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Coghlan's Squeeze Tubes

rated 4.0 of 5 stars
photo: Coghlan's Squeeze Tubes storage container

A backpacker's classic, these reusable food tubes are great for viscous foods like smooth peanut butter, honey, or jam. Their weakness is the brittle plastic bar used to seal them, but with reasonable care — or a strip of duct tape — they will hold up for years.


  • Lightweight
  • Collapsible, take up less space as they are emptied
  • Inexpensive
  • Transparent so you can see what's inside


  • The hard plastic bar used to seal the wide end can crack

A classic that hasn't yet been reviewed on Trailspace! I'm happy to patch the hole.

These reusable food tubes have been available in outdoor supply stores for about as long as I can remember. We still have an old, well-used pair and recently picked up some fresh ones for a recent multi-day hike, at the low-low price of $4.95 a pair.

They can be used for viscous foods like smooth (or at least not too chunky) peanut butter, jam, or honey, anything that doesn't require too much pressure to squeeze out.


The back end opens up wide so that the goodness can be spooned in. It's best not to overfill, leaving a half inch or so to fold over.


They are sealed with a hard plastic (nylon? polypropylene?) bar with a central pin and a slot to lock the fold. This is their weakness — with repeated use or heavy squeezing the plastic can crack, eventually bad enough that the bar becomes useless. This one is cracked but still useable.

But then a strip of duct tape will do the same job, provided the tube is nice and clean when you apply it (do this at home).

After all these years you might think Coghlan's would have developed a (polycarbonate? polypropylene?) replacement, but as far as I can tell the new ones are identical to the 20 year olds.

I weighed one of these at 22 grams. It looks like it's made of polyethylene and so may contain some BPA, if that sort of thing worries you. 

I have tried some other reusable tubes, but the ones that I have found have to be filled on the business end and so are a lot harder to fill, and some are opaque, OK for olive oil and the like, but these are better for PB.

It's old, but it's good.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $4.95 a pair

There is nothing better but...


  • Easy to fill
  • Easy to dispense
  • Durable


  • Not for liquids like soap (dummy)
  • Not easy to find locally

Once upon a time these were first sold by the Gerry company, a once famed maker of packframes that later degenerated into selling solely baby carriers. I first used these around my freshman year in college, somewhere around 1972 I think. At that time they were commonly known as Gerry tubes. They were advocated by our friend Colin Fletcher as a container for margarine but he noted that an excellent use would be for peanut butter, which is true.

I have used them for decades and have yet to find anything even vaguely as useful for dispensing butter and peanut butter. 

When the tube wears at the point where it folds and is clipped, you simply trim it back with scissors and have a fully functional if slightly shorter and smaller tube.

Originally the plastic clip that was used to seal the tubes lacked the pin that currently prevents (or is supposed to prevent) the clip from popping off with greasy foods. Please note that despite persistent reports of this, it has never been an issue for me.  I do not however overfill the tubes and that may be crucial.  I have heard that this plastic pin sometimes breaks off, this I can attest to. It has happened to me perhaps twice in the ownership of maybe a dozen tubes. The tubes continued to function.

But there are a few buts. 

They are now difficult to find except through internet dealers and the postage is often prohibitive.  A $5 set of two tubes commonly carries postage of at least as much as the tubes themselves. I have seen postage of $6 on this $5 item. Maybe by hunting you can find them cheaper.

I just found an unused set of these tubes in my gear storage (fortunately!) and while they look first rate, I have heard reports that contemporary equivalents are less reliable in quality; the clips are alleged to be an issue. Still, I heard similar claims back in the day and did not see them myself.

Cleaning is not as easy as some suggest, I generally try to rinse them with boiling water to prevent spoilage of the food. They do seem to retain an oily feel.

Honey supposedly leaks out of them. Liquid soap surely would. This is not so much a flaw but the nature of the product. There are better ways to carry soap. Mix your honey into your peanut butter.

You cannot use them for mayonnaise, as it apparently breaks down the tube. Still, if you are dull enough to carry mayonnaise backpacking, you are probably dull enough not to care if you are eating plastic.

These are not perfect, but what in this world is? I have never had one fail in my pack and the use of them obviates digging PB out of a container and having to clean your knife afterwards. (Use your finger for spreading.)

I am thankful I have my two unused tubes. I wonder where I can get them without the postage hit?

P.S. I just found them from a single seller on Amazon for $5.49 for two tubes with free shipping. That is a reasonable price given that stores are supposed to sell them for around $5 off the shelf.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $5 for two


  • Perfect for peanut butter


  • Prongs on clips break

I use them for peanut butter. Haven't had a problem cleaning them. Put the cap on, fill with water, and let sit to loosen the peanut butter. I also use a jar/bottle cleaner.

For butter, I use the small plastic containers McCormick spices come in. I also use small (unused) urine containers I got from my internist.

The only problem I have had with them is the prongs on the clips are prone to breaking. I have seen clips for sale but don't recall where.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: don't recall


  • Everything


  • None

We used these in 1973 while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I don't think they ever failed. We used them for peanut butter,jam,and honey.We kept them in the cooking pot so they wouldn't be squeezed. My brother Michael and I think they were a great tool.The only problem with them was we emptied them to fast.

Source: bought it new

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Price Current Retail: $5.99-$6.49
Historic Range: $1.50-$7.59
Reviewers Paid: $4.95
Size 2 in x 6.5 in / 5.1 cm x 16.5 cm
Product Details from Coghlan's »

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