Can A Kayak Melt In The Sun? (The Surprising Answer)

Can a kayak melt in the sun? The answer may surprise you.

Kayaks are made of durable materials but can still be damaged by the sun. Exposure to direct sunlight for an extended period can cause the kayak to warp and deform.

This blog post will discuss the dangers of leaving your kayak in the sun and some tips on protecting it from damage.

Can A Kayak Melt In The Sun?

You will not end up with a puddle of plastic on the ground, but kayaks can soften and deform in the sun. Kayaks are made from a variety of materials. Polyethylene is popular because it’s inexpensive, durable, and widely available. Polyethylene can soften and deform with the right (or wrong) conditions, especially if the kayak is strapped down too tight. The weather doesn’t have to be extremely hot either. Just hot enough for the plastic to soften, tight straps can do the rest of the damage.

The Dangers Of Leaving Your Kayak In The Sun

I am sure you enjoy hot sunny days on the water, but the sun can be intense.

Kayakers who leave their boats in the sun for extended periods risk damaging their precious vessel.

The heat and UV rays can cause plastic and other materials to degrade, making your kayak more susceptible to cracks, leaks, and deforming.

In addition, the sun can wreak havoc on the seats and other kayak parts.

Folks who kayak in hot climates need to take special care to protect their boats from the sun.

If you are not using your boat, kayaks should be stored in a cool, shady place.

Kayaks should also be covered with a tarp or other material to protect them from the sun’s rays.

By taking these precautions, kayakers can help ensure that their boats will be safe and comfortable for years to come.

Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 in the sunPin
Source: Paddle About

Kayak Oil Canning

Kayaks are often subjected to oil canning, which leaves a large indentation on the hull.

When the bottom of the kayak is supported, like on cross bars, and the bow and stern lines are overly tight, the boat is bent against its natural shape. High temperatures and sun exposure often contribute to the problem.

Sometimes the hull is left with a dent. This is called oil canning.

The severity of oil canning depends on several factors, including the type of kayak, the thickness of the hull material, and the amount of stress being applied to the kayak hull.

You can often reverse oil canning by heating the area with a hair dryer or heat gun, and the dents will pop out.

What Can I Do To Prevent Kayak Oil Canning?

There are a few things kayakers can do to prevent oil canning.

First, avoid leaving your kayak in the sun for extended periods.

If you must leave it in the sun, try to find a shady spot or cover it with a tarp.

Finally, ensure all straps and pressure points are properly adjusted to avoid unnecessary stress on the kayak.

How To Protect A Kayak From The Sun

The sun can be harsh on kayaks. The heat and UV rays can cause the kayak to become brittle and eventually break down.

There are a few things you can do to avoid these problems.

One is to keep the kayak out of direct sunlight as much as possible.

If it is in the sun, make sure it is well-covered with a tarp or kayak cover.

Another way to protect a kayak from the sun is to apply a UV-resistant coating like 303 Protectant, which is kind of like sunscreen for your kayak.

303 Protectant won’t prevent your kayak from melting but can help extend the life from damaging UV rays.

Taking these simple precautions can help ensure that your kayak will last for many years.

What To Do If Your Kayak Melts

If your kayak does melt, there are a few things you can do to try to repair it.

First, try heating the area with a hair dryer or heat gun. This might help to pop the dent out. You can also reshape some dents from inside the kayak if the plastic is warm enough.

Yes, the same heat that can damage your kayak can also help repair it.

In the case of oil canning, you can try leaving the kayak in the sun with the hull side up, which in many cases, the hull will pop back into shape.

Storing Your Kayak Outside

Storing your kayak in a garage or shed is a great way to keep your kayak safe, secure, and out of the sun, but not everyone has a garage or shed.

So, if you must store your kayak outdoors, there are some things you can do to protect your yak from the sun, so it doesn’t melt.

If you have a deck with enough space to store your kayak underneath, the deck can help protect the kayak from harmful UV rays.

You can attach the kayak to the underside of the deck with a ceiling mount, or you can attach kayak wall mounts to the deck posts to cradle the kayak.

You may need to use straps to keep the kayak in place on a wall mount. Just make sure the straps and extremely tight. Again, we are not trying to squeeze blood from a turnip.

You can attach a kayak cradle to a fence post if you don’t have a deck.

But first, you need to protect the kayak from the sun with a tarp or kayak cover. Tarps are cheap and easy to find, and they will protect your kayak from the sun and weather.

Kayak covers are also great because they fit snugly over the kayak. In addition, many kayak covers have elastic sewn into the material for a nice snug fit.

Some kayak manufacturers sell a kayak cover that is explicitly designed to fit their kayaks.

There are various solutions to storing your kayak outside and protecting it from the sun simultaneously.

The worst thing you can do is toss the kayak in your backyard, unprotected, on the ground. But, after all, you probably spent a pretty penny, so why not protect your investment?

Transporting Your Kayak

It’s a nice hot day, and you can’t wait to get your kayak to the lake to start paddling.

You toss your kayak on top of your car and strap it down nice and tight. You get to the lake and notice a significant dent on the bottom of your kayak. Ruh-roh!

To help keep your kayak in tip-top shape, you must take care of it when transporting it, especially when it is hot.

Oil canning is one of the issues you might have if you are not carefully transporting your kayak, but if it’s hot and you are aggressive with tie downs, the kayak can deform too.

Roof racks are a great way to transport kayaks. However, adding J-cradles is even better. J-cradles help to distribute the kayak’s weight, and with J-cradles, you are strapping the kayak on the side where it is strongest.

Here are some other great articles to learn more about transporting kayaks.

Transporting your kayak in a truck

The best kayak trailers on the market

How to transport a kayak without a roof rack

No matter how you transport your kayak, don’t use cam straps to tighten your kayak because it’s easy to overtighten them.


Can a kayak melt in the sun? The surprising answer is yes, but there are things you can do to prevent your kayak from deforming.

Taking simple precautions outlined in this article can help keep your kayak in good shape for years to come. And, if your kayak does melt, there are ways to repair it.

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About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.