How to Organize Your Camping Gear: 9 Tips and Ideas - Backyard Boss
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How to Organize Your Camping Gear: 9 Tips and Ideas

Camping is an excellent way to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, leaving the demands of our day-to-day lives behind. However, new campers quickly learn that there can be a lot of gear involved with their “primitive living” escape. If you’re not organized, your garage can quickly turn into a chaotic mess of tarps, tents, coolers, and more. To top it all off, improperly stored gear can cause costly and unnecessary damage!

Don’t let this ruin your travel plans. The following camping gear storage tips and ideas will help you to clean and organize your garage, making it easier than ever to find everything you are looking for. Proper storage will also help to extend the lifespan of your gear, saving your hard-earned money.

Here Are Some Simple Storage Ideas to Get You Started!

Purge Damaged, Worn and Unused Gear Each Season

At the end of each camping season when it comes time to store your gear for the winter, take the time to go through each item and assess its condition.  High-quality gear can last many years, but there will come a time when the wear and tear of regular use catch up with it. Don’t waste your valuable garage storage space on gear that you can no longer use.

Start by laying out all your gear so that you can see what you currently own. Throw away anything that is damaged or worn beyond repair, including items that would cost more to repair than they are worth. Once that is done, look at your gear once more to identify duplicate items, items you don’t use, or items and items that you no longer need. These can then be sold or donated, freeing up space and possibly making a little extra money for the items that you DO need.

Designate One Spot for Camping Gear

Rather than allowing your gear to spread out across your garage, designate one specific spot where it will all be stored. This will keep it together for easier organization, but also help you to condense the space that it requires. Additionally, this will help you prevent duplicate gear, as you’re less likely to purchase gear that you don’t need when you can easily see what you already have.

The ideal storage space for camping gear is in a dry, cool corner of your garage, away from windows where direct UV light could damage gear over time. Depending on the flooring in your garage, you may also have to deal with the potential of moisture under-stored items. For dirt floors or concreted floors that “sweat,” make sure that you choose a place where you can elevate your gear on a shelf or even on top of a wooden pallet.

A variety of camping pots and other camp cooking supplies sitting in the grass next to a clear plastic storage tote full of smaller camping-related items

Remove All Batteries Prior to Storage

Take a moment to remove the batteries from all camping gear including flashlights, headlamps, lanterns, radios, speakers, GPS devices or other battery-powered gear. Store all batteries in a sealed plastic bag or container separate from all other gear. Doing so will prevent unnecessary damage from battery leakage or corrosion. If you are concerned about how to organize camping gear so that you never forget anything important, including the batteries, you can place this bag or container near the relevant items.

Store Gear in Clear or Labelled Plastic Totes

Purchase a few heavy-duty plastic totes and use them to store your gear away safely during the off-season. This will protect them against any moisture or rodent damage (as we know that things CAN happen in a garage occasionally). Clear plastic totes will allow you to see right into the tote to identify what it contains. Alternatively, use a label on the front of the tote to list what is included within.

When storing your gear, take the time to sort it out based on the type of gear, keeping similar items together. For example, you may have one tote that holds dishes, cookware, and other items related to cooking at camp. Another could store away all your hiking-specific gear.

    Clear Heavy-Duty Stackable Utility Tote

Two clear plastic heavy-duty storage totes sitting one on top of the other
    This 2-pack of heavy-duty storage totes will save space and organize your gear. Each tote holds 11 gallons, secured with a latch on each side. The clear sides allow you to easily see what is stored inside.

These can be stacked up in your specified corner of the garage or, if you have space, organized using a utility shelving unit. By using shelving, you make it easier to access any of the bins that you may need at a moment’s notice without having to move other totes around to get to it. The combination of utility shelving and heavy-duty storage bins will be a game-changer for outdoor travelers. This is usually my first recommendation for those asking for camping gear storage ideas.

If your ideal camping vacation is front-country or car camping, some of these totes can be packed in your vehicle to head out on your next adventure as is without the need to pack or organize them, and without worrying about whether you’re leaving anything behind.

Only Store Clean, Dry Gear

Make sure that all your gear has been cleaned and dried prior to storage. This ensures that you kick off the season with fresh and ready-to-use gear, but also prevents damage from mold, mildew, and rot. This includes setting up and cleaning out tents, airing out sleeping bags and hammocks, and more. While it may seem counterproductive to clean items that you are going to use outside, getting them dirty again, pride in your gear will save you money in the long run. Well-kept and cared for gear far outlasts gear that is neglected.

A man and two boys are setting up a green and grey dome tent in the middle of a grassy area with trees in the distance.

Vacuum Sealing Bags for Bedding

Any experienced camper can tell you that bedding can take up a significant amount of room if it’s not stored properly. It’s not that it weighs a lot, but it takes up valuable space that you could be using for other camping gear storage needs. This is especially important if you are working with limited space. Use vacuum storage bags to reduce the space that pillows and blankets take while keeping them clean and fresh. Make sure that all items are properly dried before storing to prevent the growth of mold.

    Simple Houseware Vacuum Storage Space Saver Bags

A brown box with a product label on it for a 15 pack of vacuum storage bags, with the storage bags sitting in front of it
    This 15-pack of vacuum storage bags includes a variety of bags in 4 different sizes: 2 Jumbo, 5 Extra Large, 4 Large and 4 Medium. They are airtight and waterproof, working with any vacuum cleaner to reduce storage space by 80%.

Use Vertical Storage Space

You can easily reduce the amount of space that you require for storage by making the most of the vertical space available. This includes, as mentioned above, adding a shelving unit to your camping storage, or simply hanging items when possible. If you are trying to store bikes, skis, fishing rods, or similar oversized items, you can use wall or ceiling hooks to get them up and out of the way.

A pegboard can be mounted on your garage wall to hold smaller tools and gear such as hatchets, binoculars, or goggles. Even smaller items, such as tent pegs and carabiners can be placed in small storage bags and then hung.

Another great storage option that I have recently started to use in my own home is a wall-mounted magnetic strip. A strong magnet can hold metal tools and items up and out of the way while still allowing for easy access. Magnetic hooks can also be added to hang specific clothing items, hiking packs, and other gear. Don’t forget, your hiking packs can also hold lightweight hiking gear, helping you to store even more in one small convenient space. This also helps to keep related gear together.

    Amazon Basics Adjustable Storage Shelving Unit

A black metal wire utility shelving unit
    This 4-shelf heavy-duty storage shelving unit is easy to set up and fully adjustable. It is constructed from durable steel with a black-coated chrome finish. Fully assembled, it measures 14” x 54” x 36” with a storage capacity of 350 lbs on each shelf, totalling 1400 lbs.

Compression Sacks Are Space Savers AND Gear Savers

Have you noticed that camping hammocks often come with small compressions sacks or “stuff sacks” for storage? These simple storage bags don’t get nearly enough credit! If you fold a hammock after every use, it will result in unnecessary wear along the lines that it is folded. This wear is amplified every time that you fold your gear up along those same fold lines (which we tend to do after learning what works best). Before long, you have created a weak spot where your hammock will likely tear.

By “stuffing” your hammock into the provided compression sack, the lines upon which it folds are random and change every time that it is put away. Not only is this easier in most cases (no need for folding) but it also extends the life of your gear. As for storage, compression sacks do a great job of minimizing the space needed for storing these items. They can then be stored in larger bins, placed on a shelf, or hung up for the next season.

Allow Sleeping Bags to “Loft”

After your sleeping bag has been fully dried out, it can be stored in a Rubbermaid container, or loose-fitting breathable cotton or mesh sack. Each time that we use a sleeping bag, we compress the insulation within the bag, which will eventually wear your sleeping bag out as it will be unable to retain warmth.

By storing it loosely during the off-season, you are giving the insulation time to “loft.” This means that you are giving it time to fluff back up, creating the air pockets that then trap and hold onto the warmth from your body while you are comfortable inside the bag. Doing this will extend the life of your sleeping bag.

Your Camping Gear Sorted

While it may be tempting to simply toss your gear aside at the end of your last camping trip of the season, strategically organizing and storing your camping gear can save you money and extend the life of your favorite items. These simple camping gear storage ideas don’t take a lot of time to put in place and they will make packing for your first trip next season easy and stress-free.