Part 1: Tools and Supplies

The number one mistake in packing is assuming you don’t need to buy good moving boxes and supplies. When it comes to hobbies like mountain biking, art, music, 4-wheeling, snowboarding, etc., think of the money, time, and energy that can be spent acquiring just the right gear. Why then skimp on the gear you need to move everything you own masterfully? Why take a small fortune’s worth of personal belongings and subject them to potential damage because you’re too cheap to buy some decent tape?

Boxes: You need them. Good ones. It is tempting to get free boxes from the grocery store, or to even buy the super cheap boxes offered by the large home improvement stores, but these are both pretty bad options. For one, the grocery store boxes are either not uniform in size, strong enough to hold much, or they are open-bottomed produce boxes that can be kinda gross.

The “moving” boxes sold at the big warehouse stores are available in standard sizes, which is good, but they are just not that strong. When I get to a move and I see the familiar logos of one of the 2 big home improvement stores on a stack of boxes, I know that several of them may collapse during the course of the move no matter how careful we are because they are too thin to hold much or be stacked more than two high.

Contact a packaging supplier or mover that retails supplies to get strong, quality boxes of various standardized sizes and buy more than you think you will need. I promise you will use more than you expect, and most retailers will buy back the boxes that you don’t use, as long as they are not written on or creased.

General Moving Boxes come in standard sizes:

  • Small: 1.5 cubic feet, holds up to 60lbs. Great for books, heavy items.
  • Med: 3 cubic feet, holds up to 65lbs. Great for pots, pans, kitchen items.
  • Large: 4.5 cubic feet, holds up to 65lbs. Great for lamps, kitchen appliances, linens.
  • Extra-Large: 6 cubic feet, holds up to 70lbs but don’t overfill! Great for pillows, lamps, and bulky items.
  • Wardrobe: 4ft tall with a bar for quick transport of your closet.

(There’s a box for every item. Dish-Packs are triple thick to protect stemware and china, while Mirror-Packs are shaped and sized to protect prized works of art.)

Final note on boxes: You can get proper moving boxes used very cheap and often for free on craigslist and other classifieds. Many people are glad to have you haul them away after their move. Not only do you get cheap or free boxes, but you are creating less waste by not buying new. It’s a win-win so don’t let the cost of cardboard deter you from getting good boxes.

Tape and other Packing Essentials: I wrote and entire blog about tape, not because I’m that terribly dull of a person, but because it matters greatly in my daily life. Cheap tape doesn’t stick very well. You can’t move your boxed up items safely if the box wont stay closed.

Here is a quick list of the tools everyone should have before they begin packing box number one:

  • A large, clear workspace.
  • Packing paper. Often called Newsprint in the industry, but that’s confusing because you don’t want to use actual newspaper, unless you want to imprint the reverse of  the sports page of your grandmother’s china for the next 15 years. Newspaper ink is notorious for leaving the page and sticking to everything else. (Paper might seem like an extra expense of moving, but it is vastly cheaper than replacing all of your dishes.)
  • The tape gun. This device-you-love-to-hate is a life saver. There’s a learning curve, but once you can use it with finesse you will never go back to scissors or the rolls with the built in cutters.
  • Markers. Good ones with wide tips.
  • Dish-Packs and the Corresponding Cell Kits. Pro-Movers are hired to pack and ship dishes and vases of extraordinary worth and we know that these are the way to go. These extra thick boxes and versatile inserts make protecting your dishes, china, and stemware seem more like completing a fun puzzle than a soul-crushing, endless monotony.
  • Bubble Wrap. It’s lightweight, it’s cheap, and it does the trick. Small bubbles for small items like fragile figurines, large bubbles for vases and décor. It even comes in pink which is a specially made for electronics as it does not conduct static electricity.
  • Paper towel, scissors, masking tape, kitchen storage bags. You never know. I’ve used all of these in some fashion while packing. Bags to keep tiny things separate, paper towels to clean pantry goods before packing, masking tape to label and secure cords and wires for computers and electronics.
  • Music. You must have some jams if you want to pack and prepare your home with sanity intact. Strongly recommended by the Moving Crew.
  • A Staging Area. Ideally a garage or spare bedroom. It is important to get the boxes you pack out of your living space while waiting to move, also if they are all in one spot in nice stacks, they can be moved more quickly and efficiently.
  • Stretchwrap. Sometimes called ‘shrinkwrap’ this is a giant roll of plastic wrap that is an essential tool for moving. Wrap blankets to your wooden and upholstered items to keep drawers and doors closed, cushions in place, and surfaces free of scratches, dings, or snags.