Fish quality deteriorates faster than anything else in your freezer.

Flavour loss and freezer-burn are the most common results. Double wrapping with plastic and butcher paper allows longer storage, but vacuum packing is the secret to longevity with frozen fish.

The early versions of shrink-wrapping devices were large, expensive, and not as dependable as later models. Currently, most models are in the $120-$500 range and the greatest variety is displayed in the Cabela’s Canada catalogue.

Many models use generic bags that come on a roll for you to cut the size you need. The bag-cutter blade is usually built into the appliance. The bags are not cheap, so learning to cut them the right length saves money. Various size pre-cut bags are also available, but more expensive.

These bags are heavy-duty and can be microwaved, or put in boiling water to re-heat the contents. The manufacturers also suggest that the bags can be reused after washing. One very inexpensive but dependable model is a Zip-Vac, which comes in a kit with a plug-in rechargeable vacuum pump, a manual pump, and a supply of both small and medium bags.

The manual pump works very well when power is not available and is so simple that I often use it for small jobs, even at home. These units must be used with Zip-Vac bags, which are significantly more expensive than bags for other models.

The two pumps, bags and instructions come in a kit for about $50 while the manual pump with bags is priced at about $10.

You might consider buying the manual Zip-Vac and some bags for use out on the land and a mid-range electric unit using cheaper, generic bags at home.

Aside from freezer storage of fish and game, these units are used by hikers to create waterproof, compressed packages containing extra socks, underwear, medicines and emergency gear.

At the suggestion of a sheep-hunter friend, I ate a 5-day old vacuum-sealed meat sandwich he’d taken on a trek. Other than being a little squashed, the vacuum-packing kept it quite well and it was fine to eat.