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story.lead_photo.caption A camp box that stays packed with cook kit, stove and other items saves time when preparing for a trip. - Photo by Flip Putthoff

Visions of relaxing around a crackling fire at deer camp or a lakeside campsite play in the theater of the mind with autumn near.

Anticipation of a great camping trip is half the fun. Packing gear adds to the excitement, so long as it doesn't take hours or days.

A lot of packing involves gathering all the little knickknacks needed for a comfy campsite. The camp stove might be in the garage while the cook kit is somewhere in a closet. You'll need salt and pepper for that favorite camp recipe.

Packing becomes easy when you've got all these things and more already stored in a handy dandy camp box, ready to go when the lake and woods call. Now just pack some groceries, sleeping gear, tent, a few clothes and you're off and camping.

A sturdy wooden box or plastic tote makes a fine camp box. Mine stays packed and ready for duty. I can be out the door and camping in an hour. Let's take a peek inside.

There's no kitchen sink, but there's a cook set made just for camping. A big pot with a lid holds everything, including smaller pots and plenty of silverware, even steak knives. There's no plastic ware in this cook kit. A nonstick frying pan rounds out the cooking gear.

Four aluminum plates go on top of the cook kit. Nest to that is a backpack stove and a one-burner Coleman stove. I could do with just one but I like a back up, and it's fun to play with all your gadgets in camp. There's a first aid kit, flashlight and small roll of duct tape.

Spelunkers carry three sources of light, and I like to carry three sources of fire, two lighters and some waterproof matches. There's a little plastic bottle of charcoal lighter for starting an instant campfire.

The camp box has a one-gallon zipper bag that has a couple more zipper bags inside, a trash bag or two and a long length of folded aluminum foil. Sometimes when I'm headed out the door I'll toss a roll of paper towels in the box.

The thing I like most about my wooden camp box is the nostalgia behind it. My mom and dad bought me this box when I was 11 for my first year at Boy Scout camp. I'm still using it 50 years later. I've replaced the carry handles, but that camp box takes a licking year after year.

Most of my camping is by canoe, and the box fits perfectly in the boat. It's easy for one person to carry when unloading on a streamside gravel bar, or taking it car camping.

Another way to expedite packing time is to keep all your gear in one place. There's a little used room at my shack-ri-la where tents, sleeping bags, pads and camp box are stored.

I can't think of a better way to welcome autumn than to pack your handy camp box and head to your favorite site. Then come back home with the aroma of campfire in your clothes.

Flip Putthoff can be reached at fputthoff@nwadg.com or on Twitter@NWAFlip

Sports on 09/12/2017

Print Headline: Camp box takes chore out of packing

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