Organizing hiking and camping gear can seem like a daunting, or even impossible, task. Roadblocks like not having enough space, not knowing what storage techniques to use, not having the budget for pricey storage solutions, or not understanding how to organize stop many from organizing their precious outdoor gear.
Organizing camping and hiking gear not only makes packing a breeze but also helps preserve the longevity of your gear. Allowing your gear to breathe, instead of being shoved in a stuff sack or backpack, increases the likelihood that your gear will last for a very long time.
In this guide, I am going to share 14 tips for organizing your hiking and camping gear that involve ideas with a variety of budgets. Having everything laid out, organized, and labeled will ensure that when you’re ready for your next adventure, you’ll be able to easily spot what you need, throw it in your backpack, and go!
14 Tips for Organizing Hiking & Camping Gear
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks so much for your support!
1. Keep Only What You Need
Before you go through the process of organizing all of your camping and hiking gear, you should assess your gear.
Decide what you really need and what you will really use. If you haven’t used it and/or don’t think you’ll ever use it, what’s the point in cluttering up your precious – possibly limited – space?
2. Maximize the Space That You Have (Big or Small)
I asked my readers and social audience to tell me their biggest concern when it comes to organizing their hiking and camping gear, and the popular response was a variation of “I don’t have enough space.” Meaning they don’t have a designated space in their house/apartment for gear, like a garage, storage shed, or a spare closet.
If this is you, don’t worry!
Here are some tips to maximize the space that you have to make room for a gear storage area:
- Get rid of clutter in your house. Those storage tubs in your spare closet could be moved elsewhere, or gotten rid of entirely! Then you’ll make room for things you’ll actually use, like your camping and hiking gear.
- Utilize wall space. Even if you don’t have a garage, storage shed, or spare closet, you probably have lots of free wall space! Utilize that prime real estate on your wall by mounting shelves, hanging pegboards, or on the high end, carving built-ins.
3. Designate a Single Space
Designating a single space where all of your gear will live will simplify trip packing. If possible, have your gear all in one location, whether that’s a wall, closet, shed, garage, etc.
Keeping all of your gear together means that when you go to find a piece of gear or pack your backpack, you won’t have to search in multiple locations. Spend less time hunting for gear and more time outdoors using that gear!
Make sure that you store your gear in a cool, dry environment. Water, humidity, moisture, and excessive sunlight can damage certain pieces of camping/hiking equipment.
PRO TIP: Place a few packets of silica gel inside each drawer/tote to absorb any lingering moisture.
4. Lay Out All Of Your Gear
Before organizing your gear, it helps to see what you’re working with. Lay all of your gear on the floor right beside the location where you plan on setting up your gear wall/storage.
This will help you gauge how many totes, hooks, shelves, pegboards, baskets, etc. you’ll need for your organizational project.
5. Utilize Storage Totes & Drawers
When you’ve found a space to work with – whether it’s your garage, storage shed, closet, room wall, or some other place – you’re ready to start organizing your camping and hiking gear!
Totes and drawers are great storage methods to start with! They can be used in conjunction with other storage solutions – like pegboards, hooks, baskets, shelves, etc. – or as a standalone organizational method.
If you decide to organize some or all of your gear in totes and storage drawers, make sure to group similar items together so they are easy to locate when you’re ready to go on your trip.
6. Hang Backpacks and Trekking Poles on Hooks
Since they come equipped with straps, an easy solution for displaying/storing backpacks and trekking poles would be wall hooks! Drill a hole into your drywall and twist a strong wall hook inside; bam, you’re done!
7. Don’t Overload Pegboards
To piggyback off of #6, don’t overload your pegboards!
Most pegboards have a weight limit. Make sure to look at the weight limit before hanging gear on them. Usually, the heavier and sturdier the material of the pegboard, the more it’ll hold.
Depending on the type, pegboards can hold anywhere from 5 to 100 pounds. To play it safe, I’d stick to hanging small, lightweight gear items on your pegboard like water bottles, headlamps, tent footprints, satellite phones, etc.
8. Keep Your Gear Clean and Protected
Clean and protected gear not only generates a nice-looking and maintenance-free organizational system, but it will make sure that when you go to use your gear on your next trip, pieces won’t be dirty, broken, or misshapen.
As for the rest of your equipment, make sure you are cleaning them after each trip, inspecting everything for holes or other imperfections, and repairing them as needed.
Store your gear someplace dry and cool to avoid damage from environmental factors like excessive sunlight and humidity.
9. Not Everything Has to Be Hung or Stowed in Totes
When you’re organizing your gear, if you find that some gear doesn’t fit well inside a tote or doesn’t hang well on a wall or pegboard, you can always store it on the ground or on top of a tote.
For example, pieces of gear like my tent, inflatable paddle boards, water jugs, bike rack, bicycles, snowshoes, and coolers are on the floor, not inside a bin/tote/drawer, on a shelf, or on a peg/hook.
10. Label Drawers & Totes
When you’ve got everything organized and in its rightful place, it’s time to label it all! This is optional, but it does make gear hunting and packing easier.
Label makers are pretty cheap and are helpful for many projects, so I’d recommend investing in one of these!
While you can certainly take a Sharpie to the totes and drawers, clean printed labels typically look nicer than handwriting, are easier to read, and won’t fade as quickly.
Labeling makes it so you can easily spot what you need, toss it in your bag, and go! And when you return from your trip, unpacking and putting everything back in its rightful place is a breeze.
11. Hang Sleeping Bags or Store in Mesh Bags
Sleeping bags like to breathe! To make this happen, you can store them on a hanger or inside an oversized mesh bag.
Drape your sleeping bag over a hanger or gently ease it inside a breathable mesh bag. Try not to keep it in its stuff sack unless you are actively backpacking!
12. Get Creative With Storage Solutions
Aside from storage totes, plastic drawers, hooks, shelves, and pegboards, here are some other creative methods of organizing and storing hiking and camping gear:
- Wardrobe hanging racks – hang sleeping bags or hiking clothes.
- Backpack – if you’re consistently filling your backpack with the same items, you could store everything in there so it’s ready to grab and go for your next trip.
- Laundry basket – great for long, bulky items like trekking poles, backpacks, snowshoes, etc.
- Hanging shoe organizer – hang over a door or mount to a wall to store small pieces of gear like socks, headlamps, hats, first aid kits, etc.
13. Keep it Simple
If you’re on a tight budget, you can still design a functional organization system for your gear.
You can swap pegboards and shelving for hooks or plastic storage totes/drawers. And label with a permanent marker instead of a fancy label maker.
Take a trip to your local hardware or craft store and purchase some basic hooks, totes, and plastic storage drawers.
Depending on how much gear you have or what storage solutions you want and/or already own, this project could cost anywhere from nothing to hundreds of dollars. Design a storage system to match your budget!
14. Decorate Your Space
Your storage area will already feel pretty great because it will have all of your precious gear on display, but you can add even more style and inspiration to your space by adding some finishing touches.
Hang some photos of your favorite trails, destinations, campsites, etc.
Print out a bucket list of all of the places you want to go and check off each one as you complete them to inspire you to keep traveling.
Print a gear checklist. Hang it in a frame or laminate it and set it beside your gear wall so that you can use an erasable marker to check off each item as you pack it.
Whether you simply want a tidy spot to store all of your hiking essentials or you want to transform a room into a giant gear closet and staging area for each piece of camping gear and hiking clothing that you own, you’ll enjoy having all of your things in one organized location.