Tip 1: Protect It from the Elements

Sunlight can degrade just about any kayak hull material, from fiberglass to plastic to coated fabric.

  • If house or garage storage is not possible, then try to find a shaded spot.
  • If shade is limited or not available, find a weather-resistant tarp that will cover the entire hull at all times of day. Suspend the tarp above the hull, as contact with the hull promotes mold or fungal growth in wet conditions.
  • Sun-protective sprays like McNett UV Tech can be applied to hard-shell boats to enhance their from-the-factory UV protection. Apply a generous coating at the beginning of each season and prior to storing your boat for any long period of time to help shield it from sunlight and oxidation.
  • For inflatable kayaks, keep your boat disassembled indoors when storing it for long periods of time.

Weather can also cause some hull materials to oxidize and/or degrade.

  • If you store your boat outside, make sure rain and snow can't collect in the tarp and press down on the hull.
  • Prolonged exposure to cold can damage the fabric skins used in certain inflatable kayaks.
  • Even if you store your boat in an unheated building, be aware that repeated freezing and thawing can cause damage to fiberglass boats if water has seeped into seams, joints or cracks in the hull (it will expand and contract as it freezes and melts).

Salt water can degrade hull materials and corrode metal parts. If you paddle in salt water, be sure to rinse your boat thoroughly with fresh water before you store it.

Tip 2: Distribute Weight Evenly

Most kayak hulls will deform or bend over time if exposed to uneven weight distribution. Plastic and fabric hulls are the most susceptible to damage, but fiberglass and wood-hulled boats can also fall victim to this.

Support the boat at several points along its length, using padded cradles, angled surfaces and/or wide, nylon straps that match the curve of the hull.

Practices to avoid include:

  • Supporting your kayak from its ends only.
  • Standing it up on one end.
  • Hanging it from its grab loops.
  • Laying it down on its side on a flat surface for long periods of time.
  • Storing it near a significant heat source like a furnace or water heater.

Tip 3: Protect Against Theft

If you can't store your boat in a house or garage, then:

  • Try to keep it hidden from view as much as possible.
  • Position it so that it's difficult for a thief to grab it quickly and run.
  • For added protection, thread a durable security cable through a sturdy part of the boat (like a wire grab loop) and lock it to a post, fence or building.

Contributor: Wayne Jordan, REI kayak specialist