Kayaks are big and bulky, making storage a challenge. But don’t let that deter you from figuring out a good place to put your kayak; proper storage will keep your kayak in tip-top shape and protected from damage.
To help you figure out the right kayak storage solution for you, this article looks at:
- Where to store your kayak: Keeping it indoors offers the best protection, but that’s not always practical. Outdoors is suitable, so long as the boat is protected from sun and weather.
- How to store your kayak: Learn how to position your boat and what you can use to support it. Also, get tips on keeping your boat clean, avoiding hull damage and preventing theft.
Where to Store Your Kayak
If you have an inflatable or folding kayak, storage is simple; you can loosely roll or fold your boat up and stash it in a cool, dry place. But, if you have a traditional hard-shell kayak, the size and heft of the boat can make it challenging to find a spot to store it.
When thinking about where to keep your boat, remember that a good location is one that limits exposure to sunlight, moisture and extreme temperatures:
- Sunlight: The ultraviolet rays that accompany bright sunlight can degrade just about any kayak hull material, from fiberglass to plastic to coated fabric.
- Moisture: Consistent exposure to moisture from rain and snow can cause hull materials to degrade over time.
- Heat: Extreme heat can cause deformation of hull materials, so it’s important to keep your boat away from heat sources, out of rooms that get really warm and away from direct sunlight.
- Cold: Cold temperatures aren’t as big of a concern as heat, but repeated freezing and thawing can potentially damage your boat. This is especially pertinent if you have a fiberglass boat that has been repeatedly exposed to moisture during storage.
You have two options: indoors or out.
Indoor storage: If you have the room to do so, keeping your kayak indoors, whether that’s in your house, garage or a shed, is the preferred option because of the protection it offers from the elements.
Outdoor storage: For many people, especially those who live in small spaces like an apartment or condo, indoor storage just isn’t feasible. Outdoor spots, like under a deck, below the eaves of a roof or beneath a strung-up tarp, are all suitable options for protecting your boat. As you look for the right outdoor spot, think about these points:
- Shoot for shade: Try to find a shaded spot outside to protect your boat from UV rays and heat. If shade is limited or not available, use a weather-resistant tarp that will cover the entire hull at all times of day. Suspend the tarp above the hull rather than simply wrapping the tarp around the boat; direct contact with the hull can promote mold or fungal growth in wet environments.
- Protect against moisture: Make sure rain and snow can’t collect in or on the boat. If you’re suspending a tarp above the boat, be sure the tarp won’t fill up and press down on the hull, which can deform the boat.
How to Store Your Kayak
It’s recommended that you don’t store your boat directly on the floor or ground, because doing so for long periods of time can cause deformation to the hull and expose the boat to moisture and dirt (if on the ground).
Most paddlers will use either a rack or suspension system to support their kayak:
On a rack: You can buy or make your own rack that will hold your boat off the ground. When using a rack, you want to take care to protect the hull (bottom) of the boat. To do so, you can use a rack that either supports the boat on its side or allows you to position the boat hull-side up.
Suspended: Hanging your boat from the ceiling is a good way to get it up and out of the way. You can purchase a suspension system designed just for a kayak or you can make your own using wide webbing straps. To best protect the hull, hang your boat so that the hull faces up toward the ceiling. Never hang the boat by the grab loops. Doing so can bend the boat. Instead, use wide straps that wrap around the body of the boat.
Whether you put your kayak on a rack or hang it, here are a few things to think about:
- Keep your kayak clean: Before stowing your kayak away, give it a rinse with freshwater to remove any dirt, sand, salt or grime. Be sure to get the rudder, rudder cables and footbraces. A couple times each year, it’s worth washing the boat with a mild soap and water mix. Avoid solvents or strong chemicals that could damage the boat. Let the boat air out and dry before stowing it away. This goes for inflatable and folding kayaks, too.
- Distribute weight evenly: Kayak hulls can deform or bend over time due to uneven weight distribution. When storing your boat, you need to support the weight of the boat at points along its length, using padded cradles or wide nylon straps that match the curve of the hull. Support the boat about one-third of the way in on each end is effective.
- Avoid pressure points: Whether you’re hanging your boat or putting it on a rack, don’t strap it down tightly like you would when transporting it on your car. Long-term pressure from straps can deform the body of the kayak.
- Add UV protection: A sun-protective spray can be applied to hard-shell boats to provide protection from UV light.
- Don’t forget your accessories: It’s important to also care for extras like your paddle, spray skirt float bags and bilge pump. During long-term storage, remove these from your boat, rinse them with fresh water, let them dry and, if possible, stow them indoors.
- Consider ease of access: You don’t want your boat to be so difficult to get to that you don’t use it.
A quality kayak is a considerable investment, so it’s worth taking steps to protect your boat from being stolen. If you can’t store your kayak in a house or garage, consider these options:
- Try to keep your kayak hidden from view as much as possible.
- Position it so that it’s difficult for a thief to grab it quickly and run.
- Lock a vehicle steering wheel lock across the cockpit of the boat. This makes the boat unusable unless the lock is removed.
- For added protection, thread a durable security cable through a sturdy part of the boat (like a wire grab loop or the steering wheel lock, if you’re using one) and lock it to a post, fence or building.
How to Store a Kayak Without Damaging the Hull
1. Clean the kayak thoroughly
A well-used kayak will likely have its fair share of dirt, bugs, and residue that should be cleaned off before the boat is put into storage. Move the kayak to a shady location and complete the following cleaning procedure.
- Remove any fabric sections like seat cushions or storage compartments. Wash these separately in the washing machine on a gentle cycle. Line dry these components and store them separately.
- Spray the kayak with a mixture of mild detergent and water. Buff the bubbles into the boat using a long scrub brush.
- Rinse off the kayak with the hose, being sure to get into every nook and cranny.
- Open the drainage plug and empty all water. Be sure that any excess water is wiped down.
- Bring the boat back into a sunny location and allow the boat to dry completely. Don’t forget to open any storage spaces so they can dry.
In an ideal world, all kayaks would be stored indoors away from pests, weather, and direct sunlight. However, bulky kayaks rarely fit in a garage, and it’s challenging to move a kayak into a basement or attic. In many cases, people need to make do with outdoor storage, which is fine so long as the boat is prepared correctly.
To store a kayak outdoors:
Some people make the mistake of wrapping the entire boat in a tarp and leaving it outside. The problem with this is that moisture can get underneath the tarp and cause the kayak to get musty.
Don’t wrap too tightly with a tarp. Instead, create a sheltered area that you can store the kayak under. A simple way to do this is to create a tent-like structure using a tarp and some PVC pipe. The tent shape lets the water drain off the sides of the tarp.
To protect the inside of your kayak from rodents or pests, pay close attention to the cockpit. Consider purchasing a specially made cover that tightly wraps around this area. Toss in some moisture-absorbing packets before sealing off the interior with a cover.
To further protect your kayak outdoors, consider the following advice:
- Remove any fabric seating or compartments and store these components separately. Anything with fabric can get infiltrated with bugs or rodents.
- Store the kayak off the ground on a designated rack.
- Protect the kayak from direct sunlight. Too much exposure can damage the exterior and warp the kayak.
- Don’t forget to lock the kayak to a secure structure like a garage or shed. Also, store the kayak out of sight like behind the garage.
To store a kayak indoors:
Look around your garage and think about any open section of wall or ceiling that you can convert into a kayak storage spot. If you are having trouble locating enough room, you could also rent a storage unit or ask a friend if they have any spare room for a few months.
If you want the ideal storage conditions, consider finding a space with a consistent temperature and humidity. An inconsistent environment can make the kayak more susceptible to moisture problems like mold and mildew. You could also run into plastic cracking if the air is too hot and dry.
3. Don’t position the kayak on a hard surface
This step is so important whether you are storing a kayak inside or outside. You should never leave a kayak on a flat surface for more than a couple of days.
Do not store a kayak right side up because the bottom could get smooshed overtime from the excess weight. Remember, kayaks are not meant to sit directly on their hull for an extended period. They also shouldn’t be stored on their side without proper support because their plastic exterior could get dented.
Below are the top recommended ways to store a kayak.
Kayak storage options:
- Option 1: Place two wooden planks on the ground close to a wall and place the kayak right side up on the planks so that the weight is evenly distributed on each plank. Lift one side of the kayak, and lean it against the wall. The wall will help spread the load more evenly. Every month, rotate the kayak so that the other side is leaning on the wall.
- Option 2: Buy or build a storage rack that is custom designed for kayaks. These racks allow you to place the kayak at a slight tilt or upside down on evenly distributed beams.
- Option 3: Hang kayak upside down using bars or straps that are anchored to the ceiling. Just be sure never to hang the kayak from the handles or rudder. The straps should wrap around the entire kayak.
- Option 4: Strap kayak to a wall. To do this, position the kayak in an upright position. Place the stern of the boat on a cushion on the ground. Wrap some straps or bungees around the kayak and anchor them to a stud in the wall. Be sure not to wrap the boat too tightly and make sure the cockpit is facing out.
We hope this guide gave you some insight on what to do with your kayak in the winter. If all else fails, remember that UV light can cause a lot of unexpected damage and you should never leave a kayak flat on the ground for an extended period. Doing so could result in the kayak becoming warped or misshapen. Good luck!