Caring for your game bags after a hunt

Game bags hanging with meat

goHUNT Caribou Gear Carnivore III game bags full of mule deer meat. All photo credits: Brady Miller

Game bags are an essential part of your hunting kit. They are so important that I will never go on a hunt without them at the bottom of my backpack. As the saying goes, it’s better to have them and not need them, then need them and not have it.

With all their importance and the amount of use they see throughout a hunting season, it’s imperative that you take care of your game bags to ensure you get plenty of years of use out of them. Let’s face it, game bags can get pretty beat up on a hunt. They are meant to keep your meat clean and thus in the process, they take on a lot of blood and other material. What follows are the steps I have been using to keep my Caribou Gear game bags clean after a hunt.

Note: I know a lot of people that think that game bags meant to be thrown away after one use, no matter the brand or material... but the couldn't be further from the truth!

How to clean your game bags

goHUNT Caribou Gear game bags in tree

What follows is the process I’ve used for many years to clean my game bags once I get home from a hunt.

Cleaning game bags in bucket

After I remove the game bags from my cooler and empty the meat, I will take my bags and soak them a 5-gallon bucket full of water with either Dawn dish soap, Borax or any random dishwashing/laundry detergent that I have on hand. My preferred method is to use Borax, but during this time of year I either have a ton of it on hand or don’t have any due to helping friends with their European mounts. So that is when the dish soap or detergent gets busted out.

Once I place them in a bucket, I’ll let them soak for awhile while I cut up meat. Next, I’ll take the bags and rub them together in the soapy water with my hands, wring them out, spray them down with a hose and do the process all over again. I will do this three to five times depending on how “soiled” the bags are.

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Next, I’ll lay out the bags and let them dry slightly before I carry them into my house (or just carry them into the laundry room in the five-gallon bucket).

Bleach and fragrance free detergent for cleaning game bags

I will then toss the bags in the laundry machine and clean them in warm/hot water with some bleach and any sort of fragrance-free laundry detergent that I have on hand.

Washing game bags

I’ll run them through the washer twice and then place them in the dryer on low heat for a short amount of time. Finally, after they are somewhat dry, I’ll hang dry them the rest of the way to let them dry. Note: It's also a good idea to run the washer with plain water afterward to clean out your washer. 

In conclusion

Packing meat with Stone Glacier backpack

These steps are fairly simple but will allow you to get a plethora of years out of your game bags.

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