“Don’t agonize. Organize.”
– Florynce Kennedy

Organizing your camping equipment storage is important for making packing for a trip easy and quick.

Especially before the first outing of the season, it’s a good idea to gather up all the hiking and camping gear that’s been sitting idle all winter and get it ready to go. I recently did this in preparation for our first hike of the year.

Here are a few tips for organizing your gear — which makes the whole process of packing easier — and for camping equipment storage.

Tips For Organizing

At least a week before your first hiking or camping trip, set aside 2-3 hours to focus on organizing and assessing your equipment. Give yourself plenty of time to get it done, and don’t let anything distract you.

Grab a pen and your camping check list.

Find a space with plenty of room for sorting, then gather up all your camping equipment. If it’s already well-organized, kudos to you! If your gear, like mine, has somehow managed to un-organize itself over the winter, dump it all into a big pile like this:

Tips For Camping Equipment Storage

Now start sorting the equipment into smaller piles according to use: backpacks, tents and tent accessories, sleeping bags and pads, cooking equipment, dishes, food, campfire accessories, first aid, survival gear, etc.

Make a special pile for all the items that you haven’t used in over a year. Later, you can go through these things and get rid of everything you don’t really need.

Once you have everything sorted into piles, start marking things off your camping check list. As you do this, take note of the condition of your equipment. Does anything need to be cleaned, repaired, or replaced? Are you missing anything?

I discovered that my camping equipment has legs. Some of the dishes had migrated to the kitchen. Some of the clothes were in various closets.

I remembered that I had loaned my cook pots to my sister and a sleeping bag to my brother for a snowmobile trip, and that I had left the camp chairs and roasting sticks at my sister’s house after a bonfire last fall.

I also discovered that I was missing my new and never-used Kelty Light Year sleeping bag. Hmmm…where could it be?

My Platypus hydration bladder is in bad shape after years of use; I think it’s time for a new one.

My wife’s hydration bladder was defective and we threw it away last year; guess she needs a new one too.

See what kind of useful information comes out of this exercise? Aren’t you glad you didn’t wait until the night before the trip to do this?

Tips For Camping Equipment Storage

Next, pack your gear into appropriate containers. Stuff sacks and ziploc bags work well for most small items. A few plastic storage tubs help keep it all together.

I like to group things according to where they’ll be used at the campground: one tub for tents, sleeping bags, and pads; one for cooking equipment, dishes, and food; and one for everything else.

Once you’re finished, you’ll have a nicely organized set of gear and an action plan to complete your camping equipment storage for the season. It feels good to know what condition your equipment is in and exactly what needs to be done next.

Tips For Camping Equipment Storage

Find a place that is easy to access to store most of your equipment–shelves in the garage, a large closet, or a corner in a storage room.

Some items may need to be kept elsewhere; for example, I keep my rain jacket in the entry closet for daily use. Mark the location of such items on your camping check list so you can locate them quickly when it’s time to pack.

Sleeping bags should be stored in a large cotton sack or pillowcase. Keeping them in their stuff sacks compresses the insulation, which breaks it down over time and reduces its warmth.

Self-inflating sleeping pads should be stored unrolled with valves open. If space is limited, you can put them under your bed.

Dedicate a dresser drawer for camping and hiking clothing.

A little work up front to organize your camping gear storage will pay big dividends when it’s time to hit the road.

Have fun with it!

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