Gear storage and trip packing

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I am curious of everyone’s gear packing methods and how is it stored. Do folks lay things out on the floor? Have pre-packed bags? Closets? Basement? Shed?

I have a dedicated all things outdoors space (1/2 garage attic) where gear is semi organized and I pack on a table. If i am concerned about anything being eaten or used as a nest by mice such as sleeping bags, I pack it in a trunk or plastic tote.

I am packing for a simple overnighter in a few days and can mostly pack off the top of my head. I reference a list later to see what I forgot. It seems I can get everything in a #3 Duluth pack.

If I am packing a multi day wilderness trip I use a detailed checklist as I’m sure most do.

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Glenn MacGrady

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I keep just about everything I need canoe-wise and camp-wise, except my clothing and food, permanently in my Duluth pack, day pack and pack basket, all of which I store permanently in the back of my van. My day pack contains just about the same things for an afternoon trip or a week trip. I never remove anything except for the change of clothing I take on day trips.

Packing food is nothing more for me than jamming a bunch of commercial freeze dried meal packages and protein bars in my Ursack.

So, I'm always almost all ready to just drive away for a trip, short or long. Virtually no sorting or packing needed. Even if I didn't have a dedicated camping/canoe vehicle, I'd probably store everything packed away in my bags and basket just as I do and keep them in my garage.
 
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My gear and some of my clothing (for the current season) is on one side of the garage; the rest of my clothing is racked in my basement home office and the food stored there too. This photo is pre-season; during the season gear would be packed up and either placed on top of the shelves or hung from hooks from them. Like Glen mentioned, once the season starts, after a trip, I clean and dry the gear and then pack most of it back up so there is less to do the night before the next trip. I have had this setup for two years now and it works well for me, especially since loading and unloading the car is quick and easy. I use the foldout workbench and (if needed) another folding table that is stored nearby for the packing/unpacking/drying. During the season my canoes are on sawhorses nearby the garage so loading/unloading them is also quick and easy. I use checklists I created in Google Docs to make sure I have everything I need (I learned the hard way a couple of times when I didn't do that). All of my gear is also on GearShelf, which I like because everything is in one place and I can create kits on the site.
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I keep my gear inside some wood boxes and I usually have a list in there or make a list sometime before a trip.

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I have my packs hanging on the wall, I’m never sure which ones I’ll take till packing time.
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Same thing with the canoes, I’m never sure which one will go but they are on the rack waiting.96F6AA70-27A2-49C9-B0D7-B1A15A21811A.jpeg
 
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Like Trailblazer we have gear shelving in the basement, and run a dehumidifier into the sump to keep the humidity levels in check. When the dehumidifier went unnoticed kaput for a few weeks there were resultant dampness issues.

Paddles are hung on the opposite wall, amidst a history of framed photos.

P8193865 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

30 years of photo collages.

P8193868 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

P8193869 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

P8193870 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

PFD’s are hung in a nook beside the stairway.

Smaller gear items are in labeled plastic storage boxes. Tents and tarps are kept loosely-not-compactly stuffed in their respective storage bags, with a key tag label on the draw cord identifying which is which for easy & correct selection. That key tag ID worked so well I eventually tagged anything and everything in a bag.

https://www.canoetripping.net/threads/stuff-bag-tags.58487/#post-58549

Other gear, outdoor clothing and sleeping bags are in upstairs closets. The various sleeping bags are hung breathable open across thick hangers, with the appropriate key tag ID’ed stuff sack or compression bag hung around the hanger hook.

There is a 4’ x 8’ tabletop on sawhorses in the gear room for checklist staging of gear as it is list selected. Again, more photos.

P8313881 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Packing gear atop or surrounded by 30 years of family paddling photos provides the added pleasure of reminiscence.
 
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I use the chaos method for my gear, it gets dumped in a pile in the front hall, sometimes cleaned up before being added to the pile and sometimes not.

When Spring rolls around I dig through the pile and try to find the stuff I need......

There is always a panic when my titanium long spoon can't be found because It was the one thing I put away while muttering "I'll put it here because I'll won't have to search", of course I can never remember where "here" was!

All you people with your organization make me feel "unwell".

I pretty much use the same method in the garage where I store my boats.........
 
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Hardly used the mud room as intended so it has become the gear room. Most things are in here, besides my snowboards, the dual burner and all of the fuel. It’s easy to throw more stuff on the shelves and “get to it later”
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… the wide angle photo makes the shelves look crooked, but I promise they’re not..



Paddles stay in the corner, below the maps and a few books… next to the desk I’m still working on for my wife….
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I keep things organized on shelves in my basement, but they tend to migrate as I maintain them, use them, or play with them in between trips. As with my backcountry pack trips, I tend to have "piles." Piles transform into packs (panniers) or canoe packs. Yes, they end up in the middle of a floor in the basement, living room, dining room, etc. Finding things is always the challenge, and when I do too much prep, I end up mis-placing whole piles or packs. I recently could not find my GPS, belt knife, fire kit, compass and other things I have on me on Day 1 of a trip. I was certain these important things were gone forever. I searched high and low for days. They were found in a fanny pack I had stowed under a cot, covered, and forgotten about.
 
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I use the chaos method for my gear, it gets dumped in a pile in the front hall, sometimes cleaned up before being added to the pile and sometimes not.

When Spring rolls around I dig through the pile and try to find the stuff I need......

There is always a panic when my titanium long spoon can't be found because It was the one thing I put away while muttering "I'll put it here because I'll won't have to search", of course I can never remember where "here" was!

All you people with your organization make me feel "unwell".

I pretty much use the same method in the garage where I store my boats.........
I do similar. I learned a few years ago that one possible symptom of ADHD is not being able to keep track of where things are and what you have if you don't see it on a regular basis. So all of my gear is in plain sight. Jumbled, but in plain sight. That way I remember what I've got. Not that I've ever been diagnosed as ADHD, but who at my nearing retirement age ever was?
 
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We have a paddle shed though somethings must be kept in a heated space like my MSR Mini Works. Ceramic filters crack when frozen. We don't use it much but I prefer to take care of it.
Somethings are in the house that have double duty for camping and home like bug jackets.

the mice have a field day in the paddle shed so anything fabric is hung in a loft from the rafters in our boat barn. Mice don't seem to want to nest in hanging things.

I did like Duluth packs before I learned not to store them flat. .Nothing more saddening than to find your pack is full of holes even if you have switched to a more modern pack.
 
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Like Trailblazer we have gear shelving in the basement, and run a dehumidifier into the sump to keep the humidity levels in check. When the dehumidifier went unnoticed kaput for a few weeks there were resultant dampness issues.

Paddles are hung on the opposite wall, amidst a history of framed photos.

P8193865 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr


PFD’s are hung in a nook beside the stairway.

Smaller gear items are in labeled plastic storage boxes. Tents and tarps are kept loosely-not-compactly stuffed in their respective storage bags, with a key tag label on the draw cord identifying which is which for easy & correct selection. That key tag ID worked so well I eventually tagged anything and everything in a bag.

https://www.canoetripping.net/threads/stuff-bag-tags.58487/#post-58549

Other gear, outdoor clothing and sleeping bags are in upstairs closets. The various sleeping bags are hung breathable open across thick hangers, with the appropriate key tag ID’ed stuff sack or compression bag hung around the hanger hook.

There is a 4’ x 8’ tabletop on sawhorses in the gear room for checklist staging of gear as it is list selected. Again, more photos.

Packing gear atop or surrounded by 30 years of family paddling photos provides the added pleasure of reminiscence.


Really nice set up Mike...do you adopt?
 
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I have a gear room with bins, and packs and stuff on the walls and shelves like others. To help with packing I have a single laundry basket which has my "main packing list" items for all trips for that season (spring, fall, etc...). So to pack for a specific trip I add to the basket whatever specialty items I need (if any) , put my food in my ursack. Then grab a backpack off the wall and in it all goes. I also have my clothing to wear set on top of a dresser in the gear room. (The dresser holds all my different camp clothing). In general I can be packed and out the door in under 5 minutes for a non-specialty trip.
 
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Kind of an organized mess... The first shot is full length down the basement of my townhouse, used primarily for box storage and an archery range (13 yards). I now have a plywood backstop for the target. There's a nook in the end, around the corner, where I store my gear and have a craft room.

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Garage is where the canoes are stored. I no longer have the red one, and my Nessmuk is in the near bay, out of sight in this picture, but still in the same kind of rack. My paddles, fishing gear, and lift jackets are on the far wall, and my wood workshop is on the right side wall.
Canoe Storage.jpg
 
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On Thursday I was straightening up in the loft of my barn where I keep all my non-weather sensitive gear attempting to figure out what to do with all small pieces, plasticware, extra pegs, line... I have sitting in boxes. Friday I drive into town and there on the side of the road is a seven-drawer plastic case.

An immediate U-Turn and my problem is solved, except now I find the time to climb up them and sort it all out.
 
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I store the camping and fishing stuff in the garage in canoe packs. The sleeping bags, clothes and personal items go in the house. When tripping season arrives and I no longer keep vehicles in the garage I store all the gear in an old canoe on the floor. It keeps everything together making it easy to go through things when making adjustments for different trips.

For packing, about a week before the trip I'll bring a Duluth pack to the bedroom where I'll pack the sleeping bags, clothes, and pads. I also bring dry bag for myself and my wife for our personal items and any extra layers that we might during the day. I also bring the food bag and cook kit bag into the kitchen a week before the trip so I can get started on that. The camping stuff gets packed in the garage. I find this works for me but my wife isn't always happy about it.
 
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A large percentage of my worldly possessions live in black plastic totes. Trip/activity planning involves finding the tote or totes from the last trip which will have the "mission specific" gear and then tracking down the more general purpose stuff that ended up in other trip boxes. Most of time if I cant find something its in the deer camp tote.
 
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I've become the butt of my own joke. A few short years back I loaned gear and canoe to a family couple. They treated it all well returning it in good order. I offered them the use of it any time. Heck, they could even keep it all at their place, I wouldn't mind. Even the canoe could fit down the storm cellar stairs into their basement. Cool! But no, they returned it all. Or I thought so, because I could never be sure with me being disheveled, disorganized, and forgetful. When my wife and I were prepping for a trip the following year I came up short. Couldn't find my tie down cam straps anywhere. Weird. Aha, I remembered showing them how cool my new NRS straps were and they liking them. Very much. Gawd don't you hate forgetful people. So I rang them up to gently jog their memory, where's my straps? He being a kind soul, he went easy with me.
"Um, no. I'm pretty sure I returned them. I used them to tie down the canoe I returned you."
"Well they're not here, not anywhere. You must've forgotten to return them."
'Um, well I'll look. Hold on."
I described the colour. Nope. He found some of different colours but none matching my good blue straps with yellow lettering.
My phone calls turned to texts, and then became testy texts. "Listen son (future sil), I love you and all but if you're gonna borrow stuff you've gotta take care of it. You know you're a little forgetful at times, right? But that's okay, you probably can't help it. Just keep looking. But I do need them in a friggin hurry.
The day before our departure I found them at the bottom of an unmarked grocery bag tucked away I don't remember where. I apologized in person, and backed it up with humbling texts.
Later that same season they came to borrow our stuff and canoe. Couldn't find the damn straps anywhere. I was sure he'd used them since the last misunderstanding. But hey, no problem, I've got miles of rope. Good rope. Hm. We wound up using a collection of castoff straps and rope. My good straps must be in the bag with all the good rope. Had they returned that?
They returned canoe and gear minus the rope and straps still awol. Which I stumbled upon the day before another trip of ours the very next year. But not after I'd pestered my sil for my blue NRS straps AND rope. Good kid, real good kid. The patience of a saint but damn he couldn't remember his way out of a paper bag.
This recent stag canoe trip involved the same him and me, canoe and gear. But I couldn't find the damn straps anywhere. What does this kid have with my straps?! I even checked the unmarked grocery bag still lurking in the bottom of I don't remember where. Did find my ropes though. Every day as the departure day approached I resisted the temptation to text him.
The day before departure as I stood debating with myself which good rope should be sacrificed for tying the canoe down I found the straps. In with the castoff lengths of paracord.
My wife and I stayed at their place the night before leaving for our separate trips, the girls off to a cottage, we guys off to our canoe put-in. All went well loading up. I'd kept the canoe in their back yard over night (can't trust neighbourhoods). Strapping it on and tying it down I then checked one last time to be sure nothing had been forgotten. Packs, bags, and barrels. Then I saw a brand new set of straps. Sitting up proud and proper, big and bright red in a handy dandy carry package. I looked at him and he shrugged his shoulders "Hey dad, ya never know,"
Here we are two days later and I'm sitting drinking coffee surrounded by packs, bags, and barrels. Canoe's put away and paddles hung up. But nothing's unpacked. I'm coming up with a game plan for failproof organized storage. Problem is some of this gear is his.
 
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^On the plus side, if he's smart, this does solve the "what'll I get the fil for Christmas this year?" quandary. Indefinitely.
 
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