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UV Protection Tips For Kayaks

Nicola Burridge
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Hey there, fellow paddler! We all love a good summer day out on the water, but did you know that the hot sun can actually pose some challenges for your kayak?

That’s right – those shining rays can cause some wear and tear on your beloved boat.

But fear not!

With some easy precautions, you can keep your kayak in top-notch shape and ready for any adventure.

UV Protection Tips For Kayaks - Pinterest ImagePin

Is The Sun Bad For My Kayak?

In short, yes. The sun is bad for your kayak. UV light from the sun causes damage to plastic kayaks.

Almost all kayaks can be damaged by the sun, including polyethylene kayaks, inflatable kayaks, and carbon fiber kayaks. The more sun exposure your kayak has, the more likely it is that sun damage can occur.

Carbon fiber kayaks can be particularly susceptible to heat damage. This can cause dents and bumps in the hull material.

UV rays from the sun can weaken the materials on your kayak, causing the hull to become warped. This can affect the structural integrity of your kayak and can affect your kayak’s performance on the water.

5 Kayaks In The Hot Sun sitting on a sandy beachPin

Just like with most outdoor gear and clothing, polyethylene kayaks can also become faded in the sun. So if your kayak has seen a lot of sunlight, it might not look as bright as it did when it was brand new.

With inflatable kayaks, the hulls can be more susceptible to punctures and tears if they are exposed to heat and UV light from the sun. Heat can also cause a buildup of pressure inside inflatable kayaks that can cause overinflation, eventually causing the kayak to burst.

Paddling outdoors in the hot summer sun is something that will almost be unavoidable, as we all know that summer tends to be the peak paddling season for most recreational paddlers.

But while you might not be able to avoid the UV rays while you’re on the water, there are things you can do to minimize the effects of the sun on your kayak.

How To Protect Your Kayak From The Sun’s UV Rays

Use A Kayak Cover

Kayak covers can be very useful if you plan to store your kayak outside for long periods of time. Covering your kayak means you can keep your kayak safe and dry, and protected from the elements.

However, a kayak cover generally won’t protect against extreme temperatures. So you might want to avoid storing your kayak outside in very hot (or very cold) weather.

As well as being excellent tools at protecting your kayak from sunshine and rain, a kayak cover can also help keep your kayak protected from dust and dirt. Similarly, it can prevent bugs and critters from starting a new home inside your kayak.

Check out our guide to good kayak covers for storage outdoors to help you find one that’s right for your kayak.

Another great thing about a kayak cover is that you can use it while transporting your kayak.

Transporting your kayak on a car roof rack or a trailer (or the back of a pickup) can expose your kayak to more harmful UV rays than you planned.

A kayak cover can be used to shield your kayak from the sun while you’re traveling to and from your favorite paddling spots.

Apply A Kayak Protectant

Most quality kayaks tend to be made with a UV-protectant coating, like a gel coat on the exterior material. Over time, this coating can wear off, which means your kayak loses its protection against UV rays.

There are various products on the market designed to help protect kayaks from UV damage and other environmental factors.

303 Protectant

A popular option is 303 Protectant for kayaks. This is an aerospace protectant. It is designed to be used on rubber, plastic, and vinyl surfaces. This can make it ideal for using on most kayaks. It helps to prevent fading and cracking from the sun, so that your kayak maintains its good looks as well as its structural credibility.

The 303 Protectant is essentially a sunscreen for your kayak and can be applied to kayaks using a spray bottle. But it also comes in wipes for easier application.

It can be best to apply the 303 Protectant after you’ve cleaned your kayak. The product may not work as expected if the surface of your kayak is dirty. Start with a clean and dry surface.

Products like 303 Protectant won’t provide sun protection forever. The product will usually need to be reapplied every month or so. But this can help provide additional protection for your kayak while you’re out enjoying your paddling adventures.

Don’t forget sunscreen for yourself.

> Using kayak wax

Store Your Kayak Inside

The best way to protect your kayak from harmful UV rays is to store it inside. Storing your kayak indoors also helps to prevent damage from other sources, such as extreme temperatures, rain, and changes in humidity.

Indoor storage can limit the amount of sun exposure for your kayak, meaning you can prevent the hull materials from degrading (or at least slow down the process). This can extend the life of your kayak.

Make sure when you store your kayak indoors that it’s elevated off the ground, preferably on its side and on one of the best kayak storage racks.

Keep Your Kayak Out Of The Sun

Kayak under a tree on side of riverPin

If you have to store your kayak outside, look for a shaded area. You don’t want to keep your kayak in direct sunlight. Large trees can usually provide protection for a short time, for example, if you want to stop for lunch or a rest stop.

Obviously, you won’t be able to avoid the sun very much while you’re on the water (unless you paddle at night). So it can be important that you minimize your kayak’s exposure to the sun whenever you get the chance.

Apply a UV protectant product and keep your kayak out of the sun wherever possible.

> Is it possible to get sunburn on a cloudy day?

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