If you’re like most Boulder homeowners, you live by the sun and the snow of the Rocky Mountains. That means spending all summer camping, biking, hiking, kayaking, and getting lost in the beauty of nature.
But with that call for adventure comes a lot of gear. Camping alone needs tons of special equipment and tools, not to mention kayaking and fishing. Storing all these things can get a bit messy in the off-season.
With winter right around the corner, it’ll be time to break out the skis and snowshoes soon! But before another chapter of outdoor adventuring can begin, getting your gear organized is essential for keeping it pristine and ready for next year while also staying out of your way for all the winter fun coming up.
Spend more time in the wilderness and less time hunting for lost gear with these 5 tips and tricks for organizing and storing your summer gear.
Get Rid of Excess Gear
After coming home from a long mountain expedition, it’s easy to give in to kicking off those muddy boots and throwing all your gear into a corner of the garage to worry about later.
But while it’s fresh in your mind, it may be to your advantage to take note of items that were unnecessary or duplicates on your adventure. Did you bring way too much stuff that you didn’t need, like extra dishes or a hammock you never use?
Set aside items you didn’t use or need, and get rid of it by selling it at a garage sale, posting them for sale online on platforms like Craigslist or NextDoor, or opt to donate them to a thrift store like Goodwill.
You never know if your extras could become someone else’s treasure! And opening your space to store only what you need will help to keep your gear organized and manageable.
Designate One Area for Gear Storage
Pick one area to keep all your summer gear. This will help you stay organized, rather than trying to keep track of all the places you may have placed your gear last season.
Be sure the area you choose is dry and not susceptible to moisture that may damage your gear. Make sure this area is also out of the way of your life’s daily hustle and bustle — for example, don’t store camping gear in an area of your garage that you’re bound to always trip over every time you need to open the trunk.
Take Your Time
You may be putting some of this gear away for a long time — maybe even an entire year — so it’s important to make sure everything is aired out and cleaned up before packing it away.
Remove all batteries from electronics, making sure the electronics have a box or wrapping to keep them safe from the elements.
Fold clothing, tents, and tarps neatly. Moisture will stick more in areas that have wrinkles where it can get trapped, growing mold and other nasty bacteria you won’t want to deal with later.
Use Vertical Space
Whether it be your basement, attic, shed, or garage, this area is likely already pretty full with other household items (like bins of holiday decorations or lawn & gardening supplies). Using the space you have as strategically as possible is the key to a well-organized system.
Consider investing in or building some shelving — this can alleviate the issue of not having enough floor space. Store the items you don’t need access to very often on the higher shelves closer to the ceiling.
Hang What You Can
Hanging things like kayaks and bikes from the ceiling or on the wall is a great way to keep some of your larger items out of your way, freeing up valuable room for more boxes or bins.
Consider building your own DIY kayak storage hoist or investing in bicycle hooks. You can even get creative with these buckets-turned-shelves (the first picture after scrolling down to “Storage Tips from the Pros.”
Peg Boards and Gridwalls
Peg boards can be especially helpful for storing climbing gear like carabiners and ropes. This mode of organization saves your ropes from getting tangled. Plus, keeping all your gear in one place allows you to see everything so you can quickly assess what you need to pack for your next adventure.
Use Clear Bins and Concise Labels
Pack your gear in stackable see-through bins so that they can be easily transported in your car, and then stored on top of each other in your garage.
Plastic containers are durable through most weathers, which means if you put these straight into your truck bed, they’ll keep your gear dry and safe through any summer storms you might encounter. Choosing clear bins will help you be able to look inside them without having to dig deep to remember what you’ve placed there.
Use permanent markers or tape in labels to the sides of the bin that face out. Labeling the lid and at least one side is always a good idea.
Group like items together to make it easier to find what you need — like tents and sleeping bags, or cooking pans and dishes. List on the labels the specific items that are in the tub, like “camping stove, utensils, plates,” so you can say goodbye to searching endlessly for that one tool you could have sworn you still had from last summer!
Give Each Family Member Their Own Space
Give each child and family member their own duffel bag for their camping clothing and personal items. This can be really helpful for bringing along children so you don’t have to keep track of their extra items on top of everything else.
Bonus Camping Storage and Packing Tips
Camping is one of the most fun Colorado adventures to enjoy by yourself or with loved ones. But it can be a headache to keep up with all the specific tools you need to remember to pack and store afterward
Here are a few extra tricks for storing your camping gear.
Plan for Your Trip in Advance
Create a master list for all the camping gear you’ll need, and use the same list each time you plan to go out for a summer adventure. Come up with a list of activities you’ll be doing and what gear you’ll need.
Plan out your clothing and toiletries head-to-toe, remembering to include a hat, sunscreen, socks, and other necessities. Give yourself at least a few days before embarking on your journey to pack and make sure you remember everything.
- Keep all cookware in re-sealable bags to make sure no dust or grime accumulates while in storage
- Have designated silverware, plates, etc. so that you don’t have to pull from your home’s supply each time you go
- Repurpose household items
- Keep your toilet paper roll in an old coffee can – it’s the perfect size to keep it safe against getting wet or being dropped on the ground
- You can also use coffee cans to store snacks
- Use a clothes hanger to hang a roll of paper towels for easy access
- Pre-mix pancake batter and store it in an old ketchup bottle
- Dry out your tent before storing (and get rid of as much dirt as possible)
- Wash and air-dry sleeping bags and blankets
Taking the time to organize your gear now will be a relief when next summer rolls around. So you can spend more time in the great outdoors, instead of scouring for any items you’ve misplaced.
The seasons are changing quickly. With winter right around the corner, it’s almost time for other outdoor activities like skiing and making snowmen.