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Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Anyone Has Experience with the Rat Sack? Rat Sack vs. URsack? on 04/03/2008 10:12:30 MDT Print View

I just read about this product on another thread.

I checked the website and it looks like a great light alternative to hauling a bear vault around to protect food in non bear country.

http://armoredoutdoorgear.com/ratsack.htm

Anyone have any experience with this product and company?

A quick Google search showed 1 posting of someone who may have had trouble with getting the product delivered to them.

I have been thinking of getting an URsack to protect against critters and bears, but I am not sure that the URsack's fabric is strong enough to resist getting chewed through by critter's sharp teeth. Should I just get the URsack or both these products? (I am aware that the URsack lost its conditional approval).

Thanks for any input on this.

-Tony

Edited by Valshar on 04/03/2008 10:19:54 MDT.

Simon Wurster
(Einstein) - F

Locale: Big Apple
Re: Anyone Has Experience with the Rat Sack? Rat Sack vs. URsack? on 04/03/2008 11:16:32 MDT Print View

I have a RatSack, I think it's the medium size (weighs 6 oz. on my scale, maybe 11"x17" or so), and I've never had any problems with critters here in the NE--but I always hang it like a bear bag. Compared to a Bear Vault, it's the way to go (although you give up the seat the can offers).

I purchased mine locally from a old-time outfitter (not a chain), but if you have order from them directly, why not?

The fabric is a woven stainless steel, slightly stiff although roll-able, and the spacing (I don't have it in front of me) is about 3/16" (4-5 mm) -- probably good enough for everything from mouse teeth thru racoon teeth. The heaviest part of the bag is the heavy-duty velcro opening, which must be NASA-certified as it takes a bit of force to open. (I think the closure is also reinforced with the SS fabric to prevent critters from chewing their way in thru the velcro.) The closure has a heavy-duty grommet in it for hanging. You still need an inner bag for rain/insect protection. (I do like the idea of sticking a few cans of beer in the RatSack and using a stream as a cooler (dual purpose!). Don't carry too much beer though, so I haven't tested that aspect.)

On my last trip I simply didn't bring it, opting for an OP bag inside a SilNylon stuff sack, and didn't have any problems (and saved 6 oz.!). My logic was I didn't want to entice any critters no matter how resistant the barrier was, and since you need an inner bag anyway, I opted for the large OP bag + stuff sack combo. Perhaps on a longer trip, or in a tree-less, bear-less area it could compete with the Ursack.

I carry it rolled up under the lid since it could possibly do some abrading damage to light fabric when full.

HTH,
Simon

Gail Lusk
(AlohaTink) - F

Locale: In the Middle of No Where!
Ratsack on 04/03/2008 13:03:49 MDT Print View

Thanks so much for this thread.
I have never heard of this before and with all the rats and mongoose on the island, it would be a perfect answer.

I hope anyways we have super rats here that chew through most wire screens!!!

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Anyone Has Experience with the Rat Sack? Rat Sack vs. URsack? on 04/03/2008 13:18:23 MDT Print View

I have had small holes chewed in Critter Sacks. Critter Sacks was the company the Ursack forced out of business. I lost no food. I think the poor critters chewed all night and got nothing.

I have a large RatSack. It is very effective. You could make your own, but stainless steel screen is difficult to find. Cheap house screen material will not work in the Grand Canyon. I lost a can of Pringles in less than a minute. Ravens are quick and clever.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Ratsack vs. URSack on 04/04/2008 09:52:35 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone for getting back to me on this.

One of the reasons that I love the forums is because of how generous everyone is with sharing their wisdom.

I really like the idea of the Ratsack....I would like to get the URsack eventually, but I am hoping that the makers of the URSack redesign it to get their approval for used in the National Parks.

Initially, I was thinking that the URSack could just be used for protecting against small critters, but the Ratsack seems like it is cheaper and more effective.

Anyone else have any positive or negative stories about the Ratsack?

John Carter
(jcarter1)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Ratsack/Ursack and birds? on 04/04/2008 13:02:49 MDT Print View

So the ratsack will protect from sharp teeth of smaller animals, whereas the Ursak can have small holes nibbled into it from critters. What about birds? Two weekends ago I left a Duraflame firestarter log outside overnight, and I woke up to some ravens chewing it up. They made good work of it too. But it's made me thing about the durability of both products. I don't think bird beaks are as sharp or strong as dog or mice teeth, so maybe either product would work fine. But neither company talks about birds.

Joseph Reeves
(Umnak)

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Ursack does protect from little teeth on 04/04/2008 13:53:06 MDT Print View

I’m confused about the comments being made regarding Ursack’s inability to withstand little teeth from so-called “critters”. I’ve used Ursacks for the past nine years in Southeast Alaska. Sure, we have huge bears, but we also have little bitty voles and worrisome squirrels. And then there are the ravens. They are smarter than humans and somewhat less selective in their foraging. The Ursack has performed well in the forest and on the beaches. More to the point of this thread, it has beat the most voracious Forest Service cabin vole. No other, “critter” that I know has the tenacity and the motivation to extract food from a bag than the vole. It lives on its own for five days of each winter week and then is provided ample opportunity to gorge itself on Friday and Saturday nights. The Ursack stands the test of the Grizzly and the mighty vole.

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Ursack does protect from little teeth on 04/04/2008 14:38:15 MDT Print View

Joseph,

The Critter sacks were made from Spectra fabric. I took to leaving them on a flat rock at night. One morning there was a small hole in the bag. The hole was about .25 wide on the outside and only a pinpoint on the inside. I may have spilled foor on the outside, but do not remember anything in particular. I continue to use the sacks, but I now hang them.

John Carter
(jcarter1)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Ursack does protect from little teeth on 04/06/2008 13:18:19 MDT Print View

Joseph,

That's a promising field report on Ursack's durability with small, sharp teeth & birds. However, my comments come from Ursack's web site, under the FAQ:

"Is Ursack resistant to rodents, marmots, wolves, etc?

Ursack is highly effective against Marmots and raccoons. It should not be considered wolf or dog resistant. That's because they have sharp teeth and strong jaws. Bears have great strength, but their teeth are not sharp.
Other rodents have varying degrees of success. Sometimes mice can chew very small holes, but very little of your food is likely to be taken. Some species of squirrels and (we have heard) pine martens have greater success, and may on rare occasion chew holes in Ursack."

This is why I started wondering if the thinner steel mesh of the Ratsack would be a more effective deterrent than the thicker but somewhat chewable Ursack if you hike in areas were rodents are more of a problem than bears. I've also noted that the smallest Ratsack is not only lighter but significantly larger than the Ursack.

I love my Ursack, but I haven't had a rodent try to eat through one yet, so I don't know what to expect. I suppose in bear country, the Ursack is the smart choice since it will protect against large and small animals. But I can't help but think about the big warning sign at the beginning of one of my favorite hikes in the Southern Sierras (Cannel Meadow trail): "WARNING: PLAGUE HAS BEEN DETECTED IN RODENTS IN THIS AREA." Makes me wonder if, at least in this area, a totally rodent-proof bag is better than a bear-proof one.

Oh, and a hanging an Ursack is no problem for a squirrel to get to, so I don't see that as a fool-proof solution, either. I have, however, considered ways of hanging my Caldera Cone above my Ursack, like a wide-brim hat, to keep the small animals away (like the squirrel deterrents for bird feeders), but I haven't managed anything that gives me confidence.

Edited by jcarter1 on 04/06/2008 13:22:57 MDT.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Ursack on 04/06/2008 15:32:30 MDT Print View

Been using Ursacks now for 7 years. I have used then in SEKI &Yosemite (when they were conditionally approved) as well as other parts of the Sierra's and coastel mountains. I have never even had a small hole from critters trying to open it or have I had bear problems with it. I have used my Ursack in Emmigrant, and Desolation without a single problem, bear or critter. They are a great piece of gear to use and maybe I have been lucky with no problems. Just wanted to state that.

Joseph Reeves
(Umnak)

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Ursacks & Small teeth on 04/06/2008 19:43:21 MDT Print View

Richard and John:

Interesting observations. Perhaps an analogy to the small v large teeth is the ability of a .22 bullet to penetrate a kevlar vest while a larger caliber slug can't.

And, perhaps, Alaskan voles and squirrels have dull teeth.

Cornelius Austin
(nealaustin) - F

Locale: Minnesota
Anyone Has Experience with the Ratsack? on 05/27/2008 20:51:22 MDT Print View

I have been unable to order a ratsack from the website. Paypal is the go-between of choice. The owner of armoured outdoor gear ignored me for a month, 8 phoncalls, 20 emails and Paypal refunded my money within 4 days. A fellow named Brian (also in the Yahoo forum) had the exact same experience. It would be a great product for BPL to sell.

j. young
(armchair) - F
Ratsack ordering difficulties on 05/28/2008 06:38:54 MDT Print View

Just had the same experience as C. Austin above, ordered direct from the website, zero response to emails and phone calls regarding order status and product questions, and ended up getting my payment refunded (without any explanation from the company) after making a paypal complaint.

Joshua S
(joshualee101) - F - M
Anyone Has Experience with the Ratsack? on 05/28/2008 18:51:17 MDT Print View

I had the SAME ordering problem about 6 months ago. I sent multiple emails, left multiple phone messages. No response. Luckily I filed for a refund via paypal within the 30 day time limit, just barely. I doubt I could have gotten my money back if had waited more than 30 days. The message that came with the refund, "my apologies for the confusion with your order". Confusion? All i did was order their product through their website. What is their problem?

Edited by joshualee101 on 05/28/2008 19:16:04 MDT.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Issues Ordering the Ratsack on 05/28/2008 20:52:32 MDT Print View

Just and update.

I recently ordered the Ratsack from the following website:

http://armoredoutdoorgear.com/ratsack.htm

My small size Ratsack came in the mail to me quickly (within 1.5 weeks) without any problems.

I have not had a chance to use it, but I will post up some results when I do.

-Tony

RatSackRatSack2

Edited by Valshar on 06/05/2008 21:49:44 MDT.

Erik Graf
(VanGo) - F

Locale: Southeast
Late reply on 06/05/2008 14:40:50 MDT Print View

Saw this thread and had to post - my rat sack has saved my food many a time (Walnut Bottoms in GSMNP and esp. near Phantom Ranch in the GC - cursed Kaibab Squirrels [he said as he shook his fist in the air]). Great item to have. I was off the AT in NC two winters ago and awoke to my ratsack hanging unblemished while another party nearby who shared the same bear cables had their goodies sprawled in the snow. By the way, M & M's may melt in your mouth and not on your hands but they will also melt in the snow and make a wonderfully colorful rainbow....

darren stephens
(darren5576) - F

Locale: Down Under
rodent protection on 06/05/2008 15:21:52 MDT Print View

G'Day
This is a little off the subject but i have slept with lots of mice, rats and possums over the years. To the point where if a mouse runs over my head it doesn’t even rate a mention. What I do is simply stuff all my food and anything that has come in contact with food in my sleeping bag stuff bag and pull tight and hang it from something. To keep the mice off I used to get a plastic drink bottle (pet), cut the neck off down to were it is full diameter, poke a hole in the lid and thread the cord off the stuff sack thru it so it forms a little inverted funnel down the cord a bit. The mice get to it and either slide off it or won’t go down at all. Now days I have made a little clip together funnel orikaso style so it doesn’t take up any room
Hope this helps
Darren

Edited by darren5576 on 06/05/2008 21:34:15 MDT.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: rodent protection on 06/05/2008 18:06:31 MDT Print View

Darren,
This sounds good! Can you post a picture of this?

Erik Graf
(VanGo) - F

Locale: Southeast
Seen this... on 06/06/2008 08:16:11 MDT Print View

I've seen that bottle method before as well as the aluminum pie pan and the tuna can method along with others. They do work and work well - cheap too and lighter so I'd say they're worth a go. I spent the money on a ratsack b/c I watched a squirrel launch himself onto my hanging food bag and dig his claws in to stop his fall. He hung upside down and tried to gnaw his way through my food sack (an Equinox stuff bag) before I ran him off with a series of bristle cone tosses. Guess it depends on the critters you have and their craftiness.

Tohru Ohnuki
(erdferkel) - F

Locale: S. California
They seem to work, but aren't light. on 06/06/2008 16:53:09 MDT Print View

We used some recently in the Paria, and we did get those hopping mice bothering us one night. One tried to get into my pack where i had forgotten some antacid tablets. Those went into the ratsack that was hung from a tree.
I suppose the pie plate/bottle trick would work as long as the bag was suspended up far enough and away from any trees so that the critters can't jump onto it. Don't know how far those mice can jump and it depends on the site...There weren't enough large trees where we were.