If you’ve invested in a kayak, it’s imperative that you find a way to store it properly to ensure it stays in good working condition. However, kayaks are pretty bulky, so finding a place to keep them can be challenging.
1. Free-Standing Racks
The simplest way to store a kayak is on a purpose-built kayak rack. You can buy them commercially at many major paddling retailers or build one yourself if you feel crafty.
The advantage of using a rack is that they allow you to lift your kayak off the ground. Doing so lowers the risk of damaging your kayak’s hull after extended exposure to dirt and moisture. Many racks also allow you to store multiple kayaks, which makes them a great space-saver.
Finding a model that allows you to store your kayak on its side or hull-side up is ideal because you want to avoid putting pressure on the hull whenever possible. If you’re building your own rack, consider adding felt padding to the rack arms for added protection.
2. Overhead Suspension Systems
If you’re short on space but want to store your kayak inside, a suspension system can be an excellent idea.
With this method, you effectively create a way to hang your kayak off the ceiling in your garage, which means it takes up no floor space in your home.
The downside to this system is that it can get quite complicated to build. You’ll also need to be sure that you’re attaching your kayak to the studs in your ceiling and not solely to any drywall. Furthermore, suspending a kayak above the ground is risky, so be sure you’ve securely clipped your kayak into the system to prevent any damage from falling out and hitting the ground.
The good news is that you can buy pre-made kayak hoisting kits if you’re not comfortable building your own.
3. Wall-Mounted Racks
If creating a suspension system for your kayak doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, mounting your boat to a wall might be a better choice.
For this method, you’ll either need to invest in a wall mount or build one yourself. The principle here is quite similar to a free-standing kayak rack, but you’ll directly attach your boat to the wall.
The main advantage of this system is that it clears up floor space in your garage. These mounts are also generally easier to install than a suspension system, and the risk of damaging your kayak is much lower.
However, if you build or buy a mount, get a model that allows you to store your kayak on its side or hull-side up to prevent warping the hull.
4. Portable Stands
A quick and straightforward way to store any kayak is to use portable boat stands. They can be set up anywhere you have space to stash your kayak.
If you choose to use portable boat stands, note that you should still store your kayak hull side up. For short-term storage of less than a week, storing your kayak on its hull isn’t a big deal. But, to prevent long-term damage, always go hull-side up.
5. Vertical Storage
Kayaks are long, awkwardly-shaped pieces of gear, so storing them upright can be a superb space-saver.
Do note, however, that storing a kayak upright poses some challenges. While many kayak retailers store their inventory vertically, you’ll need to devise a way to do so that puts little pressure on the end of your kayak.
You can do this by creating a “cradle” for your kayak that wraps around the bow and the stern. The lower part of the cradle should be small enough to support the kayak’s midsection and stop the bow from touching the ground.
Using this method requires caution, though. It puts a lot of pressure on one end of your kayak, which can deform the hull over time. Therefore, this is only recommended for short-term storage.
Kayak Storage Tips
Once you’ve sorted your storage system, keep the following tips in mind to ensure everything goes according to plan.
Clean Your Kayak
First things first, it’s important to clean your kayak before putting it into storage.
As a general rule, it’s good to rinse it off after each paddle to help stop invasive species spread.
However, frequent cleaning is also an essential part of boat maintenance. Over time, dirt and grime can dig their way into your kayak’s hull, causing it to wear out prematurely.
Furthermore, washing your kayak down frequently is of the utmost importance if you paddle on the ocean. Salt is extremely good at destroying outdoor gear because of its cubic crystalline shape.
Try to wash your kayak down fairly frequently, even just with water. Then, a few times a year, use mild soap to wash any grime away.
Do a Bow-to-Stern Inspection
If your kayak has many parts, it’s worth giving it a bow-to-stern check to ensure that everything is in ship shape before storing it.
Keep an eye out for any loose screws, particularly if your kayak has a lot of different components. If you find loose screws, don’t forget to oil them up before tightening them. Also, remember that the screws on your kayak should only be tightened by hand (don’t use a drill!), as over-tightening can damage your hull.
During your inspection, look for any signs of damage to the hull. Depending on the type of hull you have, many cracks and scratches can be repaired, but it’s better to know about these issues before the start of a new season.
Add UV Protection
If you have a hard-sided kayak, it’s also worth spraying it down with a protective UV spray before putting it into storage. Even if you store your kayak inside, regularly applying a protective coating of UV spray can help prevent your kayak from getting damaged throughout years of paddling.
It’s best to apply a UV protective spray coating to your kayak every few months. However, if you paddle frequently, you’ll want to reapply the spray whenever you notice that water stops beading off your hull.
Cover the Cockpit of Sit-in Kayaks
When it comes to storage, though, cockpit covers are a must, especially when storing a kayak outside. Cockpit covers prevent critters from making their new home in your kayak, which is sure to be an unpleasant surprise for everyone come springtime.
What to Avoid When Storing Your Kayak
As with anything in life, there are ways to store a kayak properly, and then there are some storage methods that aren’t as great. So now that you know what methods you should use, here are some things to avoid at all costs:
- Laying your kayak on a flat surface – While placing your kayak on the ground for short periods is usually not a problem, storing it there for weeks or months is a major no-no. Doing so significantly increases the risk that you’ll deform the hull of your kayak and shorten its lifespan.
- Using tight straps – Many kayak storage options involve strapping your boat to a rack. But it’s vital that you never over-tighten your straps. Overly tight straps put a lot of pressure on your kayak, which can cause the plastic or fiberglass hull to warp or crack.
- Hanging your kayak by the handles/grab loops – These handles are just for carrying, and suspending your boat from them will cause your kayak to bend over time.
- Leaving your kayak on a wheeled cart – Kayak carts are convenient but don’t make for good storage equipment. A cart puts a lot of pressure on one end of your kayak, which can cause damage in the long run.