Do you know where and how to store a kayak? We’re exploring best practices that will ensure your kayak stays in sea-worthy shape for decades.

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how to store a kayak

Most people don’t know how to store a kayak, in part because doing so requires some forethought. The worst thing you could do with a kayak is to drag it to the side of the garage and leave it on the ground for the winter. Unfortunately, this method of storage is pretty standard for kayaks, canoes, and other small boats. To prevent hull damage, you should ideally store the kayak with the weight evenly distributed on a rack or hanging system.

That’s not all. Whether the kayak is stored indoors or outdoors, you should take steps to prevent a pest or rodent infestation. Additionally, you should do what you can to prevent theft by keeping your kayak out of sight and protected.

If you’re not sure how to get started with all that, this kayak storage guide will help. We’re going to breakdown some common mistakes people make and explain exactly how to prepare your kayak for the offseason. You’ll also learn the most effective ways to store a kayak that will save space and minimize sagging, denting, and cracking.

Follow these steps to store a kayak during the offseason.


1. Clean the kayak thoroughly.

A well-used kayak will likely have its fair share of dirt, bugs, and residue that should be cleaned off before the boat is put into storage. Move the kayak to a shady location and complete the following cleaning procedure.

  • Remove any fabric sections like seat cushions or storage compartments. Wash these separately in the washing machine on a gentle cycle. Line dry these components and store them separately.
  • Spray the kayak with a mixture of mild detergent and water. Buff the bubbles into the boat using a long scrub brush.
  • Rinse off the kayak with the hose, being sure to get into every nook and cranny.
  • Open the drainage plug and empty all water. Be sure that any excess water is wiped down.
  • Bring the boat back into a sunny location and allow the boat to dry completely. Don’t forget to open any storage spaces so they can dry.

2. Locate a place to store the kayak.

In an ideal world, all kayaks would be stored indoors away from pests, weather, and direct sunlight. However, bulky kayaks rarely fit in a garage, and it’s challenging to move a kayak into a basement or attic. In many cases, people need to make do with outdoor storage, which is fine so long as the boat is prepared correctly.

To store a kayak outdoors:

Some people make the mistake of wrapping the entire boat in a tarp and leaving it outside. The problem with this is that moisture can get underneath the tarp and cause the kayak to get musty.

Don’t wrap too tightly with a tarp. Instead, create a sheltered area that you can store the kayak under. A simple way to do this is to create a tent-like structure using a tarp and some PVC pipe. The tent shape lets the water drain off the sides of the tarp.

To protect the inside of your kayak from rodents or pests, pay close attention to the cockpit. Consider purchasing a specially made cover that tightly wraps around this area. Toss in some moisture-absorbing packets before sealing off the interior with a cover.

To further protect your kayak outdoors, consider the following advice:

  • Remove any fabric seating or compartments and store these components separately. Anything with fabric can get infiltrated with bugs or rodents.
  • Store the kayak off the ground on a designated rack.
  • Protect the kayak from direct sunlight. Too much exposure can damage the exterior and warp the kayak.
  • Don’t forget to lock the kayak to a secure structure like a garage or shed. Also, store the kayak out of sight like behind the garage.

To store a kayak indoors:

Look around your garage and think about any open section of wall or ceiling that you can convert into a kayak storage spot. If you are having trouble locating enough room, you could also rent a storage unit or ask a friend if they have any spare room for a few months.

If you want the ideal storage conditions, consider finding a space with a consistent temperature and humidity. An inconsistent environment can make the kayak more susceptible to moisture problems like mold and mildew. You could also run into plastic cracking if the air is too hot and dry.


3. Don’t position the kayak on a hard surface.

This step is so important whether you are storing a kayak inside or outside. You should never leave a kayak on a flat surface for more than a couple of days.

Do not store a kayak right side up because the bottom could get smooshed overtime from the excess weight. Remember, kayaks are not meant to sit directly on their hull for an extended period. They also shouldn’t be stored on their side without proper support because their plastic exterior could get dented.

Below are the top recommended ways to store a kayak.

Kayak storage options:

  • Option 1: Place two wooden planks on the ground close to a wall and place the kayak right side up on the planks so that the weight is evenly distributed on each plank. Lift one side of the kayak, and lean it against the wall. The wall will help spread the load more evenly. Every month, rotate the kayak so that the other side is leaning on the wall.
  • Option 2: Buy or build a storage rack that is custom designed for kayaks. These racks allow you to place the kayak at a slight tilt or upside down on evenly distributed beams.
  • Option 3: Hang kayak upside down using bars or straps that are anchored to the ceiling. Just be sure never to hang the kayak from the handles or rudder. The straps should wrap around the entire kayak.
  • Option 4: Strap kayak to a wall. To do this, position the kayak in an upright position. Place the stern of the boat on a cushion on the ground. Wrap some straps or bungees around the kayak and anchor them to a stud in the wall. Be sure not to wrap the boat too tightly and make sure the cockpit is facing out.

In summary:

We hope this guide gave you some insight on what to do with your kayak in the winter. If all else fails, remember that UV light can cause a lot of unexpected damage and you should never leave a kayak flat on the ground for an extended period. Doing so could result in the kayak becoming warped or misshapen. Good luck!

Related: How to Prepare Anything for Winter Storage

About the Author

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Lauren Thomann

Lauren Thomann is a moving and storage expert. She attended the University at Buffalo and has worked in the storage industry for over five years. Here on the Life Storage blog, you can find Lauren covering everything from finding a home, settling into a new home and all the stages in between.

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