Ratsack Food Storage Bag Review

Ratsack Food Storage Bag Review
The Armored Outdoor Gear Ratsack Food Storage Bag is a rodent-proof lightweight, flexible, stainless-steel mesh bag to protect your food and smellables on camping and backpacking trips. It’s not bear-proof, but it is rodent and small mammal-proof making it ideal for use in primitive cabins, trail shelters, lean-tos, and for storing food in campsite bear boxes which are regularly raided by mice, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, and rats. If bears are present, you can hang the Ratsack like a bear bag with a carabiner, but its primary purpose is to protect your food from small mammals (sometimes called mini-bears), even when it’s not hung out of their reach, like in a bear box.

Specs at a Glance

  • Materials: Stainless-steel mesh
  • Sizes
    • XS: 427 cubic inches (7L) weighing 4 oz
    • S: 1,200 cubic inches (19.5L) weighing 8 oz (actual weight 8.9 oz, measured)
    • M: 1,800 cubic inches (29.5L) weighing 10 oz
    • L: 2,500 cubic inches weighing (41L) weighing 12 oz

The Ratsack is a rust-proof stainless steel mesh food bag that closes with a wide strip of heavy-duty velcro and a hole large enough for a carabiner at the end, for hanging purposes.  Most people only need 100 cubic inches per day of storage capacity for their food, so the XS size is good for one person for weekend trips if you also use it to pack your toiletries and other smellables. Not knowing any better, I ordered a size Small, which turned out to be much larger than I expected or needed for the 2-3 night backpacking trips I usually take.

A Ratsack is a rodent-proof steel mesh bag for storing your food and other smellables.
A Ratsack is a rodent-proof steel mesh bag for storing your food and other smellables.

When you fill the Ratsack with food and your other smellables (like toothpaste, skin lotion/balm, etc), you’re going to want to line it with a plastic bag to keep the interior clean and prevent anything from leaking out..or leaking in, if you place the Ratsack in a public place like a shared campsite bear box. The outside of the bag is also pretty abrasive and I’d recommend storing it in a stuff sack or even a plastic bag when you pack it in a backpack to keep it from tearing your clothing or other delicate gear.

I purchased my Ratsack for use when camping at campsites that have bear boxes after an incident in western Maine, quite close to the Appalachian Trail. I was carrying a bear-proof Ursack to store my food at night and rather than tying it to a tree, I put it in a campsite bear box because I figured it’d be even safer there. It wasn’t. Mice got into the bear box, crawled into the top of my Ursack, and ate my stash of crushed potato chips. I’d been counting on those chips for salt replacement in the hot and humid weather. If I’d stored my food in a Ratsack instead of an Ursack, they wouldn’t have been able to get to my food.

Most Ursacks, including the Ursack Major which I carry, are not rodent-proof because rodents can chew through it or crawl through the hole at the top where you cinch the Ursack closed. Ursack does make two models that are rodent-proof however: the 10.65L (649 cubic in) Ursack Minor (5 oz, $100), which is only rodent-proof and not bear-proof, and the Ursack AllMitey, which is just like a regular Ursack but with an Ursack Minor sewn inside and a velcro closure on top, like the Ratsack. The main downside of the Ursack Minor is that it doubles in weight when it gets wet, while the 10.5L AllMitey, besides its high cost ($140), is comparatively heavy, weighing 13 oz. The chief advantage of the Ratsack over both of these solutions really comes down to volume, since it is available in high volume sizes (19.5L, 29.5L, and 41L) that are useful for group or family use.

Recommendation

The Armored Equipment Ratsack Food Storage Bag is a rodent-proof steel mesh bag for storing your food and other smellables. While it is not bear-proof, it can be hung like a bear bag when conditions warrant. While comparable to the Ursack Minor and Ursack AllMitey, it’s less expensive and available in a much wider range of sizes making it ideal for couples, families, and groups who need to protect a large amount of food or smellables on camping trips. The Ratsack’s stainless steel mesh is also rust-proof and does not absorb water in the rain, which can be a major annoyance when using an Ursack.

Disclosure: The author owns this product.

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Last updated: 2020-10-19 00:11:38
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13 comments

  1. Thanks for the review. I definitely need one of these!

  2. If my Ursack isn’t full, I tie the top closed, roll down the extra material to cover the opening, then tie it again, to keep rodents out. Obviously, that won’t work if the Ursack is full. As Phillip says, a ratsack would make more sense in areas without bears or with bear boxes, but bears are very common where I hike. A ratsack might also be useful against creatures like skunks, pikas, raccoons (“trash pandas”) porcupines, weasels, crows, foxes, etc.

    • You just need to be careful when you say “Ursack” because the different models have different capabilities. For example, the Ursack AllMitey is bear-proof and rodent-proof because it can’t be chewed through and it has a thick velcro strip at the top to prevent top entry.

  3. Hi Philip,

    Thanks for the review. Any concern about the stainless steel mesh snagging UL items like jackets, quilts, tents, etc?

    This is one of the common issues I’ve seen discussed with the RatSack and what’s kept me from jumping in on one.

  4. Looks like a small 1200 cc would be right for a 10 day AT section hike would about right
    Thanks for the timely posting

  5. I use the XS RatSack inside my Ursack Major. The combo works really well with a combined weight of 10.9 ounces. So far it has been more than sufficient to carry 3 or 4 days of food as a solo hiker.

  6. Since I’m trying to be ultralight, could I just figure a way to bind my chain-mail hauberk into a secure food storage case in the evening? Multiple uses saves weight.

  7. Thanks for the review. This is something to consider even when not camping. I’ve had several mouse “run-in” experiences in the last few weeks in the NH Whites. Apparently they are very aggressive this time of year. I had a regular mesh bag containing bars in my room at the AMC Highland center that a mouse (which I actually saw) attack and chomp into. On my recent visit I left my bars in my car and brought food into my room in a small tight cooler bag. No problems in the room but something got into my car (2016 RAV4) and attacked a backpack waist pocket with almonds – also another mesh bag I keep in the car for food while travelling to the trailhead. The critter(s) were not deterred by moth balls I placed in the engine compartment after dealing with critter damage to the hood insulation.

  8. Thanks for the review! Just purchased one with my REI dividend as we are planning to make a return trip to Canyonlands NP soon and this will be much better option than our bear canister for both weight and capacity.

  9. This would have been great to have when I went bike packing last Summer. Raccoons worked their way into my Ortlieb Bike Panniers. They chewed or clawed open the supposedly odor proof bags and ate all my chocolate. Their tell tale paw prints were on the outside of the pannier. The pannier could have been used as a bear bag and possibly made it harder for the raccoons too. But I have been looking at various options. Good to know the sizing info too. Thanks for the review.

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