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Gear

timeless: The Ammo Can They rolled off the assembly lines by the tens of thousands, olive-drab steel boxes with just one purpose: to keep ammunition dry. First built in the 1930s and redesigned in the 1950s, they served alongside American troops in World War II, Korea and beyond, then quietly mustered on the shelves of Army/Navy surplus stores. It’s hard to imagine what those soldiers would think today, seeing their ammo cans

covered in chipped paint and tattered stickers, prized on whitewater journeys for their airtight and waterproof quality. The steel, just as strong as the day it was built, now protects essential property for another type of warrior—the river rat. Be it toothbrushes, maps, or poetry scribblings, ammo cans have been keeping boaters’ vital goods dry for more than 40 years. Plastic cases are strong and light,

and come filled with clean new-smelling foam, but their history is a mere blip in the life of the ammo can. The unmistakable resonance of the rubber gasket popping open, echoing off the walls of the canyon, the jangle of the handle as one reaches inside, the locking lid clanging shut. Just as the current pulses and the rapids race, these are and will forever be the sounds of the river. photo By adam elliott words By Joslin Fritz

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Ammo Can