Chip clips just don't do a great job of sealing bags in the humidity aboard a boat. These bags seals are a snap to use and really do form an airtight seal!

Sealing Bags

Sealing bags takes on a little greater importance when you’re on a boat.  Ashore, a chip clip or a clothespin is usually sufficient to keep chips, crackers, cereal or whatever fresh.  In the typical humidity aboard a boat, stronger measures are needed to keep them from going stale.

Lots of times, the bags themselves are pretty airtight — it’s just that it’s hard to really seal them up well.  For years, I coped by rolling the open top down, using a clip and then sticking the whole thing inside a 2-gallon Ziploc.  And if I didn’t have any big Ziplocs, I’d have to divide things up or see if I had a Lock & Lock that was empty and the right size . . . or whatever.

Chip clips just don't do a great job of sealing bags in the humidity aboard a boat. These bags seals are a snap to use and really do form an airtight seal!Bruce Balan,* who we met in the Sea of Cortez aboard his tri Migration (he and his now-wife Alene are currently in Thailand) recently told me about a much better way to do it: the bag sealers shown in the photo at the top of this article.  They really do make an airtight seal!

Each seal has two parts — a tube and a 3/4 tube that snaps over the tube.  Place the tube on one side of the bag, fold the bag over it, then snap the other half over it.

I bought some over 5 months ago to test and they are working great.  I’ve never had one pop off and whatever is in the bag has stayed fresh.  The only thing to note is that the bag you’re sealing has to be airtight itself — paper bags and even waxed paper bags will still let air in, and using a seal that is shorter than the width of the bag will also let air in.  Since I made the cardinal mistake of not measuring how wide my bags are before choosing the size of seals (I know — I always say to measure everything!), I discovered that if I pleated the bag, it would fit and I could still get a good airtight seal.

If one is too long and the ends get in the way, you can cut the tubes to size — you probably want about 1/2″ overhang on both ends (1″ longer total) so that you don’t have to line things up perfectly every time you seal up a bag.

I’ve been seriously contemplating cutting one down to use on my open bag of coffee beans, instead of putting them into a Lock & Lock container.  I’m thinking that since I could squeeze most of the air out of the bag — which I can’t do with the Lock & Lock — it might be a better way to store coffee.  (UPDATE: it worked well — read about it here.)

They go by a variety of names — Banana Seals were the original ones, but they’ve become quite hard to find, unfortunately probably the victim of less expensive knock-offs.

The ones I bought — Clip-n-Seal — come in several sizes, but I found the larges to do pretty well for most things:

No, they’re not going to totally replace Ziplocs for storing things . . . and for longer term storage, you’ll probably want to overwrap the bag something came in with a plastic bag.  But for keeping many items fresh for a week or 10 days, they work really well.

*Bruce is a children’s book author and recently released his award-winning “Buoy, Home at Sea” as an ebook — great book for anyone who loves the sea . . . even adults!  See it on Amazon.

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  • Monique
    Posted at 23 May 2012 Reply

    carolyn, thanks for sharing this one! I’m always looking for better food storage solutions. We too cruised w/Bruce and Alene (from Tuamotus to New Zealand). Love them dearly! Great content on your site.

  • Susan Parker
    Posted at 13 September 2013 Reply

    My Clip-n-Seal bag clips arrived and I already love them. I bought a package for the boat and one for the house. I noticed that they are no longer available on Amazon. They probably sold out due to your post.

  • Penni Potter
    Posted at 18 July 2014 Reply

    These are amazing! I have several, they work perfectly. Bought them at a state fair several years ago.

    • Melanie
      Posted at 11 January 2015 Reply

      FYI: gripstic are not banana seals…
      Banana seals are 2 pieces not one piece and they work differently.
      Gripstics, to me, are much harder to use. Only my son can get them onto anything, try as I may. You have to slide them onto the bag between the stick and the shroud.
      I don’t have time to struggle with the gripstic every time or find him to help me….
      My advice..stick with the banana seal. You peel the 2 parts apart, place the round part on one side of your bag and the concave part on the other and snap together with the bag between for a tight seal. Perfection.

    • Beth Nencetti
      Posted at 30 November 2015 Reply

      Penni, I too have GripStics and love them. We bought them at the last Annapolis Boat Show and use them for everything. My husband was amazed and convinced me to buy them. That is a selling point for me.

  • Richard M. Burger
    Posted at 19 July 2014 Reply

    Since you mentioned coffee beans in the post, I have to ask, what type of grinder do you use?

  • Tasha Sims
    Posted at 22 February 2015 Reply

    I have the Ikea Bevara clips (Set of 30, $3), which are great for most applications. They are not water tight to my knowledge, but do work very well for everything I have used them for in my galley/on board and in my kitchen. I have had mine for +10 yrs. I will also check these clips out, thanks!

  • Wanda Black
    Posted at 22 February 2015 Reply

    Sounds like a q-snap quilt frame, Google it and see.

  • Kelley Gudahl
    Posted at 01 May 2016 Reply

    I picked up a set called grip sticks at the boat show and LOVE them. My pack came in multiple sizes, for coffee bags all the way to Costco sized bags of chips

  • Ken Tobin
    Posted at 07 June 2017 Reply

    update for 6/7/2017
    Best price I could find for these was at University Products:

    Thanks for posting this Carolyn. I remembered reading this article some time ago but without an exact name I couldn’t locate the product. I found your post again and problem solved.

    Yes, I have bought the Kindle version of your The Boat Galley Cookbook. 🙂

  • Marilyn VanOs
    Posted at 01 September 2017 Reply

    I started reading your blog because I live in a very humid locale, and thought you might have some useful tips I could translate to living in one of the wettest places on the planet – Kauaiʻs North Shore. Thanks to you, Carolyn, Iʻve been using Clip and Seal for a few years now. I still love them. I havenʻt had to replace any, and I give them all constant heavy use. I recommend them to all my friends. My crackers last forever! No bugs in my flour nor rice. They even hold up in the freezer. Theyʻre my favorite Boat Galley tip!

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 01 September 2017 Reply

      Thanks for the note Marilyn! I am so glad you find it helpful!

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