- Read our review guidelines
When you’re out paddling, the weather can sometimes get a bit much. Whether it’s the sun that’s too hot or the rain that’s too wet, the weather can often affect the amount of time you spend on the water.
A kayak canopy might just be the answer.
Our Top Choices: Bimini Tops
- Adventure Canopies Kayak Sun Shade
- WindPaddle Sun Shade
- Lixada 4-person Inflatables Boat Sun Shelter
- Lixada Kayak Boat Canoe Sun Shade Canopy
- MSC 3 Bow Bimini Boat Top Cover
- Sea Eagle Wide Bimini Top for Inflatable Boats
Sun shades and bimini tops can be ideal for protecting you against the elements while you’re in your kayak. To give you a better idea of how they might help, we’ve compiled this guide to let you know how they work and recommend a few of our favorites.
What Are The Advantages Of Using Kayak Canopies?
One obvious advantage that you might find from using a sun shade on your yak is that it may mean you can stay out on the water for longer, especially in very hot weather. This can be because a bimini top or kayak canopy can give you a little respite from the hot sun.
They can help to protect you from sunlight, giving you a cooler and shaded spot to sit in while you paddle. Not only that, they can also be useful if you get caught in a rain shower while you’re on the water and help to keep you dry.
A kayak canopy could come in handy for activities that require long hours on the water, such as fishing.
Video: Adventure Canopies – Kayak Canopy
Disadvantages Of Using Kayak Canopies
There may be some occasions where a canopy could be more of a hindrance than a help, for example in very windy conditions. It might also cause issues if you’re trying to cast your line when fishing or if you want to stand up.
However, some of these disadvantages could be overcome by simply folding down the canopy or removing it if possible.
Depending on the weight and size of the bimini, it could also affect your kayak’s performance, which could make your craft less aerodynamic by adding height.
Things To Look Out For
When you’re choosing a kayak canopy or sun shade it’s important to make sure you know the dimensions of your craft. It can also be a good idea to decide how large a shade you want. For example, do you want it to simply shelter only you or do you want it to protect most of your kayak?
For tandem kayaks it can be wise to keep in mind the length of the shade and ensure it will be sufficient to cover the two seating areas.
It can be important to make sure the bimini you choose will work with your craft. Many canopies may not be designed for use on inflatable vessels, so check with the product descriptions to ensure compatibility before you purchase.
You may also want to think about the added weight of the canopy and if it will be suitable for your kayak, particularly if you usually carry a lot of gear with you.
Another thing you might want to look out for is whether it has enough height for you to be comfortable. If you have a yak with elevated seats, it can be a good idea to check if it’s designed for vessels with raised decks or elevated seating.
When you’re not using your bimini top, it can be useful to store it somewhere clean and dry to avoid it getting damp. But before you fold it away, it can be a good idea to make sure the canopy is completely dry.
This can help to prevent mildew or mold from building up on the fabric but you can also wash it with warm soapy water (using mild dish soap). If you’re in saltwater, it might be beneficial to rinse the canopy and frame with freshwater to help prevent rusting.
How Do I Install A Bimini Top? Is It Easy?
Many bimini tops for kayaks are designed to be easy to install, with many featuring poles that connect like tent poles and can be mounted onto gear tracks or rod holders on your yak. Some of them can also be attached using D-rings or loops on your vessel.
Another option for some kayak canopies may be to mount the canopy directly to your craft using the mounting hardware that comes with the bimini, but this may require you to drill holes in your vessel.
Or if you want to get creative you could also manufacture your own using PVC pipes and fabric.
How To Make Your Own Kayak Bimini Top!
- 2 x ½ inch PVC pipes (10 foot long)
- 3 x 45 degree PVC joints
- Fabric (cut to fit your pipe length/desired length and width)
- 3 x eye bolts
Create a seam around the edges of your fabric so that your pipes can slot into the seam.
With your fabric now connected to your pipes, attach your three 45 degree joints to the end of the pipes at the narrow/front end of your bimini. This should give you a more rounded shape at the front.
Attach the eye bolts to the PVC pipe. One at the front, on the joints and one each to the pipes at the back, near where the bottom of your fabric meets the pipes.
Install the bimini on your kayak by attaching the PVC pipes to either side of your yak, usually behind your seat. You can secure them in existing rod holders.
Secure rope through the eye bolts. The front rope should be long enough to reach from a tie down point on the bow of your yak, through the eye bolt and to another point on the bow of your craft. This should mean your rope is almost V-shaped when it’s connected to your yak and bimini.
The rope at the rear should also create a V-shape but with the point of the V being at your rear tie down point.
Video: DIY Kayak Bimini Top
Best Bimini Tops For Kayaks, Canoes And Small Boats
1: Adventure Canopies Kayak Sun Shade
- Canopy length: 54 inches
- Weight: 4.5 pounds
The Adventure Canopies kayak sun shade is a canopy specifically designed for kayaks. It comes in a choice of sizes, including for 9 to 11 foot yaks and for yaks over 12 foot, so you can choose the correct size for your vessel. It also features a design for vessels with elevated seats.
The canopy measures 54 inches in length, regardless of which size you choose, which can give you sufficient shelter from the sun. It features a cloth shade designed to reduce the sun’s heat and rays and fiberglass tent-style poles that fold down for storage.
Its four point connection means it’s also designed to withstand wind and rough conditions, which could make it ideal for open water paddling.
Video: Kayak Canopy Setup Fold, Unfold (Adventure Canopies)
2: WindPaddle Sun Shade
- Canopy Length: 36 inches
- Weight: 2.5 pounds
The WindPaddle Sun Shade is designed for medium sized kayaks to provide shelter and shade from the sun. The gold color has an approximate SPF rating of 10 so you would still need to have adequate sun protection in addition to the sun shade.
It’s designed to be flexible and can connect to your craft using the existing D-rings or loops already on your yak. It’s not designed for particularly windy conditions but can stand up to winds of up to 10 mph.
However, in the event of a stronger gust, the canopy is designed to lay back against your vessel, so shouldn’t cause you to capsize.
Video: WindPaddle Sun Shade Installation Demonstration
3: Lixada 4-person Inflatables Boat Sun Shelter
- Canopy length: 72.8 inches (59 inches wide)
- Weight: 3.25 pounds
The Lixada 4-Person sun shelter is specifically designed for inflatable vessels. It features a PVC canopy which can help to shelter you from either the rain or the sun and can work with inflatable kayaks and small inflatable boats.
It attaches to existing D-rings on your craft and features foldable aluminum tent poles to support the canopy.
The larger size of this sun shade could make it a good choice for wider fishing kayaks as well as inflatables, and it could also help to protect your craft and equipment from getting wet if you’re paddling in the rain.
4: Lixada Kayak Boat Canoe Sun Shade Canopy
- Canopy length: 48 inches
- Weight: 1.8 pounds
This Lixada kayak sun shade is designed to work with both kayaks and canoes to offer you some protection from the sun while you paddle.
The canopy is made from water resistant ripstop mesh cloth that measures 48 inches long and 24 inches wide so could be ideal for smaller yaks. However, the shade is more designed to cover you while you’re paddling rather than your entire craft.
It can be attached to tie down points and rod holders on your yak and features aluminum tent style poles. It can also be secured to the front using the included elastic cord, which can help it to stay in place while you’re paddling.
5: MSC 3 Bow Bimini Boat Top Cover
- Canopy length: 72 inches (width varies)
- Weight: 16-19 pounds (depending on size)
The MSC 3 Bow Bimini Top is designed for small boats to provide shade from the sun and shelter from the rain. However, it’s not designed for inflatable boats.
It’s made from marine grade 600 denier polyester canvas with a double PU coating for added water resistance. It features an anti-rust aluminum frame and comes with the mounting hardware and straps to mount it onto your boat.
The convenient design means it can be folded back when you don’t need it but will remain in place ready to be deployed when you’re ready.
6: Sea Eagle Wide Bimini Top for Inflatable Boats
- Canopy length: 83 inches (59 inches wide)
- Weight: 16 pounds
This Sea Eagle bimini top is built for small inflatable boats that are between 65 inches and 72 inches wide. It’s 83 inches long by 59 inches wide, which could be ideal to keep up to four people sheltered from the sun or rain on a small boat.
The canopy is made from durable polyester with a PVC coating, which can help to keep the water off in a rain shower. It can also be folded back while you’re on the water if you don’t need it.
It has aluminum poles that can fold down for transportation and storage and it comes with the mounting hardware that you need to attach it to your vessel.
Cooling Off (Conclusion)
Now that you know a little bit more about bimini tops and kayak canopies you’ll probably know if you could use one on your kayak. A sun shade can be a handy thing to have on your yak.
It can help to protect you from getting burned by the sun or getting soaked from the rain, which could help you stay out on the water for longer. And if you love to fish, a kayak canopy could be ideal in making your yak fishing trip a little more comfortable.
But remember to keep in mind the size of your vessel and whether the canopy will be suitable for your particular yak before you go ahead and buy one.
Have you put a bimini on your yak? Let us know! And if you want to let your fellow paddlers know about the benefits of canopies, go ahead and share this article.