DIY Gear Room - completed
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Ugh WHERE IS IT?! I thought as I tossed things in a cartoon-like frenzy out of a bin. I was supposed to leave 20 minutes ago, but I couldn’t find my stinkin’ water filter. This is, of course, a pretty key item for a backpacking trip. I sat back and looked a the mess I created and sighed as the thing suddenly decided to show itself among the rubble. I stuffed it in my pack and sprinted for the hills.

I never thought I’d be that person who had more than one sleeping bag, a backpack for any occasion, and 2 snowboard setups. But alas, it happened and hey, I’m pretty happy about it. However, it was time to get organized!  So what did I do? Waited until the weather got crummy. Then, I got to work fitting out some unfinished space in my basement and built a DIY gear room.


First of all, don’t let a DIY with power tools intimidate you. This is something that with a little pre-planning anyone can do. I used to work as a construction worker framing small metal buildings and I’m pretty accident prone. I once broke a window with a forklift – so if I can do this, so can you. Don’t be shy, get those tool belts on and get to work!

What You’ll Need

Everyone will have a different space to work with so lengths and such of material are tough. I’ll outline what I did, but see the next section for planning out your space.

  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil or sharpie
  • Level
  • Chalk line – not required but handy for making a straight cut line quickly.
  • 1-5/8″ screws – a box of 120 or so should more than enough for 19 linear feet of shelving
  • Impact driver – if you don’t have one of these I’d highly recommend picking one up. The bits that come with the drill should work great with the screws
  • Skill saw (optional) – with a little pre-planning you can take your measurements into a lumber yard or Home Depot and get them to cut everything for you – granted if you screw up your measurements it’s not going to be a fun time, but if you aren’t comfortable operating a saw, this is still doable!
  • 2 x 4’s – number will vary depending on your shelving
  • 1 x 2’s – these will be used if you’re planning on screwing the shelves directly onto the wall – if not then just use 2 x 4s to make shelves that are movable
  • OSB – get the 2′ x 4′ sheets – makes life easier
  • Peg Board – we used one sheet and cut it up to our liking
  • Peg board accessories – GO NUTS! We got various different hooks, baskets, hangers just to play around and see what we liked.
DIY Gear Room - Material
Our cuts all made and ready to rock!

How to Plan

Take measurements of your space. think about how many shelves you might want stacked. Plan it out. We settled on having 2 shelves that stacked and one shelf that didn’t. I really like the varied options because I have a space to stage my gear when I’m getting ready for a trip. 2′ high shelves work very well. They have enough room to store larger items, but not so much that there is wasted space or high reaches. Stacked shelving also makes a great area to lean skis and boards.

DIY Gear Closet - cutting
Me hard at work – be sure to always wear safety glasses when working with power tools.

For the legs, a good rule of thumb is to support the shelves every 4′. 4′ is also the length of a half sheet of OSB, so this will make screwing the shelves together easier. Also remember for height you should account for the thickness of the 2×4 (actually 1-1/2 x 3-1/2)

Write down your measurements – be sure to measure twice and cut once. Since the concrete in my basement is pushing 100 years old it was really uneven, so we custom measured each leg to fit. When in doubt try to make it so the shelf tilts back towards the wall just a touch, so stuff doesn’t roll off.

DIY Gear Closet - building
Snapping a line using a chalk line is a fast and easy way to mark your cut.

Build Away!

To build the shelves you first want to put up the 1 x 2 against the wall. Use the level and a helping hand to get the 1 x 2 level. Screw it to each stud in the wall. You can probably get away with every other stud, but we did each just for fun. If you’re attaching it to a drywalled wall, mark your studs on the wall with a pencil using the stud finder first.

Next you’ll want to attach the 2 x 4 to the OSB with screws. This should be done on a hard surface, place an extra 2 x 4 on the side that the 1 x 2 will sit on to keep it level. Do this first then add the legs. Pictures are better at describing this than words.

DIY Gear Room - step by step

Next, align the assembly with the 1×2 and secure the OSB top to the of the 1×2 and voila you’ve got shelves! The last thing to do is to screw the peg board up along the studs – screws ever 12″ should suffice.

Organize and Accessorize

This is the fun part! I chose to organize by activity and use. It took a little trail and error, but we got everything all organized just the way we like it. Wow, does it make a world of difference! I was amazed to see how much I’ve got and how much space I have for the few wish list items I’ve still yet to pick up.

Rock climbing corner, with our ropes underneath. Our harnesses and shoes are usually in the car because we climb so often.
DIY Gear room - Completed
Mostly camping and backpacking gear. Along with our extra gear, packs, and skis/boards
DIY Gear Room
Lots of gear and lots of room to spare!

Voila! Gear organized! Do you have a gear room? Care to share? Let me know in the comments below.

DIY Gear Room - Pin Me


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