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My first wanigan experience

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I used a wanigan for the first time on a recent trip and really liked it. I have had this wanigan since 1999 when I acquired it from a dear friend. He was moving out of state and left me with everything he didn't know what to do with. It marked the end of an era when my garage had a place for everything and everything was in it's place. I never really evaluated the box, mostly because I didn't want to have to find a place to put everything that was in it and also because I was happy with my current packing system.

On this trip I had to make some changes, as I was down one Duluth pack that I took back East to do trips there, so I took a closer look at this box. It was the right size, but the wood wasn't treated or waterproofed. It was very simply made with rope handles and cotton webbing for hinges that were screwed on. I did notice that it had runners on the bottom to keep it out of the bilge and off of the ground so I thought maybe Helmuth did use this on trips. He was a veteran of many season long trips that he did by raft. Looking closer at the box I could see some faded writing on it that said "fragile glass." It was then that I guessed that Helmuth did take this on trips and probably had his booze in it.

I found the wanigan to be a very practical addition to my kit. It fits nicely in the boat, it protects fragile items from being crushed, and best of all it doubles as a chair or table. It can also be used for items that you may need access to while underway because it is so easy to get into. This was a no portage trip, but I don't think I would have a problem carrying it when needed. I would probably throw it on top of another pack for a carry.

I found it to be a very useful piece of gear and like the pack basket I added last year it makes things easier and more comfortable on a trip. I have found that using this old traditional gear, including my canvas tent, does make a trip more comfortable and it goes a long way in increasing our enjoyment in general. I think I need to make another one for my East coast kit where I can combine it with using the pack baskets.
 
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Oh Al... Champagne in camp cups?? How gauche. Haha, just kidding. Your camping is far more glamorous than mine! That picture of your gear & wanigan in a w/c canoe looks terrific.
 
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I know wannigans are honored traditional gear. Please don’t jump all over me for asking, but what makes a wannigan different from the Rubbermaid Action Packer box I’ve been using? Functionally, both seem to be boxes. What am I missing?
 
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I built 2 "canoe boxes" of gil gilpatrick's design. They fit coleman stove in its edge and a while lot more. I started a flatter one like the one you're mentioning, but I got the dimensions wrong (too big) and scrapped it. These boxes ride high but work great. 20210711_135107.jpg
 
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Chip, the action packers are the wrong shape, don’t have a smooth bottom, have slanted sides, rounded corners, are not water proof, you can’t sit or stand on them if you are over 200lbs(190 even) they get all deformed, they are a pain in the but to portage, they don’t have a tray to organize small items…. They just suck just like blue barrels!
 
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True about the AP shape. All the store-bought tubs have tapered sides so they can be nested during shipment, and those tapers mean wasted space. I’ve never portaged an AP box. In the BWCA, I left it behind and used dry bags. Not sure I’d want to portage a wannigan either, but fitted with straps, seems you could carry either one. For sitting or standing on, the wannigan has the advantage. So, I guess it’s whatever meets your needs.

I started designing a wannigan for the 20’ freighter I used to paddle. My plan was to build it with a bottom that matched the curve of the hull, which was 40” wide. That would utilize the space in the arched hull that flat boxes give away. It was to have legs for use in camp. I never built it because I thought it would be difficult for one man to lift out of the boat, at least for me. Ended up with an Action Packer. Never having travelled with a wannigan, I guess I don’t know what I’m missing. But, for sure, “wannigan” is a way cooler name!
 
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True about the AP shape. All the store-bought tubs have tapered sides so they can be nested during shipment, and those tapers mean wasted space. I’ve never portaged an AP box. In the BWCA, I left it behind and used dry bags. Not sure I’d want to portage a wannigan either, but fitted with straps, seems you could carry either one. For sitting or standing on, the wannigan has the advantage. So, I guess it’s whatever meets your needs.

I started designing a wannigan for the 20’ freighter I used to paddle. My plan was to build it with a bottom that matched the curve of the hull, which was 40” wide. That would utilize the space in the arched hull that flat boxes give away. It was to have legs for use in camp. I never built it because I thought it would be difficult for one man to lift out of the boat, at least for me. Ended up with an Action Packer. Never having travelled with a wannigan, I guess I don’t know what I’m missing. But, for sure, “wannigan” is a way cooler name!
Just be careful on the dimensions and build it at least 1" less than where it will sit on the canoe. I built one last summer for my raven but forgot to take into account the inner gunwales on the canoe and wood bits on the wannigan so it will only fit length wise. It does fit nicely in my Appalachian though.
 
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Love wanigans on trips where portages are short or non existent!

I built 2 "canoe boxes" of gil gilpatrick's design.
His cooler design inspired me to build my "NYETI" cooler -- although I changed the dimensions. Still going strong despite swimming Thoreau's Rapids on the West Branch!

 
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Love wanigans on trips where portages are short or non existent!


His cooler design inspired me to build my "NYETI" cooler -- although I changed the dimensions. Still going strong despite swimming Thoreau's Rapids on the West Branch!

I followed that thread, a very nice job! My attempt looks cool but was a huge pain in the a... glassing the interior and it rocks too much.
 

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Oh Al... Champagne in camp cups?? How gauche. Haha, just kidding. Your camping is far more glamorous than mine! That picture of your gear & wanigan in a w/c canoe looks terrific.
Patrick, for some reason those plastic cups make the Champagne go down smooth and fast and they have enough volume for a proper dose. I'm pretty sure my camping borders on glamping, even for trips with portages. That is mostly due to my wife, my solo trips are much more spartan.

I know wannigans are honored traditional gear. Please don’t jump all over me for asking, but what makes a wannigan different from the Rubbermaid Action Packer box I’ve been using? Functionally, both seem to be boxes. What am I missing?

I've had some Action Packers for tool storage for a long time but the size I have were too wide to carry on top of another pack which is how I would carry the wannigan. They also lack the rigidness needed to protect fragile contents, like my cold handled frying pan that I fear will get bent out of shape in other packs.

I built 2 "canoe boxes" of gil gilpatrick's design. They fit coleman stove in its edge and a while lot more. I started a flatter one like the one you're mentioning, but I got the dimensions wrong (too big) and scrapped it. These boxes ride high but work great. View attachment 130966

Those Gilpatrick wannigans have some advantages, like being easier to carry with the added straps. They would also be good for throwing another pack on top. What I like about the lower wider design is that it's easier to pack and has a larger surface area to use as a table. Did you put a checker board on yours?
 
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Patrick, for some reason those plastic cups make the Champagne go down smooth and fast and they have enough volume for a proper dose. I'm pretty sure my camping borders on glamping, even for trips with portages. That is mostly due to my wife, my solo trips are much more spartan.



I've had some Action Packers for tool storage for a long time but the size I have were too wide to carry on top of another pack which is how I would carry the wannigan. They also lack the rigidness needed to protect fragile contents, like my cold handled frying pan that I fear will get bent out of shape in other packs.



Those Gilpatrick wannigans have some advantages, like being easier to carry with the added straps. They would also be good for throwing another pack on top. What I like about the lower wider design is that it's easier to pack and has a larger surface area to use as a table. Did you put a checker board on yours?
no checker board, but as my wife and I were using it as a table at camp last for cribbage, I started thinking about some sort of cribbage board set up.:)
 
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Oh wow… the Egyptian cotton tent is rare these days! Looks like a very pleasing set up for sure… thank you for the reply… I am hoping to get out in the coming weeks as work will be settling down. Cheers!
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Chip, the action packers are the wrong shape, don’t have a smooth bottom, have slanted sides, rounded corners, are not water proof, you can’t sit or stand on them if you are over 200lbs(190 even) they get all deformed, they are a pain in the but to portage, they don’t have a tray to organize small items…. They just suck just like blue barrels!
Good to see strong opinions blowing south from the Yukon again!
 
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