I was contacted by the owner of Simple Outdoor Store and was asked if I would like to partake in a Beta-Testing for the new Outsak UL. I immediately said yes. If this one was anything like the other one that I owned it would definitely be a winner. So shortly after I received the Outsak UL. I tested it for about 2 months or so, and when I returned it, this is the review that I sent with it.
Overall, I am very pleased with the quality of these bags, with the performance of the bags, and even more so with the customer service provided by Simple Outdoor Store. I whole-heartedly recommend them to anyone that is interested in a light weight storage bag that will guarantee the safety of their food.
So, here is my review:
Outsak UL Beta-Test
By: Chad Poindexter
To answer a few questions sent with the Outsak UL…
1. What was my initial impression of the Outsak UL upon opening the package?
“Wow!! This thing is tiny!!” These are the words that came out of my mouth when I opened the box. I have previously purchased the Outsak in a size large, so the UL was definitely a shock! Other than this, the Outsak UL is very similar to my large Outsak that I already have. When I heard beta-testing I expected a more thrown together piece, however even the beta version is very nicely made. It has no flaws, no loose threads, no loose links, no crooked sewn on patch, nothing. The Outsak UL beta version is a very nicely crafted piece of gear, and I was very impressed upon my initial impression.
2. Have you ever used a similar product? If so, how does the UL compare?
Again, I do have the large version of the regular Outsak, and of course I have used various stuff sacks to hang food / smellables in in the past.
As compared to the larger Outsak the quality is just as well in my opinion. The only difference I see is the size, in two places. The first is of course the storage area and the second is in the rolled up travel size. As far as the storage area, I just have to be sure to carefully plan my food, which is a good thing in my opinion, and as for the travel size, I am really happy with the many choices I have for carrying it! With the large I am pretty stuck with having to carry it rolled up on the outside of my pack, however with the UL I can easily store it away inside a pocket on my backpack, or just simply thrown into the main compartment of my backpack.
As compared to other various stuff / dry sacks I like the Outsak UL better as far as storing food, however I am not able to store much else inside it. I have found that while using the Outsak UL I stored my food inside it, and my bigger items that may smell like food I put it an empty available stuff sack, and I am perfectly happy with this. The only downside to the Outsak UL as opposed to a stuff / dry sack is that the Outsak is open to the elements, mostly concerned with the rain. My counter to this is that a properly hung bear bag is supposed to use an odor proof sack in conjunction with the actual bear bag, including the Outsak (UL or any other Outsak). Typically an odor proof bag is going to keep rain out so this is really not an issue.
Also, since the bag is so small, things do tend to stick to the mesh while putting things in and taking them out. To counter this, I have found that a 1 gallon heavy-duty Ziploc bag will line the inside of the UL almost perfectly. This is good in a few ways, it stops the hassle of stuff sticking to the mesh and actually makes it easier to fill the sack since things will slide easily against the plastic Ziploc bag, it provides a water proof barrier, and it also aids in providing an odor proof barrier.
As far as the Outsak in general, I am much happier with this food storage sack compared to the others for the simple fact that I can walk away from the Outsak (if hung properly) with the peace of mind that I will come back and will still have my food. This is what it’s all about to me. If I’m going to spend my time hanging the bag, I want to know that the bag is going to do it’s job, and I feel very confident that the Outsak will meet these expectations.
3. Is it to heavy for UL use? Is the capacity adequate?
First off, I am not an UL backpacker, but I wouldn’t mind it someday. So with this in mind, in my opinion, no it’s not to heavy, for what it is. While I’m sure that there are simple stuff / dry sacks out there that serve the same purpose (hanging food) that weigh less, but this is more than a simple food storage sack, it’s a food storage sack with a promise, a promise that whatever is in it will still be in it when I come back (again, if I hang it properly.)
As far as the capacity, I think that it is enough for a single person for up to as many as 4 – 5 days food, if carefully planned. I say this because I took the Outsak UL with me on a 3 day hike and carried my 7 year old son with me. Of course we didn’t store all 3 days food inside it as we ate the first days food before needing to hang it, but it held 2 days worth of food for 2 people well. And just for kicks before I left the house (for the 3 day trip) I did stuff it full with as much as I could fit inside it. Surprisingly enough I fit a lot inside it. Here is a list of what I put in it:
2 packs instant Oatmeal
4 packs instant grits
3 single serving pouches of coffee
7 packets hot cocoa mix
3 foil pouches of tuna
8 flour tortilla shells
6 Fruit Roll-Ups
3 Granola bars
1 cup sugar in a Ziploc bag
1 cup beef jerky in Ziploc bag
5 single serving Kool-Aid packets
2 tea bags
2 5 oz. cans of chicken
1 Ziploc bag with 5.7 oz Lipton Knor cheesy rice
1 Ziploc bag with powdered turkey gravy and dried cranberries
1 Ziploc bag with 6 oz Stove Top Stuffing
1 Ziploc bag with ¾ cup instant potatoes
8 single serving packets creamer
2 single serving packets of mayonnaise
2 single serving packets of mustard
In my opinion, this was a lot of food. I believe I could manage 5 days of food inside this sack, if planned right.
4. If I could make changes to the UL, what would they be?
I believe that a big change has already been made, and that is that the nylon strip across the top could be a little narrower. I believe that this would shave a tiny bit more off the total weight of the Outsak UL without affecting the bag performance in a negative way. Other than this, I wonder if a loop-hole could be formed in the upper corner where the hang loop is that could actually replace the need for the loop. Maybe a little reinforced stitching to help support the edges of the loop-hole, but the weight of the extra stitching should be less than the actual hang loop. I would not recommend altering the stainless steel mesh as this is what makes the bag special.
And for those extreme SUL backpackers, you could even leave the patch off!
5. Would a custom UL be of interest?
Ultimately, I believe yes. Everyone has a different opinion of “UL” and everyone’s needs are of course slightly different from someone else’s. I believe that while there may not be a slew of people to request them, there may be a few that would have it no other way, and in my opinion, as a customer, this is what makes a difference in a company that is there for the customer, and a company that just wants to get my money and then they are done with me.
In my opinion, I believe that between the small, medium, large, and now UL options that the Outsak comes in it is very easy already to find the bag that would fit most peoples needs, but then again, I’m just one person……
Overall, I am very impressed with the Outsak UL. I would definitely want to have one of these. Most of my trips are overnight trips with a few 3 day / 2 night trips and this bag would fill everyone of my needs for these trips. It is a great bag, and I have suggested the Outsak in general to everyone that even hints to a food bag. I feel like I can honestly recommend the Outsak to anyone an feel happy that I told them.
As far as the UL, it is the same great quality as it’s bigger brother that I currently own (the size large).
A great product from a great company.
I would now like to take the time to thank Simple Outdoor Solution for considering and allowing me the opportunity to beta-test this awesome food storage bag. I have greatly enjoyed using the product and look forward to using one again in the future.