Preparing your Kayak for Winter
As winter approaches, paddling season is coming to a close for many people. (Of course, we always advocate year-round paddling if you have the proper gear. That’s a whole different article!) Here are a few tips for getting your kayak ready for storage during the winter season.
To start, you will want to do some maintenance and make any repairs that need to be done before storing your kayak. If you have a crack, no matter how small, it could always expand with the change in temperature and make a small problem bigger. Also, properly maintaining your kayak now means that as soon as the first warm day strikes you are ready to get out on the water!
If you have bungee deck rigging check to make sure it still has some stretch and is undamaged. If it needs replacing, do so. Also, check all of the deck rigging attachment points to make sure no screws have come loose and replace any broken pieces.
Next you will want to clean your boat to the best of your ability. This can be done with mild soap and water. Use a brush if needed to scrub off any debris. Be sure to get your boat completely dry inside and out before storing it, especially if it will be in freezing conditions. Freezing water will expand with significant force and can crack your boat.
If you have a plastic boat, apply a UV protectorate to it. This is a good thing to do at the beginning and end of each paddling season. There are a variety of great UV protectorate sprays and waxes out there that all work great!
Cracks and gouges in a boat is more complicated but not typically impossible to fix. Check out the following article, Repair Damage to Plastic Kayaks and Canoes. It provides great advice on home repair techniques. Keep in mind, if the crack is severe enough you may need to go to a professional, or in the worst case, retire the kayak. You can always get feedback from us if you have questions.
Cold temperatures alone will not hurt your kayak; however, if you are able to store it inside, this will help prevent critters from making a home in your kayak. If storing your kayak inside is not an option, outside storage is fine. You will want to find a place to store it where it will not get any sunlight. This can mean covering it with a tarp, or putting it under your deck. You will want to remove any hatch covers to allow air to move in and out of the kayak. To keep critters out, you can cover the hatches and cockpit with covers made specifically for storing kayaks, or use screen (the kind used in screen doors) and a bungee or tightly tied string to cover all hatches and cockpits.
Store your boat on its side if possible. If not, storing it upside down or right side up is fine too. Just avoid storing it standing on end.
It is best if your boat is off of the ground as well. There are many different systems for storing boats. From stand-alone racks to wall mounted racks, and hanging them from the ceiling. Different systems have their own pros and cons, so stop by River Rock Outfitter to chat about what system will best meet your needs!
Finally, if snow builds up on your kayak, brush the snow off before too much accumulates. Snow can weigh more than you think and your boat can dent or crack under too much pressure.
*Stand Up Paddle Boards
Just like your kayak, you will want to do any cleaning and maintenance on your board. For the best protection, store your board in a reflective board bag. If your board has a vent, unscrew the plug and leave it open for the winter time. You should leave the vent open any time of the year when you are not using your board to prevent over expansion.
Caring for your gear will keep it (and you) on the water for years to come. It will also make you really happy when you can pull it out the first warm day of spring and hop on the river for a paddle!