This is going to be fun.

It's something most of us have never put much thought into, but I'm now convinced we should dedicate much more time to it.

We've all heard of "man caves." They're often thought of as the final refuge for stained-and-torn couches, decade-old curtains and mildew-rich shag carpet. That's the wrong way to think about it.

I came to the realization after a recent move. We tossed away all the stuff we didn't use, packed the rest in boxes and bubble wrap and moved a few miles down the road. But my wife and I made a promise to each other as we unpacked all that we owned. Everything would have its place.

That's how I created a man cave I can be proud. To be sure, this is not the football-watching, beer-drinking space we're supposed to think of when we envision a man cave. Nope, my humble cave is dedicated to my outdoor passions. It's where the fishing rods are stored, where the guns rest in their safe, where ammo is re-loaded and tackle is restocked. Really, it's little more than the ultimate storage system and the perfect place to spend a few hours hiding from the in-laws.

I learned a lot turning this small space (it's little more than an over-stuffed closet) into a magic kingdom for us outdoorsy types. Think of what I will share as man-cave essentials.


First, you need a place to spread your tools. You need a hard surface that you can tweak a broken reel on and a spot where you can hammer home a pin on your favorite rifle action. Thanks to some salvaged lumber, I made a workbench that's barely larger than a door frame.

What's under that hard surface is key. Don't waste a cubic inch of storage space. Storage is what truly makes a man cave. I put a lot of effort into finding the perfect home for everything and it paid off. My space is not cluttered, yet everything is there. Look for anywhere you can add a drawer, a storage bin, a shelf or a clothes hanger.

In my cave, a set of floor-to-ceiling shelves are key. I put my archery gear in a couple of plastic bins and put them on the first shelf. All things that are blaze orange go in another. Flashlights and batteries get a smaller bin. Put some time into organizing your shelves. It will pay off.

The final thing any true man cave needs is a radio. What's better than tinkering with your favorite possessions and listening to an afternoon baseball game? Preferably the radio won't include a clock. Time doesn't matter when you're in your cave.

Really, I'm not talking about converting your entire basement into the ultimate gear room. Far from it. It doesn't take much room. Even a well-organized closet can get the job done.

The goal is to simply create some space that lets you slip away from the stress and hustle of daily life. Put some thought into it and you'll quickly see you don't need to break your budget to set up a true man cave.

Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at