Unless you’re a full-time camper, your camping stuff probably spends a decent amount of time in storage. Much like proper RV storage is important, it pays to have a plan for storing gear. Otherwise you waste at least two things: time looking for items and valuable space that could be used for something else. Fortunately, there are a lot of avid campers and organized people out there willing to share their storage hacks with the masses. In fact, in Reddit’s biggest camping group, this photo of stored gear is one of the most popular posts of all time. So, whether you use your basement your garage, or anywhere in between, here are a few helpful photos and tips to get you started.
1. Bins (and labels) are your friends
Plastic bins aren’t pretty per se, but they’re easier on the eye than the alternative: a heap of loose gear. When blogger Abby Lawson started reorganizing her family’s chaotic garage, she realized something simple yet big: bins are her friends. They can be your friends, too. Not only do they look neater and make stacking possible, but when labeled properly, bins can make it easier to find things. Otherwise you can find yourself trying to sort through unsightly piles of random odds and ends.
2. Take advantage of tracking systems
Unlike fixed shelving and hooks, tracking systems are dynamic and allow you to adjust them as needed. This is helpful especially as your family grows or you become empty nesters and need to store less stuff. Lawson uses a Gladiator track system in her garage, but any tracking system you can easily install that can stand the weight of your gear should work. Rubbermaid even makes a tracking vertical bike hook which apparently works so well it has a 4.8-star average rating from more than 5,000 reviews on Amazon.
3. Think overhead for the big stuff
Canoes and kayaks are fun when they’re in the water. But when it comes to finding a place to store them, it’s another story. Instead of putting them on the ground or even against the wall, where they can take up a lot of real estate, consider storing them overhead. If your garage doesn’t have built-in beams, look into investing in a rack. It can be as cheap as this best-selling $88 StoreYourBoard rack. Or if weight is an issue and you need help lifting your gear, use a pulley system. Make your own with rope or buy something like this popular $34 storage hoist which can be used for canoes, kayaks, and even bikes.
4. Think under the stairs
According to Homes.com, the most underutilized space in the basement is often found under the stairs. This YouTube video with 137,000 views show how to build drawers under your stairs. Or just leave them unfinished and take advantage of the vertical space to hang tarps or sleeping bags (see below). If you have exterior stairs, you can store firewood under them. Just remember to try to store it a few inches off the ground and to allow for plenty of airflow.
5. Hang sleeping bags
Airflow is also important when it comes to storing sleeping bags. You’re supposed to roll up a sleeping bag or cram it in a stuff sack for transporting it. But if you can, try to avoid storing it in that shape. Compressing the bag can shorten its lifespan if the fibers break down too much. That’s why The Camping Family hangs their colorful sleeping bags when not in use (it looks like a scene you’d find in a sporting goods store). You should also store hammocks this way to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
Katie Jackson is a writer and media specialist based in Montana’s Big Sky Country. Living and working everywhere from New York to Nicaragua, Katie is no stranger to adventure. When she’s not traveling the world (or writing about it!) she’s busy chasing after a Leonberger named Zeus. Follow Katie’s travels on Instagram @katietalkstravel.