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Canoe Storage: How To Store Your Canoe Inside And Outside

Mark Armstrong
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If you want to extend the life of your canoe and get the most out of your investment, proper canoe storage is important. You don’t want to end up with a faded and worn-out canoe that’s full of bugs and other critters.

But there are right ways and wrong ways to store a canoe. We’ve put together some tips on how to best store your canoe whether you choose to store it indoors or outdoors. 

Canoe Storage: How To Store Your Canoe Inside And Outside - Pinterest ImagePin

Why Canoe Storage Is So Important

Prevents Damage

One of the most important reasons why canoe storage is important is because it helps to prevent damage to your canoe. This can help extend the lifespan of your canoe. Damage can occur because of the weather or the conditions where the canoe is stored.

Correct canoe storage can be even more important if you plan to store the canoe for a prolonged period of time, for example, over winter.

Storing your canoe incorrectly can cause damage to the hull from its own weight. This can deform the shape of the canoe which can affect the hull’s performance and strength on the water.

This means you should avoid storing the canoe with the bottom on the ground. It should ideally be stored upside down.

The sun and extreme temperatures can also cause damage to the hull, such as fading and cracks. Harmful UV rays can weaken the materials which can mean the hull itself becomes weak. This can happen if you incorrectly store your canoe outside in the elements with no protection.

The materials can also degrade in freezing conditions, which can happen if you improperly store your canoe outside in very cold locations. Fiberglass canoes may be more susceptible to damage from freezing temperatures.

Storing a canoe the right way can also mean there’s less chance of your canoe suffering accidental damage from other people or activities.

Preventing access to rodents that want to set up camp for the winter can also be a good idea when you consider your storage options both indoors and out.

Remember, never use your canoe as a storage container. If you store heavy gear inside the canoe while it’s in storage, this can also have a negative effect on the shape of the hull. Additionally, it will affect the weight distribution.

Deters Thieves

Nobody wants to return to their canoe to find out it’s been stolen. Making sure your canoe is stored properly and securely can help to prevent thieves from trying to steal it.

Just like anything, if your canoe is visible, it can be more appealing to a thief compared to one that is hidden from view.

Indoor storage can usually be a better solution for deterring thieves. But even if you store the canoe outside, it can be best to keep it covered, both for security and hull protection.

Inside vs Outside Canoe Storage


Storing a canoe indoors can be the best way to store your boat in terms of minimizing damage and maximizing its lifespan. It can also help to deter theft, as you can lock the garage or inside space to prevent access.

As long as you keep the canoe away from windows and bright sunlight, storing a canoe inside can help to limit the canoe’s exposure to UV light.

Indoor storage can also mean your canoe is stored in a more regulated temperature. However, this may not be the case if your indoor space is susceptible to extreme temperatures, such as no air-conditioning or no heating (depending on where you live).

It can also be a good idea to keep your canoe stored away from any sources of heat, such as furnaces or water heaters. 


If you have no option but to store your canoe outside, then you should make sure your boat is covered. This can help to shelter it from the sun and harsh weather conditions. But you may not be able to prevent damage from extreme temperatures if you store your canoe outside.

Unless you plan to build a customized storage shed or shelter on the side of your house, a tarp can be useful for providing shelter. Just make sure you don’t have the tarp sitting directly on top of the canoe at any point, as this can cause moisture to build up.

Some paddlers may also utilize the space under a deck for backyard storage at home.

The best kayak covers

How To Store A Canoe Inside

On A Rack

Ideally you should store your canoe so that it’s elevated off the floor. A free-standing rack, such as this wooden one, or wall mounted rack, like this folding one, can work equally well for this. Both types of storage racks can be suitable for garage storage.

A free-standing canoe rack will tend to take up some of your floor space, so this may not be ideal for everyone, especially if you have a small garage and also want to fit your car inside.

Remember, the canoe rack will need to be wide enough to support the width of your canoe when it’s turned upside down. This means you’ll need to measure the width between the gunwales.

Your canoe should be stored with an even weight distribution. This means the weight should be equally spread out across the length of the canoe when it’s resting on the rack.

The canoe should be balanced on the arms of the rack so that there’s an equal distance between each arm and each end of the canoe.

Some recommendations for the placement of Old Town canoes on a rack can be found here, with arm distances from bow to stern ranging from 42 to 62 inches based on the particular models’ overall lengths. The main consideration is that the canoe is centered on the rack.

You may want to add padding or foam blocks under the gunwales so that the canoe is not resting directly on a hard surface.

Some racks may suggest you store your canoe on its side, similar to a kayak. But it’s generally not recommended to store canoes on their sides as this can cause damage, such as warping, to the boat.

You may also find that many canoes are too wide to be supported correctly using wall-mounted kayak racks or other storage designed specifically for kayaks.

Kayak storage racks

Sawhorse Option

As an alternative option to a purpose-built rack, you could use two sawhorses to create a stand for the canoe. But you would need to add your own padding for protection.

And you would need to make sure the pieces of 2×4 wood you choose to rest the canoe on extend beyond the gunwales when the canoe is turned upside down. 

Using A Hoist

Storing a canoe on the ceiling can be a space-saving way to keep your canoe off the floor without sacrificing wall space or floor space. You may have seen canoes stored on the ceiling of garages or even inside people’s living spaces and some restaurants.

Most of these ceiling storage solutions use some type of hoist, like this one, with a pulley system so that it’s easy to lift the canoe up and down.

You will need to make sure that your canoe is under the maximum weight capacity of the hoist before you attempt to use it. You should also ensure your ceiling and/or walls are able to support the entire weight of your canoe.

Some ceilings may not be suitable for hanging a canoe.

You should also make sure you use the correct hardware for your type of ceiling, so that you can secure the hoist to the joists or beams on your ceiling. Remember to consider the extra pressure on the wall and ceiling from using a pulley system to lift it up.

The canoe should be hung upside down but there are some hoist systems that may allow you to hang your canoe the right way up if you’d prefer. Remember, if you plan to store anything inside the canoe while it’s stored the right way up on your ceiling, think about the extra weight and pressure on the hoist.  

How To Store A Canoe Outside

Using A Tarp

A tarpaulin, such as this one, can be an essential piece of equipment when it comes to storing a canoe outside. But it probably won’t help to protect the canoe from everything that outdoor life throws at it.

One of the main things to consider when using a tarp over your canoe is that the tarp shouldn’t be touching your canoe. It should be slightly elevated off the body of the canoe. This is so that moisture doesn’t build up underneath the tarp which can cause mold and mildew to form. It can also prevent rain and snow from sitting directly on your canoe.

The tarp can help to give your canoe a layer of protection if you store it outside. It can also be useful if you’re storing it under a shelter, deck, or a shed. The tarp can help to shield the canoe from rodent activity, as well as the weather.

You could also use a waterproof and UV resistant canoe cover, like this if you plan to store your canoe under a purpose-built shelter. But you would need to make sure your canoe is fully dry before you store it inside the cover, as mold and mildew could still build up. Canoe covers could also be used for indoor storage.  


Any shelter that can fit your canoe can be a great idea. The main thing you want to do when storing your canoe outdoors is keep it safe from UV light and bad weather.

Your shelter should provide shade so that your canoe is not in direct sunlight. You probably won’t be able to shield your canoe from extreme temperatures if it’s outside but by providing some type of shade, you can avoid the excess heat caused by the sun. You should also be able to avoid most of the rain or snow.

If you’re building your own canoe shelter, on the side of your house, for example, you should make sure it will be large enough for your canoe to fit in. Remember, your canoe will be upside down so the arms of the rack will need to be wide enough to support the gunwales of your canoe.

Video: DIY Summer Project: Canoe and Kayak Rack

Ways To Protect Your Hull

Sun Protection

UV rays are extremely damaging to both people and belongings. It can be important to keep your hull protected from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

The sun can cause hull materials to fade and degrade, which is why it can be important to store your canoe indoors rather than outdoors. But we understand that indoor storage is not always possible.

In these cases, it can be a good idea to apply a UV protective spray, such as this one, to your canoe. This can help give it an extra layer of protection against sun damage.

Generally, all types of canoe materials can benefit from a UV protective coating, including plastic and fiberglass.

Adding a UV spray to your canoe can also help to prevent damage from UV light while you’re on the water, not just while your boat is in storage.

Don’t Store Your Canoe Directly On The Ground

It is not a good idea to store your canoe directly on flat ground. This applies whether your canoe is upside down or not. The hard ground can cause distortion to the hull and gunwales.

Distribute Weight Evenly

By distributing the weight of your canoe evenly when it’s in storage, you can help to prevent the hull from becoming deformed. This means that you should limit the amount of weight that’s placed on one part of the canoe.

When the weight of the canoe is spread out evenly across the length of the boat, this helps to reduce pressure on a particular area.

For example, you should not store the canoe vertically, as this means all the weight is supported by just one end.

You should also avoid supporting the canoe from the bow and stern. This can mean all the pressure is sent to the middle, which can also mean the canoe is not safe and could fall, as the majority of the weight is not supported.

Similarly, storing it or hanging it by the thwarts or grab handles can lead to damage.

Avoid Extreme Temperatures

Extreme temperatures can be damaging to most outdoor equipment. But with a canoe, this can weaken the structure of materials. And this means your canoe may not have the performance qualities or the overall strength that it did before.

Weakened materials can also mean additional damage occurring more easily, such as cracks and leaks.

Extreme temperatures can be damaging whether it’s hot or cold. And significant changes in temperature can also be harmful.

Rinse Before Storing

Rinsing your canoe before storage can help to remove sand and silt before you store it. If you paddle in saltwater environments, rinsing your canoe can be even more important.

This is because saltwater can cause corrosion on any metal components and can degrade the hull materials over time.

You should always make sure your canoe is rinsed with clean freshwater. This can be a good habit to get into after each paddling session.

Maintain Wooden Parts

If there are any wooden parts on your canoe, you should make sure you maintain them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This could include making sure the gunwales are oiled with Gunwale Guard.

Maintaining these parts correctly can help to prevent them from cracking or drying out.

How To Store Your Canoe For Long Periods Of Time (Winter Storage)

Prepare Your Canoe For Winter

Before you put your canoe into winter storage, you should first prepare it to maintain its condition.

If you have a wooden canoe, or a canoe with wooden gunwales and thwarts, it’s a good idea to apply Gunwale Guard or another protectant to help prevent the wood from drying out and cracking.

Royalex canoes can also benefit from applying Gunwale Guard to help protect the material from the colder temperatures. However, because Royalex canoes can be prone to cracking in very cold temperatures, it’s best to store them inside rather than outside.

If you have a polyethylene canoe or a composite canoe, you won’t need to apply Gunwale Guard. But you could apply a UV protectant spray to help add an extra layer of protection if you’re storing it outside. A UV spray can also be useful for vinyl gunwales.

Aluminum canoes may need to be sealed prior to being stored. You should check for dents or scratches first and then seal the damaged areas with a suitable sealant, such as Marine Goop

Make Sure Your Canoe Is Clean And Dry

Before you store your canoe for a lengthy period of time, such as over the winter months, it can be beneficial to clean it with freshwater. This can help to get rid of any sediment or saltwater that may have been stuck to your hull.

Once your canoe is fully rinsed and free of dirt, you should let it dry completely. If you store it while it’s still damp, this can cause a buildup of mold and mildew, which can damage your boat.

When your canoe is fully dry, you can then continue with your chosen storage method.

Wax your canoe or kayak for ultimate protection

How Do You Lock Up A Canoe?

The best way to keep your canoe safe is to store it inside a garage or similar indoor space which can be locked.

But if you’re storing your canoe outside, or you want additional security for your indoor storage methods, then a cable lock can be a useful deterrent for thieves (it’s better than nothing!).

A weatherproof cable lock, like this one, can be ideal for locking your canoe outside. To lock your canoe, you should loop the cable through one of the carry handles and secure it to a permanent fixture, such as your fixed wall rack, a post, or a tree.

You may want to use more than one cable lock for added security. In this case, loop a cable lock through each of the carry handles and secure each one to an immovable object.

Remember, it can be a good deterrent to keep your canoe hidden from view, even if you think it’s safe inside (keep it away from windows). Thieves are probably less likely to steal what they can’t see. But even if you hide your canoe from view, it’s best to lock it with a good lock.

And…We’re Done

Knowing how to store your canoe can help extend its life so that you can enjoy it for longer and get your money’s worth.

While there are good ways to store a canoe both indoors and outdoors, the best place to store a canoe is inside, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.

Remember, don’t store your canoe directly on the ground and remember to make sure that the weight is evenly distributed across the length of the canoe. Maybe you have some tips you’d like to share with us? Let us know.

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