Recently, I’ve seen a bunch of gear storage projects. If you look on Pinterest, you’ll see so many clean and aesthetic ways to store gear. After years of renting small apartments and cramming gear wherever it fit, I was excited when we bought a house four years ago. I felt overwhelmed on how to not only just organize my outdoor gear but where all my other things would go. I’ve never had this much square footage in my adult life. We decided to unpack everything else.
Still going to the mountains almost every weekend, it took a while to conceive the best way to store the gear other than in boxes and on the floor of one of the spare rooms. Below are a few tips to use when finding what works best for you, along with a summary of how my gear is organized and stored today.
Prearrange gear into categories
From jackets to socks to climbing ropes to first aid kits, I tried to group or pile my gear together to see how much I have (and also donated things I didn’t need or use anymore). Think Marie Kondo method of organizing, minus the whole ‘sparks joy’ requirement.
Gear inventory or packing list
Start by creating a spreadsheet and/or categorize your gear into many sections. Taking inventory can be used later as a packing list. Get detailed and add item weights to calculate how much your bag is going to weigh before you even pack.
Analyze how you pack
After renting for many years, I finally bought a house and knew I wanted a nice gear organization system. Instead of rushing in and throwing up shelves that might not be needed, we waited probably 6 months before building out and organizing. Yes, it was frustrating to pack during that time but we wanted to see how we moved around the house while we packed to help organize all the gear.
I tend to move most of my gear to piles on either a bed or the floor of a room on the same level as the garage. I choose this because the garage tends to be cold with hard surfaces that kneeling to stuff things in packs isn’t the most comfortable.
Where to store your gear
The bulk of my gear is in a two-car garage, a very spacious area. Living in the PNW, we don’t need to park in the garage but we do have concerns about humidity. Consider a dehumidifier where you store your gear or keep an eye on the soft items to see if moisture is collecting to items. You may want to move those items.
All jackets are stored in a hallway closet. My soft goods or clothing stay in the closet where most of the technical gear can be stored in the garage.
Sleeping bags would optimally go with the rest of the gear but humidity levels of storing in the garage resulted in having our sleeping bags separate and hanging in a closet in one of the guest bedrooms since we want to store them lofted or not packed and compressed.
Buy or build storage
After you have taken inventory, you should have a good idea on how many containers or shelves you need. Measure your space and check it twice. Consider buying customizable or adjustable shelves that can be changed over the years. Target has sturdy options that we had already from our rental but we bought more that could connect together. The removable shelves work best for us versus built-in shelves in case we were to ever move again, we wouldn’t have to start over.
We did an initial pass of putting things on shelves. However, some things needed to be stored in bins. We bought various sizes and decided to go with black since our outdoor gear tends to scratch or be dirty and we didn’t want to have to clean light shelves.
Hiking and camping gear
We have all our footwear, including climbing shoes, hiking and mountaineering boots, and gaiters. Next column of shelves is for tents, sleeping pads, water containers, dry sacks and compression bags, and water filters and hydration gear.
Our camping cookware is stored in a rubbermaid container. The Coleman stove, MSR Reactor, gas canisters, and cooler, along with our random sports gear, like baseball mitts and softballs are stored together.
Rock climbing gear
I’ve always wanted a peg board with all the trad gear and carabiners to hang up. However, with our space, a peg board wasn’t necessarily an option. Instead, we strung old perlon up to clip the cams and draws, along with all the carabiners. Ropes received their own shelf. Harnesses lay on a short shelf. We added a bin for miscellaneous gear we can look through depending on our objectives.
Ski and mountaineering gear
Backcountry skins, beacon, shovel, probes, goggles, ski and climbing helmets, and ski crampons and boot crampons all are in the next section, along with essentials like first aid, mylar bags. The snowshoes one some of the only items that touch the garage floor.
Andy designed and built a mounted ski rack that holds not only our skis, but ice axes and poles as well. We bought a shoe tray to catch all the snow melt from our ski boots.
On the back of the garage, white metal shelves were already installed. I bought S-hooks to hang all our backpacks from the bottom. We use the other storage for miscellaneous things that aren’t outdoor related.
Larger items like skis take up a lot of room if you’re leaning them in a pile. I bought a Topeak B2 bike stand to store our two bikes, which keeps them out of the way and off the tires.
When living in a small townhouse in the city, we had a one-car garage that we did park in. We used our guest bedroom closet to store all the sleeping bags, tents, and sleeping pads. Along the wall at the foot of the spare bed was most of our other camping, backpacking, climbing, and mountaineering gear. The bins were labeled by activity with fancy Duct tape.
We had one standing column of our current setup with five shelves to store our boots and also stacked our skis in the corner of the garage. The bike rack helped keep the bikes out of the way on the other side of the garage.
Do you have gear storage tips? Please leave yours in the comments below.