For those that read the first part of my Smokies trip (more to follow), you’ll realize my original intention was to tent camp and tackle all the quirks that come from that. Most dominant in my annoyances (besides, at times, bathrooms) I find camp cooking the most frustrating thing in the entire experience. My menu consists of four things when I’ve camped alone: Pop Tarts, Beef Jerky, Ramen, and Peanut Butter. None of them require a lot of packing, cleaning, or elegance in preparation. I’m trying to get better about that though, perhaps because I’m getting fickle in my old age.
Project #1 – Chuck Box
A chuck box is used by groups of people to pack all of their cooking implements such as dishes, utensils, stove, pots and pans, and everything else you might need in one location. First used by Scout groups, and called patrol boxes, they’ve been in use for years and usually are custom-made to fit the trunk of the car of the carpenter. My great-grandfather built one back in the day and, besides doubling as a river-bridge for Sherman tanks, it was the best camp kitchen you can think of. You can find different plans online, ranging from very simple to completely decked out camping kitchens….the latter is what I’ll attempt as soon as I can gather all the material and necessary skills.
Project #2 – Gear Closet
Organization is obviously a theme here. A long, long time ago I read in Backpacker magazine that if your gear was organized properly you would go on more trips so that, supposedly, spur of the moment trips were more often taken if your gear was within easy reach. I declare that notion horse-hockey, but will agree I dread having to gather my gear which scatters to the four winds at the end of every trip. The above closet is just an example of what I’d like to do; the retail sticker on this piece is $1199 but is on sale now for the amazing price of $999!! Imagine that!
Seriously though, my plan is to use the same basic design but create a compartment that combines the two lower doors in the image above so I can hang my packs and rain jackets with plenty of room and store sleeping bags and pads in the bottom. The top will store my stove, cook set, and all the little gadgets that you come to love and brag about.
Project #3 – Canoe Holder
These, I actually just finished building. Quite simply, I just needed something to keep my canoe off the ground, let me chain it to something that thieves can’t break away from, and allows me to cover it with a tarp to keep it out of the sun. Since I’ll be storing it upside down, all I needed was a flat surface…just like a pair of saw horses. I found a post detailing a really easy and cheap way to make a sturdy set of saw horses. A quick trip to Lowe’s where I had them cut the 42′ linear feet of wood for me, a couple of screws, nails, and application of gentle persuasion later, I had two functioning saw horses to hold my Wenonah off the ground. Total cost for the lumber was around $15 so definitely not a budget breaker there. (Side note: I may end up putting some foam on the rails, but for a canoe it’s kind of pointless. If you decide to follow suit and put a kayak on a similar contraption, I would recommend putting some kind of foam or cradle on top to prevent oil-canning.)
Project #4 – Woodworking Table
To make these great projects, I’m going to need a sturdy surface to work off of….wait. I guess this should be project #1 then.
Thanks for reading, and if you have cool projects you’re tackling, comment below and share cool stuff.