How to Store a Kayak: Ultimate Guide

How to Store a Kayak: Ultimate Guide

Whether you’re already an avid outdoor adventurer or just starting to dip your toes into the kayaking world, consider buying your own watercraft. But before you do, it’s important to think about the less glamorous aspects of kayak ownership: where and how to store a kayak.

As you finish up your adventures on the water or the kayaking season comes to an end, you’re left wondering how to store your kayak properly. Beginners to kayaking and seasoned experts alike can benefit from knowing how to store their kayaks. From the best way to store a kayak outdoors to other advice on storing your kayak in the long and short-term, the following tips will ensure you can use your kayak for many seasons to come.

Most people don’t know how to store a kayak, partly because doing so requires some forethought. The worst thing you could do with a kayak is to drag it to the side of the garage and leave it on the ground for the entire winter. Not only do you risk theft and pest infestations, but you may also cause permanent, irreversible damage that can leave your vessel unusable. That might sound a bit extreme, but unfortunately, this method of storage is pretty standard for first-time owners of kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, and other small boats.Kayaks are big and bulky, making storage a challenge. But don’t let that deter you from figuring out a good place to put your kayak; proper storage will keep your kayak in tip-top shape and protected from damage.

Where to Store Your Kayak

If you have an inflatable or folding kayak, storage is simple; you can loosely roll or fold your boat up and stash it in a cool, dry place. But, if you have a traditional hard-shell kayak, the size and heft of the boat can make it challenging to find a spot to store it.

When thinking about where to keep your boat, remember that a good location is one that limits exposure to sunlight, moisture and extreme temperatures:

  • Sunlight: The ultraviolet rays that accompany bright sunlight can degrade just about any kayak hull material, from fiberglass to plastic to coated fabric.
  • Moisture: Consistent exposure to moisture from rain and snow can cause hull materials to degrade over time.
  • Heat: Extreme heat can cause deformation of hull materials, so it’s important to keep your boat away from heat sources, out of rooms that get really warm and away from direct sunlight.
  • Cold: Cold temperatures aren’t as big of a concern as heat, but repeated freezing and thawing can potentially damage your boat. This is especially pertinent if you have a fiberglass boat that has been repeatedly exposed to moisture during storage.

Storage Locations

You have two options: indoors or out.

Indoor storage: If you have the room to do so, keeping your kayak indoors, whether that’s in your house, garage or a shed, is the preferred option because of the protection it offers from the elements.

Outdoor storage: For many people, especially those who live in small spaces like an apartment or condo, indoor storage just isn’t feasible. Outdoor spots, like under a deck, below the eaves of a roof or beneath a strung-up tarp, are all suitable options for protecting your boat. As you look for the right outdoor spot, think about these points:

  • Shoot for shade: Try to find a shaded spot outside to protect your boat from UV rays and heat. If shade is limited or not available, use a weather-resistant tarp that will cover the entire hull at all times of day. Suspend the tarp above the hull rather than simply wrapping the tarp around the boat; direct contact with the hull can promote mold or fungal growth in wet environments.
  • Protect against moisture: Make sure rain and snow can’t collect in or on the boat. If you’re suspending a tarp above the boat, be sure the tarp won’t fill up and press down on the hull, which can deform the boat.

More:The 8 Best Inflatable Fishing Kayaks of 2023


You love the freedom and adventure that comes with kayaking, so you should take steps to care for your kayak. Properly storing your kayak will help it last longer because it will:

  • Protect it from the elements: Rain, snow and sun can all have an impact on your kayak. Store your kayak properly, and you’ll prevent damage, warping, fading and other issues that the weather can cause.
  • Prevent damage and distortion: While the elements can damage your kayak, the way you store it can, too. Properly storing your kayak will prevent dents, distortion and other damage on its sides or bottom.
  • Protect it from theft: You must also be sure to protect your kayak from theft. Proper storage in a locked area will keep your kayak safe and away from anyone who may want to take it.
  • Keep you and others safe: If you were to hang a kayak incorrectly, whether on the ceiling, wall or another surface, you risk it falling on yourself or others. Even if you’re lucky enough that no one is near the kayak when it falls, it could be damaged as a result.

How to Store a Kayak Outdoors

When it comes to storing a kayak outside, many people make the mistake of wrapping the entire boat in a tarp and plopping it outside. The problem with this is that moisture can get underneath the tarp and cause the kayak to get musty. (That won’t be a fun experience to deal with when kayak season starts up again!)

If you plan to store your kayak outdoors during the off-season, don’t wrap it too tightly with a tarp. Instead, create a sheltered area where you can store the kayak under. A simple way to do this is to create a tent-like structure using a tarp and some PVC pipe. The tent shape lets any rain or excess water drain right off the sides of the tarp, leaving your kayak protected and untouched.

To protect the inside of your kayak from rodents or pests, pay close attention to the cockpit. Consider purchasing a specially made cover that tightly wraps around this area. Toss in some moisture-absorbing packets before sealing off the interior with a cover.

Crucial Tips for Outdoor Kayak Storage

  • Remove any fabric seating or compartments and store these components separately. Anything with fabric can get infiltrated with bugs or rodents.
  • Store the kayak off the ground on a designated rack.
  • Protect the kayak from direct sunlight. Too much exposure can damage the exterior and warp the kayak.
  • Don’t forget to lock the kayak to a secure structure like a garage or shed. Also, store the kayak out of sight, like behind the garage.
  • Remember that direct exposure to UV light can cause unexpected damage and color fading. Always store your kayak in a shaded or covered area.
  • Never leave a kayak flat on the ground for an extended period. Doing so could result in the kayak becoming warped or misshapen.


When your kayak won’t be hitting the water for a few days to a week or so, you’ll need to store it for the short term. Consider using short-term kayak storage for the following situations:

  • Day-to-day use
  • Going away on vacation
  • Short periods of inclement weather
  • Shorter off-season periods for those in mild climates
  • Taking a break from kayaking for any reason

Even if you’re using your kayak from day-to-day, you still need to store it with care. Damage won’t necessarily happen overnight — unless your kayak falls from a wall or ceiling or another incident occurs — but repetitive incorrect storage could have an impact over time. You may also leave your kayak vulnerable to theft with short-term storage since you may not take extra care for a day or two of storage.

Not sure where to put a kayak for a few days or weeks? Depending on the climate where you live, you may be able to choose outdoor or indoor storage. Short-term storage is more flexible than long-term, but keep the following tips for proper storage in mind:

  • Keep it accessible: Since you’re only storing your kayak in the short term, you don’t want to keep it somewhere that’s hard to reach. Ceiling or wall storage in areas with other objects in the way won’t be convenient when you want to take your kayak out on the water.
  • Take the time to put it away carefully: When putting your kayak in short-term storage, you may not feel like taking the extra time to store it properly. Even if your kayak is only in storage for a week, you should still put in a bit of effort to keep it safe and protected from damage during that time.
  • Lock it up: Keep your kayak protected from theft even if you’re only storing it overnight. Use a lock if you’re storing it outdoors or keep the indoor location locked and protected with alarms, cameras or other security tools.

With proper storage, you can easily reach your kayak when it’s time to head out on the water, and you’ll rest assured while off the water that your kayak is safe from theft and potential damage. Since you’ll be putting in effort for short-term storage, be sure to do the same for longer periods to ensure even more protection.


Short-term storage is manageable, but how do you store a kayak for the winter and other long periods? There are many types of kayaks out there, and depending on the kind you have, your long-term storage options may vary. An inflatable kayak, for example, is simple to pack away for storage in the winter. Simply deflate it and roll or fold it up to stay in a cool, dry place until the kayaking season is back.

For other varieties that aren’t foldable or collapsible, you need to consider how much space you have and how to store your kayak properly for the long term. When you get ready for kayak winter storage, make sure to:

  • Figure out your space: With short-term storage, space may not be too much of an issue, but when you’re putting your kayak away for the months ahead, think carefully about where you’re putting it. You don’t want your kayak to be in the way of other items you need, and you definitely don’t want to store it in commonly used areas.
  • Keep the kayak clean: Along with where to keep it, you need to know how to prepare your kayak to store, especially for long periods. The best way to maintain your kayak while it’s in storage is to clean it well before you put it away. Clean the outside and inside, then dry it thoroughly to avoid moisture build-up. Taking it out of storage will be easier with a cleaner kayak and you’ll be less likely to see the damage once storage season is over.
  • Take similar steps to short-term storage: While your kayak won’t need to be accessible for everyday use, you’ll need to reach it easily at the start of the season. Store it with other seasonal items or make sure it’s out of the way yet relatively easy to access once warmer months roll around. You’ll also want to keep it protected from theft by locking the storage area and taking other security precautions.

Unless you live somewhere with a mild climate, you’ll need to keep your kayak out of the cold and snowy weather during the winter. Keep it in a climate-controlled area, which will be much easier if you store your kayak indoors, but you do have outdoor options in some cases.

More:Best Fishing Kayak Under $1,000 in 2023

How to Store Your Kayak

It’s recommended that you don’t store your boat directly on the floor or ground, because doing so for long periods of time can cause deformation to the hull and expose the boat to moisture and dirt (if on the ground).

Most paddlers will use either a rack or suspension system to support their kayak:

On a rack: You can buy or make your own rack that will hold your boat off the ground. When using a rack, you want to take care to protect the hull (bottom) of the boat. To do so, you can use a rack that either supports the boat on its side or allows you to position the boat hull-side up.

Suspended: Hanging your boat from the ceiling is a good way to get it up and out of the way. You can purchase a suspension system designed just for a kayak or you can make your own using wide webbing straps. To best protect the hull, hang your boat so that the hull faces up toward the ceiling. Never hang the boat by the grab loops. Doing so can bend the boat. Instead, use wide straps that wrap around the body of the boat.

Whether you put your kayak on a rack or hang it, here are a few things to think about:

  • Keep your kayak clean: Before stowing your kayak away, give it a rinse with freshwater to remove any dirt, sand, salt or grime. Be sure to get the rudder, rudder cables and footbraces. A couple times each year, it’s worth washing the boat with a mild soap and water mix. Avoid solvents or strong chemicals that could damage the boat. Let the boat air out and dry before stowing it away. This goes for inflatable and folding kayaks, too.
  • Distribute weight evenly: Kayak hulls can deform or bend over time due to uneven weight distribution. When storing your boat, you need to support the weight of the boat at points along its length, using padded cradles or wide nylon straps that match the curve of the hull. Support the boat about one-third of the way in on each end is effective.
  • Avoid pressure points: Whether you’re hanging your boat or putting it on a rack, don’t strap it down tightly like you would when transporting it on your car. Long-term pressure from straps can deform the body of the kayak.
  • Add UV protection: A sun-protective spray can be applied to hard-shell boats to provide protection from UV light.
  • Don’t forget your accessories: It’s important to also care for extras like your paddle, spray skirt float bags and bilge pump. During long-term storage, remove these from your boat, rinse them with fresh water, let them dry and, if possible, stow them indoors.
  • Consider ease of access: You don’t want your boat to be so difficult to get to that you don’t use it.

How to Store Your Kayak:video introduction


Vertical kayak storage is best for short-term safekeeping, security and saving space. You can use indoor or outdoor vertical storage, though if you plan to store your kayak vertically for long periods, it’s better to do so inside. Rest the boost against a wall with the cockpit facing outward. To ensure the kayak stays standing, position it at a slight angle. Set the kayak so the bow is in the air and the stern is on the ground.

Depending on your living situation, space is precious and you need to make the most of what you have. If you need to store your kayak in your home, vertical options will give you more space to explore. Vertical storage also helps to keep your kayak secure, as there is less chance of it being knocked over or bumped around.

The stern of a kayak is typically wider than the bow, making the backend of the kayak a bit heavier than the front. The wideness and weight will create a more stable base for the kayak to stand on than the narrow bow. If you’re storing your kayak vertically, be sure to follow these tips to ensure proper kayak storage:

  • Use padding: Similar to how hanging your kayak by its handles can strain the ends of the kayak, the stern will be susceptible to some pressure and strain as it holds up the boat’s weight. To help ease any strain, you should use padding under the stern. Towels or cushions will work fine, though some manufacturers have their own padding. Placing your padding in a crate provides added stability and a perfect place to position the stern.
  • Secure with pegs: Another common concern is how to stabilize the kayak’s bow so it won’t slide down the wall. The best way to keep the kayak from falling is to install support pegs on either side of the bow. The pegs will hold the kayak if the bow starts to lean or gets bumped.
  • Use a rack: You may also want to look into racks for storing your kayak vertically. Ceiling-mounted kayak racks ensure proper stability and often feature a chain or rope to hold your boat in place. If you’re handy or enjoy DIY projects, consider making your own vertical storage rack.
  • Cover the cockpit: If you’re temporarily using vertical storage outdoors, you should consider covering the cockpit. Doing so helps prevent moisture, pests, leaves and other debris from collecting in your cockpit. Even if you’re only storing your kayak in this position for a day or two, you’ll have a much easier time getting back on the water if your cockpit is free of debris.
  • Choose the best location: Ensure your choice of location keeps your kayak out of the way and safe from direct sunlight.

Vertical kayak storage is a great option if you don’t have a lot of horizontal storage space. Just be sure your kayak is secure to prevent it from falling over and try to limit this storage method to short-term use. Keep the location as safe as possible and find a space where you can regulate the temperature. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll have an accessible way to store your kayak and save space.


Short-term or long-term, indoors or outdoors, there are practices to avoid when storing your kayak. Keep your kayak away from the following:

  • Anywhere accessible by wildlife: Small animals may love to make a home in your kayak’s cockpit. Don’t give pests the chance to hide out in your boat and give you a shock when on-season comes again. Store your kayak indoors or cover it properly so animals won’t make themselves at home in it.
  • On the ground: Ensure your kayak is elevated, especially if you’re storing it outdoors. Contact with the ground could cause damage due to moisture or freezing temperatures. Hang your kayak or cover the ground with waterproof and weather-resistant tarps or other materials.
  • Around frequently used items: Remember, whether you suspend your kayak from the ceiling or hang it on the wall, you don’t want it getting in the way of other items you use. You risk knocking the kayak down, causing damage or injury, as you try to reach behind or around it to get to something else you need.
  • In well-traveled areas: Walls or low ceilings where you or others walk by often won’t make a great storage option for your kayak. It could be unsafe for passersby or inconvenient to you and your household.
  • On hard, flat surfaces: The ground isn’t the only hard surface you need to remember — any hard, flat surface results in uneven weight distribution and extra pressure on specific contact points. They can distort the hull in a few days and could result in damage.
  • With an uncovered cockpit: All sorts of pests might see an uncovered cockpit as an invitation to move in. Over time, they can cause permanent damage.
  • Without proper locks: Leaving your kayak unlocked makes it easy prey for thieves. Invest in adequate locks to protect your investment and your hobby.
  • In an inaccessible location: You want to be able to check your kayak regularly for signs of damage. If you store it somewhere you can’t access, you won’t be able to catch signs of damage early enough to fix it.


Even if you store your kayak inside, you must make sure the indoor storage doesn’t expose your kayak to:

  • Moisture: Just because your kayak is suitable for use on the water doesn’t mean it can sit in storage with it. Whether you live in a humid climate or you have moisture in areas you plan to keep your kayak, take steps to avoid moisture damage. Use a dehumidifier or choose spaces that aren’t at risk for exposure to rain and humidity. Moisture build-up can cause warping or provide an environment for mold and fungus growth.
  • Sun: UV rays from the sun can cause fading, but even worse, sunlight can cause damage to certain kayak materials with prolonged exposure. If possible, keep your kayak away from the sun. Window coverings are your next best option if you can’t avoid sunlight exposure.
  • Heat: Extreme heat can cause your kayak to become distorted. Keep kayaks away from heating units during colder months and keep storage areas climate-controlled during hotter months for the perfect balance.
  • Cold: Out of all elements, cold is the least concerning. Still, you’ll want to keep your kayak in a climate-controlled area during the cold months to avoid continuous freezing and thawing, which can cause damage. Ensure the area you’re storing your boat in is above 32 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent the potential for freezing.

Theft Protection

A quality kayak is a considerable investment, so it’s worth taking steps to protect your boat from being stolen. If you can’t store your kayak in a house or garage, consider these options:

  • Try to keep your kayak hidden from view as much as possible.
  • Position it so that it’s difficult for a thief to grab it quickly and run.
  • Lock a vehicle steering wheel lock across the cockpit of the boat. This makes the boat unusable unless the lock is removed.
  • For added protection, thread a durable security cable through a sturdy part of the boat (like a wire grab loop or the steering wheel lock, if you’re using one) and lock it to a post, fence or building.

How to store your Kayak / Canoe for the winter

Where to store it

  • Try to store inside. This will allow you to control the environment in which you keep your kayak or canoe. Outdoors, it will be subject to the elements.
  • If you have to store it outside, be sure to cover it with a tarp for UV protection. The sun can, in fact, be a great deal more harmful than the cold.
  • If you store it outside, do not allow snow to pile on it or trees to fall on it. It seems a small thing, but if you live in a wooded or snowy area, strong winds or heavy snowfall can crush your kayak or canoe.
  • Warm storage is better than cold storage.
  • The plastic may become brittle in the cold. While it is not the end of the world to store your kayak or canoe outside, it is nevertheless something to consider.

How to store it

  • Make sure all cracks are filled. Water freezing inside any cracks can do considerable damage.
  • Keep it elevated to keep animals out. To an animal looking for shelter, a kayak or canoe will look wonderful. Sharp claws and acidic urine can do serious damage if they get the chance.
  • Store it in the correct position. Plastic kayaks should be stored on their sides.
  • Composite kayaks should be stored on their sides or upside down.
  • Canoes should be stored upside down.
  • Make sure you have the proper equipment to hang it. Whether it rests on its side or hangs from the ceiling, make sure your racks are secure and appropriate for your specific boat.
  • If you are storing it outdoors and do not have a rack from which to hang your kayak or canoe, either use or build a pair of sawhorses. In place of the top support, use a webbing upon which to rest the kayak or canoe.
  • Barring this, use two universal foam kayak blocks. Space them six to eight feet apart and lean the kayak on its side against the wall.

How to protect it

  • If you have a kayak or canoe with a wood trim, loosen screws in gunwales. This can prevent unwanted cracks from occurring during the winter.
  • Remove all hatch and neoprene covers, leaving hatches open to the air.
  • Use a cockpit cover on a kayak. This is yet another way to keep animals safely out.
  • If it has a float tank plug, remove it.
  • Clean and do maintenance first!
  • Small repairs can save you a mountain of trouble when the holidays are over.[1]How to store your Kayak / Canoe for the winter

About De Hua

Lindsay Boyers is a former New Yorker who now lives at the beach. She received a double B.A. in International Relations and Marketing from The College of William & Mary and an M.A. in Interactive Journalism from American University. Lindsay Boyers has been published in The Washington Post, New York Daily News, Cosmopolitan, Women's Health, The Bump, and Yahoo, among others.How We Tested and Reviewed

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