Reviewers and owners agree that the Debbie Meyer Reynolds Handi-Vac is the best handheld vacuum food sealer. Unlike more expensive countertop food sealers like the Seal-a-Meal VS107 Food Sealer (*Est. $55), this handheld model can be used only with special zipper bags; it can't seal canisters or use bulk rolls of food-grade sealing plastic. While the Debbie Meyer Reynolds Handi-Vac is reasonably effective against freezer burn, reviewers say it's best for storing items for less than a month. The other complaints are that the required six AAA batteries don't last very long, and that it's tough to get a good seal with the bags. The bags are also hard to come by and a bit more expensive than buying bulk rolls of plastic. At Amazon.com, they run about $30 for 30 1-gallon bags.
We found the best reviews of the Debbie Meyer Reynolds Handi-Vac at Cook's Illustrated, Good Housekeeping, ConsumerReports.org and Fine Cooking. To see what owners say about this handheld sealer, we turned to Amazon.com, where we found more than 130 consumer reviews, and Viewpoints.com, where we found an additional 50 reviews. We also read a detailed individual product review on About.com.
1. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
In this comprehensive test of eight vacuum sealers, the Reynolds Handi-Vac is one of two handheld models tested. Editors seal a variety of foods using each sealer and then evaluate each bag after two weeks, one month and two months for signs of freezer burn and air leakage. Reynolds sold the license for this model to Debbie Meyer, so it's now commonly sold as the Debbie Meyer Reynolds Handi-Vac.
Review: Vacuum Sealers, Editors of Cook's Illustrated, Aug. 1, 2009
2. Good Housekeeping
Good Housekeeping tries out four vacuum sealers by placing moisture-sensitive beads in each sealed bag, then checking for leaks. The Debbie Meyer Reynolds Handi-Vac passes the tests and is recommended. This video is no longer available on the Good Housekeeping website, but it can be viewed at AOL's British site.
Review: Vacuum Sealers for Food Storage Tested, Editors of Good Housekeeping, Feb. 20, 2010
Editors test the Reynolds (now Debbie Meyer) Handi-Vac Sealer over the course of a month by sealing steaks, then checking for freezer burn. This isn't a comprehensive test of vacuum food savers, but the article serves as a good overview.
Review: Two Products Promise Fresh Food, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, June 2008
4. Fine Cooking
The Reynolds Handi-Vac is included in this two-model test at Fine Cooking. Lisa Waddle writes that both work well for freezer storage, but she had a hard time opening and resealing bags, so they aren't recommended for items like coffee or cereal.
Review: Hand-held Vacuum Sealers, Lisa Waddle, March 12, 2008
More than 130 owners review the Debbie Meyer Reynolds Handi-Vac at Amazon.com, with a mix of positive and negative ratings. One-third of owners report that they couldn't get the bags to seal very well. Others say the batteries don't last very long.
Review: Reynolds Consumer Product 00590 Food-Vac Starter Kit, Contributors to Amazon.com
About 50 owners have written reviews of the Debbie Meyer Reynolds Handi-Vac Vacuum Food Storage System on this newer review site, contributing to an overall average rating of 4 stars out of 5. One reviewer says the Handi-Vac is "the most economical way to be rid of freezer burn." There are a few reviews stating that the Handi-Vac stops working after a few months of use.
Review: Reynolds Handi-Vac Vacuum Food Storage System Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com
About.com's guide to ergonomics reviews the Debbie Meyer Reynolds Handi-Vac, noting its affordability and portability. Adams says the Handi-Vac can do about 90 percent of what most expensive countertop models can do. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Handi-Vac Vacuum Sealer Ergonomic Product Review, Chris Adams