Give Your Friends Closet Envy with a DIY Gear Closet

Got boatloads of gear but nowhere to put it? Totally tired of a messy closet? Do you find yourself rummaging through bins and piles in a cartoon-like frenzy? Well then, it’s time you created your own custom gear room.

Plan the Perfect Gear Storage Space

Before you hit up the home improvement store, make sure you have a plan for your gear room or area. Find a spot where you can display your gear for easy access and storage. Try to select a space that will allow you to have two-foot-deep shelving and some headroom for a pegboard.

Sketch your space out and measure how much wood and materials you’ll need. Write it down and remember to measure twice and cut once.

gear storage soutions

What You’ll Need

Since every build is different, it’s tough to pinpoint exact measurements for lumber. However below is a list of supplies you’ll want to have on hand to get the job done.]

General supplies

  • Measuring tape
  • Skill saw*
  • Chop saw*
  • Impact driver
  • A box of two-inch screws (one box of 100 should do for an average-sized space)
  • A stud finder (if you are not working with an unfinished wall where you can see the studs)
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Safety glasses

For the Shelves

  • Three-quarter-inch plywood. You can get half sheets, that are already cut to two-foot depths
  • Two-by-fours. Quantity depends on shelf sizing
  • One by two (this is optional, you can also use two-by-fours if you would like)

For Peg Board Walls

  • Two-by-fours or one-by-twos if you are mounting the pegboard to a wall that has drywall on it
  • Pegboard sheets
  • Pegboard accessories. Start with a variety. The handiest items are baskets and hooks of various lengths

**If you aren’t comfortable using saws, pre-measure your space and have someone at the lumber yard cut the pieces for you. But beware, this often results in inaccurate measurements, and you won’t be able to adjust anything should you get something wrong.

How to Build Shelves for Your DIY Gear Room

Start with laying out your shelving space. It helps to consider shelf height and what you would like to store on the shelves. Typically, shelves should be a minimum of two-and-a-half feet high, so you can store and grab things easily. A two-foot depth also allows for many items, such as backpacking bags, cooking equipment and sleeping pads to be stored quickly and efficiently.

Before getting started, read through this entire section to understand how the shelves are built. First, you want to put a two by four or one by two across the wall you want your shelves to lean up against. If you are building your shelving on walls that have drywall, use a stud finder to find the studs. Mark them with your pencil. Next, use the level and mount the two-by-four or one-by-two to the wall. Be sure to screw in the board where the studs are for the best support. Also, remember to mount the board at the height you want the shelves. Remember, take the total height, including the nailer.

Finally, screw a two-by-four runner to the plywood. This will be the front of your shelf and act as a nailer for the legs. Do so by screwing a two-by-four to the underside of the plywood you are using. Attach the four-inch side of the nailer to the plywood.

Now you are ready to screw in the legs. Simply screw the legs onto the two-by-four nailer you just made at four-foot intervals. Come in at an angle with two screws, so you are going through the shelf legs and the two-by four-nailer. It is helpful to have an extra set of hands to hold the shelf legs in place while you do this. This technique is called toe-screwing or toe-nailing. It helps to do this entire process upside down, meaning your plywood will be on the ground and you’ll build the shelves with the legs sticking up.

The final step is to screw the shelves to the wall. First, flip the shelf assembly right side up and then screw down the shelf to the two-by-four or one-by-two you mounted to the wall. Voila! You’ve got shelves.

how to build a DIY gear room
This diagram shows how the shelves are assembled.

Pegboard Assembly Is a Breeze

Pegboards are much quicker than the shelving. Measure your pegboard and cut two by fours or one by twos to the height of your pegboard. Next, using a stud finder, screw the boards onto the wall where the studs are located. This gives a gap, so the peg accessories can hook into the wall without the drywall being in the way.

Next, you’ll align the pegboard sheet with the boards you just screwed down. Attach the peg board to the two-by-fours or one-by-twos and you’re ready to rock.

Then, add accessory hooks and baskets as you see fit. You’ll find that you may need to move things around as you start organizing, but you’ll soon find a configuration that works for you.

Organizational Schemes

There are many ways to set up your outdoor space. You can organize by activity, or by season. Experiment with what works best for your outdoor style. In order to keep things tidy, try to come up with a home for everything. Sometimes it helps to outline the spot for something by using a sharpie to trace around your gear on your shelves or boards.

DIY Gear Room

Gear Storage Quick Tips

Not all gear is created equal, before you go putting everything in its proper place, keep these quick tips in mind.

  • Don’t store your sleeping bag in a compression sack. This ruins the loft, or fluffiness of your bag over time. That means your bag won’t perform as well in cold temps and you can lessen the life of your bag.
  • Don’t hang your sleeping bag on a hanger. This will create a pinch-point where the inner material will pinch, lessening its warming properties over time.
  • Never store climbing ropes directly on the ground where they may get wet. Also, be sure to store ropes away from direct UV exposure.
  • Keep plastics out of direct sunlight. This can weaken the plastic on, say, your water filter. Causing leaks and all sorts of problems.
  • For longer-term storage of headlamps, battery-powered lanterns, walkie-talkies and avalanche beacons, be sure to remove batteries. This stops acid from leaking from the batteries and extends the life of the battery.

What to Do with Gently Used Gear

Got a lot of gently-used gear and don’t know what to do with it? Consider donating it. Check with local organizations that take gently used gear and see if you have anything on their list. Alternatively, you can sell your gently-used gear. Try local hiking and backpacking forums or Craigslist. Remember, never sell or donate used safety gear such as helmets, rock protection, or old ropes. It’s an unsafe practice, and many of those items are not suitable for re-use after they’ve been worn for years.

Now you’re ready to rock this year with a gear organization system that’s built to last.

About the Author


Meg Atteberry

Meg ditched the 9-5 world as an architect in pursuit of adventure. Now a freelance writer for the outdoor industry, she’s made it her life’s work to inspire others to say “yes” to adventure. From the remote wilderness areas of Colorado, to exploring a foreign country, Meg specializes in off-beat destinations for the intrepid soul. You can find her in the backcountry searching for the perfect camp spot in her home of Colorado.