Tips for Maintaining Your Kayak
For most paddlers, a kayak isn’t a small investment. It takes time to research and settle on a kayak that’s right for you and your budget. With any investment, you want it to have longevity and be usable for years to come.
The secret to keeping your kayak in good shape for a long time, is getting in a habit of routine kayak care and maintenance. Don’t let that intimidate you, though, it’s not rocket-science and you don’t need a PhD!
Recommended Kayak Care and Maintenance
The care and maintenance of your kayak is relatively simple if you take the time to do it regularly. Here are some tips to keeping your kayak in top-shape.
Keep It Clean
This might be a no-brainer for some, but you’d be surprised what dirt, sand, and other residues can do to your boat if not regularly removed. They can naturally erode and damage your kayak’s hull and interior, therein making the boat not perform as well as it should on the water.
Save yourself the most time by cleaning your kayak after each outing. Taking a hose to the exterior and a wet rag around any storage compartments makes sure nothing is solidifying and becoming harder to remove later on. For best preservation, using a soap that’s meant for boats, or RV's even, will allow any sealants and protective coatings to last longer.
Test Things Out
Over time, pieces of deck equipment like your hatch seals or bungee cord deck riggings will give out due to exposure. Even your foot pegs can get stuck or moved out of place by pesky debris. To ensure nothing fails you when out on the water, routinely check and inspect these smaller items.
A good time to look over everything and test things out is at the end of your kayaking season. This will allow you to have time to get replacements or make repairs, so you’re prepared the next time you head out kayaking.
BKC Tip: As soon as you receive your kayak it is recommended to spray the chair (chair strap + chair rest top and bottom) and any straps (rudder ropes/ rudder pulleys/ bungees) with an outdoor fabric UV protection spray. This will resist the drying effect that saltwater and sunlight have on these components and reduce tearing/ripping of the material. We recommend applying this at the beginning, middle, and end of every kayaking season.
Protect It from UV Rays
Whether you’re into multi-day paddling adventures or quick spins on the lake when you have the time, your kayak will see the sun for several hours at some point. Eventually, this wears on it, and you’ll begin to see signs of aging if you don’t care for it properly.
Your kayak’s best defense against the sun is a plastic UV protectant, or a good marine wax/polish if your kayak is made out of a material like fiberglass or a composite plastic. Check your kayak’s make-up to best inform which UV protectant will work best for you.
These UV protectant options are easy to apply on your own with a cloth or large sponge. Make sure you’ve thoroughly cleaned the kayak before applying the protectant. You’ll know when it’s time to reapply when water stops beading on the deck or upper hull of your yak.
We recommend applying an UV protectant to the kayak at the beginning and end of the season which will protect the HDPE hull from being dried out via UV exposure and make the hull last much longer. This will also help avoid any cracking in the hull.
BKC Tip: we recommend that you waterproof your kayaks at the end of your first season, and the beginning of each season thereafter. This can be done by removing all screwed-on hardware, applying a layer of marine silicone sealant underneath the hardware as well as to the threads, then fasten the hardware back on. The silicone should be left to dry in a dark and dry area for 24 hours after the application.
Store It Properly
Sitting for long periods of time in the wrong conditions or position can wreak havoc on the condition of your kayak. Protecting the shape and condition of the hull is usually most paddlers' concern when it comes to kayak storage to avoid damage. Here are some kayak storage tips to best preserve your kayak:
- Store it elevated and supported by the cockpit on well-padded brackets
- Suspend it with nylon straps balanced near the bulkheads to minimize stress to the hull
- If storing on the ground, lean it up so the cockpit is against the wall and flip the side of the cockpit it’s resting on regularly so nothing warps
- Cover your kayak with a tarp or store it where it won’t get much sunlight
- Find a temperature-controlled space where it won’t get too damp
Just like you tune up your car or bicycle regularly, you should have a routine for caring and maintaining your kayak. It might add some time to the beginning or end of your trip, but it’s worth it when you can get years of use out of your yak.