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How to look after your kayak

kayaks on a rack

Kayaks are designed to be durable and take a beating in the great outdoors. This doesn't mean that your kayak doesn’t need any special attention though if you want to keep it in great condition. 

If you look after your kayak properly, you’ll be able to get many years of service from it. But if you don’t take the right precautions, your kayak might soon need replacing.

Luckily, looking after a kayak doesn’t require much effort. Just follow the steps and processes listed below for a happy kayak.

Preparing your kayak for use

When you take your kayak out of storage, you’ll need to make sure that it's ready for use. Before you just slide it straight into the water, be sure to do the following things. 

Check the hull for damage

An important part of maintaining your kayak is keeping the hull in perfect condition. Long-term storage can damage the hull of your kayak and cause it to warp. So when you take your kayak out of storage, carefully inspect the hulk for any strange shaping or possible cracks. Especially if you've recently been sea kayaking.

If the hull has warped, don’t worry. Leaving it out in the hot sun could cause a sunken hull to pop back into its original shape. 

Check all of the lines

The different lines, or rigging, on your kayak, can degrade over time - especially when left in storage. Before taking your kayak out to the water, inspect all of these lines to make sure they’re in good working condition.

This includes the rudder lines attached to the pedals, bungee cords, and perimeter lines. Rather replace damaged lines now, than be left on the water without a working rudder. 

kayaking on river

Make sure your emergency gear is fully stocked

It is important to maintain any emergency equipment you have in your kayak. This could include your first aid kit, repair kit, and bailout bag. If you used anything previously, then be sure to replace this.

Replace old parts

Before kayak season starts, you’ll want to make sure that all parts of your kayak are kept up to date. Think about any possible troubles you might have had with parts previously, and inspect all of your current equipment for any necessary upgrades. This could include anything from bulkheads to fishing rod holders. 

Maintaining your kayak in season

Looking after your kayak while you’re using it is essential. Here are some of the most important things to do during the time your kayak is in use. 

Clean your kayak after use

Try to spray down your kayak with a hose after each use. You don’t need to do a deep clean each time, but you want to remove any salt or built-up dirt. This will help prevent parts from corroding, or mold spreading. 

Kayaks are designed to be durable, but you should still try to keep them clean whenever possible. Giving them a proper scrub with soap once or twice a year is a good idea.

Protect your kayak from the sun

Overexposure to the sun's UV rays can cause lasting damage to your kayak. If you leave your kayak out in the sun all day, the plastic can start to weaken and even crack. The color of your kayak will also start to gradually fade. 

When not in use, try to keep your kayak in a shaded area. The best solution is to use a kayak cover, or just a piece of tarpaulin, to keep away the sun. 

Cover the kayak when not in use

Covering your kayak doesn’t only protect it from direct sunlight, it also helps to keep out pests, dirt, mold, mosquitos, and anything else. Nobody wants to hop into their kayak, only to find a family of spiders has taken refuge in the cockpit. Using a special kayak cover is the best option. 

Use a cart to carry the kayak

Always try to use a cart to carry your kayak down to the water. Not only will this make the process a whole lot easier, but it will also prevent your kayak from getting scratched and dented while being dragged along the ground. Kayak carts are seriously easy and convenient to use, and they can protect the hull of your kayak from major damage. 

kayak maintenance

Storing your kayak

When the seasons change and it's time to pack your kayak away, make sure to store it carefully with the right padding. Here are a few of the most important things to remember to keep your kayak in great condition while it's being stored. 

Clean the kayak completely

Before you pack your kayak away for long-term storage, give it a good clean. Use soap, a sponge, and finish by spraying it down completely with a hose. If there is any salt collected in the kayak, this can damage your vessel before you take it out again. Any dirt or mold will also only get worse during storage. The kayak will also need to be completely dry, otherwise, it could attract mold while being stored. 

Inspect your kayak

Before you pack the kayak away, give it a detailed inspection. If you find any damage on the hull, lines, or with any parts, now is the best time to get new parts and make repairs.

Use the right kayak storage solution

Finally, the way that you store your kayak is seriously important. Try to use a specialized kayak storage system, like a pulley or rack, whenever possible. This should keep your kayak safely and firmly in place while keeping it protected with padded straps. Again, keeping your kayak in a special storage bag is recommended.

Conclusion

That’s all it takes to keep your kayak in great condition. Keep it clean, keep it protected from the sun, and pay attention to any worn and weathered parts. 

You don’t have to keep your kayak looking brand new and shining, because it is designed for heavy outdoor use. If you just pay a bit of attention to how you maintain and store your kayak though, you’ll be able to enjoy your beloved watercraft for many years.