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The first step is admitting you have a problem; mine is too many hobbies, too little living space. I've lived in apartments that haven't breached the 750-square-foot mark for the past six years. Small space living isn't so bad, but it gets tricky when you're obsessed with gear-heavy activities like skiing, cycling, hiking, and camping, among others. It's a conundrum even Marie Kondo can't help me with — all of these objects bring me serious joy, but the space they take up in my apartment does not.
My solution so far is a simple one: bins. Lots of bins. You know the ones I'm talking about — the black ones with the yellow lids that you can get at Home Depot or Amazon. They're fine, but they're made more for the garage or the basement or the shed than the wire shelf in my home office-slash-closet. And yet, for more than half a decade, I've resigned myself to the idea that they're still the best, as in cheapest and sturdiest, storage solution for all my outdoor gear.
Until I discovered RUX.
Not Your Standard Crowdfunded Product
I first discovered RUX when it appeared as a crowdfunding project on Indiegogo. I'm wary of crowdfunding projects by default — particularly in times when supply chains are giving even well-established companies problems, let alone newbies — but RUX was an intriguing one. The flagship product is a 70-liter storage bin that's simultaneously rigid and collapsible, somehow. The video pitch was a good one too: "If only you could magically combine all the best parts of a gear case, a utility tote, a backpack, and a duffel bag." In addition to my bins, I have gear stashed in all of these things.
What's more, the team behind RUX promised that it packs like a box, carries like a bag, or a backpack, and stores like a case. I.e. it's functional in its own right, equal parts storage and utility. The design team making that promise had the CV chops to back it up too, having helped create high-end climbing gear at Arc'teryx for years. I didn't back the project personally, but nearly 1,000 people did — to the tune of almost $240,000.
Recently, however, I did get my hands on a RUX bin ($265), and now I wish I'd been one of those early adopters.
Storage That Goes With You
The problem with most gear storage bins is that they aren't designed to go with you. I haven't let that stop me from taking my Home Depot bins directly from the closet to the hull of my canoe, but I do so knowing that a capsize would be catastrophic. Storing things in backpacks and totes solves this problem — I keep ski gear in my ski pack and hiking gear in my hiking pack — but those containers are susceptible to moisture and shouldn't be stashed in a basement or shed (not that I have either of those). They're not space-efficient on a shelf, either.
RUX blends closet efficiency with field functionality. Its body is made of high-tenacity 840-denier TPU-coated waterproof nylon (if you don't regularly nerd out on gear specs, waterproof is the key word here). The lid is padded and secures with a combination of clips, a bungee, and nylon webbing, which makes it highly water resistant (though not entirely waterproof).
With backpack straps that you can remove when you don't need them or set up as a single shoulder strap, plus tote-style handles on either end for solo or two-person carrying, the RUX becomes a bin that you can carry pretty much anywhere. I've used mine to go camping, canoeing, and canoe camping as well as to haul recording equipment to a video shoot.
Easy In, Easy Out
Another gripe I have with my black and yellow storage bins? I don't know what's inside them. Try as I might to remember which box in the stack of four that I have holds what, I always end up digging through at least two of them before I find what I need. (Sure, I could create inventory lists for each one, but I'm constantly moving equipment from one to the other.) The RUX has a nifty little solution for this in the form of a view window on one of its ends. You can't see everything inside, but if you pack with the window in mind you can ensure you'll have a pretty good idea.
The designers behind RUX also kept in mind the process of putting things in and taking things out of the bin when they made its lid. The lid secures to the base with a bungee that extends around its perimeter, and on each of its corners there's a loop of webbing you can use to pull it on or off. It's further secured with two webbing straps. But the lid's neatest characteristic is that it's divided into four segments, which lets it fold and which lets you open it halfway. It makes going in and out of the bin multiple times much more efficient (and let's face it, you're going to forget at least one of the things you just went in there for).
All this might sound trivial, but the in and out process is important. If you've never considered it, it's probably because most storage bins don't have any features to make it better in any way. The RUX is big, too — I keep an entire camping setup for two in mine, tent included, with room to spare — so going in and out of it multiple times is inevitable.
A Container with a Customizable Interior
The 70-liter bin isn't the only product that RUX makes. There's also two totes ($80), a fliptop pouch ($30), a larger fliptop pocket ($40), and a recently released waterproof bag ($150). RUX designed all of these to work seamlessly with the storage bin; they're sized to fit inside of it without leaving weird pockets of unused space and use the same clips as the included backpack straps for modular security.
Put It All Away
My favorite thing about the RUX bin is that it's storage I can use beyond my apartment. Because of that, I don't really think mine will ever be empty. But one of the coolest features is that if I do decide to clear it out, the whole thing collapses to a fraction of the size.
This is possible because of its corner stays, which are made out of silicone-coated spring steel. They're like those snap bracelets you might've had as a kid — super rigid in one direction but bend and fold in the other. Collapsing the RUX is as simple as punching in its corners and tightening the straps. From there, I can stash it under the bed, in a closet's last bit of space, or, God forbid, in one of my black and yellow bins.
Storage That Brings Me Joy
"It's not just about doing the thing. Going outside depends on all sorts of factors coming together. Often a lot of these trips is keeping your gear organized, so why not make that enjoyable as well?" asks Tony Richardson, RUX co-founder and lead designer.
Richardson's question gets to the heart of my six-year issue. My bins-and-bags gear storage system is a pain in the ass, a duct tape solution to a problem I'd rather not think about. The RUX bin, on the other hand, is exciting in the same way that skis or a backpack or a camping stove are, and I think Marie Kondo would approve of the space it takes up in my life.
5 More Reasons to Love Rux
1. RUX is part of 1% for the Planet – the company donates one percent of its sales to environmental causes.
2. RUX has a "Design for Disassembly" ethos. If one of the bins parts breaks, it's easy to remove and replace it.
3. RUX has a companion app that can aid your organization with packing lists, gear inventories, a last saved location feature, and more.
4. RUX products come with a lifetime warranty that covers manufacturing and design defects, even if you've used and abused the product for years.
5. My favorite: When your RUX gets dirty or grimy after lots of use, cleaning is as simple as hosing it down.