Tuesday, October 9, 2018

REI Teaches Campers How NOT TO BUILD a Chuckbox. ( without knowing it )

Google Ranks REI as the Top Listing for the Term “Build Chuck Box” thus Weighing Popularity Over Relevance. 

You literally spend half your life  learning and pioneering how to build chuckboxes. You write a book about it. You do videos on it. And what do you get? Lost in the Internet  mud. Honestly it’s nothing short of down right frustrating!

I made the mistake of Googling “build your own camp kitchen chuckbox “. The first listing was an REI chuckbox made out of 1/2” plywood.  That thing has to weigh 50 pounds before you even put so much as a fork in it.

The next listing was of the Boys Life Magazine chuck box. ( That’s the Boy Scouts. ) And their box specifies 9/16” plywood which is worse yet on weight. At least they would have a troop of boy scouts to lug the thing around for them. I’ve seen pictures of scouts carrying those kinds of boxes. You have four boys, each with a corner propped on his shoulder, so they look like pallbearers at a burial. For this reason, I call those types of boxes ‘coffin boxes’. They require either a Boy Scout troop or a fork lift to carry one.

At least my Build Your Own Chuckbox video and  Chuckbox 101 web page show up in the Google first page listings too. The video has been there since 2009 and has had over 220K views. If you watch it you will notice “weight” is the focus of the video.

Then why are builders still using half inch plywood?  The reason for this never ending onslaught of  ‘Spruce Goose ‘ chuckboxes is that the people building them are woodworkers not campers. Woodworkers tend toward building cabinets that bolt to walls thus the word ‘portable’ doesn’t really register for them.

For many years I have watched You Tube as woodworkers have demonstrated their notions of how to build a chuckbox. And for many years it’s been mildly amusing watching the proud designers of these monstrosities exude the virtues of their devices. On that level it is understandable as most of us have to build and use one or two to figure out how stupid we really are. I had to build three boxes to get to one that actually  worked under real camping conditions and met all the requirements. ( That was way back in the 1980’s by the way.)

In the case of the REI Chuck Box, though this is really not excusable. While their box does look cool it also breaks the first rule of chuckboxes. It’s too heavy! You can’t build a box of any significant size, out of 1/2” plywood without it being too heavy. My question is what is REI doing trying to teach people how to do something they obviously don’t know how to do themselves?

However, I will say, it’s harder than you might think to build  a portable box that is both strong and lite. If you want to know how to do that and a whole lot more about chuck boxes, get the design and build book from my website. It’s also available as an EPUB  on Amazon.

Note to REI - Historically, I have bought many products from you and always really appreciate your customer service. However, you do a disservice to your customer and insult your own credibility by venturing into areas you know nothing about. You should really stick with what you do well.

Note to Google - Please get back to giving us relevant results not popular results.  Or at least give use a button where we can drop the big companies out of the results so we can find the folks who really know the niche.

Yeeeeesh..... I hate big companies.

Go Camping.

P. S. Here is a more recent builder video: