How to Pack a Storage Unit

Posted Feb. 2022
There is a strong wind from the east, the forecast is calling for snow and ice and you decide it is time to visit your storage unit and pull out your winter coats for your family. You open several boxes before you find the right one and you turn around to find that you have completely blocked yourself in.

You start to place boxes back and you start misplacing the coats you originally came to find. The last thing you want to do is spend the evening digging and organizing boxes as the temperature drops. A little preplanning to make sure your storage unit is organized can save you a lot of time, energy, and headaches later on. We have compiled a list of 9 simple steps to help you organize your unit so you can actually find the things you need!

1. Pick one box size for most if not all your items
Boxes that are all relatively the same size are much easier to stack and remain stable. Large boxes are ideal for lighter items but may not hold up well at the bottom of large stacks. Large boxes can also be more difficult to get out when at the bottom of a stack.

2. Identify the items you may need to access most often
  • Carefully consider which items you will need to access regularly or items you will need while they are in storage. Here are a few items you should keep track of when packing:
  • Winter or summer clothing
  • Trip supplies (tents, sleeping bags, snorkels, beach chairs)
  • Holiday items (Christmas trees, bakeware, costumes)
  • Office documents
  • Tools

3. Label your boxes
Be sure to label every box on the top and on at least one side with a unique box number, the room it came from, and the contents. Place a special mark on boxes you will need to access the most and place them at the front of the unit for ease of access. There are several different ways to label your boxes. Check out this article for some easy labeling tips.

4. Create a master contents list
Keep a list of box numbers and their contents, this may seem like a massive project but it will come in handy when trying to find things quickly. Learn how to make an inventory list here.

5. Plan an organized layout
If you are going to access your unit frequently, you’re going to need to put some thought into how you pack your storage unit. Ideally, you want to put the furniture against the wall opposite your boxes to leave a path in the middle of the unit. This way, you can access boxes and furniture items without any hassle. If you need to use the space in the middle, place your most moveable items there so you can remove them with ease.

6. Consider upgrading to a larger unit
You could pack every square inch like a Tetris master, but that makes retrieving items very difficult. A little extra space can give you room for shelving units and a path through the middle of your unit for easy access to most of your belongings.

It’s also a good idea to use some space to place something on the ground like wooden or plastic pallets to ensure your furniture, appliances, and especially boxes aren’t resting directly on the ground where they’re vulnerable to spills. Don’t forget to use Sixty5 Storage’s unit calculator to help you find the right unit!

7. Shelve or stack boxes
An easy way to organize your unit is to use shelving or to stack your boxes. When stacking, make sure all boxes are a similar size to increase stability and make it easier to get your boxes out. You may also want to stack your boxes like a brick wall to make removing boxes easier.

Be sure to stack from the back of the unit to the front in order of need. The boxes you will need most frequently should be placed next to the door. Be sure to fill out the map of your unit as you go!

8. Leave a map inside the storage unit
There’s no need to map out boxes or items that are visible, but you should list anything that gets buried on the map. You just need to get in the ballpark so there’s no need for a technical drawing—a hand-drawn sketch will do fine.

Divide your unit up into four or more sections and list the items and box numbers in each section on your map. If you happen to need a box or item that got buried in the back of the storage unit you can use your master contents list and map to find it without digging through boxes blindly.

9. Don’t be afraid to unpack all of your boxes
If you have already packed some boxes or your unit is already disorganized, don’t be scared to reorganize it. One day of unpacking and repacking can save you many days of frustrating searches to find the items you need. Start with repacking similar items into their own boxes like seasonal clothing or bakeware.