Odor proof bags for backpacking are not always the first thing that backpackers think of to include in their gear supply when packing for a trip, but they have a ton of advantages for backpackers and other outdoors people and are definitely worth considering bringing along on a trip, particularly in bear country.
Though it can be difficult to measure and depends on the wind direction and weather, it is generally said that a bear can smell carcasses and other odorous objects from up to 20 miles away. That being said, a bear closer than 20 miles will easily be able to smell your food bag or toiletries bags.
Most bears are wary of humans, but on the occasion that one becomes conditioned to hikers’ food bags and raids them as a learned behavior, things can become dangerous quickly and usually end poorly for the bear.
To protect both your breakfast and bears, it’s smart to take all precautions possible to reduce the risk that a bear will get into your food or toiletries.
Odor proof bags can be used to store both food scraps and uneaten food to be placed into your bear hang bag. Another good use for odor proof bags is for things like fishing or hunting trips. For hunters, staying scent free is a top priority, so odor proof bags can be helpful when carrying smelly food or gear.
In addition to preventing bears and raccoons from being able to smell your stuff, the waterproof ones can also be used as mini dry bags and protect electronics from water and moisture.
One safety precaution to remember is that even though your food and food scraps are in odor proof bags, it is still smart to hang your pack on a bear hang at night.
It is not very common, but some bears have learned that packs generally contain food and might mess with it whether or not they can smell food inside.
Odor proof bags can also be a great way to assist you in your leave no trace camping because you won’t have to worry about garbage and food scraps making your pack and clothes smell gross when you pack out your garbage.
Bags are designed with different features for different uses. Larger bags work well for group trips or even for particularly dirty clothes. In addition to being odor proof, all of the bags that we have included in this review are waterproof. The majority of them are also vapor proof and keep out dirt, dust, sand and snow.
Not only will your food be undetectable to bears, but extra smelly items won’t leak into your pack. Zip closures are the most common type of closure for odor proof bags, but some close with Velcro instead.
In addition to bags that are odor proof simply by the nature of their impermeability, you can also purchase odor proof bags that incorporate activated carbon in the lining, which helps to chemically neutralize the odors inside.
Small bags can be used for spices and herbs for cooking and are efficient not only because they prevent your stuff from smelling like garlic powder, but also pack well and can fit into small spaces in your pack that actual spice containers can’t. Plus, you can pre-mix the seasonings needed for a certain dish to be even more efficient!
Odor proof bags for backpacking are overall pretty straightforward, but hopefully, you will be able to find one that fits your outdoor needs.
Loksak Opsak Bags
Weight: 0.8 ounce per bag
Dimensions: 21 x 12 inches
Special Features: Can endure heat up to 165 degrees Fahrenheit; tinsel strength up to 3,720 psi; re-sealable
Best Use: Camping and backpacking in bear country; canoe or kayak trips
The Loksak OPSAK Bags resealable bags have many uses for food storage on outdoor excursions. They are manufactured from a high-tenacity polymer that can withstand a wide range of temperatures and conditions. In addition to being odor-proof, the Loksak OPSAK bags are also waterproof to a depth of 200 feet and keep out air, sand, humidity, snow and dust.
The closure on these bags is similar to your typical Zip-Loc closure, but the double hermetic zipper closure is better at keeping water out of the bag than regular zip closures. These bags are FDA and USDA approved for food storage and can hold frozen objects or boiling water and hold up well.
Waterproof bags with a tight seal is important for both keeping water out of your dry goods as well as preventing leakage from wet food into the rest of your pack. In addition to food storage, the OPSAK bags are also great for storing toiletries and trash while camping, both of which have attractive odors to bears and raccoons.
Related: Loksak Small Dry Bags to use for anything you want to keep dry, provided they fit.
Base Camp odor Barrier Bags
Weight: 7.2 ounces
Dimensions: Volume of 13 gallons
Special Features: 100 percent odor barrier; FDA approved plastic; reusable and biodegradable
Best Use: Camping, hunting or fishing trips
The Base Camp Odor Barrier Bags are designed more like standard trash bags than the zip-lock style food storage model of the OPSAK resealable bags. The bags come in multiple sizes, but the extra large size have a volume of 13 gallons.
The bags are very lightweight yet tear resistant and are tested as odor proof against dogs and bears. They are also biodegradable and will decompose in a landfill after one year.
The Base Camp bags are made without any perfumes and use FDA approved plastics that make them safe for food storage. Because of their large volume, the Base Camp odor barrier bags are ideal for a garbage bag at a campsite.
You can cook dinner for a large group of people and discard trash and food scraps in a bag to hang at night, safe out of reach of bears (with the added bonus that they won’t be able to smell the bag’s contents, reducing the likelihood that they will even attempt to get to the bag).
Related: Ursack Bear Resistant Bag comes with a 2,500 pound tensile strength cord to help protect your food from bears.
Weight: 0.3 ounces
Dimensions: 6 inches x 4 inches (size small)
Special Features: Double locking zipper; FDA and USDA approved material
Best Use: Food storage when camping or backpacking
Smelly Proof Bags are similar to the OPSAK bags in that they also feature a double locking zipper at the closure. The bags themselves are made to be liquid, moisture and puncture resistant so they keep food odors in and water and dirt out.
The Smelly Proof bags come in several different sizes, which makes them perfect for overnight fishing trips. You can store and seal your fish without having to worry as much about bears or scavengers finding and getting to the fish before you get out of the backcountry. Additionally, the seal and material of the bag prevent leakage into your pack so your other belongings won’t get ruined by food residue from inside the bags.
These bags are made out of FDA and USDA approved plastic material, so they are accepted as suitable for food storage as well. This is a good affordable option for when you want to cook on a camping or backpacking trip but don’t want to deal with seepage into your pack.
Related: Smell Proof Bags also feature a double locking zipper and keep out dirt and moisture.
Stink Sack Bags
Weight: 10.4 ounces (for 20)
Dimensions: 10.5 x 10.75 inches
Special Features: Puncture and tear resistant
Best Use: Storage for food while backpacking
The Stink Sack Bags are another zip top closure bag to keep odors out. They are particularly useful for packaging food pre-trip because they are vacuum and heat seal compatible. Stink Sacks are also water and humidity proof and keep out dust, dirt and sand.
The bags are washable and reusable.Because you can purchase them in a pack of twenty, this is a good option for a fishing trip where you expect to have plenty of fillets you want to seal separately; or for a group backpacking trip.
The fact that they are reusable means you can be environmentally friendly and only have to purchase the 20 piece set once, simply washing and reusing from there on out. Stink sacks come in lots of eccentric designs and patterns. This is a good option both for packing food ahead of time and using as trash bags or storage for food you may acquire on your way out.
Related: 10 Piece Stink Sack Smell Proof Storage Bags in Camo are similar, but they come in a camo pattern, which kids will love or is great for turkey and deer hunting.
Stink Sack Bags
Weight: 2.4 ounces
Dimensions: 7.5 x 7 inches
Special Features: Waterproof, humidity proof
Best Use: Storage for toiletries and waste on backpacking trips
The Stink Sack Bags are an ideal size for an airplane carry-on-storage container. Thanks to their waterproof qualities, they are a good option if you are worrying about toiletries leaking into your baggage on planes, as often happens.
The same goes for your backpacking packs—this is a good size to store toiletries in that you don’t want to leak all over your gear. These bags can also be used to store food waste at campsites and help you in your quest to “leave no trace” by providing a good option to pack out garbage without the potential mess or odor.
Related: 10 Piece Stink Sack Smell Proof Storage Bags are another Stink Sack product will a smaller volume than the 7.5 by 7 inch storage bags.
Opsak Odor Bags
Dimensions: 9 inches x 10 inches
Special Features: Heat tolerant film; it’s tolerant up to 165 degrees Fahrenheit
Best Use: Camping, backpacking, hiking, hunting, fishing
The OPSAK Odor Bags really took most outdoor circumstances into account in their design. They are waterproof and vapor-proof and they are also certified leak proof to a depth of 200 feet underwater.
These bags are advertised as a useful tool for hunters and pilots to store urine without the risk of leaking the contents. When hunting many species, it is essential to make sure to stay scent-free to reduce the chance that wildlife will detect you.
Hunters take lots of precautions to reduce human scent in their hair, clothes, and gear—it’s a good idea to take that extra step so that game won’t detect garbage or snacks, as well. At 9 x 10 inches, these bags are large enough to store quite a bit of food for backpacking trips.
It can be a good idea to have three bags on hand—one for food, one for toiletries, and one for waste. Those are the three main things that you want to make sure bears can’t smell in the middle of the night. The OPSAK bags are a really high quality product for keeping your food and waste from emitting odor.
Related: Coghlans Odor Proof Storage Bags are durable and prevent food odor from seeping out, and they are clear in color so you can easily see what is inside.
15 Pack of Smell Proof Bags
Weight: 2.4 ounces
Dimensions: 6 inches x 4 inches; usable interior space 5.5 inches x 2 inches
Special Features: Prevents UV light penetration; has heavy duty zipper
Best Use: Food storage; home use; storing spices when backpacking
The 15 Pack of Smell Proof Bags are very small and don’t hold very much volume inside. This makes them ideal for storing spices and other small food items. They use a zip closure and are impenetrable to UV light.
They’re good for backcountry cooking because you are able to store flavorful (and smelly!) spices in them without worrying about attracting bears. Plus you don’t have to worry about garlic leaking all over your gear on the inside of your pack.
The Smell Proof bags are tear resistant, and they have a heavy duty zipper as the closure. The bags also keep items safe from the elements, and their black color allows items stored inside to be protected from UV light that might degrade the item. There are plenty of uses for these little bags, and they’re a good thing to have for backpacking trips where you plan on cooking with spices.
Related: Premium Herb Guard Smell Proof Bags come in a pack of 25 bags and are small enough to store spices and herbs.
Weight: 6.1 ounces
Dimensions: 11 inches x 6 inches
Special Features: Activated carbon technology to help neutralize odors
Best Use: Backpacking or camping
The thing that makes the Skunk Mr. Slick Bags unique from the other odor proof bags included in this review is the fact that it relies on chemistry in addition to just an odor proof barrier and seams. Activated carbon is commonly used in household odor removal; you can place charcoal briquettes in fabric throughout your home to help neutralize odors in the air.
The bag closure is Velcro, and the bag itself is made of tear-resistant rubber backed nylon fabric. All in all, this bag is more heavy duty than some of the smaller plastic bags you can find, plus it does more than just seals off odors—it chemically neutralizes them.
Another benefit of its durability is that contents will be less likely to break if you keep anything remotely fragile inside. On the downside, the Mr. Slick bags are heavier than said plastic bags, so ultralight backpackers might not want to add the extra weight.
Echo Pouch Bags
Weight: 2.4 ounces
Dimensions: 3 x 4.5 inches
Special Features: Tear and puncture resistant
Best Use: Storage of tea, spices and herbs for backpacking
At only 3 x 4.5 inches, the Echo Pouch Bags are not large enough for most food items, but they can be helpful for storing spices, herbs or tea that you want to bring along for some back country cooking without the smells stinking up your pack.
The bags are made of plastic and aluminum, which odor proof the bags as well as prevent moisture from getting in. The closure is zip lock style to prevent leaks.
The black color prevents UV degradation of the bag’s contents and helps keep it fresh. They are also reusable. Like the 15 pack of Smell Proof bags, the Echo Pouch smell proof bags are good for storing your more gourmet additions for your back country cooking. Storing your spices in a bag allows you more space in your pack because excess air can be pushed out and little bags can fit in all kinds of places that normal spice containers can not.
Related: Interplanetary Development Smell Proof Bags come in a pack of 25 and are odor proof.
Odor proof bags can be a fantastic addition to your gear repertoire. Not only do they provide an additional line of defense against bear raids on your food or toiletries, but they have plenty of other uses as a dry bag or assisting in leave no trace camping.
While it isn’t wise to only rely on odor proof bags for bear-proofing your food or entrusting your iPhone to one on a rafting trip, they can certainly help a lot and make your packing more efficient and safe. There are plenty of good odor proof bags on the market, so if you have a favorite, please let us know about it in the comments!