No announcement yet.

Zip Lock Bags on Canoe Trips

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Zip Lock Bags on Canoe Trips

    Memaquay's hygiene thread prompted McCrae's toiletries thread. I'm crediting McCrae for prompting this zip-lock thread. My toiletries go into a zip lock.

    I use a lot of zip locks. Besides toiletries, there's spare batteries, books, maps, phone/camera juice pack and cables, coils of string, tube of sunblock, toilet paper and so on. Then there's the kitchen box and food barrel. S&P shakers get their own bag, as do the grubby sponge and dishwash, the bag of matches and the tea bags.

    Last trip, I overdid it with the food barrel. It was my first time with a food barrel and I couldn't figure out how to load it so that I could find food items. So I built a zip lock bag for every day of the trip. Other than the first and twelfth (last) day, each bag had a breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so it mostly didn't matter which bag I pulled out of the barrel. This daily approach meant bringing 11 bags of breakfast rather than 1 container with 11 servings. Same thing with lunch, which was mostly protein powder. So, 12 gallon bags, and besides dinner, each of those held a breakfast bag and a lunch bag--34 zip locks in all. There were also 6 zip locks of trail mix. And I had a TJ's pounder plus chocolate bar in it's own zip lock. Organizationally, the bag-a-day method worked well, but it was wasteful and by the end of the trip I had quite a collection of empty zip locks. Also, the bags resulted in a lot of wasted space in the food barrel, which didn't matter on this trip.

    So, in all, I think I had 50 or 60 zip locks along on that trip. That seems excessive to me. I should obviously rework my food packing, where I could save about 35 bags. I'll still use zip locks for my toiletries and for protecting items and keeping like things together. I also use the bags to keep cords and cables from intermingling. But I think I should be able to pull off a trip with 20 or less bags. Still a lot. Way more than any voyageur ever packed.

    Am I alone in my use/abuse of ziplocks?

    Originally posted by Chip View Post
    Am I alone in my use/abuse of ziplocks?
    I never bothered to count how many zip locks I use. Depending on the volume going in the bag, I use sandwich size, quart size and gallon size. Some things get double bagged. The qt & gal sizes are generally freezer bags for extra protection. The empties take very little pack space and often get washed and reused once home. They are also good for packing out trash.
    ...better to be up the creek without a paddle than not be on the water at all!!!


      There are so many genius things I wish I'd invented, latex paint, polyurethane anything, perforated toilet paper, the better mouse trap, sliced bread, automobile turn wait. Skip the turn signal. Nofreakingbody uses them anymore. (Carefully trying to avoid a driving rant.)
      And Ziplock plastic bags.That type of closure is pretty common now on a lot of grocery items. I love it. In fact this evening I wondered what a bag of large flake oatmeal was doing on the kitchen counter, but when I picked it up I found it contained not oatmeal but taco corn chips. Ah, my wife is repurposing a zipper bag again. The grandkids love tacos for lunch. And supper. And breakfast if we let them.
      So we're big fans of the zipper bags of every size. And yes they're almost infinitely reusable so long as you don't damage them, and no they're not particularly space inefficient. They crush down to almost nothing when empty. We take dozens on every trip, mostly for double bagging food. Freezer grade bags hold up best to boiling water. Rinsed with hot water and air dried they get stored scrunched down and tucked away for the return home. I pack hardly any hard sided containers of any kind anymore. Those are space unfriendly especially when empty. Even a dozen fresh eggs are kept in their cardboard container inside a double ziplock. Spices, ghee, cooking oil and maple syrup are in small hard sided plastic containers (inside ziplocks). Not much else escapes the ziplock treatment.
      Last edited by Odyssey; 01-04-2020, 12:59 AM.


        Not ziplocks, but in my food have 3 colors of little drybags. red, white and blue for breakfast, lunch and supper. I keep all these individual meals in one color coded bag. I reuse them of course and some food in them is in ziplocks or original packages. I also buy freeze dried meals cheap in big cans. In the spring I portion out the meals in small ziplock freezer bags and keep them in the freezer till I need them. They keep all year.


          Turtle, I do similar, but I use large red, blue, and yellow for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and put all my meals in their colour- coded bags, that way, I just pull out the breakfast bag and grab one pre-portioned meal of my choice.


            I am going in the opposite direction, Chip. Not only am I not trying to minimize my ziplock usage, I have begun adding an additional ziplock-type bag to my arsenal -- specifically the Loksak odor-proof bags.

            In the past, like you, I put all food items/toiletries into regular or freezer ziplock bags. All items with liquids or juices got double ziplocked. Then all the fresh food that needed to be kept cold went into my cooler and the the dry food went into my kitchen box.

            Then last summer, my dog and I had the pleasure of an ursine visitor in our campsite on Little Tupper Lake in the middle of the night. For the next several hours, we had ourselves a little standoff. Thankfully, the bear eventually left without getting our food.

            I can't be sure whether that bear was attracted to the scent of my food, my trash, my toiletries, me or my dog or if it was just a coincidence that all of us ended up in the same place at the same time. But it was a very unsettling experience even though I was armed with bear spray. So, I am now officially paranoid about scents that might attract bears. In fact, you might say that I've become bear-a-noid.

            On my next trip after the bear visit, all the single and double ziplocked food items went into into those large Loksak odor-proof bags. I also used a medium Loksak bag for toiletries and another large Loksak for potentially odoriferous trash. Loksaks are reusable and I washed them out when I got home.

            I'm not naive enough to think that I can eliminate all scents/odors that might attract a bear. Nevertheless, I wanted to do everything I could to minimize my food/trash odors.


              Originally posted by Chip View Post
              I use a lot of zip locks. Besides toiletries, there's spare batteries, books, maps, phone/camera juice pack and cables, coils of string, tube of sunblock, toilet paper and so on. Then there's the kitchen box and food barrel. S&P shakers get their own bag, as do the grubby sponge and dishwash, the bag of matches and the tea bags.
              Likewise. Lots of Ziplocks in various sizes as above. Including anything in a small plastic bottle or tube that could potentially leak; sunscreen, bug juice, Bronners, cooking oil. Book(s) and journal go in a small flat dry bag made, along with reading glasses and pen.

              Originally posted by Chip View Post
              Last trip, I overdid it with the food barrel. It was my first time with a food barrel and I couldn't figure out how to load it so that I could find food items. So I built a zip lock bag for every day of the trip. Other than the first and twelfth (last) day, each bag had a breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so it mostly didn't matter which bag I pulled out of the barrel.
              Like Turtle and Griz I segregate breakfast, lunch, and dinner foodstuffs into different colored stuff bags in the barrel, along with a 4th stuff bag that contains stove and cookware. The bags are different colors, but because I pay no attention to colors each stuff bag drawstring has a plastic key tag, “LUNCH” or “BREAKFAST”.

              Post meal I just shuffle the next needed stuff bag to the top of the barrel. If (when) the bags shift around in an emptying barrel I can just reach in, pull out a drawstring and see which bag I have hold of from the barrel depths.

              The each individual meal in a separate Zip-lock wouldn’t work for me. I bring a variety of foodstuffs and don’t know in advance what exactly I want to select for any meal before I sit down to make it, or how much I want to eat at that time. If I Zip-locked each day’s pre-planned meals I be stealing the breakfast from one and the dinner from another and have a lot of Zip-lock search and inspect after a day or two.

              The other household godsend is rubber bands. Wrapped around the Zip-lock containing the bug dope or Bronners, around tarp poles so thay don’t rattle, around the journal to keep the pages from flapping when I write on windy days.

              When I take a rubber band off it gets wrapped around a canteen so I know where I put it for reuse. And so I don’t stick it in a pants pocket, where I will pull something else out and leave a Hansel and Gretel trail of rubber bands on the ground around camp.


                Zip lock are your friend !

                I have some BIG ones that I use year after year ! Some may qualify as Vintage !

                Keep your paddle wet, and your seat dry !


                  I admit I use Zip Locs, even though they are terrible for the environment. Our local grocery store has announced plans to begin a recycling program for plastics, including household bags. The technology exists to make plastics degrade on a schedule, but it will never happen until demand makes it happen.


                    Originally posted by Black_Fly View Post
                    I admit I use Zip Locs, even though they are terrible for the environment.
                    I agree, they are not environmentally friendly.

                    I do reuse Zip-lock bags, and like Jim have some giant-Sized thick plastic one of considerable vintage. Even better, a friend unpackaged 1000 items for his school; each was shipped in a (odd sized) 12” x 8” Zip-lock bag. Those were destined for the trash, but he is too frugal for that action.

                    I still have at least 100 of them. By the time those have been used, re-used, and re-re-used they will have been out of the waste stream for a long time.

                    Some things go in zippered pouches instead of Zip-locks (filthy MEMAQUAY kit). The books/journal go in a flat dry bag. Toilet paper does go in a big Zip-lock, and that goes in a small lightweight dry bag (double protection against a roll of wet soggy TP) along with the sand sanitizer and any other toilet kit; wag bags, bleach powder, etc.

                    Same for the dish washing kit; the damp groady scrubbie and Campsuds go in Zip-locks, but the rest of the kit goes in a little zippered pouch.

                    That doubled pouch & plastic bag storage seems to help keep the Ziplocks from getting too trashed too quickly. Some of those items have been in the same still sound, still functional Zip-lock bags for years.

                    Chip, 50 or 60 Zip-locks seems a wee bit excessive. And unnecessarily expensive.


                      This topic prompted me to add this link, from the forum, for meal sized ziplock plastic bags. Useful for those of you who prepare your own dehydrated meals. These may be of interest.



                        Whether Nancy and I use bulk packed foods or individual meal/serving bags generally depends on the nature of the trip and the potential weather extremes. We're also coming from a background of camping out of sea kayaks and backpacking, both with more limited space and weight carrying capacity than a canoe so one thing is for sure; as we begin our canoe tripping life together the ability to carry bulkier and heavier foods and more types of cooking implements is going to lead us to evolve our food packing and prep habits.

                        To date we have usually bagged food by meal. We have used both the one day in a bag technique and the all of one type of meal in a bigger bag technique. Both have worked well. We tend to keep a supply of meals packed and ready so we can head out quickly when the urge and opportunity intersect. Some things like snacks, some condiments etc go in zipper lock bags and can be packed with one foot already out the door Most cooked meals get put in heat sealed bags, often vacuum sealed. We have a chamber vacuum sealer and bags are a fraction of the cost of Foodsaver type bags and cost less than good zipper lock bags.

                        The same chamber vacuum sealer bags can be sealed with a household iron or most Foodsaver style sealers without pulling a vacuum at a substantial cost savings over the waffle pattern bags and you'll have a much more watertight bag than any zipper lock bag. If you are careful to seal the bag close to the top of the open edge and to cut off just the seal when you open it the bags can be reused, usually several times. The one downside to chamber vacuum bags is that they are often only available by the case and unless you can split a case with someone you can spend a fair chunk of money acquiring an assortment of sizes. Sometimes you can talk a local meat processor out of some bags though....

                        I have pint, quart and gallon chamber bags on hand. If anyone wants to try a few to see if it is something you'd like to pursue shoot me your address by private message and I'll send some along.

                        I'm not aware of any one-size-fits-all approach to how many bags and for what purpose to use. I suspect that for most of us it will still be dependent on how we see each trip unfolding. For me I think that camping out of a canoe will lead me towards a big bag for each prepackaged type of meal and another big bag (or space in a wannigan/chuck box) for staple foods. Time will tell.....

                        Best regards to all,



                          I use zip locks for food storage too. I use a Duluth “Day Pack” to carry all my food, inside of the day pack I use two Seal Line waterproof bags, and inside them I use my zip locks with individual packed meals and other food items.

                          I also use them to waterproof my little fire starting kit I keep in my pants cargo pocket and always have one in my pocket to save fish fillets for a later meal.

                          I also use the larger size for a map case.


                            Once nice thing about Zip Locs is they are reusable if used for canoe camping and storage of freeze dried or dehydrated foodstuffs. Not so much for fresh chicken...but then who takes one of those canoe camping?

                            I use them to keep all the granola type bars together and that small dense food stuff like salami that would wind up in the bottom of a 60 liter barrel.. I hate barrel foraging ( Yes I know of the food pack system that Dan Cooke uses but I hate to have to constrain to equal volumes for each meal. Lunch is often less voluminous) Yes nylon sacs also alleviate barrel sink but I like to see what I am looking for before unpacking it.

                            And they are so handy for the inevitable trash. Like granola bar wrappers that otherwise wind up in a pocket and inevitably in the washing machine.

                            I have used zip locs for maps but have learned to double bag. This was after a trip where I learned if you do get a zip loc bagged map wet do not try to remove it to dry it. It fell apart during extraction.

                            the Freezer zip locs are tougher. Now as to closure preference I am coming to like the press carefully and watch the color change along the sealed seam.. Having broken some sliders.....

                            and ziploc for toothpaste.. Toothpaste can indeed wreak havoc. Sandwich size double bagged.


                              Yes, lots of zip-locks for me. All my food, including dog food, is in zip-locks, which go inside different colored barrel bags, which go inside barrels.

                              When I pack my food it's not by meal but rather by ingredient so that I can mix and match whatever ingredients and quantities I want, so most of the zip-locks are 1 gallon size.

                              At the end of my 43 day trip I think all my food garbage (empty baggies) fit inside a 1 gallon zip-lock except for a few peanut butter jars. When I got home most of those bags went back into the drawer for reuse since they only contained dry ingredients. The ones that carried dog food were the only ones to get tossed.