How Long Do Kayaks Last? (You Might Be Surprised)

If you’re in the market for a kayak, you may be wondering how long they last.

How do you know which kayaks are built to last? And what factors affect kayak longevity?

This blog post will answer all of those questions and more.

We’ll discuss the main factors affecting how long kayaks last and give tips for choosing a kayak that will stand the test of time.

How Long Do Kayaks Last?

The materials and the quality of construction play a significant role in how long a kayak will last. In addition, proper care and storage can increase the lifespan. A kayak can last ten years or more with proper care and storage. Most modern kayaks are polyethylene, an inexpensive, durable material, and these kayaks can withstand years of use. However, UV radiation from the sun can degrade the materials over time, so it’s essential to maintain the kayak properly. Following some simple tips, you can enjoy your kayak for many years.

How Do You Know Which Kayaks Are Built To Last?

When shopping for a kayak, there are a few things to look for that will indicate the kayak’s longevity.

First, check the warranty. A longer warranty usually means the manufacturer is confident in the durability of their product.

Second, look for a kayak made of durable, high-quality materials. Polyethelene is popular because it’s inexpensive and very durable. Polyethylene kayaks don’t require much maintenance and can still last for years.

A fiberglass kayak can last a lifetime if you know how to fix and maintain it.

Price can play a factor also. Of course, spending a fortune on a kayak doesn’t automatically guarantee it lasts longer than a cheap one, but you can certainly get a good idea.

For example, a $199 off-brand kayak from a big box store will likely not last as long as a $2,500 kayak from a well-known manufacturer. The well-known manufacturer will most likely offer a better warranty too.

Finally, check the reviews and forums from customers who have had them for several years. You can find great information on forums from people using the kayaks.

These are all excellent indicators of choosing a kayak built to last.

What Factors Affect Kayak Longevity?

Kayaks on the grass in a parkPin
Source: Paddle About

Several factors affect how long a kayak lasts. The most crucial factor is the material and construction of the kayak.

For example, polyethylene is a durable material that will last many years if you take care of it.

Same with fiberglass, which can literally last a lifetime if you know how to take care of it.

The second factor is how well the kayak is cared for and stored when not in use.

If the kayak is stored in a dry, covered place, it will last longer than if left out in the sun and left for dead. However, exposure to weather conditions like freezing temperatures can decrease a kayak’s lifespan.

How often you use the kayak can also impact how long it will last. For example, if you paddle every weekend, the kayak is exposed to UV rays, which can degrade the material.

But that’s the nature of the beast. You buy a kayak to use it, not sit in your garage. Or at least that’s the idea.

Tips for Taking Care of Your Kayak To Increase Its Lifespan

A big part of keeping your kayak in tip-top shape is properly cleaning and storing it when you’re not using it.

If you paddle on salt water, rinse the boat with fresh water as soon as possible. Same thing if you have grime or mud on the boat, it’s best to get that stuff off as soon as possible before you store the kayak.

If needed, you should also clean the kayak with soap and water, which will help to remove any salt, dirt, or grime that could damage the kayak over time.

303 Protectant is a UV protectant that helps extend the lifespan of your kayak by protecting it from sun damage.

You can apply 303 Protectant to the hull, hatches, deck, rubber seals, deck lines, etc. It’s kind of like sunscreen for your kayak.

It’s important to reapply it regularly, especially if you live in an area with a lot of sun exposure. 303 protectant is available at most marine supply stores and is relatively inexpensive.

Another way to increase the lifespan of your kayak is to avoid leaving it exposed to the sun for long periods. So, if you’re not using your kayak, store it in a garage or shed.

If you don’t have a garage or shed and need to store the kayak outdoors, make sure you cover the kayak with a tarp or kayak cover to help protect the boat from UV damage.

Proper storage will help prevent the materials from breaking down and cracking due to prolonged exposure to sunlight.

In addition, inspect your kayak for any cracks, holes, or other damage. If you find any damage, repair it immediately to prevent further issues.

These simple steps will help you get the most out of your kayak and enjoy many years of paddling.

How To Repair a Damaged Kayak?

One way to increase the lifespan of your kayak is to know how to repair cracks, dents, or other stuff that comes up.

Many modern kayaks are made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) because it’s inexpensive and durable.

Other HDPE products include 5-gallon plastic buckets and lids. In addition, you can find many HDPE products at your local hardware store, which can be used to repair holes, cracks, and gouges in your kayak.

Here is a video on fixing a large hole.

Many videos are available to show you how to repair a kayak. The point is that if you can fix some of these issues yourself, you can save money and keep paddling your kayak for years.

Storing a Kayak the Right Way To Increase Its Lifespan

In case we haven’t hammered this point home, one of the best ways to increase the lifespan of your kayak is to store it properly when you’re not using it.

That means storing the kayak out of direct sunlight.

If you have a garage or shed, that’s ideal. If not, you can buy a kayak cover or tarp to help protect the kayak from UV damage.

There are plenty of options for storing a kayak in your garage, including ceiling mounts and kayak wall hangers.

If you store the kayak outdoors, you can also use a wall mount; just make sure you cover the kayak to keep it out of harmful UV rays. Replacing a tarp now and then is a lot cheaper than replacing your kayak.

By following these simple tips, you can get many years of enjoyment out of your

Transporting a Kayak the Right Way

If you want your kayak to last for years, it’s essential to transport it properly.

Honestly, transporting a kayak can be a bit of a challenge. It’s important to do it right to keep your kayak in good shape for years.

First, don’t overtighten the straps – you don’t want to damage the hull. If your straps are too tight, it can put undue stress on the kayak. Preferably use a buckle-type strap to secure the kayak. Sometimes people use cam straps which are easy to overtighten.

Second, use bow and stern tie downs to secure the kayak. This will help to prevent it from falling off your car if another strap fails.

The last thing you want is for your kayak to bounce up and down the highway and possibly hit another vehicle. That’s an excellent way to say “bye-bye” to your kayak.

Using a high-quality roof rack with J-cradles is an excellent option.

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Another awesome way to transport your kayak (or kayaks) is with a kayak trailer. A kayak trailer is easy to load and unload; no lifting a kayak overhead onto the roof of your car.

However you transport your kayak, remember to use bow and stern lines and don’t overtighten your straps.


How long do kayaks last? As you can see, a few variables factor into how long a kayak will last. However, there are also things you can do to increase the lifespan of your kayak.

One of the most important things is storing your kayak properly and safely transporting it. With a bit of care, you can enjoy paddling your kayak for many years.

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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.