Some of you may remember I posted last year about how I use plastic freezer bags for my dehydrated meals and wash them after to reuse. I can usually get several reuses out of each bag, and then it will be relegated to another use like storing toilet paper and such in my pack. This is one of the reasons I am reluctant to switch to vacuum sealing meals because although you can reuse the bag at home for another meal (getting smaller and smaller each time), you can’t reuse it on your trip to keep your garbage in, for example.
As someone who tried to avoid plastic (BPA free or no) in every day life, I am always looking for alternatives for the trail as well. I have been testing out some homemade fabric bags and I really like them, but them don’t do well for keeping things air sealed (preventing them from drying out) and they aren’t good with wet items.
I’ve been looking for lined fabric, but there doesn’t seem to be a consensus online about whether or not even the “food grade” ones are really a better alternative than plastic (gotta love Pinterest). I hope to have something to share this spring…
Meanwhile, I was strolling in my local grocery store and saw these hanging on the end aisle. Hmmmm…what are these?
From their website:
RUSSBE reusable snack bags and sandwich sacks provide an environmentally friendly and fun alternative to packing snacks and lunches in generic paper and plastic sacks. Attractively priced and packaged in sets of four (two sandwich and two snack bags), RUSSBE allows people to cut back on paper and plastic waste without breaking the bank. They are easy to use, simple to clean and convenient. They are also free of BPA, PVC, latex and phthalates. Each RUSSBE bag has the potential to keep hundreds of disposable bags out of our oceans, cities and landfills while keeping chips, cookies and sandwiches fresh and ready to enjoy !
They are made by a company named RUSSBE and the set of 4 was a little less than $5 (at Fred Meyers, online they are $7.99). I decided to pick them up and see if they might work for my backpacking meals. Obviously, the price would be prohibitive if packing meals for 4-5 months. But, I thought if they stood up to more washes they would be worth purchasing a few weeks worth. I usually have a mix of 10 meals or so premade, as well as toss ingredients together before I head out on a trip.
The sandwich size bag is HUGE. Pretty much the same size as the Ziploc quart size bags. And, they stand on their own! If you have tried to set your meal down with water in it and have it not flop all over the place, you know why this is a big plus. It also makes washing them easier, they stand up for drying upside down!
I was curious to know how they did with boiling water, as I would be using them to soak my food in I wanted to know if they would hold up to the hot water. I don’t always use hot water, but there are times when I have hiked with others who have a stove and hot water is available. The bag did well, it did not feel “softer” as plastic will sometimes do when in contact with high temperatures.
I also wanted to know if they were punch resistant (could sharp food punch through). You can’t use a bag to rehydrate your meal if it’s going to spring a leak from pokey food! So, I did an “what-would-it-be-like-inside-my-pack” test.
Unfortunately, I was rough enough and the answer is no. The noodles did still manage to poke a hole through (they are pretty stiff). I think they will be fine for most foods but I may still need to double bag the noodles.
I think I will still give there a try on a few trips to see if they are worth the cost (and maybe will make it in a real backpack test). My bf picked some up, too, to test out. If they last for a longer time than the Ziploc brand, it could be worth it.
How do you avoid plastic on the trail?