TEST SERIES BY MIKE CURRY
September 07, 2016
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thefishguy AT hotmail DOT com
Tacoma, Washington USA
5' 11" (1.80 m)
190 lb (86.20 kg)
I've been backpacking, climbing, ski-packing, bushwhacking, and snowshoeing throughout the mountains of Oregon and Washington for over 25 years. I'm an all-season, all terrain, off-trail kind of guy, and enjoy everything from casual hikes with my children to mountaineering and alpine rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest. While I've carried packs (with winter climbing gear) in excess of 70 pounds (32 kilos), the older I get the more minimalist I become.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: GearStash Storage Systems
|GearStash 1.25 as received|
Year of Manufacture: 2016
Manufacturer's Website: www.gearstoragesystems.com
MSRP: US $85.00
Listed Weight: None Listed
Measured Weight: 2 lbs 11 oz (1219 g) (Includes all hardware)
Maximum load of 40 lbs (18 kg) per loop
Maximum load of 75 lbs (34 kg) per vertical webbing strip
Maximum load overall: 150 lbs (68 kg)
Color tested: Green with grey webbing
My initial impressions of the GearStash 1.25 were very favorable. In essence, the system is a fabric panel that hangs from an aluminum bar (supported by two included hanging hooks). The panel has daisy chains sewn to it that can hold hooks to hang gear off, and includes mesh bags for those items that can't be hung directly from the hooks.
The system includes the following components:
*Wall hanging unit
*Wall hanging bar
*10 J hooks
*3 square mesh bags - 12 in, 17 in, and 20 in (30 cm, 43 cm, and 51 cm)
*All-purpose hang strap
The first thing that struck me about the GearStash was the quality of the materials. The fabric of the wall hanging unit is a heavy nylon material, similar to heavy weight Cordura. Sewn to this are strips of heavy nylon webbing . . . one layer flat as reinforcement, the other forming loops over the top of the first in a daisy-chain style. The J-hooks can be mounted to any of the loops (there are 36 on each side, and one in between the two stirps at the top with a small tag identifying it as "skis or snowboard." It was much taller than I expected (the dimensions are about 15 in (38 cm) x 76 in (193 cm). In my gear room, this will run almost ceiling to floor (as the ceiling height is relatively low).
The mesh bags also impressed me. They are a very heavy open mesh nylon similar to what is used in goodie bags for scuba diving. My experience with this type of mesh has been very positive in the past.
The quality of construction and design seems very good.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The GearStash 1.25 comes with a small instruction booklet that provides easy-to-follow instructions for installation (hanging) of the unit, and it's use. While I think I could have easily figured out how to hang and use it without the instructions, they make it very easy, even providing a string and push pin to ensure it's hung level (with instructions for how to do so). The only tool that might be required would be a drill and bit for a pilot hole into the studs.
|Closeup of J-hook - heart of the system|
The instructions go on to describe how to attach the J-hooks, and how to use the various accessories (including optional accessorizes like the bicycle rack).
Overall, the instructions seem very clear, with good illustrations and photos, though the reproduction quality makes some of the photos a bit fuzzy.
TRYING IT OUT
While I haven't had time to actually hang the GearStash permanently yet, I have had the opportunity to hang it from a pair of door hooks just to get a feel for how it works. I found the hooks very easy to attach and reposition to other loops, yet the design is exceptionally secure. I have no worries about accidentally jostling off a hook. One thing that made me super-excited is that the daisy chain loops are sized large enough to easily accept a carabiner, so hanging my climbing gear should be a snap!
While the mesh bags can actually be hung by the mesh itself, each has a nylon webbing loop sewn to it, making it easy to hang, and less subject to wear and tear.
One of the things I liked the most was the all-purpose hang strap (which is essentially an adjustable-length loop that can be wrapped around an item, with a smaller reinforced loop that can be hung to one of the hooks. A shorter (optional) version is available for skis, but the one provided worked fine with my backcountry skis, just with a long tail (since it was adjusted so short). My skis have always been a sore spot in my gear room, and this may well be the best solution I've found yet. I have some concern that hanging my skis in the middle may limit what I can put on the outside loops, but only time will tell.
The mesh bags seem to be well-sized, and close with a toggle . . . all seemed to work smoothly, and I look forward to seeing how they function with my gear.
The GearStash 1.25 seems to be a very well-designed and well-constructed gear storage solution. I look forward to seeing how well it works in my gear room, and how it compares to my current strategy of racks, cabinets, piles, and heaps.
INSTALLATION AND SETUP
I chose to install the GearStash 1.25 next to the door to my gear room, as the space between the hinge side of the door and the adjacent wall was just about the perfect width (slightly wider than the GearStash).
|GearStash with Climbing Gear|
Setup was pretty intuitive after reading the instructions. I wanted the GearStash as high as possible on the wall (mostly to ensure I'd hit the top plate rather than a stud, as the stud spacing on this short wall wouldn't work). This posed the greatest challenge. I drilled pilot holes, but turning the hooks into the holes was a challenge because the wood was old and hard, and there wasn't much room to work. I didn't need to use the strings to level the placement of the hooks, as I simply measured down from the ceiling. It was so hard to turn the hooks I didn't run them in as deep as I planned, and the GearStash hangs about 1 in (2.5 cm) off the wall. I've actually found that I like that, though I suspect the hooks are not quite as strong installed in that manner.
Once the hooks were in, the rest was a snap. I slid the black cap off one end of the metal hang bar (placing the hooks so close to the ceiling didn't allow me to just drop it in from the top). I slid it into the first hook, passed it through the hanging loops of the GearStash , and then slid it through the second hook and put the end cap back on.
All that was left was putting in the rest of the hanging hooks, and it was ready for use. Pretty easy setup with basic hand tools. Without a pilot hole, though, I think it would have been almost impossible for me to twist the hooks into the stud, so I consider a drill a necessity for proper installation.
I have to say, while I wasn't quite sure whether I'd like this or not, I now would love to have the room's walls covered with these. Moving my gear to vertical storage from things like bins, cabinets, shelves, and the occasional hooks has proven to have a lot of advantages. Namely:
*gear takes up less square footage of floor space.
*gear is organized so that I can see it well, less digging through and hunting for things.
*items that used to be stored loose (socks, for instance) can be thrown in a bag and thus kept together.
*long, skinny items like skis and poles can be hung without fear of them falling over.
Those are the key advantages I see so far, and they're not insignificant. Socks alone are one of my biggest gripes. I've tried bins, a dedicated shelf in one of my gear cabinets, and other solutions, but with the GearStash it became easy . . . toss them all in a bag and hang them out of the way. I can see where they are, and the sock gremlins have so far been unable to penetrate the mesh bags to steal one each of my sock liners (I own at least 5 pairs, and can rarely find a match before the GearStash).
That said, it isn't necessarily a panacea . . . depending on how much stuff I try to hang on it, it can start looking pretty disorganized, but it's also a great way to get hard-to-keep-organized items a bit more manageable.
I've experimented a lot with different configurations, and will probably continue to do so. Moving the hanging hooks is easy enough, as is changing what I have hanging there. I started primarily with my backpacking gear (stoves in one bag, socks in another, various other items hung here and there). I then tried to hang all my rock climbing gear on it (quickdraws, slings, protection, etc.). Then I moved most of my glacier and ice climbing gear onto it (crampons, pickets, ice axes, ice screws, etc.). For many items, I've found it just as easy (or sometimes easier) to just use a carabiner to clip the loop rather than use the hook, so that's been one of my strategies to expand the number of hanging options I have.
I wasn't really fully satisfied with what to hang on the GearStash, though, until I moved away from the "single category" approach to what I hung on it.
While I was originally looking to use the GearStash for *either* my backpacking items *or* my rock or glacier/ice climbing gear items, what I realized is that I find it most useful when I use it for all the stuff I tend to have a hard time finding when I need it.
There are certain items I seem to lose more often than others, no matter what I do: my favorite stove, my backup belay device, my sock liners (at least in pairs). Using the GearStash for these sorts of items allows me to quickly see if I forgot to put something back where it goes, and that makes a BIG difference when it comes time for me to pack for a trip.
One thing I'm happy to report works better than I expected is the all-purpose hang strap. I've been using it for my backcountry skis lately (mostly because I want them out of the way, and this has proven the most out-of-the-way place for them at the moment. While the strap is long for skis, it works perfectly. I've wrapped all my trekking poles with it at one point (also worked great), and a variety of other items (pickets, wands, etc.). It works well for every long, skinny item I've tried.
I'm glad I had this short little wall to hang it on, as I think it would look funny elsewhere. While I originally thought I'd prefer this size with the door hanging kit, I can't imagine now swinging the door open and closed with all that stuff hanging on it.
The GearStash 1.25 is an attractive and useful way for me to get gear that's been problematic to store, or easy to lose, more organized and out of my way. It combines the ease of reconfiguration of pegboard with a much greater load-bearing capacity and a more attractive solution. It is reasonably easy to install, and very easy to customize and reconfigure. Overall, I'm very pleased, and excited at how it has already helped me get my discombobulated mess of gear a bit more organized.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
The GearStash has continued to hang in the same spot in my gear room since it was installed, but I've undergone a number of changes in how I use it. During initial field testing, I was very intentional about how I used it, how I organized things on it, and what went on it. During the past 2 months I have adopted my more traditional "throw my gear in there and I'll organize it later" (which, of course, never happens, because I end up using it again before I get around to organizing it).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
After abandoning the intentionality with which I used the GearStash for the first 2 months of testing, it stopped looking so much like a well-organized wall hanging and looked more like a Jackson Pollock painting (if Jackson Pollock's primary medium had been filthy climbing gear). I found myself consistently just hooking things onto it wherever was convenient (chest height at first, then all around as I ran out of room there). While I used the supplied hooks whenever possible, I also didn't hesitate to simply clip a carabiner into the loops as needed.
What I learned, though, is that things are still easier to find on the GearStash, even when randomly hung, than they are on the shelf or cabinet in my gear room. I might have to dig around a bit, but for the most part, things are at least visible. I find it much faster to find items that I may have struggled to find before.
The GearStash 1.25 is a good gear-storage solution for small spaces, and while it doesn't ensure I organize my gear, it does make doing so easier, and makes things easier to find even when I don't organize them well.
The GearStash 1.25 has earned a permanent home in my gear room, and as soon as I'm able I hope to purchase the largest size they make for the adjacent wall. With that, I believe I will no longer need the the cabinet or the shelving unit in my gear room.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.
I would like to thank GearStash and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the GearStash 1.25. This concludes my report.
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