Unfortunately for most of us here at Kelty HQ, the average human dwelling was not exactly built with tons of extra storage space. On the upside: our species’ collective need for storage has inspired magical places like the Container Store and Shed Warehouse (yep, it’s a thing) to help us wrangle the mountains of clutter in our lives. On the downside, though: LOTS of us are still left wondering how to store camping gear. So, while the warm weather still feels pretty far away, now’s a great time to organize your camping stuff so it’s ready to rock. Here are our favorite tips for storing camping gear at home and in small spaces—you never know, you might even make room for some new stuff!
1. KEEP IT TOGETHER.
We can’t stress this enough: when storing camping gear at home, the most important thing is keeping ALL of your stuff together. If you’re a fair-weather camper, it’s SO easy to forget what you did with your axe or sleeping pad—especially if you put it away in the dark, 11 months ago, after a full day of hiking and driving. Having a dedicated spot for your outdoorsy funtime gear makes both packing AND unpacking so much less stressful.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a garage, this is probably your best bet for storing camping gear at home; this prevents you from dragging dirty boots and other gear through your house. But if you’ve got a DIY gear closet somewhere in your house, that’ll work, too! Bonus points for lining the bottom with your least-favorite tarp to keep the clods contained.
2. STACK IT UP.
Got your DIY gear closet all roped off, and still can’t find anything? Well, to quote every spouse everywhere, “Did you look in the right bin?” Wait—you don’t store your camping gear in matching bins with clearly marked labels…stacked neatly on racks you’ve cleared of other stuff, and wholly dedicated to this purpose? Friend, it’s time to start.
For a couple of C-notes, you can outfit your DIY gear closet with huge stacking storage bins from Target or Amazon, and a crappy bookcase from Craigslist. Stack your boots, helmets and any smaller items on the bookshelf, then organize your other gear in the bins. Work categorically; for example, store all sleeping gear (bags, pads, pillows etc.) in the same bin.
3. GET THE GYST.
You geniuses who already use our GYST System to make packing and unpacking for your camping trip a heckin’ breeze—you can skip to #4. The rest of you, get ready to have your world rocked! GYST stands for “get your sh*t together.” And Kelty developed the system to help you do just that.
This brilliant collapsible storage system allows you to efficiently pack, unload and reload an entire campsite’s worth of stuff. Backpackers and climbers love it for storing and transporting gear; car campers can put ‘em right back in the ol’ DIY gear closet to wait for their next adventure! Cache boxes (which are small enough to tuck inside any of the GYST bins, BTW) are great for smaller items like first-aid kits, prescription medicines, small tools and utility knives, spare chargers and batteries—basically, anything you don’t want to get crushed or lost.
4. BE CLOTHES-MINDED.
While it’s great to have every single thing you need in one place, when storing camping gear at home we do recommend keeping your clothes inside the house. True, we live in Colorado, where folks wear outdoorsy gear on the daily. For many people, these pieces will obviously live in the main or coat closet. But for the items you ONLY wear camping, fold clean items neatly and keep them on a dedicated shelf in the closet. This will not only keep them close at hand if you need them for a non-camping activity, but also keep them from smelling like the transmission fluid, paint thinner and fermented grass.
HOT TIP: The Original G (part of the GYST system) is a great size for storing camping clothes.
5. CLEAN UP + OUT.
If you’ve gotten to the end of a full article on storing camping gear at home, you’re obviously interested in buttoning up your operation. So, from one gear hoarder to another, we’d like to take this opportunity to tell you to clean up your act in 2020. So, pick a nice day this spring, and haul everything out onto your lawn or driveway. Ditch anything that looks dodgy or dangerous. Donate anything that has already served its time.
Next, pitch your tent and give it a thorough sweeping (while you’re at it, count the stakes and check the elastic of your folding poles). Haul out those sleeping bags, and wash them if they don’t pass the sniff test. Unpack, organize and re-pack your storage bins, and make sure the doggone labels are correct. Be sure to restock any low items in your first-aid kit, and refresh your sunscreen and bug spray if needed. Then give your hiking boots a lil’ love. Remove and wash any crusty laces, hose and scrub off stiff/dirty/sweat fabric, and thoroughly clean and condition any leather. And, just like that, you’re ready to make tracks…get outta here!