You’ve Got a Ton of Gear. It’s Time to Organize It.
A practical guide to creating space for your most precious items
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Bikes, skis, snowboards, tents, even kayaks. You love gear. We love gear, but all of those fun recreational items take up a ton of space, and you’d be forgiven if your living room has now become a second storage unit.
There’s no better time than now to finally get everything back into your designated storage space, and with some good organizational habits, so you can actually enjoy your gear when it’s time to use it.
Nine times out of ten, our garages are the full-time home for all of these items, and we’re framing this story around having some sort of garage or external space to keep everything. Don’t have either? Don’t fret. Our organizational experts provided a range of tips that can be adapted to wherever you’re storing your gear.
Take a Good Look at What You Currently Have
“First, ask yourself if all of these items are still in good shape, sized correctly for your household members, and if you still like them and want to use them,” says The Neat Method Toronto owner Jen Rowe.
Whether you advanced a level in skiing and those beginner blades don’t work as well anymore, or you finally decided to invest in a gravel-specific bike, take a hard look at your current gear and really think about what you’re going to use going forward. If you have kids, this is especially important – chances are, someone has grown out of something, and it’s time to find it a new home.
Next, categorize similar items together. This will help you get a full picture of what you actually have, and the potential space needed to store it. Once you’ve done that, Rowe advises to look at the untapped vertical space in your storage area.
“Getting things up off the ground is the best way to maximize a storage space like a garage or shed, be it with a wall-mounted system or freestanding storage,” she says.
This doesn’t mean dropping serious coin on a full custom system. Instead, look at a few smaller, integrated solutions or heavy racking for neat bin organization as opposed to sprawling out over limited space.
Measure Twice and Shop Once
“Spend a good amount of time upfront planning and shopping around. Maybe even go so far as to use graph paper to map it out and ensure that everything will fit,” Rowe says.
You don’t need an engineering degree to think all of this through, but you do need to take a step back and think about what you use most often, how you’re going to access it and what you can practically reach or move seasonally.
Portland, OR-based professional organizer Devon Burton notes that when she organizes for someone with an injury, that person sometimes can’t lift things, so items need to be within close reach, or by use of more integrated storage. In limited spaces, people often turn to stacks of bins, which is tidy, but those individual bins can get quite heavy and tough to move around.
Both of the organizers we spoke with stressed the importance of scoping out your entire space, so you don’t overbuy, or buy storage solutions that won’t fit.
“You may need to play Tetris with it for a bit, but investing time in creating a well-thought-out plan will save you some money and time in the long run,” Rowe says.
Yes, You Can Do This Yourself
Organization doesn’t have to be expensive, and it doesn’t have to require hiring a handyperson, as long as you’re comfortable with some light installation.
One sensible solution is a slat wall system, which connects to the studs behind your garage’s wall and include long recessed “slats” that will hold almost whatever you need them to with the appropriate anchors.
“A slat wall system is your best bet for flexible storage,” Rowe says. “This will allow you the ability to maximize your vertical space while having the ability to maneuver where items are positioned on the wall so you can do a seasonal swap to give prime real estate to items that are in season.”
Slat systems can be installed in a way that works for you and your ability level, along with your desired reach. You can opt for one panel, or a series of panels depending on your budget and allocated space.
Another minor installation option is to use a solo racking system that has different types of storage racks built into one unit. This is a great space-saver as you can get 2-3 bikes, a couple of skis and a series of bins off the floor in a contained unit. Again, just make sure you follow installation guidelines.
If you’re shy about any installation at all, the next best option is to go free-standing. The aforementioned heavy-duty racking is a solid choice, just make sure you have a way of reaching those top bins. For bikes, you can look at a standalone rack, which can hold up to four bikes (granted you have the total circular space to reach each one).
With a lot of pragmatism and even more planning, you can find suitable solutions for you and your gear. Just remember that the more you organize now, the more time you’ll get enjoying your most sacred hobbies later.
Best Garage Organization Items
Husky 5-Tier Heavy Duty Industrial Welded Steel Garage Storage Shelving Unit
A great example of a free-standing option with minimal assembly to get bins into one area.
Proslat 88102 Heavy Duty PVC Slatwall Garage Organizer
Your foundation for slat-based organization. From here, all you’ll need are the right anchors for your gear.
Delta 4-Bike Free-Standing Rack with Basket
An excellent solution to get four bikes off the ground and into a contained space. Sturdy, durable and dependable.
Teal Triangle G-Adventure + Shelf
A neat and tidy way to get a small range of gear into one space with little hassle.
Thule MultiLift Cargo Box Lift
Those with more skills and comfort can consider a pulley system, which helps get bulky, larger items secured off the ground and near the ceiling. It’s also a great way to store rooftop tents, kayaks and canoes when not in use.
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