When we tour on our trikes, food and water are essential to fuel the organic engine, in other words, us! Trike trekkers don’t use toxic petroleum solutions to get from point A to point B. We use things like rice, beans, peanut butter, trail mix, and other yummy life-extending foods to keep us going mile after mile, day after day on the road. We are environmentally friendly.
Of course, these great tasting and smelling fuels we eat on our trips are also very inviting for creatures who are not human, critters like raccoons, squirrels, mice, ants, wolverines, bobcats, and bears. For those of you triking in Africa, I suppose you might also include lions and tigers. Basically, if we allow the odor of our food supply to waft through the air where we camp, we may well find our panniers compromised come morning. It has happened many times to touring cyclists who have not taken simple precautions as described here.
Sometimes, raccoons, for example, have used their claws to tear into a cyclist’s pannier to get food, ruining the cargo bag with long rips. Other times, as in my case while tricycling the Pacific Coast in 2013, a raccoon actually unzipped my Radical Design pannier to remove food, with no damage at all to the bag. Bottom line? Stop the odor, which stops the animals because they don’t know the food is even there! Their noses will not find food in this solution.
I now use the OPSAK solution, barrier bags from a company called LokSak. These are awesome bags that I acquire at REI outdoor recreation stores. I use the smaller of two sizes (10 x 9 inches), as they fit well in my panniers. Three bags come in the package for $10.50, so an investment of $21.00 will get you six bags, more than ample room for all your food (and maybe other things like toothpaste, which animals can smell). I recommend these bags if you wish to have peace of mind each night as you snooze in your tent – they work for me (and military organizations too).
A little story to reinforce my experience: On my Pacific Coast trip, I had all my food supply in these bags, except for two Clif Bars that were in another pannier for quick access during the day’s riding. On the final night of the journey, I had unwittingly pitched my tent next to a raccoon den in some dense thorny bushes next to the beach. That night, the raccoons visited my tricycle more than once, and since my little Obi one-person tent has no room for panniers, my food stash was on the trike. Well, a raccoon absconded with the two Clif Bars in the Radical Design side seat pannier, gently unzipping the bag and taking the bars (no damage to the pannier). The night marauders never did detect all the other food in another pannier that was contained in the OPSAK bags! Yep, these things work like a charm.
Click HERE to visit the Loksak company website, home of the OPSAK food stowage solutions.
Click HERE to visit REI and acquire your own OPSAK food stowage bags.
Click HERE to read about that day when raccoons got my two unprotected Clif Bars.