OUTSAK BACKPACKING STORAGE BAG
BY CHAD POINDEXTER
November 15, 2009
cg-77 (at) hotmail (dot) com
Corinth, Alcorn County, Mississippi, USA
5' 10" (1.78 m)
200 lb (90.70 kg)
I started backpacking this year and have hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail in north Georgia and at a few state parks in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama. As a new backpacker I have obtained mostly heavy gear, but dream of going light. I sleep in a tent and like a warm drink in the morning, as well as a warm meal at night. Since I'm still new my distance is around 10 mi (16 km) or less per day, depending on terrain. I usually hike with my fiancÚ or my son but wouldn't mind a solo hike.
Manufacturer: Simple Outdoor Solutions
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: www.simpleoutdoorstore.com
MSRP: (US) $44.99
Listed Weight: 10.5 oz (298 g)
Measured Weight: 10 oz (283 g)
Listed Dimensions: 18 in x 24 in (46 cm x 61 cm)
Measured Dimensions: 16.5 in x 25 in (42 cm x 64 cm)
Listed Capacity: 2100 cu in (34 L)
Material: Stainless Steel Interlocking Wire Mesh
Other Available Sizes:
Small: 18 in x 14 in (46 cm x 36 cm) / 8 oz (227 g) / 1100 cu in (18 L) / (US) $32.99
Medium: 18 in x 19 in (46 cm x 48 cm) / 9.5 oz (269 g) / 1600 cu in (26 L) / (US) $39.99
Simple Outdoor Solutions, located in Flagstaff, Arizona, is a family-owned business that manufactures and sells "the only animal resistant storage available at Grand Canyon National Park." The Outsak is marketed as a stainless steel interlocking wire mesh bag with a super-strong closure and reinforced stitching, which enables it to be resistant to smaller animals. It is sold mainly for use near the Grand Canyon and in the southwestern United States, but is very practical in any outdoor setting where storing food and the risk of animal invasion is involved. According to Simple Outdoor Store it is resistant to (but not limited to): rats, mice, and other rodents, ringtails, skunks, squirrels, chipmunks, coatis, and any other small animals. There is a special note stating that the Outsak must be hung out of reach of bears and other large animals, and out of sight for protection against ravens. It is also noted that, given enough time, it is possible for a raven to work a hole through the stainless steel mesh. So, with the possibility of ravens, it is recommended to hide the sack instead of hanging the sack. This is all discussed in greater detail and even includes instructional videos on the manufacturers website.
From the moment I ordered my Outsak I was very pleased, with both the product, and Simple Outdoor Store's services! I feel obliged here to include the United States Postal Services (USPS) service as well, because it was through the USPS that I received my Outsak only 3 days after I ordered it! And to make things even better, Simple Outdoor Store offered free shipping, no strings attached! I say all of this, because, to me, the transaction is just as important as the product, and with this transaction I didn't even have the time to think about something going wrong! I ordered it, and it was at my door. Simple.
|The Finger Loop|
The Outsak arrived rolled up inside a small rectangular box, and came with simple instructions detailing the different parts of the Outsak, and some general information that is found again on thier website. The construction of the Outsak was simply as stated, an interlocking, stainless steel wire mesh bag, with a 3 in (8 cm) nylon, gray-colored, heavy-duty, closure device that runs the full width of the bag across the top using reinforced stitching. Sewn onto the middle of one side of the closure device is a patch with "Simple Outdoor Store" and thier logo above it (as seen in the image above left). Located in the upper right corner, on the same side as the patch, is a single gray-colored piece of nylon that is sewn onto both sides of the closure device, using reinforced stitching, that forms a finger loop (or bear hang loop) which enables the Outsak to be hung (see picture to right). There is also a smaller, 1.25 in (3 cm) gray-colored heavy-duty strip of nylon running across the bottom of the bag that seals the bottom of the bag. Reinforced stitching is used here as well.
Upon the arrival of the Outsak, I quickly made plans to go for an overnighter so that I could practice hanging the Outsak. So I decided on a short hike in a large wooded area near my hometown for a night out. There were lots of pine trees around, so I had lots of good places to choose from to hang my Outsak. The temperatures was around 65 F (18 C) and it was a clear night, so I had no worries of rain, however there was dew during the early morning hours. I did this as preparation for my Appalachian Trail (AT) hike that was coming up! Here is a picture of the Outsak hanging from one of the pine trees.
A few weeks later my fiancÚ and I embarked upon our AT hike! We were out for 5 nights and used the Outsak all 5 nights. The selection of branches wasn't as abundant as on my prior trip out so I had to hunt them down! The temperatures were 85 F (29 C) during the days and as low as 61 F (16 C) at night. On two of the nights there was a light drizzle that came and went, and of course there was dew each morning. Here is a picture of the Outsak hanging near our camp at Horse Gap on the AT.
Upon ordering the Outsak, my biggest question was, "How pliable is it?" I had some concern about how I would carry it inside my pack without damaging it, or for that matter anything else inside my backpack! However, when I took it out of the box I knew instantly how I would carry it. Rolled up, just as it was shipped! This gave me a sense of relief as well since I also knew that I would carry it on the outside of my backpack, so nothing inside my backpack would be harmed! So rolling seems to be the ideal way to transport the Outsak. It can be lightly folded in half, but just like any type of wire, it is not ideal because it will cause the wire to form creases, and cause potential weak spots. So, when I pack it up to take it out on a hike, I just roll it up and cinch it to my backpack using the straps that are on the bottom of my backpack. A simple strap to secure the pad once it is rolled up would be a nice addition along with the sale of the Outsak, but since it didn't come with one, I have simply found a strap that does the job. To the left is a picture of the Outsak attached to my backpack while on our AT hike this past September (it is just above the blue closed cell foam pad on my pack, under the black Crocs).
Another concern I had was, "How would the stainless steel mesh hold up in (possible) frequent wet conditions?" So far I have hung the Outsak overnight 9 times. Out of those 9 nights, every morning after, it has been wet, either from a morning dew, or light drizzles of rain. (As of yet, it has not been exposed to a good, heavy, or steady, rain). I am keeping a close eye on the condition of the stainless steel mesh, looking out for any signs of rust or corrosion. So far there is not even the slightest hint, or sign, of any damage from being wet. Also, I am very careful to thoroughly dry the Outsak each morning while in use, as well as before I put it up for storage at home. I have thought about putting the Outsak inside a large dry sack, and then hanging it to help keep the elements from direct contact with the Outsak, but I haven't done so yet.
The finger loop in which the Outsak hangs from is very secure in my opinion. While on our AT hike I crammed it full! Stuffed inside the Outsak were 5 + days worth of meals, snacks, and GORP, for 2 people, a rather large first-aid kit, a hygiene kit, an emergency kit, two 32 oz (907 g) Gatorade bottles, my stove, a 1.8 L (110 cu in) cook pot, two bowls with lids, two sporks, an 8 oz (227 g) fuel canister, a windscreen, a Bic lighter, a .75 L (25 oz) Camelbak Better Bottle, two aluminum mugs, all our trash and our hankies. All of this was stuffed inside three 12.5 in x 20 in (32 cm x 51 cm) "LOKSAK OPSak Odor-Proof Barrier Bags," and then shoved into the Outsak. I don't have an exact weight, but it wasn't that light, and the loop held very well with no signs of damage or stress. Actually, the entire bag took a harsh beating during my amateur attempts at hanging such a full, heavy bag! It stood up well to being dragged across the hard, rocky, ground while I was trying to haul it up into the trees on tiny branches!
While using the Outsak on the AT, other hikers warned us about squirrels that were terrorizing the food bags at some of the nearby shelters, however, I never saw a squirrel, nor evidence of a squirrel's presence. So, I cannot say if the Outsak actually got the best of any rodents while in use because I have not noticed any evidence of attempted entries. There are no chew marks anywhere on the Outsak, neither around the closure device or anywhere on the stainless steel mesh. What really matters to me, is that I can say that there were no chew holes on any of the bags that were inside the Outsak, and everything I put inside it was still inside it when I took it back down.
Even though I have only used the Outsak a handful of times, it has provided me with a sense of comfort, and security, every time. Most of my hikes will not be in bear country, but on any hike there will be some form of rodents that are eager to eat up any food they can find! I am very confident that while using the Outsak to store my food in, I will be the only one eating my food (unless my fiancÚ or my son is with me)! Sure there are precautions that I will have to take to keep the Outsak out of reach of larger animals that could break through the stainless steel barrier, but that has nothing to do with the security or effectiveness of the Outsak, but instead everything to do with my proper hanging techniques. So, I am very happy that I decided to spend a little extra money for this peace of mind! And to make things better, it packs down small enough not to be in my way while packing, especially since I attach it to the outside of my backpack. Below is a picture of it rolled up with a strap to secure it.
It offers peace of mind regarding the well being of my food or anything inside it.
It packs down small enough not to be in the way.
The finger loop is great for hanging the Outsak and is very well attached to the Outsak.
I wish it came with a strap to secure the Outsak while rolled up.
It can take a beating, but cannot be folded.
Chad Poindexter "Stick"
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
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