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Vacuum sealers have become a staple of sportsmen’s kitchens. Using one allows you to preserve the fish and game meat you worked so hard to harvest for much longer than other methods, and with the rise in popularity of souse vide cooking, they have become even more useful. You can even prepare home-cooked frozen meals that you can take with you into the backcountry, only requiring a pot of boiling water to provide a delicious meal at the end of long day afield. Here’s what to look for before you buy one.

A Handheld Sealer

Top Pick

This pick detects moisture and will switch modes if necessary. FoodSaver

One of the best innovations to come to the world of vacuum sealers is the invention of zip-lock bags that allow you to reuse them over and over again while maintaining the airtight seal that keeps everything fresh. This is great if you enjoy souse vide-style cooking because it can eliminate the waste and cost associated with tossing bags after a single-use. Look for a unit that has a handheld sealer to utilize the bags. As a bonus, the handheld sealers also work with a variety of hard-sided containers that let you extend the life of dry goods.

Time to Seal

Great Startup Time

Keeps your items fresh five times longer features multiple modes for dry or wet items. FoodSaver

Processing game is a time consuming chore. Speed it up by selecting a unit that requires a the least amount of time between sealing cycles. Many units on the market require as much as 40 seconds before they’re hot enough to seal another bag, but some sealers can do the same in half the time. When you’re butchering 100 pounds of meat, that sort of time can really add up.

Seal in the Flavor

Ideal for Adding Marinades

Your meat will soak up more flavor, much quicker. NutriChef

Speed up the marinating process by drawing the air out, and letting more flavor in. Using your vacuum sealer you can cut marinade time down to as little as 30 minutes, and add flavor that used to take a day or more to soak into meat. I’ve even added marinade to meat as I processed it, making it ready to go as soon as it defrosted. Choose a unit that has a liquid sealing mode and enjoy less prep time before dinner.