Butter, lard, ground coffee, tea, sugar, jam, matches, go in pry-up tin cans, sold by outfitters (small quantities in mailing tubes), or in common capped tins with tops secured by surgeon's plaster. Get pepper and spices in shaker-top cans, or, if you carry common shakers, cover tops with cloth and snap stout rubber bands around them.
Salt, as it draws moisture, is best carried in a wooden box or in mailing tubes.
Often it is well to carry separately enough food to last the party between the jumping-off place and the main camp site, as it saves the bother of breaking bulk en route.
When transportation is easy it pays to pack the bread, bags of flour, etc., in a tin wash-boiler or two, which are wrapped in burlaps and crated. These make capital grub boxes in camp, securing their contents from wet, insects and rodents. Ants in summer and mice at all times are downright pests of the woods, to say nothing of the wily coon, the predatory mink, the inquisitive skunk, and the fretful porcupine. The boilers are useful, too, on many occasions, to catch rain-water, boil clothes, waterproof and dye tents, and so forth. After all these things have been done in them they are properly seasoned for cooking a burgoo.
Camp chests are very convenient when it is practicable to carry them. In fixed camp an old trunk will do; but if you a re traveling from place to place, the boxes should be small, weighing not over fifty or sixty pounds each when packed, so that one man can easily handle them unassisted. If they are specially made, cottonwood is the best material (if thoroughly seasoned boards can be had—otherwise it warps abominably). It is the strongest and toughest wood for its weight that we have, and will not splinter. For the ends and lids of small chests, 5/8-inch stuff is thick enough, and 3/8-inch for the sides, bottoms and trays. The bottom should have a pair of 5/8-inch cleats for risers and the top a similar pair to keep it from warping, unless the chests are to go on pack animals. Strap-hinges and hasp, a brass padlock and broad leather end-straps (not drop-handles) should be provided, and the chest painted.
The best size is 24x18x9 inches, this being convenient for canoes and pack-saddles. A pine grocery box of this size, with 3/4-inch ends and 3/8-inch sides, top, and bottom, weighs only 10 pounds, and will answer the purpose very well. Screw a wooden handle on each end, say 5x2 inches, with a hand-hold gouged out of the under side Chests intended to be used as hanging cupboard? in camp should have shelf boards packed in them, and a bread board for rolling out biscuit dough and pastry. One box should be selected with a view to using it as a camp refrigerator or spring box (see Chapter XII). For a trip by wagon a regular " chuck box " may be built, with a drop front for serving table (held by light chains when open). This box is carried upright at the rear end of the wagon a la cow outfit.
When cruising where there are no portages it saves lots of time and bother if you build beforehand a light mess chest partitioned to hold utensils and all the food needed for, say, a week. This may be fitted with detachable legs, and the lid so fitted that it is supported level when opened, forming a table.
Check off every article in the outfit as it is stowed, and keep the inventory for future reference Then note what is left over at the end of the trip. This will help in outfitting for the next season.
There are several things to be looked after in good season before starting on a Camping trip. If your shoes are new, oil them and break them in. If your rifle is new, do not dream of carrying it into the wilderness until you have " sighted it up," testing the elevations at various ranges, and making sure that the sights are accurately aligned. If your fishing tackle is old, overhaul and test it thoroughly. If you have a hollow tooth, get it filled. Pare your nails closely, or they will soon be badly broken. Get your hair cropped short. See that you have a good supply of small change when you start. Don't carry off your bunch of keys. Be on hand early at the station and see to it personally that your humble but precious duffel all gets aboard.
And now, bon voyage!