How To Store A Kayak Properly (and NOT Damage the Hull)
Before you purchase your new kayak one of the most important things you should ask yourself is how and where do you plan to store it? Will you be keeping it at home when it’s not in use or will you need to think of other kayak storage options?
Because we know how important kayak storage can be, we have put together this guide on how to store a kayak. So when you purchase your next yak you should be better prepared to keep it protected and prevent hull damage with the right kayak storage solutions.
Where Should I Store My Kayak?
Before you can consider where you’re going to store your kayak you will need to know the dimensions of your yak. This will determine whether you’re able to store it inside or outside, depending on the storage space you have available.
If you’re short on space you might find that the size of the kayak you can buy is dependent on the size of your available space, so it’s useful to measure both the yak and the space before you commit to buying the vessel or storing it.
Indoors: The Preferred Option (Garage or Shed)
Storing your kayak inside and away from the elements can be the best option, as this way it remains dry and protected from harsh weather conditions and freezing temperatures.
A locked area, such as a garage or basement can be a good option if you have space to store a kayak indoors, otherwise a shed or even a spare room in your home can work well. It can be a good idea to use a kayak hoist to keep your kayak off the ground, which can also save space. Alternatively, a kayak storage rack can be useful and can also usually be used for outdoor storage if required.
However, you will need to make sure that the room where you're storing kayaks is not too hot or too cold, as extreme heat can affect the integrity of the yak, so it’s best to be above 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) and below 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). Extreme temperatures should be avoided for both short term storage and long term storage.
When finding a good location, you should also make sure that the kayak is in a dry place and not near any windows where the sun might get through or moisture might get in, as direct sunlight and moisture can be particularly damaging to your kayak.
A cockpit cover can help keep critters out of your vessel and give your kayak an extra layer of protection - great for both outside and inside storage but avoid trapping moisture inside when you cover it. Obviously, a cockpit cover generally won't be needed on a sit-on-top kayak because of the open cockpit.
Build Your Own Kayak Storage Rack?
No Room Indoors? Outdoors It Is...
If you don’t have the luxury of indoor kayak storage space then your only other option is to store kayaks outside. If this is the case then you’re going to need to think about the weather conditions. Firstly, you will want to find a place that provides a bit of shelter for your boat, away from UV rays and cold temperatures.
A shaded area, such as a covered porch, can be preferable for storing kayaks but if that’s not available to you then you might want to consider using a protective cover, such as a tarpaulin. Using a waterproof and UV resistant cover designed specially for kayaks can be useful but you might still want the tarp for added protection. A sun protective spray may also be useful and limits exposure to the sun but it might not offer enough protection as other materials for long term storage.
It can be a good idea to cover your kayak with a kayak storage cover regardless of whether the storage area is in the shade or not as this will not only keep it safe from the weather (particularly UV rays) but also from sand, dust and even bugs and animals that might want to hideout in your cockpit. A cozy uncovered cockpit can be an open invitation for creatures to set up camp.
Storing your kayak outside will likely pose additional problems compared to storing it inside, so you will need to take extra precautions to keep moisture out. If you’re using a tarp, it can offer better protection if you position it like a tent over your vessel, as this will allow any rain or snow to slide off and not sit directly on top of your yak.
If you allow the tarp to sit directly on the yak, you might be at risk of mold or other fungi growing on the hull because of the moisture being able to get through if there is not air circulating around it. This can happen even in short term storage.
Marinas And Kayak Outfitters
If you’re short on space to store your yak both indoors and outdoors at your property then you might want to consider storing it at your local paddling center, marina or kayak outfitters.
You will often find that places such as these can offer kayak and canoe livery and may have storage options where you can rent space from them. This can be a good idea if you are also short on transportation options for your yak, as you know it will always be at the water, ready to go.
Because watersports centers will often have multiple kayaks and canoes for rent, they should also have the proper storage solutions for each vessel that will protect them from the weather in all seasons, as well as keep them in a secure manner that should maintain the integrity of the hull.
A benefit of storing your kayak properly at a marina or paddling center is that there should be professionals on hand to be able to help you with launching or even preparing your kayak for storage in colder months.
Best Ways To Store A Kayak
Clean It Before Storing
Before you put your yak into storage you need to make sure that it’s completely clean and dry. This applies whether you store your kayak indoors or outdoors.
First of all, you might want to remove the seat cushions and any other soft fabric components, so you can store them separately. While it can be tempting to just bring your kayak out the water and put it away immediately, washing it can be one of the necessary steps to avoid causing damage.
To clean your kayak properly, you will need to get some mild soap (or mild detergent) and fresh water and clean over the outside of the hull with a soft towel as well as inside the cockpit, so that all remaining dirt and residue is completely gone.
Make sure you rinse it well with clean water to get rid of all the soap residue. Once you’ve done that you will then need to let it dry. The entire boat needs to be completely dry before you can think about storing it, because if it’s not, the moisture can cause fungus to grow, which will wreak havoc and ruin your craft.
You can use a dry towel and a bilge pump to help speed up the drying process and this should allow you to see if your kayak is completely dry. Be sure to empty out any water that might still be inside the hatches.
Making sure your boat is both clean and dry completely before you store it will help to prevent any moisture damage, meaning your kayak should be more likely to keep its durability for longer, so you should get even more life out of it if it's in good shape.
If You're Storing A Kayak Inside...
While storing your kayak indoors can be the best option, you will need to know which way is best to store it and how not to store it. First of all, you will want to avoid storing your kayak on the floor (or other flat surface) on its hull, as, without the proper storage, this can cause significant hull damage as it will deform its shape, even after a very short time.
The best options are to have it resting vertically. Vertical storage allows the stern to be on the ground and the bow end up against a wall. Another good option is lay it on its side, horizontally, with the cockpit facing out towards you and the bottom of the hull facing the wall.
If you plan to keep your kayak in prolonged storage for a few months while you wait for kayaking season to return, you should alternate the sides that it’s leaning on if you’re storing it horizontally, as this will help to prevent one side from becoming dented over time.
There are storage racks designed specifically for kayaks, which will allow you to store your vessel up off the ground with weight evenly distributed. Some may require you to store the kayak upside down and others may be suitable for the hull to be the right way up, creating more of a cradle for the hull in an upright position. You might even find racks that allow you to store your kayak vertically.
Even though your yak will be stored inside, using a kayak cover or tarp to protect it from dust can still be a good idea, even if you store the kayak on a rack. A cover can be useful for a sit-on-top kayak and a sit-inside kayak. There are various racks you can buy for some of the top kayaks, depending on your needs and budget, or you could always make your own rack with wooden planks or PVC pipe.
Recommended Ways To Store Your Kayak Outside
The best way to store your kayak outdoors is to first make sure it will be protected from the elements, especially if you plan to store it for an extended period. One of the most important things you can do is to cover it, as this should give it some protection from both harmful UV rays and moisture. You don't want to have your kayak exposed to the weather.
How you store a kayak outside will be similar to the indoor storage options, in that you should avoid both hard flat surfaces and laying the kayak flat on the ground (with your boat hull side down). Instead, ensure that it’s either stored vertically, leaning against a wall, or horizontally on its side.
For outdoors, however, you will need to make sure that your vessel is fully covered, or at least with the cockpit covered, and then use a waterproof tarp to create a tent like structure for your yak to rest under. The tarp will need to be pulled and secured tightly, either using trees or rope to help suspend it to let air circulate. You could also store life jackets inside your boat if it's covered.
If the tarp is not tight, it could sag and cause rain or snow to build up and rest on it, which could then render your protective tent useless. Water should be able to run off the tarp without depressing the fabric.
You can also use a kayak rack that will let you elevate your kayak off the ground, which could help significantly in long periods of wet or wintry conditions, and keep your kayak in tip top shape. You can attach kayak storage racks to the side of an exterior wall for easy access (ideal for kayaking off season), as long as it’s a sturdy structure away from UV light.
This can allow you to store more than one boat, but make sure you can still reach the top kayaks on taller racks.
How To Hang A Kayak
Hanging a kayak can be a good way of getting your vessel up off the floor, freeing up floor space and allowing it to rest securely without pressure being on a particular part of the yak from a hard surface. You can hang a kayak on either an interior or exterior wall, so can be a good choice for both indoor and outdoor storage.
However, you need to make sure the weight is distributed evenly so it doesn't fall, which can be one of the common mistakes people make.
Ropes, wide nylon straps, or brackets can work well in creating a kayak storage system. Both systems can be attached to your wall, with the rope suspension system being secured with hooks in your wall, allowing your kayak to be suspended on its side using the ropes - be sure to distribute weight evenly. It can also be worth making sure you have enough room underneath for other objects and that it's away from heat sources.
Bracket storage is just like it sounds, where brackets are attached to your wall, allowing your kayak to rest on the brackets, preferably with padded cradles that allow weight to be evenly distributed. They will often fold up out of the way, when you’re not storing your kayak, and can be a more versatile kayak storage solution.
Both of these styles of storage systems can either be purchased or you can attempt to make your own. But make sure that when you hang up your kayak, it’s equally balanced on the rack, with the cockpit centered between each bracket or strap to avoid uneven weight distribution.
One thing to remember when you’re hanging your yak is not to hang it from the grab loops, as this can be dangerous and can cause kayak hulls to warp under their own weight, which can affect the hull's shape.
It’s also not recommended to hang your vessel from the ceiling, as this can cause pressure points on the hull. You should avoid pressure points as these can weaken the kayak's hull and could mean the kayak falls from the ceiling.
Overhead storage, such as overhead pulley systems or other improper storage, can also be dangerous and less secure, so it’s better for personal safety to use storage locations that you’re easily and safely able to reach it to lift it on and off of the rack.
Lock It Up! Keeping Your Kayak Safe
When it comes to storing a kayak, you will want to make sure that it’s not only safe but also secure, no matter where or how you choose to store it - even if you keep your kayak hidden from view. Locks can work for either outdoor or indoor storage and can be looped through a drain plug on a sit-on-top kayak.
For storing the kayak against a wall, either on its side or vertically, you should consider using straps to stop it from falling over and hurting anyone as well as getting damaged. However, remember to keep the straps tight but not overly tight, as this can cause too much pressure, which can then result in dents to the body of the yak.
If you’re storing your kayak outdoors you will also want to think about how secure it is. Will it blow away in the wind? Is it safe from theft?
This is where it can be a good idea to lock up your vessel, even if you’re only leaving it for a short time. There are many kayak locks to choose from, depending on your type of kayak and where you want to lock it. You can even sometimes use a steering wheel lock across the cockpit, which can work for some kayak owners.
There are various locks you can get to keep your kayak safe from potential thieves, that will allow you to lock several kayaks together or lock it to a tree or other permanent structure, so that you know it’ll still be there when you get back to it.
Locking Up Your Kayak
Now that you’ve learned about the different and best ways to store your kayak indoors and outdoors you will hopefully be able to get more life and more enjoyment out of your boat.
As you will have seen from our kayak storage tips, there are several ways you can store your craft with various options depending on your circumstances, so now there’s no excuse for not getting that new kayak.
Just remember not to store the yak flat on the ground for any length of time and make sure that it’s kept out of extreme conditions and direct sunlight. And always remember to lock it up before you leave it.
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