7 Editor-Approved Ways to Store Winter Gear in Your Dorm Room

published Dec 8, 2023
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The temperatures are dropping, the days are getting shorter, and college students in cold-weather areas are starting to break out their winter gear … and wondering where to put it all. 

Winter gear is necessary for keeping you warm and dry, but it also comes with challenges — big, bulky, damp challenges. Items like parkas take up a lot of space, and wet boots can make a puddly mess on the floor. Plus, there are the necessary accessories, like scarves, hats, and gloves to keep track of. Simply put: It’s a lot!

Luckily, there are ways to store these items that won’t leave your space feeling cramped or your snow-wet coat smelling musty. Below, I’ve rounded up seven of the easiest and most useful ideas for storing winter gear that will work in your limited space and help make grabbing your winter gear quick, easy, and painless.

Minimalist Coat Rack

Ideally, you’ll want a storage solution that allows your clothes to hang, as that facilitates quicker, more thorough drying for snow-wet items. A minimalistically designed coat rack, like this one from IKEA, allows you to create a dedicated coat hanging area anywhere you may have extra wall space in your room. Because it’s just a wire frame, these kinds of racks allow you to hang several winter coats at the same time without taking up too much space. (I use mine, which I keep right by the door to my room, to hang all my coats and jackets, as well as scarves and purses. I use the space under it to store my winter shoes when I’m not wearing them.) 

Credit: Sofia Andrade

You could also get a similarly space-saving rack with wheels like the IKEA RIGGA and a small shelf-slash-shoe rack if you want that extra storage space and flexibility.

Shoe Tray or Drying Mat

A shoe tray like this one from Target is exactly what you need if you’re going to be bringing wet shoes inside. Many dorms don’t allow you to store things like shoes in the hallways, as they can get in the way in case of an emergency, so a shoe tray lets you bring them inside without ruining or dirtying your floors. 

A shoe mat, like this one from West Elm or this one from L.L. Bean, would also work. A foldable mat like these can also be stored away easily come springtime when it’s not needed.

Coat Tree

Like the coat rack, a minimalistic coat tree allows you to hang up jackets, scarves, hats, and gloves in one convenient location (and ideally close to your door). This option from IKEA, for example, allows storage for a few coats without taking up too much space against your wall. Unlike a larger coat rack, a tree would best be used to store only recently or frequently used coats, as it offers less space — but for a smaller space, it can be the perfect solution.

Behind-the-Door Storage Rack

For those without much floor or wall space to work with, an over-the-door hook or rack system can be an ideal solution. Multi-hook hangers like this Target one allow you to hang one or two coats and other winter accessories conveniently on your front door or the door of your closet, making it great for tight spaces.

Command Hook Rack

This Command hook rack does the same job as the behind-the-door rack, but it can be used on any empty wall space. If you want to keep things off your door (or all your door space is already spoken for), and if your dorm allows the use of Command strips (check with your RA if you’re not sure!), this could be a space-saving, budget-friendly storage option.

Drying Rack

If you can’t get a more permanent solution for whatever reason, a collapsible clothes drying rack — the same one you would use for laundry, like this Walmart one — can be a good ad hoc option for drying any wet winter clothes. You can take it out when you need it, and put it away when you don’t, which makes it a truly flexible option. 

Reusable Plastic Boxes (for Summer Gear Storage)

A fact of winter is that you likely won’t be getting much use out of your summer gear. Because winter clothing is often big and bulky, and thus takes up a lot of space, it’s helpful to get your summer wear out of the way to make some room. I use clear, reusable 66-quart boxes like these from Target to store summer clothing in the winter, and vice versa. They don’t take up much room and, if needed, they can be easily stacked atop your dresser or under your bed.

Sofia Andrade

History & Literature and Gender Studies

Sofia Andrade is a Miami-based journalist and the child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She is a first-generation student at Harvard University, where she was most recently Arts Chair of The Harvard Crimson. Sofia’s writing has been featured in the Washington Post, Slate, The Nation, El Nuevo Herald, and elsewhere. She recently spent her junior-year spring semester abroad in Madrid, and came back home with plenty of decor inspo (including a newfound obsession with tiles!).

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SchoolHarvard University '24
MajorHistory & Literature and Gender Studies
FavesConcerts, picnics, new crafts, and found trinkets
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