Crates are great for storage on the boat . . . when you need them. When you don't, the space they take up is annoying. Here's a solution.

Clever Crates

I’ve seen collapsible crates in the past and they always looked like such a great idea for boat storage. But I was afraid that the realities of boat life would just be too hard on them and they’d fall apart. At inconvenient times, of course.

So I never bought any and just stuck to my regular Sterilite bins. I like them, but I can’t just pop them open when I need them and stash them away when I don’t. And since the side walls are slightly angled, they don’t make truly efficient use of some spaces.

I was pretty excited when I got this email from Mark, aboard Cream Puff (he did a great post on their blog on determining what stuff is worth saving in storage and what isn’t — read it here).

We have been searching for sturdy folding collapsible storage creates. We had purchased some in the past but they turned out to be flimsy and broke apart at the hinges. We are so happy we found these awesome crates at Costco. 

The construction is excellent and the hinges are strong. We hope these will last for many years!

Clever Crates Collapsible Crates Crates are great for storage on the boat . . . when you need them. When you don't, the space they take up is annoying. Here's a solution.They’re called Clever Crates and come both in “solid wall” versions (shown in the photo at top) and “slatted walls” (shown at right). Mark has been using the solid ones; the slatted ones carry someone less weight (see below for the sizes and weight capacity). All fold to about 2″ thick when collapsed.

IMPORTANT NOTE: what you see next to the crate in the pictures is NOT a lid, but a collapsed crate. They do not have lids, but do stack on top of each other with interlocking bases.

When carrying a crate, you must use the hand-holds in the sides (or the handles on the basket). If you try to carry the box by putting your hands under the bottom, or with one hand against your hip as you open a door, the crate will collapse and the contents will spill.

I think they’d be great to hold extra provisions when the need arises (say on a longer trip) and then as you use them up, you can fold the crates up one by one and reclaim the space where they were. They could also  be good in the dinghy, where you could pop one open when you needed to carry stuff and collapse it out of the way when you didn’t.

Clever Crates Collapsible Crates Crates are great for storage on the boat . . . when you need them. When you don't, the space they take up is annoying. Here's a solution.Clever Crates come in several sizes — 62 liter, 45/46 liter, 32 liter and 16 liter — and colors. The 16-liter crate (slatted only) is called a “basket” and comes with a carry handle, shown in the photo at right. All can be washed out as needed.

Sizes and weight limit:

  • 62 liter solid wall: L 23″ x W 15.4″ x H 12.8 — 132 pound capacity
  • 46 liter solid wall: L 20.9″ x W 14.2″ x H 11.4″ — 88 pound capacity
  • 45 liter slatted wall: L 20.8″ x W 14.6″ x H 10.6″ — 66 pound capacity
  • 32 liter solid wall: L 18.7″ x W 13.8″ x H 9.3″ — 66 pound capacity
  • 32 liter slatted wall: L 18.7″ x W 13.8″ x H 8.6″ — 35 pound capacity
  • 16 liter shopping basket: L 15.4″ x W 10″ x H 8.3″ — 22 pound capacity
As Mark noted, Costco sells some of the Clever Crates at good prices (their online price seems good, until you hit the $25 delivery fee). If you don’t have a Costco near you, or want sizes or colors they don’t have, the best prices I find are from the Clever Crates company itself:

NOTE: I have not used these myself; I am passing on Mark’s recommendation. Next time I need to get some crates, I’ll probably get some since the collapse feature seems so great for boat life. If you’ve used Clever Crates, please leave a note in the comments with your opinion.

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  • Diana K Weigel
    Posted at 08 April 2015 Reply

    Great find!

  • Stephan Nothnick
    Posted at 08 April 2015 Reply

    But not as sturdy – risk that they will collapse at the wrong point in time

  • Stephanie
    Posted at 09 April 2015 Reply

    I have a couple, not super sturdy but good for taking all the little things back & forth from the boat to the house.

  • Jan Bogart
    Posted at 22 March 2016 Reply

    The fold up ones are great. You just have to empty them…

  • Beth Hipp Tyler
    Posted at 22 March 2016 Reply

    We have several in two sizes, they work great

  • Donna Chiappini
    Posted at 23 March 2016 Reply

    I use them for the items we store while underway like the coffee pot and decorative items we don’t have stuck down with Earthquake Putty. Easy to put up and easy to take down and store.

  • Wheels To Keels
    Posted at 23 March 2016 Reply

    What a great idea!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Tony Hill
    Posted at 23 March 2016 Reply

    They work great, and fold easily. Can hold a fair amount of weight.

  • Linda Fritz
    Posted at 11 April 2016 Reply

    Check out CRESBIcrates too – American designed and if you use code in video you’ll also be helping Special Olympics:

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