Kayak Storage

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A blue kayak being stored on the ceiling of a garage using a suspension system

Kayaks are big and bulky, making storage a challenge. But don’t let that deter you from figuring out a good place to put your kayak; proper storage will keep your kayak in tip-top shape and protected from damage.

To help you figure out the right kayak storage solution for you, this article looks at:

  • Where to store your kayak: Keeping it indoors offers the best protection, but that’s not always practical. Outdoors is suitable, so long as the boat is protected from sun and weather.
  • How to store your kayak: Learn how to position your boat and what you can use to support it. Also, get tips on keeping your boat clean, avoiding hull damage and preventing theft.


Where to Store Your Kayak

If you have an inflatable or folding kayak, storage is simple; you can loosely roll or fold your boat up and stash it in a cool, dry place. But, if you have a traditional hard-shell kayak, the size and heft of the boat can make it challenging to find a spot to store it.

When thinking about where to keep your boat, remember that a good location is one that limits exposure to sunlight, moisture and extreme temperatures:

Sunlight: The ultraviolet rays that accompany bright sunlight can degrade just about any kayak hull material, from fiberglass to plastic to coated fabric.

Moisture: Consistent exposure to moisture from rain and snow can cause hull materials to degrade over time.

Heat: Extreme heat can cause deformation of hull materials, so it’s important to keep your boat away from heat sources, out of rooms that get really warm and away from direct sunlight.

Cold: Cold temperatures aren’t as big of a concern as heat, but repeated freezing and thawing can potentially damage your boat. This is especially pertinent if you have a fiberglass boat that has been repeatedly exposed to moisture during storage.


Storage Locations

You have two options: indoors or out.

Indoor storage: If you have the room to do so, keeping your kayak indoors, whether that’s in your house, garage or a shed, is the preferred option because of the protection it offers from the elements.

Outdoor storage: For many people, especially those who live in small spaces like an apartment or condo, indoor storage just isn’t feasible. Outdoor spots, like under a deck, below the eaves of a roof or beneath a strung-up tarp, are all suitable options for protecting your boat. As you look for the right outdoor spot, think about these points:

  • Shoot for shade: Try to find a shaded spot outside to protect your boat from UV rays and heat. If shade is limited or not available, use a weather-resistant tarp that will cover the entire hull at all times of day. Suspend the tarp above the hull rather than simply wrapping the tarp around the boat; direct contact with the hull can promote mold or fungal growth in wet environments.
  • Protect against moisture: Make sure rain and snow can't collect in or on the boat. If you’re suspending a tarp above the boat, be sure the tarp won’t fill up and press down on the hull, which can deform the boat.

How to Store Your Kayak

It’s recommended that you don’t store your boat directly on the floor or ground, because doing so for long periods of time can cause deformation to the hull and expose the boat to moisture and dirt (if on the ground).

Most paddlers will use either a rack or suspension system to support their kayak:

On a rack: You can buy or make your own rack that will hold your boat off the ground. When using a rack, you want to take care to protect the hull (bottom) of the boat. To do so, you can use a rack that either supports the boat on its side or allows you to position the boat hull-side up.

Suspended: Hanging your boat from the ceiling is a good way to get it up and out of the way. You can purchase a suspension system designed just for a kayak or you can make your own using wide webbing straps. To best protect the hull, hang your boat so that the hull faces up toward the ceiling. Never hang the boat by the grab loops. Doing so can bend the boat. Instead, use wide straps that wrap around the body of the boat.

Whether you put your kayak on a rack or hang it, here are a few things to think about:

  • Keep your kayak clean: Before stowing your kayak away, give it a rinse with freshwater to remove any dirt, sand, salt or grime. Be sure to get the rudder, rudder cables and footbraces. A couple times each year, it’s worth washing the boat with a mild soap and water mix. Avoid solvents or strong chemicals that could damage the boat. Let the boat air out and dry before stowing it away. This goes for inflatable and folding kayaks, too.
  • Distribute weight evenly: Kayak hulls can deform or bend over time due to uneven weight distribution. When storing your boat, you need to support the weight of the boat at points along its length, using padded cradles or wide nylon straps that match the curve of the hull. Support the boat about one-third of the way in on each end is effective.
  • Avoid pressure points: Whether you’re hanging your boat or putting it on a rack, don’t strap it down tightly like you would when transporting it on your car. Long-term pressure from straps can deform the body of the kayak.
  • Add UV protection: A sun-protective spray can be applied to hard-shell boats to provide protection from UV light.
  • Don’t forget your accessories: It’s important to also care for extras like your paddle, spray skirt float bags and bilge pump. During long-term storage, remove these from your boat, rinse them with fresh water, let them dry and, if possible, stow them indoors.
  • Consider ease of access: You don’t want your boat to be so difficult to get to that you don’t use it.


Theft Protection

A quality kayak is a considerable investment, so it’s worth taking steps to protect your boat from being stolen. If you can’t store your kayak in a house or garage, consider these options:

  • Try to keep your kayak hidden from view as much as possible.
  • Position it so that it's difficult for a thief to grab it quickly and run.
  • Lock a vehicle steering wheel lock across the cockpit of the boat. This makes the boat unusable unless the lock is removed.
  • For added protection, thread a durable security cable through a sturdy part of the boat (like a wire grab loop or the steering wheel lock, if you’re using one) and lock it to a post, fence or building.