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Backpacker Magazine – 2010 Editors' Choice/Gear Guide

Workbench: Build Your Own Gear Station

Claim a corner of your garage or basement to create this ultimate setup for storing, maintaining, and repairing gear.

by: The Backpacker Editors & Contributors

(Illustrations by Supercorn)
(Illustrations by Supercorn)

STEP 1
Frame
Use 2x4s and build one side at a time, on the floor; it’ll be easier to square the joints. Assemble with screws, not nails, for better longevity.
Shelves
Use plywood, not particle board, for a more durable surface. Install the bottom shelf first. Want a larger working surface? Cut the top to overhang the frame by six inches.
Pegboard
Secure this to the wall studs, not the workbench. Organize your gear and tools to maximize space (see our gear editor’s layout, right).

Investment: about two hours and less than 50 bucks. Return: A well-organized “gear center” means you’ll store your stuff smarter, fix it better, and be able to pack for a weekend in a matter of minutes. You’ll need some wall space: about four feet wide by approximately six feet high (the height depends on how much pegboard you want to install). Start with a basic workbench design (1), with a storage shelf underneath, like this one: hammerzone.com/archives/workshop/bench/below20.html. All parts can be found at home improvement stores. Then install a sheet of standard pegboard and customize your space as needed:

* Buy a pegboard accessory kit with hooks, shelves, and bins (widely available at hardware stores; they come in a variety of sizes and cost as little as $15).

* Create designated spots to hang ice axes, collapsed trekking poles, first-aid kit, ditty bags, rolls of tape, spools of wire, plus tools like hammers and pliers (2 - see image above).

* Rig a shelf (3) off of the pegboard and line it with all of your gear treatments: washes, boot and fabric DWRs, and denatured alcohol for cleaning sooty stoves. Use small cardboard boxes for storing webbing, cord scraps, tent stakes, and more. * Put those old BPA-laden water bottles (4) to work storing small items, like spare batteries, first-aid supplies, suncreeen, and lip balm tubes.

* Install a pair of six-inch C-clamps or vice grips (5) (one on each end of the bench top) for doing boot resoling or ski-tuning work.

* Use the bottom shelf (6) to store packs, tents, bags, and other bulky items.

* Tape seasonal and trip-specific packing lists and BACKPACKER's Ultimate Fix-It Guide (backpacker.com/fixit) to the wall for easy reference.

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READERS COMMENTS

Chris
Apr 25, 2012

When fastening the pegboard to the wall, youmay want to use some 1X4 strips to space it off the wall so that you can get the hooks in. If you put it directly on the wall there will be no space behind the pegboard for the hooks to move.

Joe-Dallas
Apr 25, 2012

I have a gear room with several shelves and tubs I store things on. Then I lashed some PVC pipe between to two shelves to hang my sleeping bags & pads, water bladders (camelbak hangers) as well as my BCD's for SCUBA. The Kitchen table/living room floor is my "work bench. :)

Mark A
Apr 24, 2012

Instead of using denatured alcohol to clean the sooty stove, why not use it in an alcohol stove that is not sooty.

Anonymous
Apr 24, 2012

I have never been a fan of hanging gear on pegs. It is exposed to sun and light damage and collects dust that could lead to unnecessary wear or malfunction. I prefer plastic tubs and duffel bags on set of 3 shelves I built, 4'x4'x6'.

Brad
Apr 24, 2012

I keep my sleeping pads inflated (valve opened) in a closet. I also keep my synthetic sleeping bags stored in the bag they came in (not the small compressed bag, but the larger, possibly mesh bag.) Should my bags be stored like this long term or hung up or something?

Anonymous
Apr 24, 2012

I have never been a fan of hanging gear on pegs. It is exposed to sun and light damage and collects dust that could lead to unnecessary wear or malfunction. I prefer plastic tubs and duffel bags on set of 3 shelves I built, 4'x4'x6'.

Anonymous
Apr 24, 2012

I have never been a fan of hanging gear on pegs. It is exposed to sun and light damage and collects dust that could lead to unnecessary wear or malfunction. I prefer plastic tubs and duffel bags on set of 3 shelves I built, 4'x4'x6'.

Rick
Oct 11, 2011

I just built the workbench without any pegboard. I love it, and I am now able to keep most of my stuff organized. I am now going to make a second one :) They will be side by side.

Austin
Jun 10, 2010

Bored during summer break saw this now I have a project before my trip to Yellowstone. Definitely going to do this.

protocoldoug
May 06, 2010

Hey you took my idea... AND improved it :)

I live in an apartment with limited closet space; and I have half of what you show there. I have a pegboard that I made a frame and legs for, and hang my gear. That way it looks at least half presentable and I don't have to store it somewhere else (e.g. a hard-to-access basement)

...You've one upped me. Definitely going to consider adding a bench to it, hrmm!

Rick
May 04, 2010

Now.... That is not a bad idea...

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