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

Mark Armstrong
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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 ImagePin

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.

Parts Of A Kayak (Anatomy)Pin

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.

3 Best Keel Guards

1: PereGuard Kayak Keel Guard

PereGuard Kayak Keel GuardPin
  • Length: 5 foot to 18 foot
  • Width: 4 inches

This PereGuard Kayak Keel Guard comes in a range of lengths to suit various boats and requirements. It’s designed to suit most types of kayaks, including polyethylene and fiberglass vessels.

The keel guard is 4 inches wide which can be adequate for most keels. It can also be easily applied using heat, which can allow it to mold around edges and corners. You can also easily remove it using heat too.

This is built to give your kayak a little extra protection against scrapes but it’s not designed to be used to drag your kayak along concrete.

2: Kevlar Felt Skid Plates

Kevlar Felt Skid PlatesPin
  • Length: 30 inches
  • Width: 2 ½ to 4 inches (tapered)

These Kevlar Felt Skid Plates can be ideal keel guards for a range of kayaks, as well as canoes. They are made from para-aramid needle felt that is designed to protect against abrasions. This means it can add durability to your keel to help prevent damage from knocks and scrapes.

These skid plates come in a pack of two, so you have one for the keel of your bow and one for the stern. They are pre-cut and are tapered, which can be more suitable if you have a kayak or canoe that has a flatter hull with a defined keel only at the bow and stern.

These keel guards will require epoxy resin or similar to install them (purchased separately).

3: Gator Guards KeelShield Keel Protector

Gator Guards KeelShield Keel ProtectorPin
  • Length: 5 to 12 foot
  • Width: 5 inches

The Gator Guards KeelShield comes in a range of lengths and colors to suit different boats. It is designed to work well on fiberglass and aluminum vessels but it might not stick to polyethylene boats. It may also be more suitable for wider keels because of its wider 5 inch design.

It is made to be easy to install and is applied by peeling back the coating and sticking the fabric directly to the keel of your boat without needing time to cure.

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.

Video: Adding A Skid Plate For Canoe, Boat or Kayak

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.

5 thoughts on “Should I Add A Skid Plate To My Kayak Or Canoe?”

  1. 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.

    • 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. This is why you SHOULD install one: If you kayak by yourself and have no wheel caddy then you will absolutely wind up dragging it. If you kayak in rivers or lakes with lots of shallow submerged obstacles, such as logs or large rocks.

    This is when you WOULDN’T install one: You kayak with another person who can help you carry it to the water or you own a wheel caddy. You don’t kayak in places with logs, rocks, etc. Or you don’t want to add to the cost of your kayak and can live with a few bumps dings and possible damage after years of abuse.


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