How to Properly Store a Kayak
When the weather gets nice outside, there's nothing better than relaxing by the water. If you're into aquatic adventures, then owning a kayak will surely give you some thrills. The solo trek down a calm river or lake with just your kayak, paddle, life vest, and some solitude is the recipe for a perfect afternoon. But while your kayak is out in the water, it takes on some wear and tear. Not only does it get plenty of sun exposure, but it can hit rocks, be exposed to algae and constant moisture, and even get dirty.
Therefore, when it's time to pack away your kayak for the winter, how do you store it without wearing it down prematurely? How do you clean your kayak, and where can you store it? What position should you lay it, and should you do any other kind of bread before you store it long term? Where should you store it to make sure it stays in the best condition? This guide will show you how to properly store a kayak and answer all of your frequently asked questions about it.
Kayak Storage Goals
When you store your kayak, your ultimate goal is to avoid any loss of coloration, durability and to avoid dents or damage to the hull. Overall, storing your kayak in a position that does not apply too much pressure to any of its components will ensure that it retains its shape and function. Also, it's important to clean and prep your kayak’s interior and exterior so that it doesn't lose its good looks while it stays dormant in storage. For the best results, a climate-controlled storage unit is the most ideal, but you can still effectively store a kayak in a heated garage with the proper preparations. Let's check out some of the most frequently asked questions about kayak storage to find out a method that works for you.
Can you store kayaks on the ground?
No, you can’t store kayaks directly on the ground. The no. 1 rule of kayak storage is to keep it off the ground, especially when you're storing it during the winter. When it comes into contact with the ground, it will be damaged due to moisture accumulation and freezing temperatures. To protect your kayak, hang it up or place it on top of an insulated cover. Everything that you use to secure your kayak should be waterproof and weather-resistant. Hanging up your kayak is the better of two options, meanwhile, placing it on top of an insulated surface should be a temporary and last-resort method.
Can you store a kayak on its stern?
Yes, you may store a kayak on its stern. In other words, you may let it rest vertically against the wall on its front tip, or stern, as long as it’s resting on some securely placed padding. You should also strap the hull, or its bottom, against the wall. This will minimize the pressure on the stern and make sure that the bottom of the kayak isn’t in contact with moisture or cold all winter.
Is it ok to leave a kayak outside in the winter?
No, it's not okay to leave a kayak outside in the winter. Not only will the kayak be exposed to UV rays, snow, hail, wind, and rain, but it will also be exposed to freezing temperatures that can damage its finish. Leaving your kayak outside is one of the riskiest ways to store it for the winter. If you must keep it outdoors, make sure that it's elevated off the ground and covered with an insulating material that is waterproof. Even with these precautions, you should check on your kayak periodically and wipe off any moisture build-up and check for pests. Storing a kayak outdoors is marginally less risky if you put up a temporary shelter to keep it away from the wind and rain, but moisture will always be a looming threat.
Should you wax your kayak before storage?
Yes, you should wax your kayak before putting it in storage. First, clean your kayak with a mild soap and sponge, then rinse it and let it dry thoroughly. You should remove all debris and sand from your watercraft before applying wax. Waxing a kayak will increase the durability of its hull and make it last longer. This coat of wax also gives it a reinforcing layer of protection against harmful UV rays, shield your kayak from dents and scuffs while it's in storage, as well as when you take it out again and during the next boating season.
Is It Okay to Leave a Kayak Outside in the Sun?
Any kayak that you plan to use for years needs proper care, and though you spend a lot of time on the open water with your kayak, you need to keep it from direct sunlight on a constant basis. Kayaks are big, and they can be hard to store just anywhere. That is why they are often put into backyards or next to the garage, which can be damaging to them for multiple reasons. How does the sun impact a kayak, though?
The UV rays that come from direct sunlight are a problem. Those rays can degrade the exterior of the system quickly and often leads to damage to the hull material. Over time, this weakening can make it hard for your kayak to remain in good overall condition. No matter what type of hull material is present, it could suffer this type of damage. That includes coated fabric, plastic, and fiberglass models. Whenever possible, you want to keep the kayak out of the sunlight as a result.
One way to do this is to cover it. Try to use reflective material to cover the kayak to help reflect the sun away from the kayak instead of drawing it in. This can help to reduce not just the UV risk to the kayak but it can also help to minimize heating of the surface, which can often be just as damaging.
The bottom line is that it is best to store the kayak in the shade instead of the sun. If you plan to put it outside, cover it and ensure it can be kept dry. You also want to ensure it is in an area that is properly and fully shaded most times of the year.
How Can You Store a Kayak Without Damaging the Hull?
While they can handle the ups and downs of some of the most intense whitewater rafting experiences, you certainly want to take every step you can to protect your kayak from hull damage during storage. This is a common reason why you may have to replace it too soon.
One option is to store it on a rack. If you own a rack that you can position the kayak on off the ground, that is going to be a better decision than most other options. This will help to protect the hull from any type of damage just from sitting on the ground. Use a rack that supports the boat in any way, though one that does so on the side tends to be the best option.
Another option for storing your kayak to minimize hull damage is to suspend it. This is easier to do than most people realize, especially if they are able to use their garage. Purchase a suspension system that makes it possible. You can then suspend it from webbing straps. The key here is to make sure that you hang the kayak so that the hull side is facing upwards towards the ceiling of the space. Also, do not hang it from the grab loops, as this can lead to damage over time, including warping and bending of the boat itself. Instead, wrap straps around the hull and body to create a strong, durable hold.
Most importantly, keep it off the ground and inside whenever it is possible to do so. If you do not have a suspension system or a rack, you can use other solutions, including just storing it on top of something upside down. However, the more care you put into kayak storage now, the less likely there is to be damage to your kayak in the years to come.
How Do You Store a Kayak Without Warping?
Warping is a problem for many kayaks, but proper storage can virtually eliminate this problem. To do so, there are several key things to keep in mind.
First, be sure it is clean. Use fresh water to wash off the exterior of the hull as well as the interior, cables, and other components. Allow it to fully dry in a well ventilated area before you attempt to store it. Moisture can be problematic in the wrong conditions.
Next, do not allow any pressure points to develop or areas where the rack or straps are putting too much pressure on one area. That can lead to warping over time.
If it is possible to do so, consider a climate-controlled area, even the garage is better than the exterior of your house. The key here is to keep the temperature as controlled (and as least humid) as possible to get the best long-term protection. Also, before storing it, consider the addition of UV protection. This is a type of spray you can purchase to apply to the hard shell of the boat. It helps to shield it from UV light that may make it through otherwise. UV light itself, along with the heat it produces, can often lead to the warping of the kayak.
If you are looking for short term storage for your kayak, consider a vertical position. This helps to save space and should not create problems in the short term. However, if you plan to store your kayak over the winter months or longer, you need to keep it off the ground, inside (when possible), and out of UV rays.
Should I put my kayak in a storage unit?
Yes, putting your kayak in a storage rental unit is a wonderful option for anyone who wants to save space or have peace of mind about the safety of their belongings. For the best results, get a climate-controlled unit that manages the level of humidity and temperature levels. Kayaks will stay in the best shape when they aren't too cold and aren’t left in humid conditions. This will protect their finish, keep them safe from mold, pests, and other common pitfalls that happen when you store a kayak in a humid attic or a shed in your yard.
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