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Organizing your outdoor gear
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John S.
(jshann) - F
Organizing your outdoor gear on 11/19/2006 21:42:49 MST Print View

How do you organize your outdoor gear? What containers do you use to separate larger and smaller items?

Nathan Moody
(atomick) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Organizing your outdoor gear on 11/19/2006 23:20:23 MST Print View

I have two small-medium plastic bins from Chez Target. One holds what I need every single time I go on a trip: medical kit, tool kit, kitchen kit, "junk drawer" bag for misc. stuff, stove, headlamp, and so on. The other holds replenishables and optional items: spare Aloksaks, trash compactor bags, fuel canisters, extra containers for repackaging food, et cetera. Bigger items - packs. bear canister, sleeping bags, yadda yadda - are all in a closet and not especially organized due to size. Ditto with clothing.

My gear is mentally further bifurcated into summer vs shoulder-season items, and solo vs group supplies, but not grouped as such.

Not at all finessed, but the "always-take box" approach has prevented me from forgetting essentials all year! That and, um, that gigantic and anal Excel spreadsheet I review three times before leaving the front door. :-)

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Organizing your outdoor gear on 11/20/2006 03:11:53 MST Print View

For larger items, i save and make use of any carboard shipping boxes that the gear came in. Without the packing peanuts, bubble wrap, or packing paper that was in the box, you might be surprised at how much UL gear will fit in the box. This approach is NOT an option if all of your gear comes from some UL companies as these companies mail in small tyvek envelopes.

My old "seabag" holds all of my L/UL backpacks.

For smaller gear, stoves, med. supplies, etc, i had some unused, very inexpensive, med.-to-large, plastic toolboxes (purchased on sale at Sears) laying around. The tool trays provide some organization and the larger bottom section holds items that won't fit in the tray(s). A black "Sharpie" writes just fine on the toolbox to provide an indication of what's inside each toolbox.

Channing Sze
(eeyore) - F
gear shrine on 11/20/2006 07:46:09 MST Print View

when i was a bachelor, i had a huge floor-to-ceiling rack in my tiny condo. backpacks and sleeping bags on the top. tarps and tents on the bottom (with room to let them dry). smaller stuff in the middle (more accessible). some of it was in little storage units. it was nice. my then-girlfriend called it a gear shrine. on the balcony, i had a big table for a "staging area".

now that i live in a bigger condo with my now-wife, most of my gear in the storage unit in the basement. still very accessible, but sadly out of sight. :(

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Organizing your outdoor gear on 11/20/2006 07:50:45 MST Print View

I'm very fortunate to have the space. I have dedicated a closet to my backpacking gear. I built shelves that are just right for storing my 7 sleeping bags in their storage sacks. Other shelves are sized to hold boxes I've configured as bins for stoves and fuel, water bladders and bottles, cook pots and insulated cups, and clothing. One shelf is dedicated to sleeping pads, another to backpacks, and another to tents and bivies. There's room on the top shelf for a box of 'spare parts', 3 bear cannisters and a box of hats. I even have enough room for a small counter for organizing and packing. It's all very compact with little wasted space. I do have one problem. It's full. If I buy a new piece of gear, something has to go. My backpacking friends appreciate this feature as they often benefit from my "cast-offs".

Edited by redleader on 11/20/2006 07:51:49 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Organizing your outdoor gear on 11/20/2006 08:04:56 MST Print View

Due to our remodeling projects, currently 1/2 the gear resides in a massive pile next to my side of the bed. It is a layer of pads, sleeping bags in cotton bags, backpacks, then next to it piles and boxes of small gear. Our daypacks are always loaded, and sit next to everything.
Downstairs in the garage I have shelves with everything else stored in clear bins.
Problem is, we are an outdoorsy family of 3, with enough gear for 9 people. I alone have at least 8 backpacks and 3 sleeping pads I use often enough so they are not in the garage.
The plastic bins help a lot for keeping small stuff in line!

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Organizing your outdoor gear on 11/20/2006 08:19:26 MST Print View

I have these neet wall hanging things from REI that has hooks on them. I hang my backpacks, Ice axe, and other things that could be hung on there. I have two storage bins with shelves with doors that I stack all of my gear from. My sleeping bags and my wifes too for that fact hang from hangers. I'd say a 1/3 of my gear takes up space in our garage!

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
re:Organizing your outdoor gear on 11/21/2006 21:23:23 MST Print View

My solution is similar to that of Channing and Denis. I keep a rack of $1 plastic bins where I sort gear by function. For example the small blue bins on the left are navigation, cutting tools, fire starters, lights.. Most clothing is rolled and banded in the baskets on the right, organized vertically as they are worn, for example hats on top, socks on the bottom.
To ensure I have essentials, I always take at least one item from each bin.
Down is stored uncompressed, synthetics lightly compressed.
I hang a clipboard with historical weather data and also my gear checklist.
I hope some day this room will be for my future child, then I'll happily find another storage solution (for the gear, not the child :)
gear baskets by function

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Re: re:Organizing your outdoor gear on 11/21/2006 22:05:17 MST Print View

Impressive. Yikes, I suddenly feel unorganized.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: re:Organizing your outdoor gear on 11/21/2006 22:48:37 MST Print View

Brett, Wow! Thanks for posting the pic. Alright, Type A's, c'mon, join the fun!

Oh and Don, what's the matter? Staff should be leading by example, right? ;)

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
re:Organizing your outdoor gear and the Pareto principle on 11/21/2006 23:51:06 MST Print View

Ryan, I'm sure Don leads with his choice of lighter gear. My unnecessarily detailed excel inventory spreadsheet (UDEIS) shows that's about 64.516 kg of gear in the picture. (My Base Pack Weight is about 9kg) Are you all familiar with the Pareto principle (80/20 rule)? "in anything a few (20 percent) are vital and many(80 percent) are trivial." So it goes with my misguided gear purchases!

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: re:Organizing your outdoor gear on 11/22/2006 03:57:48 MST Print View


very nice setup to say the least.

i'm guessing here, but i'd say that you're NOT a married fella.

if you were, you would know that you could never display your gear like this.

every married man knows that the gear must be stored out of sight in cryptically marked non-translucent containers (like old cardboard boxes to attract the least attention from the better half). Out of sight; out of mind. I find discretion is the better part of valor.

Gear only is spotted when it's time to take it out, to pack for a trek, from where it has been surreptitiously sequestered away anxiously awaiting its next use. Then, you only have to deal with comments like, "Is that a new headlamp?" To which one can honestly reply, "No. I've had it for quite a while and just started using it."

for those with spouses who share your passion and can display their gear like Brett, don't let that better half get away.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: re:Organizing your outdoor gear on 11/22/2006 07:20:46 MST Print View

Some of us are lucky married men I guess :) The whole spare bedroom closet and floor is gear not to mention 5 bikes in or in sight of the kitchen. Keep the wife warm and comfortable when camping and I can get pretty much any gear I want. Oh this jacket is for you honey, I'll just borrow it for special trips...hehe

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: re:Organizing your outdoor gear on 11/22/2006 07:44:08 MST Print View

Before I started backpacking my living space was neat, but now it's similar to how sarbar describes her bedside...pile of stuff. Bretts pic will hopefully inspire me to get off my rear and get more organized.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: re:Organizing your outdoor gear on 11/22/2006 08:33:32 MST Print View

Lol..well, at one time it was a nice neat pile! The hubby had built me a whole closet in our 3rd bedroom. It was a beautiful site ;-) after our remodel is done, he is goingto build me a custom gear storage area-I'll be sure to post photos then. I know I am indulged by him, he doesn't comment often about my gear. But then again, his &^%$ takes up the whole garage, so he can't talk!

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
re;Organizing your outdoor gear, a primer for newlyweds on 11/22/2006 11:00:59 MST Print View

PJ, your post had me rolling with laughter; because I know exactly what you are talking about. I used the same storage techniques (be sure to throw away all packaging and receipts, just store the gear!), and I used the same explanation about using truly old, but never used, gear a few times, with my -ex! Usually because I truly had no opportunity to use a new toy for months or literally years. We had different priorities about fitness, recreation, and everything else.

Now, I choose my gear, and friends, more carefully. My girlfriend's gear is in that photo with mine, and we share an enjoyment of the outdoors together. She really thought your post was funny also.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: re;Organizing your outdoor gear, a primer for newlyweds on 11/22/2006 11:05:29 MST Print View


glad you understood my weak tongue-in-cheek attempt at humor.

you mentioned "throw away...receipts". not good enough, IMHO. i use a cross-cut shredder (mine is the "Ollie North 9000" model) to make sure such valuable personal info never falls into the wrong, errr...., i mean my wife's hands.

my heartfelt congratulations to you and your current situation. good for you.

take care, pj

Edited by pj on 11/22/2006 11:09:23 MST.

Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: re;Organizing your outdoor gear, a primer for newlyweds on 11/22/2006 11:22:49 MST Print View

This thread is too funny! I am always accused of being way too anal...but by the looks of Brett's organizational skills, everything is relative!

I am lucky in marriage too, but I do not judge that by my wife's level of enthusiasm for my choosen activities. I feel we are a great fit even though she has no interest in how light my stove is. I actually think it is heathy for two people who spend so much time together raising a family to have seperate hobbies/activities.

And to that point, PJ, I am like you. I suppose I feel a bit sheepish when I spend money on a piece of gear only 12 months and 2 uses later on the exact same type of gear. It is a learning process...but who want's to explain right? I do however sell off equipment that is still great, so in a way I am being somewhat responsible. In my single days I may have just held onto to it just to have it. Now, with 2 kids, money and space are prioritized pretty differently for me. And despite the fact that my equipment is in a non-descript brown box, in the rafters, I could not be more happy.

And good luck to you Brett should you decide to make a baby someday. Judging by your attention to detail, you will probably make a great father.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
re;Organizing your outdoor gear on 11/22/2006 12:08:22 MST Print View

Scott and p j; thank you both for the comments. I am really moved. As you both demonstrate, keeping perspective is important. This is not ultimately about the gear, it is a reflection of something else in our lives; a desire for adventure, or admiration for a well engineered device, or inspiration to push our physical and comfort margins. When trying to explain backpacking to my co-workers, I just say "doing these things makes everything else seem easier". And Scott, I admire your responsible frugalness. When possible I buy from REI, and return unused gear so someone else can buy it at discount.
I am looking forward to the day I upgrade my backpack to one of those baby carrier-types.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: re;Organizing your outdoor gear on 11/22/2006 12:23:09 MST Print View

>>'When trying to explain backpacking to my co-workers, I just say "doing these things makes everything else seem easier". '

Wow. Never thought about it like this, but i see the wisdom in your words Brett.

With your kind permission, i may "steal" those words, kudasai.