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I have plenty of gear and I live in a small apartment. I am planning to buy an outdoor closet to put on the balcony to get some extra space. Here's a sample to show you how it would be like.

outdoor cabinet sample

I would like to know if I can stock some of my gear out there so that it won't get ruined not even in the long run. Just to give you an idea I left my skis in a similar circumstance (it was out on the balcony, not in a closed but in their own case) and they rusted a lot, in only one winter.

So, I would of course everything indoor if leaving them out would reduce their "life expectations".

But perhaps something (carabiner? backpacks?) can be left out without any damage.

Here's what I own.

  • Backpacks
  • Skis accessories: skins, bindings, ski crampons
  • Ski boots
  • Mountaineering boots
  • Carabiners
  • Ropes
  • Nuts
  • Cams
  • Quickdraws
  • Rock climbing shoes
  • Chalk
  • Plenty of other climbing gear (gri-gri, silent partner, ascenders, and other gimmicks)
  • Tents
  • Tarps
  • Ice screws
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons

For instance. Will a silnylon tarp lose any of its features (elasticity, water resistance) if exposed for a very long time to high humidity? And the like.

Thanks so much.

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    Could you specify a geographical region to provide context for the climate? – ppl Dec 24 '14 at 16:47
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All mountaineering gear comes with proper storage instructions. Most gear is best stored in a dry, cool, dark place. Humidity will rust your screws, crampons and axes. That box will effectively turn into an oven unless your balcony is on the shady side of your building. Garden closets are for storing garden tools, not precious climbing and camping gear. If you lived in a different climate then to might be able to pull it off, but hot and humid are a bad combo.

You can consult the care and storage instructions for each of your pieces of gear, but I very much doubt that any of them will say, "Store outside in a hot, humid box."

If you desperately need the space, then I would say only store your largest items in the garden closet. (Skis, backpacks, etc...)

  • Right, I should just read the fine manuals. I was wondering, though - but this is not going to be in any manual - if waterproof boxes may solve the issue. – Dakatine Dec 30 '14 at 7:41
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    Waterproof boxes also lock moisture in. That sounds to me like a good way to grow mould. – ShemSeger Dec 30 '14 at 15:27
  • What about a bunch of charcoal briquettes (or similar) to absorb the moisture? You can replace these every few months or year and that takes care of that aspect. – tobek Nov 29 '15 at 16:56
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In addition to heat and humidity, my shed exposes my possessions to cold and damp, and worst of all to outdoor animals such as squirrels, which like to nest in large hollow things (filling them with dead grass and other organics) or use them as food caches (pine cones primarily.) Anything with a fabric or stuffing component may be chewed by mice, squirrels etc if it doesn't get mouldy.

So what can safely be stored outside under a not-entirely-waterproof roof, such as in a shed, and exposed to the full range of temperature variations and possible critter predations?

  • anything metal whose edges, sharpness, and rustlessness isn't critical, or that won't rust and you are storing with the edge protected. A garden hoe blade meets this rule; I would say a crampon doesn't
  • anything wood unless it has a thin edge that would be ruined by chewing
  • anything of hard plastic

My sport is canoing, and I keep my tarps, canoes, and paddles outside but my backpacks, lifejackets, ropes, tents, sleeping bags and pads, stoves, pots, dishes, and so on all inside. If I was VERY low on space I might consider an airtight storage box within the shed for some metal things, but I would check it regularly to see if it was damp. You can get adsorbents to put in containers to help keep things dry.

In your case I would say the most important things to keep inside would be the boots, shoes, and anything with fabric. Your ice axe might be ok outside - I presume you can sharpen it yourself if it needs it, and a little surface rust won't hurt it.

If you can get more storage containers for odd places inside you will probably save time and money compared to putting the majority of your expensive equipment outside. They make plastic tubs that just fit under a bed, for example. Or you could put storage tubs at the bottom of a cupboard in the space your clothes don't hang down to. Even just stack 5 or 6 boxes on each other in a corner.

  • I would include stainless steel items in your list of thing you can store outside. – James Jenkins Aug 26 '16 at 14:48
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    @JamesJenkins I've got some stainless steel knives and "chrome vanadium" steel wrenches that started rusting when left indoors in high-humidity, and outdoors would be worse conditions. I wouldn't leave any nice metal outdoors (anything you care about or don't want rusted) – Xen2050 Jan 22 '17 at 10:27
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Much of the damage could be averted by placing the stuff in airtight containers with a desiccant of sufficient size in there. Silica gel in suitable containers can be regenerated, there are other options that are cheaper but they are single use.

This will avoid humidity damage but will not protect your stuff from temperature extremes. High heat (the sun baking your shed) is not good for most fabrics and like materials (ropes etc.) It's also quite difficult for big things like skis.

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Do as suggested in the accepted answer, check the manuals. But also use your common sense, the manuals will suggest conditions which definitely work, but other conditions might be okay, too.

I store my stuff in my cellar, and that is not airproof or moisture-repellant or anything in that line, and a good storing place does not have to be. However, it features a rather constant temperature over the year which is warmer than outside in winter and cooler than outside in summer. This is very good especially for everything that suffers from extreme temperatures like all synthetic materials in prolonged hot conditions. But temperature is only one thing.

Moisture is more of a killer in my experience. And this is something that can be more easily controlled than temperature outside, too. If you put your stuff as dry as it gets into an airtight container or bag, no additional moisture can enter. If you reduce the residual air in the container to a minimum also in cold conditions hardly any condensation will occur. Add some desiccant if you like to be on the safe side. And in hot conditions, relative humidity inside the containers will drop and condensation will be no problem at all. So either you have cold and humid (dry with a desiccant) or hot and dry conditions in your container. So for moisture related damage, airtight containers will be one of the better solutions, provided you put your stuff in there dry.

I use more or less airtight bags for delicate stuff in my cellar, too. There condensation is a bit of a problem when it is hot outside. The hot air brings in rather big amounts of water which condensates on the rather cool cellar walls.

Your suggested solution with the outdoor closet works similarly, with the limitation that it is not airtight. But it definitely reduces air exchange. During the night when it gets colder and condensation occurs, mostly the water present in the air inside the closet will condensate on the inside. However, because it is not really airtight a small amount of air with some additional water enters from the outside, causing some additional condensation. So the closet will help for humidity, but not to the same extent as airtight containers.

By the way: The closet does not have to turn into an oven when it is hot. Either you can generate some shadow or you just keep the doors open. Choosing a light color will help as well.

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