Should I Add A Skid Plate To My Kayak Or Canoe?

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You may have heard people talking about skid plates for kayaks and have always wondered whether or not your kayak or canoe should have them. But what are they for and do you really need them?

To give you a better understanding of why you may or may not benefit from them, we’ve put together a little guide.

Should I Add A Skid Plate To My Kayak Or Canoe? - Pinterest Image

What Is A Keel Guard, And Do I Need One?

A keel guard provides added protection to the keel of your kayak or canoe. The keel of your vessel is the point underneath the bow and stern that runs along the center of your hull. On flat bottomed vessels you might find it tapers off and is only visible at the bow and stern where the two sides of your vessel come to a point.

Do I Need A Skid Plate?

The keel is often the part that sees the most wear and tear because it can hit against rocks or sand in the shallows. If you tend to drag your vessel along the ground to get it to and from the water then this can also cause damage to the keel, so a keel guard could be beneficial for you.

Some kayaks may come with skid plates already installed, giving you added durability. However, if you drag your yak around a lot, you might find you need to replace the skid plate. 

A keel guard can also be used to repair a scratched or damaged keel and help to prevent further damage to the paintwork or hull.

There are different types of skid plates and keel guards, with some providing a protective layer of material that blends into the color of your craft and others being made of plastic and bolted on.


With canoes, keel guards can be used both to repair hulls and prevent damage. However, with some canoes having sharp keels, some skid plates may not always work as intended. It may also affect the hydrodynamics of your canoe.

How To Add Skid Plates To A Canoe Or Kayak?

Adding skid plates to your kayak or canoe can be done by yourself without too much trouble using a skid plate kit. This video should demonstrate how to do it properly.

Adding A Protective Skid Plate Strip For Canoe, Boat or Kayak - How to Fit Video

Just remember to make sure your craft is clean before you apply the skid plate and ensure that you have the correct length of keel guard strips to cover the area of the keel that has suffered or is likely to suffer the most damage.

Now that you know whether or not you should add a skid plate to your kayak or canoe, and you should hopefully know how to do it, you can help others out by sharing this article.

You can buy keel guard strips suited for aluminum and fiberglass here
or for plastic here. Both from Gator Guards.

And if you have anything you’d like to add or want to share your thoughts, leave us a comment.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 4 comments
John Faas - October 25, 2018

Your efforts to help me decide if I should install a keel guard to be kind fell short of the mark. Since I suspect your real intent was to advertise a product why don’t you revise the title. Once upon a time truth and clarity were valued even in marketing.

    Kayak Guru - October 28, 2018

    Hi John,

    Sorry you feel that way…

    We offer our two cents on all things kayak. If readers want to look further into possibly purchasing something that may or may not be a fix for them, we give them that option. The article was intended as primarily info…and far from a marketing push.

Jim - January 17, 2019

I sorta agree with John…I still don’t know whether I should install a keel guard/skid plate or not. The article tells WHY to install (their general purpose and the possible benefits) and lets me know HOW to install (linked video), but does little to help me decide if I SHOULD install one on my kayak. A more accurate title would be “Adding a Skid Plate to Your Kayak Or Canoe”. The current title implies the article will give the pros and cons of skid plate/keel guard installation and somehow help the reader make a decision. This article does none of that.

Sheldon - August 16, 2019

Certainly this is an add and I see how some may be annoyed. I on the other hand do have excessive wear on my kayak and the product appears helpful. Will be trying a guard out.


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