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Master The Art Of Storing A Kayak Outside

Storing a kayak can be challenging. Kayaks are bulky and awkward, and storage requires planning.  Storing a kayak outside is an option that many people choose because they don’t have space indoors.

In this article, we will shed some light on storing a kayak outside so you can keep your vessel in good shape for years to come. There are some key elements to consider when choosing a good location, a suitable kayak mount, etc.  We will get into all of this and more, so stay tuned.

Find a good location

Finding a good location is crucial when it comes to storing your kayak outdoors.  You want the kayak to be protected from the elements and potential thieves. Let’s get into these topics next.

Out of the sun

Direct sunlight can wreak havoc on your kayak.  UV rays from the sun can damage just about any kind of hull material if given a chance.  It’s best to keep your kayak out of direct sunlight when you store your kayak outside. 

You can cover your kayak with a tarp, a kayak cover, or store your boat under a deck or covered patio. Sometimes you have to get a little creative, but there are ways to keep a kayak out of the sun.

Out of plain sight

If it’s possible, keep your kayak out of sight.  This might not always be the easiest thing to do, given your outdoor space.  Ensure you lock your kayak up to keep thieves away, or at least deter them from stealing your yak.

Watch for moisture

Yes, your kayak is meant to be used on water, just not stored with water in it.  Take the necessary steps to store your kayak in an area that will not lead to moisture damage.  If moisture builds up in your boat, you might sprout a garden of mold and fungus, which can degrade your kayak over time. 

Where to store a kayak outside

Use your fence

If you have some DIY skills, using your existing fence posts is a great place to install a kayak mount outdoors. Here are some great options to choose from. 

Fence posts are typically pretty darn sturdy and would be a great spot to anchor a kayak mount.  Just be sure the kayak mounting brackets, or cradles, are spaced so you can distribute the weight of your kayak evenly.

Under a deck

If you have a deck and have the space to store your kayak, this is a great place to store your kayak outside for a couple of reasons. First, your kayak is likely to be out of direct sunlight if it’s stored under a deck. Second, there are many options for mounts or kayak racks you can use under a deck.

Storing a kayak outside - kayak under a deck

If your deck is tall enough, you can use a ceiling-mounted kayak rack or pulley, which is excellent for keeping your kayak off the ground and out of the way. You can also use a wall mount, attach the cradles to the deck posts or the house’s wall.

Freestanding

Freestanding kayak racks are a great option since they don’t require DIY skills.  Many freestanding kayak racks allow you to store multiple vessels, and you may still have room for your accessories, like paddles. 

Freestanding racks often come with wheels, so you can move them around where you need them. You can also cover the whole thing with a tarp to keep your boats dry and protected from the sun and other elements.

DIY

There are a lot of DIY options when it comes to storing a kayak outdoors. If you don’t already have an existing wooden fence post or deck to secure a kayak rack, too, you have options.

You could dig a couple of holes, drop in some 4×4 posts, fill in the holes with concrete and viola; you have a solid structure to attach your kayak mount to.

You can also do something simple like use sawhorses with wooden planks (2×4’s) across them to lay your kayak on (hull side up). You will need four saw horses to make this work.  If you have multiple kayaks, longer planks will serve you well. 

You can adjust the sawhorses so that the kayaks’ weight is evenly distributed when you store them. Just make sure the kayaks are covered and strapped down so they won’t blow off in the wind.

How to store a kayak outside

Now that we have discussed different places to store your kayak outside, it’s time for some best practices to store your kayak outside.

Clean your kayak

One thing that is important before you store your kayak is to make sure it’s clean.  Depending on the waterway, your kayak can end up with mud, salt, or other grime that you want to clean off before storing.

Cleaning can be as simple as rinsing your kayak with fresh water, or you might need to use a little elbow grease, depending on how dirty it is. It’s good to occasionally use soap and water for deep cleaning, especially if you store the kayak for an extended period, like over the winter.

Make sure you get all the nooks and crannies, including foot braces, rudders, cables, etc.  You might be able to remove your seat and clean it thoroughly as well. Let everything dry before you put it away, and then you are good to go.

Use a kayak storage rack

When you store a kayak outside, please don’t just lay it on the ground.  Use a rack to get your kayak off the ground, out of the mud, and away from critters. 

We touched on this before, but there are many different options for kayak storage racks. There are freestanding, wall mount, ceiling mount racks.  If you can store your kayak under a deck, you can use any of these options, and your kayak will be protected from the sun and other elements.

You can use a wall mount rack and attach it to a fence post, or the side of your house, or shed. This method might require you to purchase a kayak cover to keep rain, sunlight, and pests at bay.

Using a solid, well-built storage rack will help protect your kayak and keep it in good shape for years to come.

On the side of hull up

When it comes to positioning your kayak on a rack, there are different ways to do it.  Most of the time, it’s best to store the boat hull side up with recreational kayaks. This way, you won’t risk warping the hull of the boat. 

When you use a cradle or wall mount style kayak rack, your kayak will be stored on its side.  This is okay too. If you plan on storing the kayak for a long time, you can rotate it once a month or so. That way, one side isn’t always carrying the load.

Distribute weight evenly

However you decide to store your kayak outside, it is essential to distribute the kayak’s weight evenly.  Kayak hulls can deform over time if the weight is not evenly distributed. 

You should store the boat at even points along the length of the kayak, with padded cradles or nylon straps. A good rule of thumb is to support your about one-third of the way from each end.

When you are building or installing a kayak rack outdoors, make sure the supports, or cradles, are appropriately spaced for even weight distribution. 

Strap your kayak down

When you store a kayak outside, your boat must be securely tied down, so it doesn’t get blown around in the wind. Different kayak racks often come with nylon straps so you can keep the boat secured to the mount. 

Cover it up

We touched on this before; you don’t want to just leave your kayak exposed to the direct sunlight and other elements like rain or snow.  You can use a tarp, but don’t cover your kayak too tightly with a tarp. Instead, create a shelter, like a tent. That way, any moisture that might get in can dry out.

Things to avoid when storing a kayak outside

Don’t leave it on the ground

You probably spent a decent amount of money on a kayak, so it’s a good idea to take care of it.  Don’t just toss it on the ground and forget about it.  Your kayak will be exposed to weather and can quickly become a home for unwelcome guests if you not careful.

Wet ground, mud, freezing, and thawing can all be really hard on your kayak.  Store it on a rack off the ground to help keep it functioning well for years to come.

Keep it out of the way

Try to store your kayak out of well-traveled areas.  If you store the vessel under a deck or on a rack-mounted to a fence, make sure you will not run into or knock the kayak off the rack when you walk by. 

Also, try not to store the kayak in the way of items you use regularly. You don’t want to knock the kayak down or damage it, trying to get something you need.

Watch out for wildlife

You don’t need wildlife, rodents, or pests taking up residence in your kayak. This is one reason why it is essential to keep your kayak off the ground when you store it outdoors.  You might want to consider a cockpit cover to keep critters away. You can also add moisture-absorbing pads or packets before you seal up the cockpit.

Take precautions

Storing a kayak outdoors is great because it frees up space in your garage or shed. Of course, if you don’t have a garage or shed, you might not have any other option but to store your vessel outside. There are some precautions to take when you store a kayak outside. 

Lock your kayak

Protecting your kayak from thieves is important. You probably spent a lot of money on a kayak, so it’s worth looking it up. 

There are different ways to lock your boat depending on the type of kayak you own.  A sit-on-top kayak has scupper holes, and you can run a cable lock through those and lock the kayak to a post. 

You might have molded carry handles, and that is another good way to lock up your kayak.  If you have multiple kayaks, locking them together makes it much harder for a thief to take off with your boats.

Other tips for storing a kayak outside

  • If you have a removable fabric seat, take it out
  • Remove your accessories, like paddles, life jackets, etc. and try to store them indoors
  • Clean out your storage hatches

Conclusion

Store a kayak outside - kayaks on the beach

If you follow some simple guidelines when you store your kayak, it will last for years to come. Kayaks are awkward and can be challenging to store.  Storing a kayak outside requires a little bit of planning. 

To recap, try to avoid storing your kayak in direct sunlight, keep your kayak locked up and remember to distribute the boat’s weight evenly.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Steve Morrow Founder of Paddle About
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steve is an avid kayaker and founder of Paddle About. When he is not on the water, Steve enjoys outdoor activities, including fishing, camping, and hiking with his family. Read more.