If you want a clip that will keep your chips fresh for a long time, you won’t be disappointed with our favorite product, the Gripstic. The Gripstic is easier to use on a wider variety of bags than anything we found in nearly 40 hours of research over two years and after testing more than 25 of the highest-rated models. While no product will completely stop your food from going stale, this creates a tight-enough seal to slow the process.
We tried a bunch of so-called DIY methods, from rubber-banding bags to folding them over origami-style. Scotch tape beat out the competition in almost every way. It’s simple to use, cheap beyond measure, and reusable, and it was nearly as effective—though not as effective—as the Gripstic, keeping chips fresh for about five days versus the Gripstic’s seven.
Chef Craft Bread & Bagel Clips may be labeled for bread and bagels, but they’re also good for any food with similar packaging, like scoop-your-own nuts and candy. The trick: You have to be able to twist the open end of whatever bag needs closing into a tight coil to fit inside the clip.
Since there are practically no reviews out there comparing the many chip clips on the market, we relied heavily on our own experiences and testing methods. We noted in 2013 that there are three main types of clips available: your standard hinged clip, which often features a magnet for the fridge (why?); smaller round or oval-shaped spring-loaded clips specifically designed for bread but also usable on smaller bags; and long, skinny two-part clips.
For our 2015 update, we also tested devices called bag sealers. These battery-operated machines heat and cut foil bags to reseal them so they look just as intact as the chip bags on store shelves. We tried out a variety of simple do-it-yourself solutions, too—like Scotch tape, clothespins, rubber bands, and the “fold method”—with varying degrees of success.
After pinning each of 20-odd clips to a different bag of chips that was folded down once, then storing the bags for two weeks, we held a blind taste test against two control bags, one left open for the full 14 days and one newly opened. We then pushed each clip to its limits by stacking sheets of cardboard into its mouth to see how much it could hold.
The result: All of the clothespin-style clips did poorly. In the taste test, we found that some of the chips they’d clipped fared worse than chips that had been sitting in an open bag for two weeks. The best performers were wide clips that sealed off the entire length of the opening, like the Gripstic.
So in 2015, we focused on testing a few more Gripstic-style models, along with bag sealers, tapes, rubber bands, and DIY methods. We used them on bags of all different sizes—from large tortilla-chip sacks to single servings of potato chips—and on snacks of different kinds, including Lay’s chips, Doritos, and Smartfood Popcorn, to name a few. After a week, we held a blind taste test similar to the one we held in 2013.
In the end, the Gripstic remains the best choice overall. It’s wide enough to close most bags (the three-pack comes in different sizes to fit all of your needs), it creates an incredibly tight seal (scoring very high in the taste test), and it’s not much larger than a drinking straw, so it easily stores in a drawer.
It’s a little tricky to get the hang of at first, but it’s still easier to use than its competitors, the SealStix and the Zipstiq. (Reviewers note it’s more effective to pull, not push, the clip on.) I tugged and pulled at the interior plastic, and it stayed strong. I bent it, and it didn’t break.
The Grommet has featured the Gripstic at least twice, and says, “For a firm, airtight seal that won’t come undone until you want it to, the best device we’ve tested is the Gripstic.” At Amazon, the Gripstic earned 4.7 stars over 22 reviews. K.S. Poznikoff says, “I doubt I will use chip-clips-type clips again,” and reviewer Cecilia notes that in warmer climates, they’re particularly effective at keeping out moisture. They’re available at lots of grocery stores, too.
Our top pick does have some small annoyances: The Gripstic can’t handle extremely thick materials well and struggles to keep a good grip on the super-thin plastic of a bread bag. But for everything in between—which is the vast majority of chip bags—they’re golden.
To our surprise, Scotch tape was almost as effective as any of the dedicated chip-clipping products we tested. Just fold the top of your bag over a few times and apply a piece or two of Scotch tape to keep it closed. Done.
Scotch tape’s greatest drawback is that a bag folded in on itself doesn’t create the best overall seal. This problem is what hampered the more expensive FreshTape, which is designed to seal chip bags and yet in our tests was more difficult to use than Scotch tape.
While the Gripstic was more effective at keeping chips fresh over a 48-hour period, Scotch tape was easy to use in a pinch and gave us a few extra days of snack enjoyment, which we wouldn’t have had if we had not had it on hand.
If you buy a lot of fresh bread from the bakery, which tends to go bad very quickly, we recommend picking up a dedicated bag clip. The Bread & Bagel clips represent your best choice. They did a terrible job at sealing crinkly potato-chip bags, but with their tightly wound coil, they did a great job when it came to keeping my bread from going dry. They’re super easy to use, but are effective only on thin-walled bags that can be twisted into a tightrope: Think bags of scoop-your-own nuts or candies, freezer bags of fruits or vegetables, and sliced bread and hamburger buns. They’re far superior to twist ties or bread tags—which tend to either break, fall off, or become lost—and not too expensive, at $9 for 12 clips.
The best-performing gadgets we aren’t featuring as a must buy are the Linden Sweden Twixit Clip Bag Sealers. You might recognize these from IKEA: They’re nearly identical to the clips that that store sells. These were one of the highest-performing models in our taste testing, doing a great job of keeping the chips fresh. Unfortunately, they’re just not wide enough for most bags. Here’s a quick rundown of the clips we dismissed completely:
Chef’n Small Bag Clips: These have a strong magnet and a strong grip, but they’re not suitable for keeping out air.
Clip-n-Seal Bag Clips: The Clip-n-Seal operates similarly to our chosen Gripstic, but it’s much bigger and bulkier, with two separate parts for each clip, making it hard to store.
DCI Bird Clips: The design may be cute, but these feel flimsy and crappy—not to mention, they won’t hold your bag closed tightly enough to keep your snacks fresh.
Amco Everything Clips: Too skinny, too insubstantial. Might be good on an actual clothesline, but for bags? No way.
Honey-Can-Do Wood Clothespins: These may be the original bag clip, but the metal wire that keeps them closed has the tendency to slip off. And while they might have a wide mouth, they’ll keep only a sliver of the opening sealed off from air.
InterDesign Forma Ultra Magnetic Clips: The InterDesign clips scored well, if not amazingly, in our tests, thanks to their sturdy construction and hardy magnet. But they’re still not a winner, because they’re just not wide enough.
Kikkerland Monsters Bag Clips: Cute novelty, but for children, not grown-ups, and certainly not durable or stable enough to keep adults’ food bags closed. The distance between the opening and the hinge is too short, making it impossible to keep a good grip on the bags.
Natural Life CHCL002: These are “natural” and woodsy, but for $12 for a four-pack, they’re way too pricey to be in the running minus some amazing innovation. They don’t have one, so don’t bother.
Norpro 166 Grip-EZ Handy Clips: Another set that would be great for hanging art, not so great for clipping chips. They have a strong magnet and a tight grip but just aren’t wide enough to seal off the bad things from the outside.
Norpro 168 & 169 Stainless Steel Bag Clips: These are similar in design to the InterDesign clips but aren’t nearly as sturdy and lack a magnet. The 169 is wider and does a better job at creating a durable seal, but it’s not even 5 inches wide, still less than the OXO.
Progressive International Mini Magnetic Bag Clips: These are made of cheap, gimmicky plastic. They have a stronger grip than some of their immediate competitors, but the magnet—the only thing that really sets them apart—is too weak to even hold itself up on the fridge.
Zyliss Clipeez Linking Bag Clips: Despite the good reviews on Amazon, there wasn’t much about these clips that stood out. Even the medium size, at about 2 inches wide, is pretty small.
OXO Bag Cinch: Like the Bread & Bagel clips, these work best with bread bags, but their grip isn’t quite as tight, and they won’t fit as much material in their mouths.
OXO Magnetic All-Purpose Clips: These are probably the worst of OXO’s lineup. The magnets are very weak, and the clips themselves, like most of the other clothespin-style selections, do a poor job of proper sealing.
Cuisinart CTG-00-4CC Chip Clips: These have the benefit of being a little wider than normal, but there’s nothing else remarkable about them: They’re pricey, and the grip strength isn’t quite up to snuff.
MSC International Jo!e Bag Clip Flip: While this operates similarly to the Gripstic, Amazon reviewers complain that it’s difficult to open.
Banana Seal: This is just like the Clip-n-Seal bag dismissed above, but in a yellow color. Too many pieces, too easy to lose track of, too bulky to store.
Better Sealer: Another Clip-n-Seal quasi-clone, still not convenient enough for everyday use.
Farberware Color Magnetic Bag Clips: These come in nice colors to keep your stuff easily separated, but reviewers complain they’re cheap and break quickly.
The Orblue sealer, EuroSealer, and iTouchless Sealer: None of these worked very well. Our Orblue sealer barely functioned right out the box; its heating element would only lightly seal across a bag. The EuroSealer and the iTouchless seemed to work a bit better. The problem with sealers is that you have to begin the seal at the edge of the bag, which is tricky to get right in a single pass. Because they were difficult to use and effective only on foil bags, bag sealers fell out of the running for our best pick very quickly.
FreshTape: Cute. But we don’t get it. It’s recycled plastic tape that’s reusable a few times and then thrown away. You’re as well off saving the money and using Scotch tape instead.
Rubber bands, the folding method, clothespins: These DIY solutions all worked about the same, which is to say, not that well. Rubber bands were the worst: They had a tendency to crush the contents of the bag they were trying to seal. Clothespins weren’t bad either, they just weren’t great, but decent enough for a few days if you have nothing else. As for the folding method: Well, despite multiple articles and videos online advocating for it, we just don’t get it. It didn’t work well for us no matter how many ways we tried it.
(Photos by Jamie Wiebe.)
Originally published: October 26, 2015