Whether a New Year’s resolution, or hoping Spring is on its way, now is a great time to take stock of your outdoor equipment. Don’t wait until the day before a camp out—“Be Prepared!”
This installment of Scout Law in Action is about being Thrifty. The items used in organizing this room were repurposed, scavenged, or made-to-work. Thrifty is making the most of what you have, and making what you have work.
The equipment room quickly became a mess after our Timberee camp out in October of 2013. Our gear, sat, for months, in bins and piles.
Organizing is easy. When you jump in, keep pen and paper handy to write down notes and needs.
Look at your total space allotment. Decide if you have a need for specific areas. You may find a need to organize by object (all backpacks on wall); or by type (snow camping gear on this shelf); or by need (emergency gear).
EMERGENCY–Consider an area for everything your family would need if you had to leave the house fast and prepared, i.e., emergency situation. You already have the gear so oganize it and let it serve a double purpose. We created an area with stocked backpacks, boots, and stoves. These items are laid out so that any family member can go and quickly get the necessary items.
Add to this area, your 10-essentials. Put your essentials in a bag, and put this bag in the brain of your backpack. This way, it is always in the quick-grab backpack, as well as for when you go camping or hiking.
ACCESS–If you have access to your gear, it will get used. It truly is that simple. Gear that is stored away in hard to get places, will not fully get used. Strive for one layer of gear whenever possible; one layer means not stacking gear upon gear, or gear in front of gear. Additionally, strive to keep like items with like items. Even if you find a little “extra” space next to a can of fuel, putting a bag of headlamps there not only clutters that space, it removes the efficiency your shelf could have. Organizing outdoor gear is not a game of Tetris.
For personal gear such as uniforms, we have found that one bin, per scout, has worked well. In this bin, a scout can place all clothing, as well as the uniform. Items come out … items go back in. To aid in our scouts keeping their bin organized, we have a Scout Box Check List. This list includes all that is in the box (and returned to the box), as well as reminders of what to grab from the family gear when going on a hike or camping trip. You can download the Scout Box Check List. Having a box for each scout makes it easy to find out who is missing what, something which was hard to do when all family gear went in collective bins.
HOOKS, SHELVES, BINS–There are many commercial organization systems out there, and many of them are both good looking and effective. And expensive. Look around your house for what you already have or what you can inexpensively purchase to get the job done. Organizing your gear is the goal; being Thrifty is the way.
Hooks are good for items that don’t stack well such as backpacks, sleeping bags, and ropes. The benefit to hooks is that the item will not be on the floor, and have a slimmer presence on the wall than if stacked on a shelf.
Shelves are good for flat, large, or bulky items such as camp stoves, tents, and boots. Whiles shelves are often the go-to for people, avoid filling up your wall with shelves. Deep shelves take up a good deal of space, shrinking the room. Often, you can get by with one shelf system, and strategic hanging and bins.
Bins are good for small items such as knives, random winter clothing, and cookware. Bins come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are usually stackable.
- To get the most out of your reorganized gear room, consider this mantra, Use often; Put back often.
- You can label gear to clearly indicate what gear goes with which gear and which person. For example, we have a green tag on our eldest son’s backpack. There is also a green tag on his sleeping bag, and his stove. Grab-grab-grab.
- If you have gear that has worth, but you do not use it, consider passing it on. Keeping gear that you do not use clutters up your space no matter how much perceived worth it has. Plus, passing it on can help another scout (A scout’s duty is to be useful and help other people at all times.) 55th Cascadia will have an equipment swap in the spring for our group members, and hopefully another Scout Yard Sale in the summer to raise funds for our group.
Here are some more photos of organized gear to get you pumped.