Gadling Gear: Aloksak Plastic Bags

Wait… don’t skip this article. I know on the surface it looks like an article about zip lock bags, but soon you’ll realize that it’s a lot more.

It’s a story about love, lust, and the beautiful simplicity of good design.

We were in Panama, taking a motorized dugout canoe to the tiny island of Isla Robinson. Our first warning sign should have been when the pilot of the canoe handed us a tablecloth.

The entire thirty minute boat ride was spent with us frantically trying to use the tablecloth to parry the spray’s advances towards our cameras. The video camera didn’t make it – now it stays zoomed all the way in all the time.

“We’ve got to get waterproof.”

And so, when we returned to civilization, we scoured the internet for a good waterproofing solution. It had to be reliable, lightweight, ultra-packable, and preferably cheap because we now had plans to waterproof everything in our bags.

We discovered Aloksak. These bags appear, look, and feel very similar to regular zip lock bags, but they’re actually quite different. In fact, they’re certified waterproof by none other than the US Navy.

A large order was placed and we waited for our friend to bring them to us in Japan when she visited.

True to the advertisement they really are totally waterproof, lightweight, and easy to pack. But besides waterproofing, they have a lot of other uses. And as you know, multi-function items are key to efficient packing.

Believe it or not, they actually take up negative room in your backpack. Why? Because you can pack your clothes in them, squeeze the air out, and then seal them into nice little vacuum packed packages. To see how effective this is, check out this video of me packing everything I own into a tiny 28L backpack.

Even if you use them for nothing else, they’re worth their modest cost for this one use. There’s also a 1 quart TSA sized one for your liquids. If you’ve ever had your shampoo explode in your bag, you know why you want a high quality bag to hold them.

The bags will also, in a pinch, make a halfway decent pillow. I’ve slept on trains, in a cave, on the roof of a building, and in a mountain hut, using the halfway (actually more like 1/3) inflated bag as a pillow. For an added bonus, wrap it in a fleece, jacket, or heavy shirt to make it a bit more comfy.

They come in a variety of sizes. I personally went with the multi pack (a 12×12, 6×9, and two smaller ones that are good for cell phones, wallets, and ipods), and an additonal three pack of 12x12s The 12x12s are perfect for clothes packing as well as impromptu pillow creation.

You can get them at Amazon