How to Winterize a Kayak – Simple Steps to Protect Your Boat

Winter will be here before we know it.

The cold weather can be tough on your kayak. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with easy steps to winterize it and protect it from the elements.

Follow these simple steps and keep your kayak in pristine condition all winter long. Get started today by following the steps below!

Why should you winterize your kayak?

A cold, harsh winter takes a toll on even the most robust material. By winterizing your kayak, you’re protecting its longevity and guaranteeing it is ready to use again in spring when the world warms up once again.

Winterizing a kayak is a simple process that can be quickly done in an afternoon with these steps. 

How to winterize your kayak

Below are some simple steps you can take to protect your kayak from the cold, harsh winter. Following these steps won’t take too long, and you will be ready to paddle again in the spring.

Inspect the kayak hull for signs of damage

Check for damage before you store the kayak. This will allow you to repair the damage if needed before storing it. If you notice any damage, have it fixed before storage.  The last thing you want is to store your kayak and find damage when you head out in the spring.

Check all of your riggings

Check your bungee tie-downs and all cords and ropes and replace any that might be frayed or not secure. Watch for any eyelets that might have come unscrewed as well.

Make sure to check the cords that go from your deck rails to your kayak. There should be no items hanging from eyelets or straps. Check any lines that might have come undone as well.

Remove all of your accessories

Remove all of your gear from the kayak. Make sure to remove any items that are attached with ropes or straps. This includes paddles, seats, life jackets, and other accessories.  Make sure you properly secure these items before storing them in a separate area.

If there is any water trapped inside storage compartments, use a sponge to soak it all out. Then, use paper towels and a fan to dry out the compartments. You don’t want any water trapped in these areas when you store the kayak.

Remove any fishing rod holders, fish finders, or other accessories that could be damaged if you bump into them. You don’t want accessories sticking out when your kayak is in storage.

Clean the kayak inside and out

Clean out any dirt, grass, debris, or other junk from the kayak. Use a hose to remove any residue and clean it up before storage.  This will allow you to store your kayak with peace of mind that it is clean and ready for use next spring.

Use a protectant

Using a spray like 303 Protectant is a simple way to protect your kayak from the harsh elements and keep it looking great. It will also help prevent staining of materials.

Spray the hull, deck, and any other areas that are exposed to the elements. Make sure you shake any cans of protectant before use and apply it in a light, even mist, for best results.

After applying 303 Protectant, wipe off any excess with a clean cloth or paper towel. Let the kayak sit overnight before storing to allow the product to do its job.

Store in a dry, covered area

Make sure to store your kayak in a place with moderate temperatures and low humidity for best results. The ideal environment is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit and has the same relative humidity throughout the year. 

A basement or outdoor storage (garage or shed) can work well if you have one available that meets these requirements. You want to avoid having the kayak damaged by water or snow buildup overtime when storing this way.

If you’re storing your kayak indoors, make sure it is in a location that is protected using a storage rack or wall mount. Tossing your kayak on the ground for the winter is not a good idea.

Using a cover is recommended for storing outdoors. In addition, consider investing in a kayak storage rack that will allow you to store multiple items safely and securely.

If storing outdoors, rely on natural barriers to protect your kayak. This includes using trees and bushes to protect against snowdrifts and other natural elements that can cause damage to your kayak.

No matter what you choose, make sure it is a storage area that will hold up well during the winter months. It should also be large enough for you to store everything you need when not in use.

How to winterize an inflatable kayak

Winterizing an inflatable kayak is simple and doesn’t take long. The whole process can be done in an afternoon with a few essential tools and supplies.

Sea Eagle 380X kayak on the waterPin

Check for damage

Check your boat for any holes, rips, or tears. You’ll want to repair all of these before storing your kayak for the winter. Use a waterproof vinyl repair kit to make sure that the leaks are repaired properly.

Your inflatable kayak might have come equipped with one. If not, you can reach out to the manufacturer to see what they recommend.  When using these kits, it’s crucial to ensure the area is completely sealed off from water.

Clean everything off

It’s essential to clean off any dirt, grime, mud, or saltwater. If you don’t clean your inflatable kayak, it can cause damage and deterioration over time. 

You can clean off any dirt, debris, or saltwater with a hose and fresh water, and mild soap if needed on the outside of the kayak. Be sure to take this step before sealing it up and storing it away for the winter.

Dry off the inside and outside

Take out all of your accessories and remove all excess water from the inside of the kayak. You want everything completely dry before you store it for the season.

Use a desiccant bag or similar item to help draw moisture out of the boat after cleaning it properly with fresh water. If you have the option, use a vacuum to suck out any excess moisture from inside the kayak.

Before you store the kayak long-term for the winter, you need to make sure it is completely dry before you fold it up.

Apply spray on the outside of your boat

This will help protect it from decay and aid in maintaining great looks from season to season. The options for protecting your inflatable kayak are many, but an all-purpose spray works best for most boats.

Spray the hull, deck, and all other areas that are exposed to the elements. Make sure you shake any cans of protectant before use and apply it in a light, even mist. After applying 303 Protectant, wipe off excess with a clean rag or towel.

Deflate the kayak

Take the time to properly deflate your kayak, including the inflatable seats. Disassemble any other parts that need to be taken out to store more compactly for winter storage.

Storing your kayak fully deflated will reduce the amount of space it takes up when you’re not using it, making it ideal for long-term storage.

Roll up your inflatable kayak

If you have a removable skeg, now is the time to remove it. Then, store it separately with your other accessories for maximum protection.

Fold your boat so that the skeg plate is flat. You don’t want to damage this area.  Start at the opposite end from your valves. This will help to force extra air out.

This will help you get a nice, tight fold that’s easy to store and put away in the winter. You can also roll your kayak over to aid with this process if it is an option.

Store in a dry place

It’s essential to store your kayak in a dry area that won’t get wet or damaged from the elements. The best place to store your inflatable kayak will be in a garage, shed, basement, or any other place that is sheltered from harsh winter elements.

Check out our detailed article for cleaning and storing an inflatable kayak.


Winterizing your kayak (inflatable or hardshell) is a great way to protect it from the cold and maintain its longevity. This process doesn’t take long and can be done in an afternoon with simple steps.

Winterizing a kayak is the best way to protect it during the cold months. It’s easy enough to winterize your kayak before storing it, so don’t wait too late. Winterization will help your kayak to last longer and look better.

Letting a boat sit in the elements during winter storage can cause cracks, scratches, and dents that can ruin the aesthetics of the kayak.

Photo of author
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.