You might already be, or you’re soon to become a bit of an outdoor gear addict. You’ve worked hard, bought your gear, and now you need a place to store it all. Having a gear shed that is organised, clean and practical makes accessing your gear easier, encourages you to use it and in turn, allows you more time to get outdoors.
Here are some helpful tips for getting your shed set up for your gear.
1. Consider Your Car
Before you begin, you need to establish – do the car(s) live in the shed? Whatever the answer significantly determines how you organise your space. There’s a range of factors to consider… alternatives (carport), security (sketchy neighbourhood), potential hazards (weather, bird crap, tree debris) and shed access (not big enough to comfortably access vehicle).
Personally, we have a long, private driveway so that’s where the cars live and that allows me full use of our small ‘one car’ shed.
Think about how you can work around your vehicle.
2. Invest in Shelving
You’re going to waste a huge amount of space without maximising the wall’s potential with shelving. With IKEA, hardware stores and even Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace now offering affordable options, there should be no excuse for not being able to source cost-effective shelving.
Look for options that are easy to assemble, can be stabilised (potentially without having to drill into walls), and most importantly can hold the weight required of them. Also, choose shelves that you’re not afraid to load up with heavy gear like eskies, gas bottles, tents, etc.
Investing in shelving will allow you to get the most out of your shed.
3. Use Every Centimetre of Space
You’ve got the walls sorted with shelves, but what about the floor and the ceiling which are also valuable spaces for storage. Many things, especially big things, like kayaks, tents, gazebos, etc., can be hung from the ceiling.
If you can, keep your floor space as accessible as possible ensuring gear can be easily moved. The best way to do this is by having anything at ground level on wheels.
Ground-level wheeled storage ensures your stuff is accessible.
4. Keep Everything Accessible
A successful gear shed is a place where you are able to get at your gear without effort. The best way to ensure your stuff remains reachable is to store it all one or at the most, two layers deep. Being able to visually see everything can be the motivation you need. You shouldn’t also have to move things to get to other gear.
If you have chosen to put your car in the shed, try and avoid the need to move the car to get to your gear. If it’s a hassle to access, you’re going to be less enthused to pull it out.
Accessibility and visibility are key to getting the most out of your storage.
5. Boxes, Crates and Tubs
Boxes, crates and tubs are crucial to remaining organised – not just in the shed, but also for when you start packing. There are so many places that offer a range of options from hardware and discount stores to supermarkets and wholesalers.
I always look for a clear/transparent box, crate and tub options so that I can see what’s in them. I then try and organise my gear categorically based on the type of adventure. For example, I break it down into hiking gear, car camping cooking gear, car camping sleeping gear, car camping condiments, kayaking gear, mountain biking gear, etc.
Even though they’re clear, I’ll then label them as I know it helps jog the memory when it comes to packing, especially if there’s a particular item like a ‘hammock‘ in the car camping sleeping gearbox.
The other benefit is that boxes, crates and tubs keep my gear clean from dust, moisture, bugs, etc. In an ideal world, the boxes enable me to just grab and go.
Clear boxes + labelling = easy access.
6. Allocate a Drying Area
Whether you’re trying to manage moisture from the skies or from cleaning your gear, having a dedicated drying space is helpful. You’ll find that you need a space that is a bit more practical than a clothesline and having it indoors and nearby ensures your less likely to forget to do it.
There’s no need to get fancy – I have some paracord string out, as well as some hooks running off my kayak rack. I then keep some pegs and coat hangers close by.
This is more than enough to hang shoes, PFDs, jackets, wetsuits, helmets, sleeping bags and everything else from.
A dedicated drying space creates more storage and preserves the life of your gear.
7. Adapt for the Seasons
If you’ve got a small amount of space, you may need to adapt your storage structure depending on the seasons. For example, you can probably afford to stash away your kayak gear during the winter, while your snow gear can be put into a harder to reach space for the summer.
Just always ensure that your gear is clean and dry and placed in a well-sealed box, crate or tub before putting it into its long-term spot.
Seasonal gear like kayaks can be stored away when the weather changes.
8. Neatness isn’t Expected
Don’t forget that this is your shed, not your lounge room and you can afford to make a few mistakes. When you’re setting up your shelves, hooks, racks… don’t be afraid to make a mistake, redrill, reposition, repeat.
You also might be able to get away with some freedom in your decoration. The outdoor market is full of posters, stickers, cards, badges, flags and so on.
Your gear shed is a great place to pull these out and put them to use. Sticker your shelves, use flags as covers, cards can cover over wrongly drilled holes… you get the point.
You don’t have to be super neat, as long as it’s accessible.
9. Have a Disposal Process
As much as we hope it will last forever, gear needs to be replaced or disposed of at some point. This may be because of sizing changes, safety, technological improvements, and so on.
Not everything needs to be thrown out. Gear can be kept for mates to use, passed on to community groups, used in less demanding environments or donated to charity.
The important thing is to have a process in place so that stuff doesn’t start to clutter your gear shed. Have a box of gear for mates, a bag for donation and if it’s damaged and unusable – don’t hesitate to throw it out.
Have a system to keep gear from piling up in your shed.
10. Respect Your Space
Just because it’s a shed, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look after it. Ensure that above everything, your gear shed is secure, but also easy enough for you to access. Then place a priority on keeping your shed clean by sweeping the floors and dusting out the spider webs.
Even small improvements like installing warm lighting, spreading the colours out and placing air fresheners around the shed ultimately, make it a place where you’re happy to keep your expensive gear and excited about hanging out in there.
Do you have any additional tips on organising and setting up your gear shed?
About the writer...
Once a valued member of the Snowys’ crew, Ben is now the Experiential Learning Manager at Youth Inc. In this role, he gets to live out his passion – bringing young people together for adventure-based learning experiences to help them build a life that is purposeful for them.
The outdoors has always been Ben’s second home and his adventures have taken him to almost every continent in the world. He’s hiked in the United States, mountain biked in Cambodia, 4WD through South Africa, kayaked in Laos, skydived at Uluru, white water rafted in New Zealand and much more.
While many say Ben has a poorly developed sense of fear and no idea of the odds against him, he puts his adventures down to the planning and preparation of the gear that he’s bought from Snowys.