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Food Storage in Backcountry/30 litre bag

I am planning a backcountry trip with a friend and we are looking at food currently, particularly food storage. We will be going for 5 nights/6days and will need enough food for two people.

The guy at the camping/outdoor store recommended a dry bag to store food inside the backpack. We are planning on putting food in ziplok bags and then putting it in the dry bag.

We picked up a dry bag that is 30 litres.

  1. Do you think this (30 litres) is sufficient space to store food for two for the length of time we will be out for (5 nights/6 days)?
  2. Is an odour proof bag required? Will the smell of the food seep into the backpack or the other gear?


If you repack all your food suff into Ziploc bags no smells will come out. I use Ziploc's all the time, have since the 1980s. The 30 liter dry bag should be good. I use three bags each a different color and each for different meals so when I open my pack and want say lunches I know by color which sack has them so I don't have to search thru one large bag for a certain meal. I have been backpacking for 35 years.

That's a good idea separating it by meal. I could even use large ziploc bags or something to help with that.


If you are traveling through bear country non bear proof containers require hanging in trees.  Some locales require bear proof containers.  If bears are no issue, you should consider hanging your food anyway, high enough to be beyond mice, coyotes and such.

Consider getting two bags (or containers) to haul food in, so you can share the bulk volume and haul weight.  I never used dry bags to haul food, finding zip lock in a standard stuff sack suffice.

I use the one gallon freezer Ziploc bags as they are much stronger than the standard bags. I also use the Hefty brand ones with the zipper on them instead of the standard ones as they work so much better. I use simple individual stuff sacks in different colors to separate my meals. I use double ziplocs for items like pasta that has rougher edges in case after some use the bags develope holes.

In packing lighter items should be on the bottom and heavier closer to the top.

Ziplocs work fine, but I'd be cautious anyway about the smell of food getting into the backpack. People will wrap up their meals carefully, but forget about the bars, sandwiches and snacks they're carrying that are less well-wrapped.

I hang my whole pack with the food inside if I'm using a bear pole, and every month or two, I'll wash the pack itself with unscented detergent.

August 4, 2020
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