I've begun the annual ritual of putting away winter blankets, coats, etc. until they're needed again. This year I'm trying something new: I'm using vacuum storage bags. After doing some comparative research, I decided on this brand, since it was relatively economical in the 30-bag pack, and its customer reviews were reasonably good.
So far, the experiment is proving very successful. I've packed throws, fleecy blankets, and several winter-weight coats, and all have shrunk dramatically, needing a lot less storage space than before. I can only wonder why I never tried this in the past.
However, I couldn't help but notice customer reviews, for this product and for other similar ones, complaining that:
- Some bags (in some cases, up to half) didn't seal properly, rendering them useless. Several reviewers complained that the plastic clip on the ziplock seam fell off and proved useless.
- Some bags were very hard to seal, with the ziplock seam hard to close and pulling open when a vacuum cleaner hose was applied;
- Some bags split when filled, proving very brittle instead of flexible.
- I made sure not to over-fill the bags. Some people seem to ram clothes into them until they bulge, and then wonder why the seams split or the ziplock seal won't close. If you don't overwork them, they seem to function just fine.
- I folded the clothes and blankets neatly, and eased them into the bags carefully, rather than just stuffing them in any old how. That put less stress on the opening and the seams. (I also added a couple of large dessicant packets to each one, to absorb any moisture that might get in. Tightly sealed clothes and moisture don't mix well - think fungus.)
- I made sure to seal the opening very carefully, running my fingers up and down the double seals several times. That made sure it was properly closed, so that when the vacuum was used, it could handle the pressure change. Also, I found the plastic clip on the seam was never intended to be permanent - it was a slide-on aid to closing the bag rather than an integral part of the seal. I discarded it and didn't bother to use it, and didn't miss it.
- I didn't regard the bags as a clothing equivalent of a Food Saver bag, intended to have all the air drawn out and sealing-in a complete vacuum. I don't think they're intended for that. Instead, I took out only enough air to compress their contents to a reasonable extent. I'm pretty sure that if I'd tried to flatten them completely, particularly on the well-filled bags, the ziplock seals and/or the seams might have given way. Moderation in use is not necessarily a bad thing.
By following those steps, I haven't had any problems, and all the bags I've used so far have worked perfectly. I can only presume that some of the reviewers who didn't like them, or complained about them, didn't use them properly.
I'm going to try a few of the smaller vacuum storage bags to compress a change of clothing in our emergency kits. It should make them easier to store and transport. (I'm also going to try Commander Zero's suggestion of using Food Saver vacuum bags to protect other important emergency items. It might save a lot of trouble in case of urgent need.)
Just a few thoughts that I hope you may find helpful.