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A Real Test for Odor-Proof Bags

NyloBarrier Odor Proof Bag

I use LiteTrail NyloBarrier odor-proof bags to store my backpacking smellies in when I’m out on the trail. I use the PCT bear bag hanging technique most of the time to make sure that bears can’t get to my goodies and so far it’s been completely successful. How do I know if my odor-proof bags are really working?

I’ve used the same odor-proof bags to store my food inside of bear canisters in California on several occasions with apparent success – no bears tried to get the canisters open or run off with them, but I don’t know with any level of certainty whether that was because of the amazing capability of the odor-proof bags or if there were simply no bears wandering around on those occasions.

NyloBarrier Bags
I’ve tried just about all of the other well known odor-proof bags on the market and have been disappointed in them, usually by how they function as basic bags (zip closure failures, or bursting open at seams) rather than their odor stopping abilities. They were expensive and didn’t stand up to more than a few uses.

LiteTrail NyloBarrier bags are extremely durable, two times stronger and 50% thinner than 2mm polyethylene bags. They’re also light weight at 0.4oz (11.5g) and 70% lighter than an OPSAK 12.5 x 20. At just $4 for a pack of three they are an amazingly low-cost odor-proof solution.

  • Weight: 0.40 oz (11.5 g)
  • Size: 12 5/8 wide, 24″ tall (8″ diameter as cylinder)
  • Chemical, oil, grease and thermal resistant
  • FDA food grade plastic that is safe for food
  • ASTM F1927 odor barrier tested.

Real-Life Odor Test
I think I’ve finally found an empirical test of the NyloBarrier bag’s ability to block odors over an extended period of time – poop storage! Yes, the good old WAG bag came to the rescue yet again by providing me with an opportunity (it was not planned) to put one of my beloved NyloBarrier bags to the ultimate odor-proofing test.

Any odor-proof bag that can successfully block the stink of several used WAG bags, stored inside for multiple days in the scorching California heat wins my official seal of approval – for what that’s worth. I used my spare bag (yes I carried a spare despite the excessive weight) to store my WAG bags inside during my second trip to Mt. Whitney this summer. Without going into details that you do not want to know about (trust me) lets just say that after more than four days of use there wasn’t even the slightest smell of poop coming out of this bag.

NyloBarrier Odor Proof Bag

Don’t believe me eh? Well, imagine the surprise of the park Ranger when I pull this bag out of my backpack at the Inyo Forest Ranger station as I’m returning the rental bear canister at the end of our trip and ask if there is a place here where I can deposit it. “What’s in it?” the Ranger asks and is amazed, because of the lack of smell, when I tell him it’s my complete matching set of WAG bags from the trip we just completed.

So trust me when I say that the NyloBarrier odor-proof bags really work. I won’t be using any other bag for storing my food and smellies in while backpacking from this point forward. I just hope I’ll never have to conduct this type of test ever again!

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Disclosure: LiteTrail provided Brian’s Backpacking Blog with a complementary pack of NyloBarrier bags to test and provide feedback before offering them on their website. These were not specifically provided for the purpose of a review.

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  • rcMike

    It’s nice to see another odor proof option out there. Thanks for the review! I use an odor proof bag to store Esbit tablets at home and in an emergency kit.

    • I often wonder if bears are attracted to anything smelly or just food items. I err on the side of keeping all “scented” items in NyloBarrier bags now just to be on the safe side.

      • Anything smelly. They can be attracted by chapstick, esbit, insect repellent, smelly socks, soap etc. Out west you have to be careful with deer because they will steal your clothes or items not bolted down for the salt.

  • JJ_Mathes

    Brian- do you know how these bags were tested for odor proofness by the company that produces them? I looked on the LiteTrail website and didn’t see anything concerning this, maybe I’m over looking it.

    • I don’t know but I just pinged Jhaura, the owner of LiteTrail to see if he can chime in here.

    • Yes they are. One key test (listed on our site) is ASTM F1927. In this test NyloBarrier displayed a very low transfer of oxygen (permeability), which translates as “odor proofness”. There are about 4 other ASTM tests applied to NyloBarrier film (some relevant to OP), besides that, they are FDA approved for food grade.

      Not that JJ was inferring or asking, but it’s important not to confuse an odor proof bag with a bear proof bag. These are not sold as a bear proof anything, that’s the job of a bear canister, an odor proof bag is cosmetic only. But in the case of smelly stuff, theoretically and in most people’s empirical experience that can help prevent a bear from finding your items in the first place, but we are not selling them as such.

  • That is awesome! I am very bear-scared so I try to be as unscented as humanly possible when backpacking. Those sound like a must have for food and for packing out human and dog waste.

  • Good detailed review. I been researching cereal bags to re-use as food bags & seem to be odor proof. Might work well in a dry sack.

    • I’d love to hear more about how these work out. Care to share once you’ve tried them?

  • Barefoot Sage

    It’s great that you couldn’t smell the poo in your bag, but our noses aren’t a great test for ‘odorproofness.’ A bear’s nose is something like 1000 x (this is a total guess but you get my point) more sensitive than a human’s, as would be a dog’s. Maybe you should try putting your dog on a fast for a day or two and then putting a nice bloody steak in one of those bags with a cloth covering it so the Dog can’t see it and let it in the room with it. If it didn’t find it, I’d say that would be a much more rigorous test than the poo in the Ranger station test!

    • JJ_Mathes

      I have a pack of NyloBarrier bags ordered and plan on doing a real world test like you are describing. I’ll post the results on my blog and with Brian’s permission post a link here.

    • I appreciate the technical lesson on noses, but I don’t think I’ll be starving my dog to further prove the point of how odor proof these bags are. While they may not be sufficient to be used as a single method for protecting your smellys from bears (which is not what I was suggesting), these NyloBarrier bags are the best that I have used and tested. Combined with bag hanging and a bear canister, they will improve you chances of hiding the smells from inquisitive bears.

      Please feel free to conduct your own tests and further expand on the extremes of the testing. I’m satisfied that these bags are of excellent quality and will continue to use them until such a time as I find a superior alternative.

  • I performed a similar test on Whitney using the OpSak odor-proof bags. After some hurried business that I’m surprised didn’t cause a few deaths on the 97 Switchbacks I put the used WAG bag in the OpSak and smelt not a whiff for the rest of summit day. I’ll never use a WAG bag without one or something like it. Heading over to order some Nylo’s now.

    • Picked up the NyloBarriers, solid state ti stove and tray, and some dyneema line. Credited your blog in the order comments. Keep up the great work!

      • Thanks Brad. I don’t make anything from the promotion or sales of the NyloBarrier bags, but I thank you for letting them know that you read about it here. I like to promote cottage manufacturers whenever I can. Let me know how they work out for you. – BG

  • Chad

    I work in law enforcement and very closely with local K9 teams. I think a great test would be to use these or other bags to see how well they can contain the odor of certain things these dogs are trained to detect. I’ll have to see about doing that. My guess it that they won’t work in that context but it would be a neat experiment.

    • Chad, I think that would be a great test and would love to know how it turns out if you would be willing to share. I have a lab that is fooled by these bags, but ONLY when I use some additional packaging that hides the visibility of the contents – she has a great sense of smell like most dogs, but she is also smart enough to look at what’s inside to make a determination of whether or not it’s worth her time and effort to get into it. You might want to factor that into your testing too! – BG

      • Right. The way we would do it sight would not be a factor. There’s nothing in the bag that the dog wants. He is looking for odor because that’s associated with his toy. Besides, the hide would be concealed so he couldn’t see it regardless. I’ll have to grab a couple of these bags just for curiosity sakes, plus, they are probably still good for their intended purpose.

        • Boosh Woggle

          so did you ever try it out Chad?

  • JJ_Mathes

    Hi Brian- I set up a completely different test using NyloBarrier and OpSak bags, see what I did and how the bags fared here

    • Rick Roese

      FYI — your blog is password blocked. But maybe you know that already.

  • Mark Westin

    These look great. I’ve used the zip top ones which are very durable, but have had issues with the seal after using them in my food bag from folding. Good find!

  • Drew

    Cooking bags (the kind for cooking a turkey) are a great, inexpensive alternative.

    • Thanks Drew, I think someone on Facebook mention those too – or was that you too? Either way, nice tip!