How to Properly Store a Kayak

This year’s kayaking season was the most fun yet, but the time has come to store your kayak elsewhere until warmer days are ahead. Proper storage will maintain the condition of the kayak so you can reliably use it for years to come. Where do you put your kayak during the offseason?

Here’s how to store a kayak:

  • Avoid direct sunlight
  • Keep the kayak off hard surfaces
  • Place your kayak out of sight
  • Put your kayak up on a wall
  • Or use a kayak rack

We have lots of great information to share with you ahead. First, we’ll elaborate further on the above kayak storage tips. Then we’ll talk about whether your kayak should go indoors or outdoors as well as how to winterize it. You won’t want to miss it! 

5 Tips for Kayak Storage

Avoid Direct Sunlight

You’ll have to decide whether your kayak is better suited for indoor or outdoor storage, which we’ll talk more about later in this guide. Regardless of whether your kayak bears the elements all winter long or it’s safely indoors, sunlight is still an issue.

UV rays from direct sunlight are awful for your kayak. Many hull materials cannot handle prolonged exposure to the sun. They’ll be weakened if not significantly damaged, rendering your kayak unusable for the next season. 

If you’re keeping your kayak outdoors, then select a shady area where direct sunlight cannot peak through. The overhead protection of an awning or even trees can safeguard the kayak from damaging UV rays.

Indoors, your kayak is naturally safer, but still not as much as you’d think. A windowless room is ideal for the kayak; if the room has windows, direct sunlight can still flood the room. 

Keep in mind that the direction of the sun changes throughout the year. Thus, if a window doesn’t get a lot of sunlight during the warmer months, that might not be true of the colder months, or vice-versa. 

To accommodate for the changing sun direction, a curtain or a set of blinds is a must. You can filter the light so your kayak doesn’t end up sun-drenched. 

Keep the Kayak Off Hard Surfaces 

Here’s another suggestion that’s applicable whether your kayak is indoors or out. Hard surfaces are not your kayak’s friend.

Why? For several reasons. 

If your kayak is standing upright with no supports, it could skid and fall to the ground, where it would be scratched, dinged, and otherwise damaged. 

Prolonged exposure to the hard ground can alter the shape of the kayak, especially if yours is a material that’s more malleable in temperature extremes. This can result in hull damage that will cause you to have to replace your kayak. 

The third reason your kayak should not be left on a hard surface is due to temperature fluctuations. If stored on grass or dirt, every time the ground freezes and unfreezes, the changes in temps and moisture can wreck your kayak more and more. Uninsulated indoor spaces such as garage floors are susceptible to temperature shifts as well, so be careful! 

Place Your Kayak Out of Sight

A kayak isn’t excessively lightweight, but it’s not so heavy that a thief couldn’t make off with yours if they really wanted to. 

What’s out of sight is out of mind, so ensure your kayak isn’t within a passerby’s line of sight. This is easier to do indoors than it is outdoors, but it’s doable in either scenario. 

Besides keeping your kayak hidden, it’s not a bad idea to secure it. You can pull a security cable such as a wire grab loop and cross it over the kayak, threading the cable through a fence or locking it to a wall in your garage. 

You can also secure the steering wheel lock over the cockpit. A thief would have to get the lock off to be able to steal your boat. As soon as they realize how much precious time this would take, they might be deterred from even trying. 

Put Your Kayak up on a Wall

Suspending your kayak during the offseason is a favorite storage method of many outdoor enthusiasts. You can hide your kayak and guarantee it doesn’t touch the ground all winter long, so it’s a win-win. 

You’ll need a kayak suspension system for hanging your boat. Depending on how high-end your suspension system is, you can buy one for $70 all the way to $700. We recommend purchasing at least a mid-priced suspension system. It will last longer than the cheap ones but isn’t excessively costly.

The biggest concern when using a kayak suspension system is distributing the weight of your boat properly. If the weight of the kayak is nearer the front or the rear, the hull can bend. We recommend nylon straps or padded cradles that follow the natural curve of the hull. Put the straps or cradles a third-down on either side of the kayak. 

Check the pressure of the suspension system straps before you walk away from your kayak for a while. If the straps are pulling too hard on the kayak, the areas that are being squeezed can lose their natural shape over the months ahead. 

Use a Kayak Rack

If you don’t have the wall space to suspend your kayak, that’s okay. You can always buy a kayak rack, which costs about $300 on average. If that price is too high for you, you can build your own kayak rack using scrap wood or metal if you’re especially crafty. 

Whether it’s store-bought or homemade, the kayak rack should be built to cradle the hull. This might require extra supports, but it’s worth it. You already know that the hull of your kayak can be rather sensitive to damage and that once it’s ruined, there’s often no using the kayak again. You’d have to shell out for a new one, so care well for your kayak! 

Inside or Outside – Which Is Better for Your Kayak?

As we said we would, let’s discuss the storage options for your kayak. Between indoor and outdoor storage, keeping your kayak indoors is preferable for a variety of reasons. 

Your kayak won’t be out in the elements during the coldest and most brittle parts of the year. Indoors, it’s shielded from direct sun, snowfall, rainfall, wind, hail, and other weather. Cold animals and critters are less likely to be able to access your kayak, making it a warm home and nest through the spring. 

Indoors, you also have the option for temperature control, such as a heated garage or a storage unit. Maintaining a comfortable temperature for your kayak all winter long can preserve its quality. 

That said, in some situations, your only kayak storage option might be outdoors. For the rest of this section, we’ll tell you the safest and securest ways to keep your kayak in one place whether it has overhead protection or not. 

How to Store Your Kayak Indoors

As we touched on in the paragraphs above, your garage is one such indoor place you might keep your kayak. You don’t necessarily need floor space for the kayak, mostly wall space. At the very least, you can stand the kayak up against the wall. The bottommost tip of the boat will be susceptible to temperature changes, which isn’t great, but it’s better than the whole kayak being on the ground. 

What’s even better is if you can affix a rack on your garage wall or a kayak suspension system for hanging it. Even putting your kayak up in your garage’s rafters is an option, although you should take care not to scratch the boat on the metal or wooden rafters.

What if your garage is 100 percent stuffed to the gills but you still want indoor storage for your kayak? Then you’re going to have to rent a storage unit. The standard size of a kayak is 10 feet long, so you’d only need a 10-foot by 10-foot storage unit, which is the average anyway. Per month, you might pay around $160 for the storage unit.

We want to again remind you to cover windows and other sources of direct sunlight so your kayak doesn’t sustain damage all winter long. Storage units will lock, but if your garage doesn’t have a lock, there’s never a better time than now to buy one.

It’s still a good idea to secure your kayak per the recommendations above. This way, even if someone broke into the storage unit or garage, they’d have a harder time walking away with your kayak.  

How to Store Your Kayak Outdoors 

When storing your kayak outdoors, many of the tips we’ve talked about throughout this guide are in play. As a reminder, you must keep your kayak out of the direct sun. You should also never put it on the ground. Overhead protection is best if you can find a means of providing it. Besides the above-mentioned awnings and trees, you can also use a tarp, a covered porch, or below a deck as protection.

Some kayak owners put a cover over their boats. One of these covers can run you between $200 and $300, so they’re not cheap, but they are worthwhile. Before buying your cover, double-check that it has UV resistance. If it doesn’t, then sunlight can penetrate right through the weave and damage your kayak.

Waterproofing is a must as well. Even though your kayak is designed for getting wet, if moisture builds up during the winter, the boat can get funky. A waterproof cover will help keep moisture out. 

You can strap your kayak to an exterior wall using bungees or straps. We recommend a cushion between the back of the kayak and the wall so your boat doesn’t scratch. You can also suspend your kayak outdoors as you would indoors, again using an exterior building. 

If you have a kayak rack you built or purchased but no room for in your garage or a storage unit, then put the rack outside with your kayak in it. 

What if none of those storage options are available? You have to protect your kayak from the cold hard ground, so use a few wooden planks and keep your kayak atop the planks. 

How to Winterize a Kayak

Where you store your kayak is but one part of the winterization process. Here are the rest of the steps to follow so your boat stays safe, sound, and ready to use next year! 

Take Out Cushions and Fabric Parts

Some kayaks are cushioned, so if yours is, all those fabric parts have to go. Take the cushions out and check the label on them. You might be able to machine-wash your cushions using a gentle cycle. Most cushions cannot dry in the dryer though, so you’ll have to line-dry them. 

Clean and Dry the Kayak

Next, it’s time to focus on the rest of the boat. Using water and mild dish detergent in a bottle, spray down your kayak. You can also use a bucket of soap and water and a damp cloth to clean your boat. Either way, make sure you get into all the little corners and edges of the kayak. 

Then rinse away the residue and buff it with a scrub brush. Release the drainage plug so any trapped water can come out before it freezes. Let the boat air-dry, ideally in the sun.

Check the Hull

With your kayak shiny and clean, it’s time to give it a once-over. Look at all sides of the boat for any indications of damage. If your kayak is free and clear, then you can store it until the spring or summertime.  

Final Thoughts

Storing a kayak is critical so yours can be a reliable vessel year after year. Indoor storage is best, but even with outdoor storage, you can keep your kayak in good shape if you take enough precautions. Best of luck! 

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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