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Ratsack for Grand Canyon use
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Daniel Micelotta

Locale: PNW
Ratsack for Grand Canyon use on 09/13/2012 16:54:35 MDT Print View

After debating between Outsak, Grubpack and Ratsack and not finding any real differences I took the path of least resistance and bought 2 small Ratsacks at my local REI. Ratsack also had the lowest advertised weight of the three sacks (all around 18"x 14") Outsak and Grubpack each claim a weight of +/- 8 ounces.

Upon getting home I inspected the bags...measurements are spot on. Construction seems okay. They certainly seem to be sturdy enough and the hook and loop closure is robust.

However the actual weight of the product is 9.5 ounces compared to the advertised weight of +/- 6 ounces. That's 58% over the stated weight! Now they do have a disclaimer about variations due to materials, blah, blah, blah. And there is some variation between the 2 sacks I purchased; one weighs 269 grams (just a hair under 9.5 ounces) the second weighs 271 grams (just a hair over).

I know that we have come to expect optimistic weights, volumes, temp ratings in the gear we purchase. But 58% over what is advertised. What do you think? Do I have right to be ticked off? Should I take them back to REI and order one of the other brands online?

I'm spending a lot of time and money to lower my base weight and those 3.5 ounces (per sack) seems huge to me.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Ratsack for Grand Canyon use on 09/14/2012 01:33:17 MDT Print View

I'd be annoyed as well. It would just be shameful if it was only one product and an unfortunate spec error, but considering they have 2 larger sizes that are also quoted at 10.5 and 8.5 oz respectively...that seems like purposeful misinformation to garner sales.

If you want to give them the benefit of the doubt, you could contact the customer support and see if maybe you got a bad batch or something and see if they will somehow help you get down to the specified weight, but as a consumer that did your research, I tend to fall on the side of "don't cause me unnecessary hassle."

I would return them, if nothing else than for the seeming dishonesty. Put your money to a company that does a more careful job of monitoring the quality of their product (outsack has a quoted variance of +/- 0.1 oz from quoted weights and grubpack has an absolute max weight for their product).

DISCLAIMER: It pains me to advocate against a local AZ small business, so I'd probably temper my response more and contact Armored Outdoor Gear, but as a whole this shouldn't be necessary for such a simple product.

James Wall
(jimmyjam) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Ratsack for Grand Canyon use on 09/14/2012 06:18:27 MDT Print View

I'm pretty sure that you can rent them from the store in Grand Canyon Village. Also you can usually get free left over fuel canisters from the backcountry ranger station by the train tracks. If you don't use one or something similar (I've used a cookie tin), the squirrels and ravens WILL get your food.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Ratsack for Grand Canyon use on 09/14/2012 07:39:24 MDT Print View

>> I'm spending a lot of time and money to lower my base weight and those 3.5 ounces (per sack) seems huge to me.

It is, especially when competitive products weigh a lot less.

How many people days do you need fit in the sack? Because even the smallest Ratsack is pretty big for a solo trip.

I have a huge one that's 18"x20" that I take for a group. Big enough for 4 people for 4 days. It weighs 8oz. (It's a no-name brand one that someone made one test batch of.) I also have the smaller UL Outsaks for solo/2-person trips. The "micro" size (about 3oz) is big enough for 4 days solo for me. I take freezer bag meals.

Btw, I would suggest using a stuff sack inside the mesh bags. (I made silnylon ones with the exact same dimensions as the Outsaks.) If you put ziplock bags directly into the mesh bags, the mice do manage to get little nibbles of the ziplock bags. Not enough to get to the food but enough to put small holes in the bags (which you don't find out until you pour boiling water into it...%$&@!) A nylon stuff sack is enough to prevent that. It's handy, anyway, and keeps your food dry and dust-free. Make sure you put your food bag well away from where you're sleeping.

Daniel Micelotta

Locale: PNW
Thanks for the responses on 09/14/2012 10:07:30 MDT Print View


I am a bit ashamed of myself for coming to BPL to rant before contacting Armored Outdoor Gear. After I posted here I did send them a polite e-mail asking them if this was an unusual case. As of this morning I haven't heard back from them.


I have checked into renting them at the Grand Canyon. The rental is $7.00 a night. I need them for 5 nights...they cost $36.00. I think buying them is the prudent choice.


I bought 2 bags, one for my hiking partner. We will be spending 4 nights in the Canyon. Perhaps having 2 bags is overkill, but there will be future trips to use them on as well. Thanks for the other insights.

After sleeping on it, I'm going to wait a day or so and see if Armored Outdoor gives any response...if not I'm leaning toward returning the sacks and buying one of the other brands.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Thanks for the responses on 09/14/2012 11:14:36 MDT Print View

Just as an FYI, Ratsack was the original metal mesh bag. Came out in the late 90's, made in Flagstaff, I think. They started selling them at the general store in the park and sold mail order/online by the Grand Canyon Association. There were supply issues a few years ago; people weren't getting their orders and the store couldn't keep them in stock. They seem to have addressed whatever issues they were having but communication hasn't been their strong suit.

The larger UL Outsak would be nice size for you for 4 nights, with room to spare in case you want ever want to put toiletries in there as well. It's 10.5" x 19.5" and 3.75oz (by their spec.) If you keep your Ratsack, I bet you can get both of your food in one sack for this hike.

Will Webster
Ursack minor on 09/14/2012 17:52:38 MDT Print View

I've only backpacked the GC once so take this for what it's worth, but an Ursack Minor worked just fine at Hermit and at Monument.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
weights off on Ratsack on 09/15/2012 09:52:24 MDT Print View

Grubpacks seem to be better on their stated weights.

Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
ratsack on 09/15/2012 18:06:29 MDT Print View

Bought mine several years ago in preparation for a Grand Canyon trip. It's the smallest size. Remember at the time that I was kind of annoyed because it was considerably heavier than specified. Just brought it out again and dropped it on the scale - 10 ounces.
On the plus side - they do work really well. My first night in the Grand Canyon the little critters came out at night and attacked the bag. No food was lost, but the little label that said Ratsack got chewed off. So you definitely need something to protect your food.

Sal Maestas
(CuervoBravo) - F

Locale: New Mexico
Ursack Minor on 09/16/2012 14:07:39 MDT Print View

I also have an Ursack Minor. It weighs 2.625 oz.
I've used it kind of a lot in the GC. Perfectly fine for critters.

David Brandenberg
(daveinflag) - F

Locale: High Desert
Outsak on 05/01/2014 07:17:29 MDT Print View

Outsak is the only mesh bag available at Grand Canyon and surrounding retailers. We've been the exclusive supplier for 5 years (since 2009). It is a privilege.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Ursack Minor on 05/01/2014 07:28:46 MDT Print View


Be sure to hang Ursack Minor so the critters can't work on it. They will be able to climb onto it, but if the fabric has "give" they have a harder time. If they can work on a taught bottom sitting on a branch or the ground, and they are determined, they will get through. This is "one of three" for me.

From the Ursack FAQ: " Sometimes mice can chew very small holes, but very little of your food is likely to be taken."

I don't care what they take. I care about what they leave.

Edited by greg23 on 05/01/2014 07:31:44 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Ratsack for Grand Canyon use on 05/01/2014 08:04:59 MDT Print View

Be aware that mice can still get to your food through these mesh sacks when only in a ziplock bag. It happened to me at Boucher about two weeks ago. I may look into a liner of tyvek and/or hanging the sacks.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Ratsack for Grand Canyon use on 05/01/2014 08:54:27 MDT Print View

Mice and rats can chew through anything given enough time. As Greg said, you have to make it hard for them. Since their teeth are constantly growing if they aren't wearing them down fast enough they will chew just for a diversion - a kevlar sack full of food that might take it hours, and a comfortable perch, is probably a win-win for them.

If you have ever had any direct experience with rats this will not surprise you. I worked for a while in an electrophysilogy lab where the had imported some extra big ones, I think from South America. If given enough time those guys could probably chisel their way out o a bank vault. My ex wife had a very friendly (much smaller) one one we loved, but that guy could chew through anything if it had the least motivation, and by that I mean any time it wasn't eating, sleeping or grooming.

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
Ratsack for Grand Canyon use on 05/01/2014 11:10:25 MDT Print View

Don't COUNT on being protected from all hungry pests with any type of bag, including a mesh sack. While the mesh sacks do slow down rodents, ravens are able to destroy them and get your food in minutes...and Grand Canyon ravens are notorious! Very smart, very skilled, and very determined, I have seen these birds unzip someone's backpack and root around for food. Not kidding - wish I was.

We have now switched to cookie tins if we must cache our food; if it's just for overnight storage, a good airtight dry bag, hung in a tree (or from a pole stuck into a rock crack if there are no trees around) should be fine against rodents. Ravens don't generally operate at night.

Dave has already seen this, but it's a good warning -- here's what a raven did to my buddy's mesh sack:bag

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Ratsack for Grand Canyon use on 05/01/2014 11:16:13 MDT Print View

"Very smart, very skilled, and very determined, I have seen these birds unzip someone's backpack and root around for food."

You can see this almost every day at Bright Angle Campground at Phantom. Folks pack up, then decided to go for a short walk. Within seconds a raven swoops in, attacks a zipper, and the mayhem begins...

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Outsak fortification on 05/01/2014 12:10:45 MDT Print View

I love my Outsaks. Although it seems like Valerie's ravens can mess things up pretty well, the racoons, foxes, and skunks in my neighborhood don't. I chose to make 1.0 oz. cuben drawstring liner bags to add some security to my Outsaks. I actually did some tests with one of Lawson's 1.43 oz. small roll-top cuben bags, and nothing could bite through that burly cuben to get to the open can of a Fancy Feast cat food. I think that my Outsak/cuben liner combo will foil all but a bear, and of course Valerie's ravens. There aren't any orangutans or chimps where I hike.

Here's a photo of my end product. The one on the right is stuffed with 3 days worth of food, and it also has a reflective mylar liner, with the cuben one inside that. Last summer the chocolate and cheese got messy when the bear hang was in the hot sun, and I want to see if the shiny mylar might help with that. The one on the left is just an Outsak with a cuben liner.

Outsaks with liners

Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 05/01/2014 19:08:17 MDT.

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
RE: Outsak fortification on 05/01/2014 12:35:36 MDT Print View

LOL, good thing you're not using those in Grand Canyon, Gary. Ravens are especially attracted to shiny things! "Stealth" is definitely better with those smartie-pants ravens.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Shiny things on 05/01/2014 12:54:19 MDT Print View

Yeah, Valerie, I wonder about that. I know that barracudas like to nibble on a snorkeler's gold earrings. I haven't done one bit of field testing on the mylar, as I made them over this past winter. I'll be pretty grumpy if I catch a griz playing tetherball with my food bag in GNP this July. We'll see...I've had more than a few "great ideas" get blown out of the water when tried out in the field.

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
RE: Shiny things on 05/01/2014 12:57:28 MDT Print View

I think shiny stuff will attract some critters, but repel others (too scary)... not sure what the bears will think!