10 Tips for Storing Outdoor Recreational Gear During the Off-Season

Pack, stack, and store away recreational gear to stay organized and keep it all in top condition when not in use.

By Stacey L Nash | Published Aug 30, 2022 6:22 PM

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Paddle boards, ski helmets, life jackets, kayaks, and other recreational gear make for terrific outdoor adventures. However, storing it all in the off-season can be an adventure in and of itself.

It’s best to keep things as tidy as possible so you can find your gear when it’s time for an outing and none of it gets ruined when not in use. Take a look at these top tips and ideas for storing, packing, and stacking your stuff.

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1. Hang It From the Ceiling

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Most garages and basements have unused overhead storage space. A basic wall-mounted J-hook or screw-in bicycle hook like this option available at Amazon can hold a bike, but you can also mount two hooks to the wall or ceiling and hang a rod between them to use as a clothes hanger for life jackets, wetsuits, or other wearable items. Overhead storage shelves and pulley systems mounted to the ceiling provide great storage space for kayaks and canoes, too.

2. Add Specialty Racks to the Walls

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Racks for snowboards, skateboards, skis, or paddle boards protect and organize equipment in ways that stacking them in the corner or on a shelf can’t. This snowboard rack holds up to four boards, while this rack made for paddle boards can also handle snowboards and surfboards. Specialty racks keep equipment of all kinds off the floor, protecting them from scratches and dings.

3. Choose Clear Bins

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Recreational gear can multiply like rabbits when you pick up hobbies, but the smaller bits and bobs can be stored in clear bins, like these highly rated Sterilite storage totes available at Amazon, so you can see what is where. Put summer and winter gear in their own bins or separate your gear by sport. Clear bins can also save you the time of labeling every bin. Even better, they’re kid-friendly storage solutions, making it easy for kids to find and put away their own gear.

4. Use Vacuum Storage Bags

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Vacuum storage bags are typically used to condense, store, and preserve clothing, but they can also be used to condense and store collections of small items such as beach toys. Consider using these BoxLegend vacuum storage bags, the top pick in our guide to the best vacuum storage bags.

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5. Clean and Dry It

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Clothing or gear can mold, rust, or deteriorate if left unattended for months at a time. Thoroughly clean your gear—whether that involves washing it with a hose or damp cloth or putting it through a washer and dryer—before putting it in storage.

Wipe down snowboards and skis, which can get salt on them if they’re secured to your vehicle roof on your way down the mountain. Rinse off your wakeboard and paddle board after using them in saltwater or freshwater and dry them thoroughly before putting them away for the season. Likewise, thoroughly rinse and dry camp chairs and canopies after exposing them to sand.

6. Keep It All Together

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Group sport-specific gear together. Don’t mix your hunting gear with your climbing gear or your camping gear with your water skiing gear. Most, if not all, of your climbing gear can fit in a climbing bag, and this is true for other sports and hobbies. Designate specific duffle bags or plastic bins for hunting, swimming, soccer, and so on. Camping gear can add up, so you might need to section off a specific place in the garage, basement, or attic where you can store it all together. It’s much easier to get set up for the season when everything you need for a trip is in one place.

7. Stow Long Items in Tall Laundry Baskets

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Ski poles, trekking poles, paddles, and more can be difficult to store because of their lengths and awkward shapes. Luckily, one or more tall laundry baskets set in the corner of your storage area can house them together. Be careful when putting things away so that you don’t scratch the other items already in storage, though. If you have many long items, you may need to secure the basket to a wall so it doesn’t tip over.

8. Put up a Pegboard

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A pegboard wall offers the ultimate in versatile storage options. Hooks and holders can be rearranged as needed. However, installing a peg board takes a little work. The installation needs to be sturdy and strong so that the board doesn’t fall off when fully loaded.

9. Freestanding Racks

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If wall and overhead installations aren’t your thing, freestanding racks are a fast, simple storage solution. Freestanding bike racks, paddle board/surfboard racks, and shelves can tuck away in the garage, on a covered deck, or in a storage shed. Just make sure to measure your storage area’s available square footage and vertical space so there’s still room to move around the rack or shelves.

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10. Storage Racks in Unusual Places

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If the garage, attic, and basement are getting crowded, it’s time for some creativity. A single storage rack for a skateboard in a bedroom or wall- or ceiling-mounted rack in a mudroom can keep items out of the way. Clear under-bed bins or clear bins that fit on the top of a closet clothing rack can house smaller recreational gear in bedrooms or linen closets. Other out-of-the-way options include covered outdoor spaces like a deck or A-frame.