DIY Ursack or Ratsack

Posted by: altadude

DIY Ursack or Ratsack - 08/07/08 05:07 PM

I was thinking about trying to make a ratsack or ursack.
Has anyone tried this?

A DIY ratsack, in my feeble mind, might be ditty bags with steel wool in the middle?

Ursack seems a little more challening.........

I guess I am thinking of not having to hang my bag in a campsite and just leaving it on the ground..........

Any thoughts?
Posted by: TurkeyBacon

Re: DIY Ursack or Ratsack - 08/08/08 02:27 AM

I believe you would be in over your head. Steel wool is nothing for a determined rodent that can conform itself down to the size of a dime or something like that. No offence to you, but rodents and bear are professionals... Its what they do for a living. So unless you can get similar materials to what usack uses, the only way to outsmart a rodent would be a plastic conatiner, IMO.
The problem with rodents seems to be that on the ground, the mice can get it, in a tree the squirrels can get it. Right now I'm trying to outsmart a grey squirrel off my birdfeeder, I suspect I will give up and end up with a squirrel feeder.
But please do try to prove me wrong... I just am putting my money on the rodents.
Posted by: lori

Re: DIY Ursack or Ratsack - 08/08/08 06:15 AM

So unless you can get similar materials to what usack uses, the only way to outsmart a rodent would be a plastic conatiner, IMO.

Marmots in Mineral King chew cars - plastics and rubbers and chewy bits. You have to take chicken wire or heavy tarp to wrap around your car at the trailhead. Rats and squirrels could probably take on a tupperware, coons can open them. Polycarbonate ala BearVault stops them, so does the heavy duty plastic of the Garcia or similar canisters.

IMO buying a rat sack is cheaper than trying to make one - why reinvent the wheel and spend all your time on what's already available for cheaper (by the time you get done with the prototype how many hours will you have spent that you could have used for something else, like work, hiking, playing with your kids, etc)? Do it only if you need a hobby to take up a bunch of your time.
Posted by: tarbubble

Re: DIY Ursack or Ratsack - 08/08/08 07:40 AM

if you insist on doing this, go to a vehicle salvage yard and cut out a deployed airbag. the cutting will not be easy, you'll want a box cutter or other very tough cutting implement. sew a bag out of the airbag fabric. somebody else on this forum has done it, run a search.

unless you're in treeless desert, hanging (not counterbalancing) is easy. have you tried the PCT method?
Posted by: TurkeyBacon

Re: DIY Ursack or Ratsack - 08/09/08 04:20 AM

"the only way to outsmart a rodent would be a plastic conatiner, IMO"
"Rats and squirrels could probably take on a tupperware, coons can open them."

I'm thinking thicker. While not the greatest example, this is the best picture I could come up with real quickly;amp;lpage=none
Not excatly practical, which is my point...
But please do prove the naysayers wrong, and post your successes.
Posted by: midnightsun03

Re: DIY Ursack or Ratsack - 08/10/08 10:43 AM

I don't know why, but mice hate burlap. I had a mouse invasion in my garage a few years ago - they got into many of my food stores through all kinds of containers, but left the rice in the burlap bag alone. I've read somewhere that one of the reasons burlap is used heavily to contain rice and grains in 3rd world countries is because mice won't touch it. Don't know about other rodents though.

30+ mice avoiding burlap can't be a coincidence.


Posted by: altadude

Re: DIY Ursack or Ratsack - 08/10/08 11:09 AM

As always, this board provides amazingly helpful advice, especially the naysayers who think I would be in over my head (seriously, I am not handy at all).........and the ones who think I should just get the commercial product (do I need an excuse for more gear?!)...........

Here are my thoughts..........looking not to have to hang my bag using the PCT method (here in the NE you can have some very THICKLY forested areas where it is challenging to find a spot to throw the line) AND we, like MNS, have had mice want to stay with us in our house-steel wool and aluminum foil in the cracks in our basement have kept our unwanted squatters from coming in-the lore has always been that the mice noses don't like the poking of the steel I thought that a steel wool "blanket" around our food would also keep the varmints out...........could be totally wrong (a daily experience in my life).............

So, I am waffling.........whether to place steel wool between two bags and see if it keeps the varmints out............or to just buy the ursack/ratsack.......what I usually do is make a DIY (which is usually of poor quality) and then buy the commercially made one.............

MNS-how thick and rough was the burlap-maybe the same principle as the steel wool?

Thanks again all,

Posted by: midnightsun03

Re: DIY Ursack or Ratsack - 08/11/08 12:24 PM


It wasn't particularly thick... it was a bag of Jasmine rice from Costco, which came in a burlap bag. The zipper was open (i.e. easy access) and yet the inner bag was undisturbed... unlike virtually everything else in the pantry. It has been a few years, but I seem to recall that they ate through some very surprising packages, and the bag of brown rice that was in plastic, but it was as if they gave the burlap wide berth. I think it is an odor issue for them.

Posted by: JoeF

Re: DIY Ursack or Ratsack - 08/15/08 11:57 AM

I posted this some time ago to the Thur-hiker message board but it may work for what your looking for. The blend fabrics Ursack uses has a high percentage of Kevlar in it and I was reading in auto week that so do air-bags. Well one of my other hobbies is working and camping in my 97 vw vanagon and this sends me to the junk yard once in a wile. Well last time I was there I cut out about 5 air bags to play with and made a stuff sack from it. I've found it it's really strong stuff. One of the keep parts of the Ursack is the metal insert adds some stiffness to the outside and makes it harder for mice and small animals to bite down on.

Anyway, I left my bag out by the trash to see if any small animals could get into it and was happy. I'm not saying I'd use it for Bear and I still tend to hang it but I've been happy. If you give it a go what I've found is side of passenger side bags give the most usable area over driver side. Also most of the air bags I found have a rubber coating on the inside which is also nice.

I call it my airbag bear bag. ;-)

This messenger bag I made to carry my tools around in the junk yard, also from air bags

Posted by: DTape

Re: DIY Ursack or Ratsack - 08/15/08 01:47 PM

Very cool. What did you use to stitch it? Thread type?, needle type? machine or hand?
Posted by: JoeF

Re: DIY Ursack or Ratsack - 08/15/08 02:03 PM

I used a serger to do the seems with regular poly thread. The bar tacks are done with Bernina 950 on the zig-zag setting. All seams are in the inside. I did this bag as test and it's held up well but if you wanted to kick it up a notch you can buy Kevlar thread.

The line to close the bag is spectra, really strong stuff. I buy it at Into the wind