There are two main reasons why it helps to neatly organize backcountry gear:

1) everything in its place and a place for everything makes it easier to find things and you “lose” things less often

2) unpacking completely and packing each time before an outing ensures full awareness of the gear on you, important discussions about choices to make, an opportunity to inspect things and better chance at weight management.

We move around a lot so our solution had to be portable and modular, nothing could be too heavy to lift or carry, and transparency and easy access was important. Here’s how it works.

The main building blocks of this system are the 6 plastic bins. We shopped around for the right size – these fit very well inside a closet, are shallow enough to make sure everything is visible, and roomy enough that hiking poles and ice axes can also fit it, along with sleeping bags and tents. It’s very hard to overload them, so anyone can carry them comfortably with two hands when moving.

All personal hiking stuff (layers, gloves, hats, sunscreen, gps etc) goes into one bin. All personal climbing stuff (helmet, prussiks, belays, pulleys) goes into the other. One bin contains all the group gear (tents, ropes etc) and the other contains food, meds etc (food backs, stove, blue bags, wipes etc).

The backpacks are always completely emptied, nothing in any pockets. And they are hung on the hooks, which frees up all the space above and below them for other storage.

The top shelf contains the snowshoes, hiking boots, climbing boots, shovels, ice axes.

Hanging in the middle are the various upper layers – fleece, soft shell, goretex shell, down jacket.

Before a trip, the bins all come out and are opened and then we pick what we need from each one based on the checklist.

Con: Drawers would be easier. But it would make it very hard to move. So it was a necessary compromise

What do you think?

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