BLOG 51. Review: aLOKSAK Waterproof and Odorproof Bags
by Cliff Jacobson
Many paddlers rely on zipper-lock plastic storage bags to waterproof small items like money, matches, toilet paper, etc. But zip-lock bags are at best, marginally reliable, less so if they’re over-packed or compressed by a load. aLOKSAK® bags (www.loksak.com), which are constructed from a tough, resilient plastic, are far stronger and more waterproof. They have a triple seal that holds even when the bags are substantially compressed. aLOKSAK’s are certified “waterproof” to 60 meters (197 feet!). Ordinary zipper-lock bags can’t compare.
LOKSAKS come in many sizes, ranging from 3.4 x 6.4 inches (a snug, smart phone fit) to a giant 12 x 48 inches—large enough to accommodate a sleeping bag and pad. I’ve been using aLOKSAK bags on my canoe trips for many years and I have found them to be extremely reliable. They are quite inexpensive.
I am also fond of the company’s odor-proof OPSAK” bags which keep odors in and water out. OPSAK’s are government-approved as long term biohazard bags, so you know they really work. I’ve used them on canoe trips to transport raw and cooked fish fillets and I’ve never had a problem with varmints. The plastic film does not contain BPA or leachable chemicals so you can safely store food inside. OPSAK’s are flexible and shatterproof and they won’t wilt if you add boiling water to rehydrate food. Important: You will compromise the odor-proof feature if you touch the outside of the bag with contaminated hands. When in bear country, it may be wise to wear vinyl medical gloves when loading smelly edibles into these bags. Note: Although OPSAK’s are reliably waterproof, they are not as strong and flexible as aLOKSAK’s.
Some, mostly western U.S. national parks require that human waste be packed out. Some campers bring a dedicated toilet system, such as the PETT®, but paddlers are better off to stick with lightweight, disposable WAG bags® or Biffy bags®. My experience with WAG bags is that they become foul-smelling after about three days; Biffy bags (which utilize an odor-proof Mylar foil bag) stay smell-free much longer. We place used “potty bags” into a 12” x 20” OPSAK bag, which in turn goes into a waterproof nylon dry bag. This belt-and-suspenders procedure ensures reliable odor-proof protection over the long haul.
LOKSAK makes a number of different “SPLASHSAK’s”, each designed for a specific function: I especially like the “phone caddy”, passport caddy” and the clear plastic NAVIGATOR map case which has a carry strap and snap-hooks and is sized right for Boundary Waters maps. There are other map cases too, including a military version that has a pocket and tri-fold cover. aLOKSAK and OPSAK bags are widely used by adventure racers and the military. I highly recommend them.