Home Improvement – Planning the Perfect Gear Room
Every outdoor enthusiast dreams of their ideal gear room—that is, a room filled with the tools of their trade, neatly organized, and ready to go at a moment’s notice. For some of us it is a gear closet, a gear shed, or just part of the garage (“gearage” if you will); for others of us (me) it is a shrine to our chosen pursuits. I have, at times, been called “obsessive” in the organization of my gear room and, at the risk of sounding like a braggart, my gear room has an exemplary reputation for those in the know. I think highly enough to have even attached a PowerPoint presentation of my gear room to a resume once. Here are a few ideas for organizing you own gear room that I have cultivated over the last decade.
Cubbies/Cubes: After trying a bunch of different ways to store the near infinite amount of baselayers, mid-layers, running shorts, bike jerseys, etc., I finally settled on a cube system from Swedish furniture giant IKEA. The openness of the cubes—as opposed to being in a dresser or drawers—makes finding what I am looking for quick and easy, and gives sometimes-stinky layers a chance to breathe. I also outfitted my cubes with pull-out drawers on the bottom row to keep hats, gloves, balaclavas, and other smaller accessories out of my jerk cat’s reach.
The Closet: While assorted apparel is easily folded into the cubes, the majority of my outerwear is hung in the closet. Hanging expensive shells is a nice option and helps avoid any fold marks in the event something sits for a prolonged time. Puffy coats, well they just don’t fold particularly well and take up too much space in a cube, so they get hung as well.
Bins: Bins are the building blocks of any respectable gear room. I use a variety of different sized bins mostly for large or bulky items that neither stack well nor pack well. Sleeping bags, tents, packs, and duffels all make their homes in bins. Smaller bins also house my climbing gear, ski gear, and bike stuff. Awkward-to-pack items like helmets, goggles, and skins are easily stashed in a bin as well, and if you are particularly obsessive they can be further sorted within the bins (my preferred method is using stuff sacks).
Another bonus to using bins is that they allow for a little storage behind them. I tuck both of my crash pads and my ski tuning bench behind stacks of bins. They do a great job of keeping that weird stuff out of the way. (They also make moving a little less of a hassle since they’re always packed and ready to go.)
Stackable Drawers: Stackable drawers are great at holding smaller items that you want quick access to. I typically use these drawers to house items such as sunglasses, headlamps, cleaning and repair products, and first aid type stuff. By keeping that stuff easy to access, I rarely find myself forgetting to pack something essential. I also use the drawers to house everyday maintenance items such as degreaser, chain lube, and my ski tuning equipment. I figure the easier that stuff is to get at, the more likely I am to use it.
Shoe Cubbies: Shoe cubbies are great and using them creates a nice cohesion with the larger cubbies used to hold apparel. Furthermore, they offer the same great benefits of their larger brethren—that is, they make things easy to find and allow for airing out.
Daisy Chain: I like to hang a daisy chain or two from the gear room door to hang my climbing shoes and chalk bags from. The daisy chain gives climbing shoes the maximum amount of air to “defunk” and I have yet to find a better, less messy solution for storing chalk bags.
Thule Stand Up Bike Rack: I have been using two freestanding Thule bike racks, although you could argue that hooks from the ceiling work just as well. But as a renter, landlords frown on putting holes in their ceiling and the Thule racks look great anyway. My new gear room didn’t have room for my bikes, but I somehow convinced my girlfriend to let me put the bikes in the living room.
Ski Rack/Ski Closet: I have been using this handy rack in the hallway adjacent to my gear room to store skins and snowboards and have been quite pleased. It works great at keeping everything together and the rack provides enough room for hanging my trekking and ski poles on the end. So, far the only problem I have encountered with the rack is that my quiver has quickly outgrown it.
As you can see, I am a little obsessive and I am always on the lookout for great new idea. So if you have one please share it in the comments, and if you are in the mood for sharing post a picture of what your gear room looks like!