Camping is a great way to get back to nature and escape the bustle of the city, but what do you do with your gear between trips or in the off-season? No matter how tidy you are, tents, duffels, cookware and other equipment can be cumbersome and take up valuable space in your home. Storing them smartly, however, can minimize clutter, protect them from damage and help you keep track of your essentials all year long. In this article, we’ll walk you through our favorite camping gear storage ideas that will clear up space and make packing for your camping trips a breeze.
Keep a Trip-Ready Bag
If you’re a camping enthusiast who goes on (at least) several trips a year, keeping a trip-ready bag can be a major time saver. This camping-exclusive supply tote includes mugs, soap, utensils, rags, a fire starter and a first aid kit, among other items you know you’ll need to bring. That way, you won’t have to add the same items to your checklist and “borrow” them from your kitchen, bathroom and other parts of your house every time you want to go away for a weekend trip. After you return home, be sure to double check the contents of your trip-ready bag to make sure it’s fully stocked for next time.
Tips: You can grab a sturdy, waterproof tote bag for your camping essentials from Shopbop. Store it in the garage or even the trunk of your car.
Clean and Dry Before Stowing Away
Quality camping gear is expensive, and too much dirt and moisture can cause your gear to rust or deteriorate at an accelerated rate. After every trip, wipe your sleeping bag with a damp rag and let it air out before rolling it up and placing it in a closet or under your bed (insects may find their way in if you leave it in the garage). Similarly, clean your tent and tent poles with a rag or sponge and some mild tent cleaner to remove excess dirt. If they’re especially grimy, you can hose them down — but make sure they’re completely dry before you store them. Water left on your tent can cause mildew growth, break down the fibers and leave unwanted stains or odors.
You should also clean your jackets, boots and other clothing before you hang them up for the season. Make sure the soles and sides of your hiking boots are thoroughly wiped down (mud can dry out boot material, especially leather) and air out the insides so moisture doesn’t get trapped and give odor-producing bacteria a chance to grow.
Want to learn how to store your seasonal clothes? Check out our blog on How to Safely Store Your Seasonal Clothes for tips on cleaning and naturally keeping pests away.
Use Clear Stackable Containers
Clear storage containers are a great way to keep your camping gear accessible, organized and portable. Get a couple of long, flat bins and store all your clean and dry items inside according to general categories (sleeping gear should be kept with other sleeping gear, cookware with other cookware, etc.). If it helps, use color-coded tape or labels to mark bins and outline their contents. Once everything is organized, you’ll have an effortless time moving your bins from your garage to your trunk with no extra searching — cutting back on the time you spend preparing for your next outdoor adventure.
Not sure which bins to get? These transparent 66-quart Sterilite bins with latches are the perfect size for most needs. For an industrial (albeit non-transparent) set of 40-gallon bins with wheels, check out these Sterilite totes.
Protect Your Electronics
Don’t forget that your trips into nature probably always involve a bit of tech. Whether it’s a flashlight, GPS system or radio, be sure to remove any batteries from your electronic gadgets after you return home. Doing so will help prevent your batteries from corroding or leaking. You can store them in a plastic bag (scribble “NEW” with Sharpie so you don’t mix them up with old batteries) and keep them with the rest of your camping gear if you have a couple more trips planned. If you’re stowing everything away for the rest of the year, use the batteries for other household electronics.
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
It’s natural to try to bring everything we think we might need when we go camping, but it’s unlikely your solar-powered camping grill or portable shower will make or break your experience. (Remember, the whole idea is to immerse yourself in nature, right?) The less you bring with you, the less you’ll need to keep track of, clean and store. If you’re having trouble deciding between an essential and an extra, here are the “Ten Essentials” developed by the Mountaineers in the 1930s:
- Navigation — map and compass
- Headlamp — plus extra batteries
- Sun protection — sunscreen and sunglasses
- First aid — including foot care and insect repellent
- Knife — plus repair kit
- Fire — matches, lighter and tinder
- Shelter — tent
- Extra food — beyond minimum expectation
- Extra water — beyond minimum expectation, or a means to purify
- Extra clothes — sufficient to survive an emergency overnight
Trying to streamline your camping gear? Sell any unwanted gear in good condition on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.
Keep in a Cool, Dry Space
Store your camping gear away from direct sunlight and moisture to maintain the integrity of your equipment. Though it’s best to store everything together so you don’t forget to bring something on your next trip, you may need to scatter items around your apartment or house to minimize clutter in a specific area. For instance, tuck your sleeping bag and tent under your bed and stack your plastic storage bins in the corner of your closet or inside your garage. If you have no space whatsoever, consider outsourcing to a storage unit.
More Camping Gear Storage Ideas
There are plenty of other camping gear storage ideas to help you stay organized. Here are a few:
- Set up a pegboard in your garage or basement to hang everything from knives to sleeping bags
- Throw a tarp over your camping gear to prevent it from getting dusty
- Use items that can multitask (i.e., the “Swiss Army Knife” version of your camping basics)
- Store scented items in their own container to prevent them from contaminating everything else
For more how-tos and guides on storage and organization, check out our blog.