Given half a chance, sports and fitness kit will sprawl about all over the place. This post is about deciding where and how to store all that stuff, much of which will be wet or need washing when it comes back into the house. And much of which may be an awkward shape or large size (skis, helmets, climbing ropes, wetsuits, rackets, bats, balls and so on and so forth).
There are some questions to think about and some suggestions for storage. What you decide upon will depend on your needs and your situation, of course.
Questions to think about
Can your current system for storing sports and fitness kit be improved by a few tweaks or even rethinking things entirely?
For me, the key is finding a space (for washing, drying, storing) and using it as much as you can. Getting things put away as soon as possible makes a big difference. I do know it can be much easier said than done, though, especially in a small house.
Have you got somewhere to wash and dry things? Is it possible to set somewhere aside – a garage, a shed, a conservatory, a lean-to? A corner of the kitchen? Just by the front door?
Are some things always being used so they are never put away? Swimming or running kit, perhaps, or foul weather gear? Where do they live?
When will you need this bit of kit again? Are you putting it away just for a few days or for the season? Does it need mending or other maintenance? Should it be kept away from any damp?
Do you have any space up above?
I do like using this kind of space.
- Put a bike on a pulley and hoist it up and away in a high hallway.
- Suspend a sea kayak and a surf boat from the apex of the garage like Beeswax Fabric Wraps and bushcraft and expedition leader Ynys Twca do. Use a sling to do this with skis and other long things.
- Install poles across the apex of the garage to take long items, or planks to make a platform.
- The loft or the attic – that’s where I keep my XC skis.
If you’ve got enough wall (perhaps in the garage, basement or shed) there are a number of options open to you.
- Dedicated shelves, like animator Doodly Dog uses for his running shoes.
- Cubby hole type storage.
- Hooks – good for wetsuits and for all those different helmets.
- A pegboard – great for seeing what you’ve got at a glance.
- And underneath, range kettlebells and dumbbells along the wall in weight order. Keep them out of the way, so you don’t stub your toes.
Sports and fitness kit inside
Putting kit into boxes or other containers will keep it under control. Label the containers so you don’t even have to think about where things are.
- Fold your tops and store them vertically in a container – like a filing system. Padded cycling tights, for example, can be difficult to store but this keeps them in order.
- Corral your bike gear in a box.
- Have a bin in the hallway with cricket pads and bats, squash and tennis rackets, hockey sticks and all the rest in it. I’ve seen these bins in hallways and in downstairs loos and in garden rooms. Yes, you sometimes have to move past them very carefully but the kit is under control and is accessible.
- Repurpose furniture. A wardrobe can be a very successful home for climbing gear. Take the doors off old cupboards for open access shelves.
- Big see-through plastic containers are great for clothing that’s not being used this season or even this year. Remember to make sure that the clothing is clean before you store it, and label the container.
- Those big see-through plastic containers are also great for assorted fitness equipment – and will sometimes slide under the bed.
Perhaps you can store sports and fitness kit and equipment outside
Here are four suggestions.
- The car boot. That’s marketing expert ie instinct’s solution for gymn kit so it’s ready for her to use at the drop of a hat.
- In the van. This can be especially good if you spend some time making racking to fit inside so you can store things neatly in boxes on shelves, like Outdoor Active does. He’s in education and exploration and needs to keep on top of all the kit.
- Leaning against the house, if it’s going to be safe and secure.
- In an open-fronted barn – lots of scope here.
Keep like with like
It’s a great idea to keep similar things together but you’ve got to decide what’s possible in your home and what makes sense for you. However good an idea it might be, you might not be able to keep everything to do with one sport together.
Do you keep trainers with other footwear? I do but I know not everyone does.
Do you keep all your fitness tops with your other tops? And your sports shorts and trousers with other trousers?
What about swimming things, if they’re not always being used?
Rationalise and declutter your sports and fitness kit
Are there things you no longer use and that someone else could benefit from? Make space by passing them on via charity shops, organisations or sales.
Llanberis Mountain Rescue, for example, have an outdoor kit car boot sale every six months. The pitch fee goes to them and the proceeds of sales goes to the stall holder. You’ll meet some interesting people and old friends, and perhaps make new friends.
You’ve been out on the hill. Or the beach or the water or the back roads. In the gymn or the studio. And now you’re home. Where do you put your kit?
Thanks very much to everyone who’s shared their brilliant kit and caboodle solutions over the years.