Five Steps to Simplify Your Gear Closet

If you have a jacket for every possible type of weather—a little windy, sprinkling, downpour, snow—and a pair of pants for every season, then you just might be a gear junkie. 

We get it—if you spend lots of time outside, then chances are you have used most of the gear in your closet at some point. It's great to have options, but sorting through tons of equipment and clothing can also make packing for your adventure difficult and stressful.  That’s why the mindset of intentional minimalism is gaining traction with those looking to simplify their lives in order to enjoy it more.

By reducing the number of things we own, we create space for more experiences and joy. That doesn’t mean throwing out everything or becoming an extreme minimalist though.

Andrew Gibbs-Dabney, founder and CEO of LIVSN Designs, says that gear closets, “Should be a ticket to adventure, not a cluttered mess that adds stress,” he explains. “The more things you own, the more things you have to maintain and store. This takes vital time away from enjoying the experiences they are meant to help facilitate. 
A good rule of thumb is to ask, ‘does this item help me get outside more easily and comfortably?’”

It can be overwhelming even to know where to start when it comes to simplifying your gear closet, but ere are five foolproof tips to help you downsize your closet and start spring off with a fresh slate. 

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1. Quickly sort through your gear


Separate your clothing into a “needs to go” pile and a “can maybe stay” pile. The “needs to go” pile includes those ratty pants, the puffy coat with five patches, and the thermal underwear that is so stretchy you can see through it.

“The most notorious culprit of gear clutter is often the hardest to tackle - old gear,” says Gibbs-Dabney. “I recommend keeping old gear in service as long as possible, but needs change over time. Sometimes it makes sense to upgrade, remove, or replace an worn out item. ”

Don’t think too much about it—just quickly sort your items based on use and intuition. Once you have your two somewhat tidy piles, then you can move on to the next step.

2. Ask yourself these two essential questions

Many people have gear closets filled with jackets, pants, and vests that were purchased just because they were on sale at the end of a season. Alternatively, they just like the way something looked and said to themselves, “Of course I could use another windproof layer.”

However, the truth is that often, most things just take up space after you’ve worn them once or twice and the novel sensation fades.

When you’ve completed your two piles, go back through the “can maybe stay” pile, examine each piece, and ask yourself:

"Is it well-made? Have I worn it in the last year? Does it serve a purpose?"

If the answer to question is "no", then add it to the “needs to go” pile. If the answer is yes, then it deserves to stay.

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3. Stick to the basics

Gear basics are different depending on where you spend most of your time. Living and adventuring in the Ozark Mountains versus the Pacific Northwest call require different gear for the same activities. 

It’s crucial to consider what you actually need based on where you are and what you like to do.


Gibbs-Dabney suggests that you should consider how you're going to stay dry if it rains, stay shaded in the sun, and keep warm in the cold. “Rain jacket, insulating layers, and good footwear are a must,” he says. “Think of how you shield yourself from the elements outside of clothing: a sleeping bag first, then a tent. Then how are you going to prepare food? A basic backpacking stove and gas canister is cheap and easy to pack wherever you go.”

4. Use the space you have effectively

Even after getting rid of old and useless gear, you still might feel like you don’t have enough space. The trick now is using the available space effectively.The best way to do that? “Going vertical is a great space-saving solution as it is simple and effective,” says Gibbs-Dabney. “Repurposed slat wall or pegboard is even better. Often, you can make out with great storage items for bottom-barrel pricing from closing retail shops in your area.”

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5. Be mindful when making new purchases

The goal of going through your closet isn’t to throw everything away. Instead, it’s to condense things down to a few pieces that are functional and will last a long time. To keep your gear closet clear of unnecessary items, be mindful whenever you purchase clothing and gear.

“Passing on unnecessary purchases and only buying what you need takes priority, but a close second is buying products made to last,” says Gibbs-Dabney. “Searching for respected manufacturers with a strong and confident warranty policy is a good place to start.”If you spend enough time outdoors, your gear will get worn and damaged eventually."

Gibbs-Dabney points out that higher-quality equipment and clothing are often made to be repairable, and some companies even sell repair kits for their products. “Think of the phrase ‘buy once, cry once’ and internalize it,” says Gibbs-Dabney. “It's cheaper, in the long run, to pay $100 once than $50 three times.” 

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Written by Abbie Mood for Matcha in partnership with LIVSN.


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