Gear: Ursack Minor Review
Disguised as a stuff sack, the Ursack Minor has transformed alpine food storage. Its lightweight Kevlar construction is impenetrable to birds, rodents, and other nibbling mountain fauna (large mammals excluded). The food bag stays outside (use a waterproof liner), eliminating mouse-gnawed packs and tents. The closure system is effective and its 14-liter volume holds plenty of calories for short trips. Not only does the Ursack Minor eliminate habituating small animals to human food, it also affords a good night’s rest by ending the sleeplessness caused by wondering if tomorrow’s lunch is going to be munched to bits by morning.
Available at http://www.ursack.com
Note: This mini-review was first published in 2012 in Climbing Magazine.
And my full review for the American Alpine Institute:
The Ursack Minor appears at first glance to be a regular stuff sack, but is in fact far from regular. It’s major difference is that it is constructed of Kevlar fabric—the same that prison guards use for protection from knives— and is impenetrable from the likes of birds, rodents, and other nibbling alpine creatures. It allows me to leave my food bag outside my tent and not have to spend the night worrying that a hungry mouse is going to choose that night to gnaw its way into my tent and have a gluttonous midnight snack.
The closure system on the Ursack is unique, but quite effective. Instead of the usual toggle or buckle system, it relies on the user to tie a series of knots to close the bag. The leftover cordage is then used to tie the bag itself to a fixed object such as a tree or the like, preventing it from being hauled off by a chubby rodent. Admittedly, I found this system to be annoying initially, but time has shown that it is simple, effective, and secure (not to mention that it eliminates one potential breaking spot in the toggle).
The Ursack Minor is not waterproof and I have to line the bag with a ziplock bag to keep my foodstuffs dry when it rains. The manufacturer sells custom-sized odor-proof bags, but these are heavier and more expensive than a simple bag. I feel that I don’t need odor reduction since the sack itself is so effective in its protection abilities from animals.
I’ve spent many a mountain evening watching various mice, birds, and other critters trying to weasel their way into my food bag to no avail. I’m confident that the Ursack Minor is simply the best tool on the market for simple and effective food storage from small mammals, rodents, and birds. Not only does it eliminate habituating animals to human food, but it also affords me a good night’s sleep since I don’t lay awake wondering if tomorrow’s lunch is going to be nibbled to bits when I wake up.
2014 update: I finally had my Ursack Minor compromised in 2014 by a particularly hungry marmot. I’m not sure what allowed it to get through this time, but I’m attributing it to the exceedingly tasty peanut butter cups that were inside at the time.