How to Tidy Up Your Gear Closet

Whether you’re still digging out from snowstorms, begrudgingly battling mud season, dodging rainstorms, or enjoying the pre-summer sun, the calendar has officially turned over to spring. Which means it’s time for everyone’s annual spring cleaning.

And this year, thanks to Marie Kondo and her Netflix show Tidying Up, where you assess everything you own to see if it sparks joy, we have a new approach to spring cleaning our outdoor gear closet. But it’s way harder than it sounds, because all outdoor gear sparks joy.

After some trial and error and tears shed and piles arranged and rearranged, here are our tips on tidying up your gear.

Have you had it more than a decade?

Inside our gear closet hangs an Osprey Kestrel pack that’s coming up on its 12th birthday. It has traveled to 7 countries, and will never smell like anything but sweat and campfire smoke. And yet it still functions perfectly, and thus it sparks joy and will never be trashed.

Good gear is built to last almost forever. If you have old gear that still works perfectly, it gets to stay and eventually be referred to as “vintage.” If you have old gear that is past its prime, it’s time to recycle it and buy good gear that will last more than a decade.

Does it have any sentimental value?

Deep in the recesses of our closet lies a pair of ripped, beaten up, useless pair of trail running shoes from a 100-mile race. Those shoes are completely useless, yet they earned a right to live out their retirement in the closet because they spark a ton of joy.

You too may have something that’s past its prime (we see you, frayed backpack that no longer zips) but you can’t bring yourself to kick it to the curb because it’s meaningful to you. Yes, it’s taking up room in your gear closet, but that’s better than it sitting in a landfill for all of eternity. It may stay.

Do you have multiples of this item?

Two tents. Three sleeping bags. Four packs. Six pairs of trail runners. All for one person. Sound familiar?

Yes, lots of outdoor gear has similar yet different purposes, so you really may need three sleeping bags. But often times you collect and hoard gear like a squirrel preparing for winter (six pairs of the same type of shoe?) without realizing it. This is the perfect opportunity to donate any extras to an organization like Gear Forward or REI’s Give Back Box.

Do you ever use it?

An ice axe and crampons are strange gear to have in Alabama, and yet they hang out on the floor of the gear closet collecting dust. You know, just in case they’ll be called for duty.

If you have some gear that was gifted to you or you bought with good intention of using but never have, maybe it’s time to donate it to a new home where it will be appreciated. Just a thought.

You know what? On second thought, keep it all. You can never have too much gear.

Tanya Twerdowsky

I am a Jersey girl living in Alabama who loves to run far and eat lots.

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