The best way to start getting your garage organized and looking good is to get stuff off the ground whenever possible. For my garage renovation, that started with a garage track system so I’d have a place to put my garden tools, ladders, and other stuff that was just taking up space.
After researching more than a dozen different garage track systems, I decided to go with Gladiator GearTrack and GearWall (link to check the price on Amazon). For me, they had all the accessory hooks and storage bins that I could ask for at a price that made it easy to start out and add pieces as I needed. I’ve been super happy with them so far and plan on adding more pieces as my garage transformation continues.
There’s a lot the went into the decision to go with Gladiator over some of the other garage track systems like the Rubbermaid FastTrack, so I’ll try to break down the decision process below.
Why I went with Gladiator GearTrack and GearWall
It comes in both track system and slatwall: Depending on how you want to use it, you can have a single GearTrack rail or multiple GearWall sections to create a slatwall type of system. In my garage, I have an 8′ section of GearWall with multiple rows of garden tools. In another section, I have a single GearTrack rail with bins of small nuts and bolts. The best part is that I can use the same hooks and bins on either section.
Tons of different accessories: Gladiator makes a ton of different accessory hooks in every shape and style imaginable (seriously). They also make different hard plastic and soft fabric bins for tools or sports equipment. Then there’s the random accessories like cleanup trays (for paper towels and cleaning supplies), a golf caddy for your clubs, and different hooks for your bicycles.
You can buy them just about anywhere: I’m always worried that the system I buy into will disappear soon after I make the purchase. Gladiator’s products are sold just about everywhere like your local Lowe’s, Home Depot, Sears, Amazon or even Best Buy.
Low cost to start: You can get started for as little as $15 (not on sale) for a 4′ section of GearTrack and an accessory hook. Then you can build as your needs (and budget) increase. They even have several different starter packs with a GearTrack and accessory hooks.
Features to look for in a garage track system
It’s not hard to make an 8′ display in a home improvement store look good, but how’s it all going to look when you put it up on your garage walls? Here are a couple of the big things that I thought were critical when I was deciding on my track system.
Accessories: A place for everything, and everything in its place
Ideally, the garage track system will have a specific hook, shelf or bin for everything you want to store on it. Some popular examples are a claw for your bicycles, different size hooks for your garden tools or even a hook that will cradle your cordless drill. I have a list of my favorite hooks and accessories at the end of this article.
Unfortunately, some companies only offer a couple of different sizes of J-hooks and call it a day. Before you buy any kind of garage storage system (not just wall storage), take stock of what you have and how you want to store it. Sure, your garage has to look good, but we want it to be functional first.
I almost went the direction of hanging some tools on the wall as a kind of display, but i realized that wasn’t the right solution for my garage. I got the idea from a YouTube video (ChaseOnTwoWheels) where he’s got all of his most popular tools hanging for quick access so he can work on a motorcycle a few feet away. Skip ahead to 9:36 in this video if you want to see what I mean.
Flexibility: Can it be cut to length?
Not every garage is going to be divided into neat little 4-foot sections, which is ultimately why I went with Gladiator instead of the Rubbermaid FastTrack.
The two main walls of my garage were easy enough. They were actually big empty concrete (later drywalled) space, but the back wall connecting my garage to my kitchen, wasn’t. It had a raised section where my fuse box was and the control panel for my solar panels midway between the fuse box and the door. Anything on that wall needed to be a custom length.
Back to the Rubbermaid FastTrack…the metal channels can hold a lot more weight than the Gladiator, but there was no way to make them shorter without cutting through metal and that’s where I draw the line. The PVC plastic GearTrack and GearWall channels can be cut to length as long as you don’t go below 24″ long overall. Obviously the storage capacity will go down since they’re not secured to as many studs, but at least its an option if you only want to hang one thing in a small area. In my case, it was perfect to hang the two sets of golf clubs that my fiancee won’t let me get rid of. (I know…that’s backwards, right?)
Options: More than just hooks
Which leads me to my next point. The more options the garage track system has, the more ways you’ll find to use it.
I just mentioned the golf club caddy, which is a better way to store your golf bag than just a hook on the wall. ProSlat has a ball organizer that hangs vertically with different sections so basketballs can go in one section and a football can go in another. Most track systems can add on shelves, depending on the design and weight capacity you need.
The key thing is to look at the different options before you decide on a system. The hooks, bins and cabinets from one track system don’t usually work with another brand.
Design: Looks are important too
I bought a garage track system to store my tools, but I want it to look good doing it. Even though I’m renovating my garage on a budget, it’s still expensive so every piece has to fit the overall style.
What looks good to you (and more importantly to the people you live with) is a personal choice. You’ll want to pick something that adds to the overall look of your garage.
Pegboard vs. Slatwall vs. Track Systems
A quick word about pegboards, slatwalls and track systems because each has their benefits and drawbacks.
I quickly ruled out pegboard for the main storage area in my garage. The house I grew up in had an awful pegboard wall that my dad used to store some of his tools. The board itself was ratty and falling apart and he never kept it organized, so it didn’t make finding tools any easier.
With that out of the way, pegboard is going to be the cheapest option usually. Depending on the material, you can pick up pegboard for as little as $20 at Lowe’s or Home Depot and go from there. There are a lot of different options for hooks and storage bins, but you might have to look at a few different companies to find exactly what you want.
I did find a metal pegboard on Amazon that looks pretty cool, but its about $20 for a piece that’s around 20″ square. For small spaces, that’s fine, but something like a GearWall panel is a better value for the money.
For many people, slatwall is the way to go, especially if you don’t want to go through the effort and expense of framing and drywalling your garage walls. Large sections of slatwall will hide anything underneath, so it may be cheaper overall depending on the quality of your walls.
It also gives you the biggest volume of space to hang stuff on with almost as many options and accessories as a track system.
The trade-off is the cost and flexibility. It’s more expensive per square foot than a garage track system and can’t be cut to length as easy. You need clear, unobstructed walls that you’re going to completely cover with the slatwall. Otherwise it’ll look stuck-on and unfinished.
If you do end up using slatwall as a wall covering, keep in mind how much traffic and abuse the walls take in your garage. If a pegboard or track system gets damaged, it’s cheap and easy to replace the damaged section. With slatwall, you’re replacing an entire 4′ or 8′ section at a cost of sometimes several hundred dollars.
Other brands I looked at:
Rubbermaid Fast Track: The Rubbermaid Fast Track (link to Amazon) was the number one competition to the GearTrack system. They match Gladiator in options, versatility and build quality. In the end, there were two things that tipped the scale against them: First, their shelving components didn’t look as good when installed, since they needed a vertical rail in addition to the track. Secondly, while the black plastic covers are a huge improvement to the bare-metal rails, there aren’t any endcap options, so the entire thing looks a bit unfinished.
Monkey Bar garage storage: I really like their stuff, but it ultimately didn’t fit the look I was going for. Monkey Bar is a shelf system with a hanging bar underneath that looks a lot like the playground toy it got it’s name from. Shelves come in 16″, 24″ and 32″ depths and they’re great if you have a lot of totes that you want to get off the ground while still having a place to store your garden tools and sporting equipment. In the high-traffic part of my garage, I wanted to keep everything as close to the wall as possible so the garage wouldn’t feel claustrophobic. I may end up getting one of their shelving units for a less busy part of the garage though.
ProSlat: A big part of the look I wanted for my garage transformation was a lot of empty wall space, so I wanted to avoid slat-wall whenever possible. If it wasn’t, ProSlat would have been a top contender. They’ve got a ton of hooks, baskets, bins and even magnetic tool holders. You can even get the slatwall in brushed aluminum, which is super-expensive, but super-cool as well.
Craftsman VersaTrack Trackwall system: Craftsman was once a hallmark of Sears, but they were sold to Stanley Black & Decker in 2017. VersaTrack looks very similar to the Gladiator GearTrack and has a bunch of different options for hooks. They’re missing any sort of bins, baskets or any of the miscellaneous storage that Gladiator has. There also isn’t a solution like GearWall that can create a slatwall feel for more storage in a small space.
Flow Wall: This is a slat-wall solution rather than a rail system. The biggest knock on them is that you have to buy them in either 24 or 48 sq. ft. sizes. You can break them up into smaller sections like the GearTrack channels, but you’re still paying a minimum of $200 (about 25% above Gladiator’s prices). The variety of hooks is nice and I would have ranked them higher if they made it possible to buy in smaller sizes.
Arrow Storage Products: Arrow is known for their standalone sheds and small garages, so a rail storage system is an accessory for them. You get two steel rails, five large and one small tool holders. The unit is designed well with a bare-metal, industrial feel, but it didn’t have anywhere near the versatility of some of the other systems on the list.
Knape & Vogt: Another shelving system. It has a very DIY look to it, almost like something you could piece together from stuff you find in the shelving aisle in Home Depot. Not the look I’m going for in my garage. They do have a nice looking tire storage rack, though.
Kobalt K-rail storage system: Even though Kobalt is Lowe’s higher-end tool division, I’m including their track storage system here because it was one of the first ones I considered. Even though the design was similar and the price was heard to beat, in the end I found that Gladiator just had more options for custom and storage with their system.
My favorite hooks and accessories
There are over twenty different hooks, baskets and other accessories that you can buy for the Gladiator GearTrack and GearWall systems.
So it’s easy to get overwhelmed picking the right ones, especially when you’re staring at eight feet of empty track.
I had this vague idea of what I wanted my tools to look like on the wall. Neat. Clean. Organized.
The trouble was picking what hooks to use for the tools that I wanted to put there.
I found myself coming back to a couple of hooks again and again, and you’ll probably end up doing that too. Gladiator has a couple of starter packs available that you can use to get an idea of what you like. I highly recommend getting one to start out.
I had mine up on the other side of the garage for over a year, so I had a pretty good idea of what I want.
Here are my favorites:
The Twin Hook (pictured) and Big Hook are the workhorses here. They’re easily the most versatile hooks in the entire lineup, so you’re going to be using a bunch of them.
If you look back up at the top where I’ve got the picture of my wall, you’ll see TEN Twin Hooks and Big Hooks in this setup.
These hooks are great for large and unwieldy tools like shovels, rakes and edgers. If you double them up, you can also use them for leaf-blowers and hedge-trimmers. I also have my watering can hanging from one. You can find the Twin Hook and Big Hook on Amazon for under $10 each (usually a few dollars less).
Alternately, you can go for the Gladiator Tool Hook, which is essentially a double-hook version of the Twin Hook that’s a bit longer. I wasn’t crazy on the design and it kept the tools a bit farther out from the wall than I wanted.
For anything small, I put them on L-hooks. This is great for small hand tools like my gardening shovels and shears. Unfortunately, the super-useful L-Hooks only come in a combo pack with the mostly-useless J-Hooks.
They’re not completely useless. I’m using one J-hook to hold a broom and dustpan, which is about the only thing I can think of that would work well on a hook that shallow.
There are four L-hooks and four J-hooks in the combo pack that costs about $10 on Amazon. It would have been nice to have different packs that are either all L-hooks or all J-hooks, but I’m being nitpicky. For anything small that you want to hang and not throw in a basket or on a shelf, these are the ones to go with.