with whether or not they are odor proof?Jan 8, 2014 at 5:07 pm #2061697
"I carried these on my 2013 AT thru along with the cuben zpack food bag and had no problem with rodents getting in. Worked fine."
As with other tools, in the hands of a careless user they will not perform their intended function. Nor should an odor proof bag be the only component of an effective food protection system.Jan 8, 2014 at 5:57 pm #2061710
I hike the AT often. An Outsack or similar is the only way to prevent mice from getting to your food consistently. Opsacks, cuben food bags, hanging, etc – I have seen them all fail. Although hanging is fairly effective by itself.
Even with an Outsack protecting your food, if you forget a candy wrapper in the pocket of your pack, 99% chance it will have a hole in it in the morning. The mice are relentless and have all night to work at finding the source of those delicious odors. Kind of amazing little creatures when you think about it.
RyanJan 8, 2014 at 6:18 pm #2061716
The Ursack Minor is reputed to be rodent proof ( as opposed to re regular Ursack which is supposed to be bearproof). The tricky part is tying it tightly enough closed to keep the little buggers out. We've used one in the Grand Canyon and elsewhere (with an Opsack inside fwiw) and didn't lose anything. Purely anecdotal.Jan 8, 2014 at 6:45 pm #2061722
From the Ursack website –
"We now make a rodent resistant bag, the Ursack Minor. … Sometimes mice can chew very small holes, but very little of your food is likely to be taken."
Grand Gulch, 2011
Grand Canyon, 2013
Not much food Was taken, but I don't like sharing, or cleaning rodent shit out of my food.
YMMVJan 8, 2014 at 7:01 pm #2061727
This is the one area of my gear set up that actually has me stressin.
I really don't want my gear being destroyed by mice.
I guess I could just forgo shelters all together, but then I feel like I will miss out on a social aspect of the trail.Jan 8, 2014 at 7:05 pm #2061728
Hang your food, and run the cord through a Frisbee, or similar, that is wider than your food bag.
Search around, because it is a common issue.Jan 8, 2014 at 7:15 pm #2061733
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
"I guess I could just forgo shelters all together, but then I feel like I will miss out on a social aspect of the trail."
Good plan all around, IMO.Jan 8, 2014 at 7:20 pm #2061738
When I was younger, I spent hundreds of summer nights in the southern Appalachian backcountry, both on and off the AT, and during this time I pretty much tested the limits of not protecting my food at night (don't ask me why, it's a long story).
My empirical observations were as follows:
Probability of getting my unprotected food bags nibbled on by rodents while camped in a "stealth campsite" – 5-10%
Probability of getting my unprotected food bags stolen by bears while camped in a "stealth campsite" – effectively zero
Probability of getting my unprotected food bags nibbled on by rodents while camped in an AT shelter – 95%
Probability of getting my food bags (carefully hung on the makeshift food lines inside shelters) nibbled on by rodents while camped in an AT shelter – 5-10%
I never had a problem with bears, although admittedly, I also almost never camped in well established backcountry "campsites."
The one exception to my bear experience was in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In that park, you are forced to camp only in designated campsites, and the park is filled with scavenging bears who know what they are doing and will frequent the campsites specifically to look for food (I saw a few of these guys in person). All my food was always hung a la the park rules and I never had an incident where a bear (or rodent) got into my food.
If I were to hike the AT now, I would hang my food every night and avoid shelters wherever possible. They are infested with mice and other hikers who smell and have weird habits (because, let's face it, that's everyone out there, including you).
If you are camped in a stealth campsite and want to keep an energy bar in your pocket at night while you sleep in an enclosed shelter of some sort, then I would say you are most likely going to be fine.
If you are camping in shelters or in lots of well used campsites, then all bets are off. I would not sleep with my food in those instances, that's just asking for trouble.
Just my two cents.Jan 8, 2014 at 7:34 pm #2061743
You will find that AT shelters are like dorm rooms:
They seem great while you're in college, but quickly lose their luster as you get older.
I'm not sure what type of hiker you are, or your age, or anything else, but if you are not very young and actually value your own personal space, etc., you will probably quickly tire of staying in shelters.
I think the best use for shelters is to get out of really bad rain storms (day or night), especially to eat a meal.
A small minority of the shelters (at least in the GA, NC, TN, VA area) are very nice, and are great places to stay when nobody else is there, but this situation will be quite rare to find.
As the others have said, just hang your food properly at night and you'll be fine. You'll quickly figure out the shelter situation once you're on the trail. No need to make any plans around them before your hike. You will actually have much greater flexibility if you don't use the shelters very much, so again, there's nothing to worry about.
You'll have a great time.Jan 8, 2014 at 8:09 pm #2061753Jan 8, 2014 at 8:21 pm #2061755
there are also other solutions:
you could put your evening snacks in a hard sided container… like a 1 liter Nalgene bottle (sans the water)…
you can also hang regular stuff sacks using very thin… 1/16" metal cable… use swedges to create loops on both ends… I have never lost anything to a mouse since making one of these… just go to your hardware store…
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