Gear Organization 101

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Easy Gear Organization Tips & Tricks

Is your gear closet overflowing?  Have you considered giving up an activity purely so you won’t need the gear? Do your friends/family say you have a gear organization problem? If you’re answered yes to any of these questions, you’re probably a gearaholic.

The first step is admitting you’re a gearaholic; the second step is doing something about it. Having lots of outdoor hobbies isn’t the problem, but finding places to safely and smartly stash all your equipment is.

Now that fall is upon us, use the lull between mountain biking and ski seasons to sort your gear, buy some organizational goods, and put a gear organization system in place so you can grab and go on the first powder day. Instead of searching for your lost glove—again.

1. Create Dedicated Space

The best place to start is finding a home in your house for your gear. Whether it’s a closet, a bookshelf, or a shed, storing gear in one location helps you easily find what you need without cluttering up your life.

2. Sort It Out

Do you really need 10 puffy coats? Probably not. Pull out all your gear—yes this will make a huge mess—and sift through it Marie Kondo style, creating piles to keep, sell, donate, and toss. Take newer gear to a swap, or post it online, and wind up with cash in your pocket for buying your season pass. Donate other goods so folks in need can enjoy the outdoors too. Separate the gear into activities or item type to ready it for storage.

3. Hang It or Bin It

Use hanging hooks, a closet, or a wall rack to make jackets, daypacks, and other frequently used gear easy to find, placing items used for the same activities together. If you have space, hang sleeping bags in mesh sacks, and packs alongside. Fill rarely used backpacks with gear that needs a home, like sleeping pads.

Next, place smaller items like flashlights, cooking utensils, sunglasses, and other gear knickknacks in clear plastic bins organized by activity: camping, biking, hiking, running, etc. This makes grabbing gear for a post-work trail run easy. Place sport-specific clothing or accessories in bins too if you like to keep them separate from your everyday ensemble. Invest in a shoe rack to keep muddy hiking shoes and wet ski boots away from your workwear.

Pro Tip: Keep your hiking backpack stocked with essentials you always need, including first aid kit, emergency blanket, and headlamp, so you won’t forget them when in a hurry.

4. Add Labels and Stash Your Stuff

It may sound nerdy, but you can amp up your organization and make things even easier to find—especially when switching out seasonal items—by labeling tote bins and boxes, especially if the bins aren’t clear. Labeling doesn’t just need to mean a cheesy sticker that says ‘Camping Gear’ either. I decorate bins with stickers from places I’ve been, making every trip a fun reminder of the last one.

Once these steps are done, take your organized bins and place them in your gear closet, on a shelving unit, or simply stack them in a basement or garage. This newfound gear organization means no more searching for missing headlamps, giving you more time than ever to get out and enjoy the outdoors.

Gear Organization Essentials

You don’t need anything fancy to get organized, but a few key items like these make permanent gear organization easy and fast.

Clear storage bin

Plastic Storage Bins

A cheap, essential item; clear-plastic storage bins make establishing a system easy. Organize by activity (camping, running, biking) or item type (electronics, cookware, clothing) then stow it all on a shelf in a garage, basement, or shed. When camping, I throw the whole bin in the car for a quick exit, and to prevent me from forgetting a lighter for the camp stove.
Gear Closet

Gladiator Garageworks Ready to Assemble All-Season GearCloset

If your heavy ski coats are breaking the rod in your closet, reclaim your space with a sturdy garage gear closet. Your friends will be jealous of this sleek steel cabinet that holds up to 90 pounds with space underneath for stashing helmets and accessories. Backed by a 10-year limited warranty. $350

Advanced Bike Storage v3.0 hook

Gladiator Garageworks Advanced Bike Storage v3.0

Use these hooks to get bikes off the ground and out of the way when ski season approaches, but keep them easily accessible for bizarrely warm winter days when you just have to ride. Part of the Gladiator® Wall System, you can remove the hooks and add other wall accessories when your bikes don’t need a hanging home. $25
Osprey SnowKit product photo

Osprey SnowKit

Activity dedicated duffels keep your gear and car organized, allowing you to dash out the door so fast, so you might actually catch the first chair. The SnowKit fits everything you need for a day on the hill—helmet, boots, and clothing—with ventilation to help wet garments dry. Taking it on the road? Use the harness and straps to carry it backpack-style through an airport terminal or to your next basecamp. Also available in TrailKit version for runners, cyclists, and triathletes. $130

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About Author

Jenny Willden is the Managing Editor of Outdoor Sports Guide and a self-proclaimed gear and grammar nut. She loves adventure and is happiest when riding horses or snowboarding in Utah’s mountains. Llama racing and deal finding are her secret superpowers. Follow Jenny’s exploits on Twitter @jennywillden or on Google+.

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