This is the saddest part of camping right. Everything is packed up. You are heading home with all your gear neatly stored in the car. The hiking has ended and now it is time to head back to reality. The horror of real life doesn’t stop there though because now you need to store that camping gear at home. Luckily you can store that gear efficiently and even in small spaces with a little bit of planning. Planning can also make the activity of placing things back into storage easier. It will never be fun though because fun happens out on the trail. So what makes storing your camping gear easier? Take a look at these tips so that your home storage is organized no matter how small a space you have.
Store Camp Gear – Pre-Audit
The best defense is an effective offense. At least that is what I am told. I am not one who sports balls very often. So in this case you should complete a gear audit. We aren’t talking a Marie Kondo audit here. It is not about what brings you joy but about what you have and haven’t used in the last year or two. The fact is that there are so many gadgets that we can buy that sometimes we overdo it.
So separate out the things that you haven’t used in a while. Keep them to the side and wait till the start of the next season. Then put try and sell them to others or donate them so that others can get use out of them.
Another great thing to do during your gear audit is to find the items that you use most frequently. You will want to make these the most accessible items possible. that way if you decide to take a spur-of-the-moment type trip you can easily grab your essentials.
Choose the Best Place to Store Camping Gear
If you are looking to become an avid outdoors person then you should decide where best to keep your gear so that you can actually use it. If the space is available you could use your garage, basement, or attic. In smaller areas or if you live in a city you may want to consider dedicating some closet space. The fact is that if you can see your gear you may be more inspired to use it. So don’t try and bury it away or behind other things.
I have had the benefit of always having either a garage or basement to store my gear. I know that I am lucky in this sense. There are many different types of storage applications that can be used for this type of storage. I will share some of these later. However, if you are in an apartment or small home there are options for you as well. The best recommendation is to keep your gear together for easy access and create a dedicated space.
Special Spaces and Decoration
You may have to get creative but remember if your gear is out of sight and out of mind it won’t get used. So look around for spaces that are underutilized. Consider places to hang peg boards that you wouldn’t have in the past. Don’t forget that many ski lodges had skis or snowshoes up on the walls. Now we think of this as kitchy decor but originally it was born out of necessity to have them up and out of the way. The wall is a great place to add some outdoor gear decorations!
The Best Storage Systems
A storage system is whatever method you choose to store camping gear. You may want to use one of these to cover all of your gear. Likely though you will want to combine systems to store camping gear. Whatever you pick stick with it to stay organized.
Store Camping Gear in Bins
This is a tip that I think is beneficial for camping gear when traveling to the camping site as well. Storage bins (like these from IRIS) are fantastic because you can label the contents on the outside. Better yet, clear bins allow you to see what is inside of them. You will want to make sure that you put everything back in its place though so your labels line up trip after trip.
Not only are bins great for storage but they make packing up easy as well. With so many different sizes you can find the ones that fit right in your car trunk, your closet, or your shelving system.
Consider having a separate bin for each task. For instance, you may want a toiletry bin, a clothing bin, a kitchen bin, etc. Each of these will make it easy to get to exactly what you need when you need it when car camping.
Some bins are even sold with a drawer. These can be very useful as the drawers make it easy to get to the things you need quickly. If you have the space consider using bins with drawers. Though remember these are not going to be watertight. So if you take them camping you will want to leave them in the car or RV.
I mentioned this a bit above. However, wall storage cannot be overlooked. You may want to consider wall storage with some command hooks. These go up quickly and easily. They are generally fairly strong and they can help you quickly organize things. I like to use them for ropes, wires, and to store camping gear that is smaller.
However, if you have the space or are looking for a more permanent storage option for a garage or basement then consider using peg boards. They may not look the best right from the store but you can always paint them if you would like. They are extremely functional for hanging larger tools like axes. However, with some peg board hooks, you can also hang things like your sleeping bag. Getting things up off the floor also allows for airflow and may limit impacts from moisture or insects.
Store Camping Gear on Shelves
Not everyone is going to have the space to make dedicated shelves for camping. If you do though then shelves are the best. They can store the bins easily. They can be custom-made for small closets. Better yet, you can make them decorative. Just because you are limited on space doesn’t mean that you should overlook pre-made shelving options. There are many to choose from. The more gear you have the more likely it is that you will want shelves.
Shelves come in many different options. So you do have some variety. However, you should really look for something that is heavy-duty like this option from Oskar (Picture at left). As they start to get gear piled up on them you are going to have quite a bit of weight. You don’t want sagging shelves over time.
If you have a garage or basement don’t forget that the floor space isn’t the only space that you have. In most instances, these areas may have higher ceilings. If this is the case then you can get some hanging racks. These are easily installed in the ceiling and get your gear up and out of the way. However, you can still see them and easily reach them when necessary. Sometimes when you can’t spread out then you should look up! Getting creative with your home’s dead space is the best thing you can do for the organization of your camping gear.
Store Camping Gear that is Oddly Shaped
Let’s face it. Not everything is going to fit inside of a bin or on a shelf nicely. I struggle with my Dutch Oven. It is bulky, heavy, and consumes an odd place on the shelf. Other things do the same thing like camping chairs, tents, and backpacks. So what should you do with these?
For camp chairs, I like to store these stacked on the hanging racks in my garage. They could also be hung from a peg board or stacked on shelves.
Storing a tent is a whole other story. You can learn more about tent care with our Guide to Tent Care. As you probably know it should be completely dry before you store it. You probably didn’t know that the bag it comes in can be detrimental over time. It needs space to breathe so consider repacking after you dry it in something a little bigger. Then give it a special place on a shelf.
Sleeping bags are another oddly shaped thing that can be difficult to deal with. Hanging them from a peg board is an easy solution. If you have more than one then having them stacked can be tricky as they can roll. Consider placing a vertical shelf divider to prevent movement.
Final Thoughts on How to Store Camping Gear
The bottom line here is that you should find a storage system that works best for your situation. The likelihood is that you will need multiple systems to be as efficient as possible. Be sensible in your selections. Keep your gear within sight so you feel motivated in getting into the outdoors. If you do things that don’t make sense for your lifestyle then you aren’t going to be as motivated. Be honest when you audit your gear as well.
The bottom line is that we can have our cake and eat it too. We can have all of the gear we need and have it stored in an easy fashion that makes coming home less of a hassle. So enjoy your time on the trail and enjoy your newly organized gear at home!