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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 and transporting all of it can be a hassle if you don’t have the proper packing equipment. There’s a variety of options in this department such as suitcases, duffel bags, large backpacks, and more. 

We consider ourselves to be camp experts, and we firmly believe the best container to use for summer camp is a camp trunk.

What to Consider When Buying a Camp Trunk

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 may not hold up at summer camp and likely would not see another season. Summer camp is especially rough on a trunk, so campers are best off with one made with rugged construction.

Now that you know you need a quality trunk, here are some things to consider when picking one out for camp.

What’s it Made Of?

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

You 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?

The 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 might bend.

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 easily be 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 preparation like May and June. If you need your trunk by a certain date and have 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 of your trunk. Some companies have more accessories than others. The list goes on, but here are just some of the camp trunk accessories you may want to consider:


  • 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.



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, the better idea you’ll have as to whether or not the trunk will hold up well for your camping experience.

Do I Need a Trunk for Summer Camp?

Trunks are 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 belongings 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.

Check your camp’s packing list to see what their recommended container is. If the list is not specific 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, it’s for a good reason.

Your camp will be able to give the best advice concerning the available space of the living quarters in your cabin, which will give you a better idea of what type of container will work best. Many camps make camp trunks a required item.

Ready to Buy a Camp Trunk?

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 if you're set on buying a new trunk, you've come to the right place!

Since sporting goods and department stores have basically stopped stocking higher-quality trunks, your best bet for a reliable source is likely an online summer camp retailer, like Everything Summer Camp.


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