Are you like me, always on the look out for some new canoe or kayak gear that won’t eviscerate the budget. Do you need a really functional dry box to store your essentials while paddling so that your stuff is dry when you need it. Then you will be pleased to learn about the “Gatlin Box”. 

The “Gatlin Box” is named after that famed paddler, William Gatling whose best idea to date was to marry Xan. As they say in the country, Even a blind hog will find an acorn some times. But that’s another story for another day.

William’s second best idea was the Gatlin Box. It is effective at keeping important stuff dry when you are traveling by canoe or kayak and even during your occasional out of boat experiences. The boxes are clear so you can see at a glance what is inside and where it is thus enabling you to retrieve objects quickly and efficiently.  You can get one for very few coins and unlike the Gatling Gun you are not required to pay for a background check, submit to finger printing or purchase a costly federal permit.

To further promote cheapness, I will walk you through the manufacture of your very own Gatlin Box. Peanuts and mixed nuts are often sold in small square containers that are clear, strong and have screw on lids. These boxes are 7.5x5x4.5 and contain about two and a half pounds of nuts.  Begin by purchasing or borrowing a box of nuts. Eat the nuts or dump them on the floor.  The box must be empty. If you are picky you can wash and rinse the box out. If you are really picky you can remove the label.alt

Now cut about two feet of small cord and tie a loop tightly around the neck of the container. The cord is used to secure the container in your canoe or kayak. Keep it long enough to do that job without being long enough to entangle yourself.  I have an obsession with carabiners so I tied a small one to the loose end of the cord which allows me to quickly clip the box onto my boat and remove it just as quick.  Remember how difficult knots can be in small cord especially once the cord is wet and when you are cold.

  Dry Box ContentsNow you must select the key items that you need to carry. This is the fun part. I have a small first aid kit, a space blanket, a pair of latex gloves, half a camp towel, six large wire ties, a flat pack of duct tape, a can of tuna fish, some antiseptic wipes, individual packets of Tylenol and Advil, a small multi tool with a flashlight, waterproof and regular matches, a fat candle, a sunblock packet, a big carabiner, and a roll of toilet paper. There are probably a few other items but this list the bulk of it.


The trick is to fit everything into this Gatlin Box. What doesn’t fit gets left behind so you find yourself thinking about what is essential and what is nice to have. Remember that you only need enough of anything for one trip. You can resupply your box before your next GCA trip. For instance most of us won’t need an entire roll of Charmin for a day trip but one of those little rolls of camp tissue may be just the ticket.

Dry Box - Assembled

            You can also put your lunch in a Gatlin Box. Wet sandwiches are not cool. It is rumored that a Gatlin Box will keep your food from smelling of wet polypro booties like the inside of your kayak.  When placed safely in a Gatlin Box, your childish juice drink won’t get squashed or the straw get misplaced.

            Now what did we spend. The box is a container that would have been tossed after the nuts were eaten so let’s call that FREE.  I already own several miles of small cord left over from various projects like tying in airbags so let’s call that FREE.  The small carabiner came on a spray bottle of Deep Woods Off so let’s figure that to be FREE! So free plus free plus free, carry the one, wow, that’s zero coins.  Free is good. The Gatlin Box is good. Life is good.


Note: A wise fellow also pointed out to me that the big plastic mayo jars from restaurants also perform nicely.