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What You Need to Know Before Buying a Camp Trunk

Buying a Trunk for Summer Camp


What you need to know before you make a purchase



Campers have a lot of clothes and gear to take along to summer camp; transporting all of it can be a hassle if you don’t use the proper packing equipment. There’s a variety of options in this department: you got suitcases, duffel bags, large backpacks, and more. But the best container to use for summer camp is a camp trunk.

Check your camp’s packing list to see what their recommended container is. If your camp’s packing list is nonspecific about a preferred packing container, it’s still a good idea to contact the camp and ask, just to be sure—better safe than sorry. If your camp has required or recommended specifics, they’re required and recommended for a good reason.

Your camp will be able to give the best advice concerning the available space of the living quarters in the cabins and thus give you an idea of what type of container will be work best. Many camps make camp trunks a required item.

Why are trunks so desirable at summer camp? Because they’re efficient, sturdy, and spacious! Camp trunks can pack all your gear away in a tidy fashion and keep your gear safe. They’re also handy as a card table, a sit-down bench, a step-on ladder (assuming they’re sturdy enough), as well as a makeshift dresser as campers tend to ‘live out of’ their camp trunks.

Some trunks are built to last longer than others. Beware of cheap trunks. They’re cheap for a reason and likely no stronger than corrugated cardboard. If a kid stands on a trunk that sags beneath the weight, the trunk won’t have an easy time at summer camp and almost definitely wouldn’t see another season. Summer camp is especially rough on a trunk, so campers are best off with one made with rugged construction.

So now you know you need a quality trunk. Here are some things to consider when picking one out for camp:

What’s it Made Of? What you want is a trunk that’s made of durable materials—built to last. When it comes down to the wood, there are just two different kinds: chipboard, which is like dense particle board, and solid plywood. Solid plywood trunks will always stand up better.

You’ll want to consider the trunk’s exterior as well. Is it, what they call, a Sticker Trunk, covered with a vinyl or fabric exterior? Or is it a Steel Trunk, covered in sheets of steel? Steel Trunks are certain to be more rugged and durable.

How is the Hardware Attached to the Trunk? Next most important thing to look at is the hardware. Plain and simple, trunk hardware gets damaged. How can it not? Between shipping companies, airlines, and general travel—not to mention a bunch of kids at camp running around and jumping on the trunk—it’s understandable that a latch might break or a hinge gets bent.

Like the quality of wood or exterior material, there are two different methods of attaching hardware: one using rivets and the other using screws. Damaged hardware can be easily repaired at home if your trunk’s hardware is screwed on. Rivets, however, will need to be drilled out in order to replace any hardware.

Double-Check Stated Ship Times. Almost all American trunk manufacturers are small companies. They can get overwhelmed during the summer camp season—when camp trunks are in highest demand. It could mean your trunk shipment is delayed. It could also mean that the company is too busy to even change the shipping time on their website.

Companies that can “ship same day” might be able to do that in March but it doesn’t mean they can hold to those time frames in the prime months of camp prep like May and June. If you must have your trunk by a certain date and you have any concerns don’t be afraid to call, email, or send a live chat message to inquire exactly when your trunk will ship.

Available Accessories. Accessories work magic on camp trunks and help you get the most out them. Wheels make transportation easy, nameplates dress your trunk up and identify it, trays are great for holding smaller items, packing cubes help organize, locks keep your valuables secure, the list goes on. Some companies have more accessories than others.

Keep in mind that accessories are exclusive to the brand; in other words, one company’s wheels won’t work on another company’s trunk.

Read the Reviews. This tip might sound a little obvious, but read the reviews submitted by other customers. The more reviews you can find for a certain camp trunk will give you a better idea if the trunk will hold up well for your camping experience.

You may be able to find quality camp trunks that are moderately-priced at army surplus stores, or in an outdoor supply catalog. It’s possible to get lucky and find one at a rummage sale or maybe a grandfather’s old military trunk is already stowed away in the attic somewhere. But since Sporting Good stores and Department Stores have basically stopped stocking higher quality trunks, your best bet for a reliable source is likely an online summer camp retailer.