Smart Camping Storage Ideas and Hacks
Ideas & Hacks for Organizing Your Gear
Tim Peck is a climber, skier, and cyclist from New Hampshire who has spent has who has spent countless hours adventuring around the United States. Here he shares his best tips and trick for storing camping gear.
There’s nothing more frustrating than digging through your pack on the trail, searching for that sunblock that you’re sure you packed but can’t find. Almost as important as an orderly campsite or well-organized backpack on the trail is the thoughtful storage of your outdoor gear at home. Storing your gear effectively will extend the lifespan of your equipment, preventing it from failing at the worst possible time. Furthermore, a storage system for your camping equipment can put an end to frustrating time spent looking for a vital piece of gear before a trip, or, even worse, showing up at the trailhead only to realize that you left something crucial behind. With this in mind, here are our go-to storage hacks for camping gear.
Carve Out Space
Whether it’s a corner of the garage, the attic, a closet, or a dedicated room, keep all of your gear in one place. At its simplest, housing all of your camping gear in one location simplifies the process of packing and unpacking before and after an adventure. Similarly, a designated area for all of your camping gear makes it easy to return everything to its correct place when you arrive home. Consider this space sacred! Avoid intermingling everyday items with your gear to prevent clutter and confusion.
Another benefit of storing your camping gear in a dedicated space is that it puts an end to the distraction of moving from room to room to round up gear. If you’ve ever been packing for a weekend away and found yourself wondering, “Why am I in the kitchen?” you know what I mean.
Create a System of Storage Bins
Loved by all types of outdoor enthusiasts, storage bins are a staple, thanks to their affordability, practicality, and ability to keep gear dry and prevent pests from getting in. They’re ideal for housing everything from tents to camp furniture to your camp kitchen.
When shopping for bins, look for these characteristics:
- Tight-fitting lids and robust construction—you don’t want a flimsy bin that will crack under a little pressure.
- Same-sized bins, which are often able to stack on top of each other, allowing you to maximize your space.
- Clear bins that allow you to see the contents of the container without opening it. However, sunlight degrades nylon and weakens plastics. If you’re gear storage room isn’t a dark basement, consider solid-colored bins for items such as backpacks, tents, and water filters.
A mission-critical aspect of your camping storage boxes and bin system is labeling. If you’re looking for something more fun than a label maker, outdoor brand stickers offer a great alternative. For example, Big Agnes stickers on your tent bin, an Osprey sticker on your pack bin, and a Jetboil sticker on the bin containing your camp kitchen. A spare camping tote is also handy for transporting your camping gear from home to the trailhead.
Categorize Your Camping Gear
Savvy campers know to group items into broad categories and store them together. For example, store sleep systems—like tents, bivys, and hammocks—in one bin and kitchen supplies—like stoves, pots, pans, plates, bowls, utensils, and mugs—in another. This system saves space, makes everything easy to find, and minimizes the chance of firing up the stove at the campsite, only to realize you left your pot at home.
Stash Smaller Items in Cubbies
Not into the look of a bunch of plastic bins stacked up? Create your own camping organizer. The cubbies and cubes sold by department stores and furniture stores are great alternatives and are perfect for housing smaller items and camping or hiking clothes and outerwear. Open cubbies provide an ideal place for storing everything from wicking tees to fleeces. Slide-in baskets or cubes offer a secure solution for stashing accessories like socks, gloves, hats, and smaller gear like camp lanterns and first-aid kits.
Remember to remove batteries from outdoor electronics before storing them to prevent corrosion. Store the batteries in a sealed plastic bag next to the device to avoid getting to your destination with an unpowered device.
The Technical Shoe Rack
Another awesome camping storage hack for smaller gear is an over-the-door shoe organizer. In addition to being great for shoes, the numerous small pockets work well for stashing items like headlamps, battery packs, balaclavas, and sunglasses. Organize the shoe rack so the gear you use the most is at eye level.
Take advantage of all the space available to you by storing light items up high. Sleeping pads—which are best stored flat—fit on top of a shelf too high for other items and weigh next to nothing. Sleeping bags packed into their cotton storage sacks—storing sleeping bags in a compression sack ruins their loft and affects their performance—are also lightweight and great candidates for storage on the top shelf and other high places that might not accommodate heavier, bulkier gear.
If you’re lucky enough to have dedicated garage space for your camping gear—or happen to have high ceilings—a hanging rack is another great storage solution for lightweight yet bulky equipment. Garage hanging storage is perfect for items like cumbersome coolers and camp furniture. Tents are another great candidate for hanging, if you have room. If you need to store a tent in its bag, make sure it’s kept away from humidity to avoid the dreaded sticky or peeling rain fly that often occurs when tents sit rolled up and unused in damp places.
Boots on the Ground
Thanks to the time spent tramping through mud, splashing through puddles, and traipsing on trails, our boots and shoes are often the dirtiest items in our camping kit. That’s why footwear is best stored near the ground to avoid raining dirt and grime onto your other gear. Keep a couple of plastic grocery or garbage bags in your travel tote, so that when you come off the trail you’ve got a separate place to stash muddy, stinky boots for the drive home.
Out With the Old
Many longtime campers have acquired a staggering amount of gear over the years. As you organize your kit, pull aside items you no longer use and consider selling, donating to local gear closets, or gifting them to friends who are new to camping. While it’s handy to have spare gear—and easy to be sentimental about one-time prized pieces—unused items take up space and make it easy to overlook an essential item when packing for your next trip.
Get Inspired to Hit the Trails
In your designated gear room, closet, or corner, hang a picture from your favorite trip or of a dream destination. Or, print out a bucket list of places where you want to camp in the coming year or in your lifetime. Making your storage space inspirational will stoke the urge for adventure and keep you from racing through the ritual of packing and unpacking.
A former child model, Tim spent a portion of his youth gracing the pages of Sunday paper advertisements for many now-defunct department stores. Living responsibility/rent-free with his parents into his thirties, Tim pursued climbing, skiing, and biking while accumulating an impressive amount of time in the mountains (and gear). Relentlessly pursuing the dream, Tim’s modest life ambitions are to ski all 12 months of the year, to climb 5.12, and to live in a van.
Interested in more camping storage solutions? Chat with our Gearheads to find the perfect solution for you and your gear.