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Kayaking Fundamentals: Basic Kayak Maintenance

Kayaks are simple machines, but some basic kayak maintenance will make yours last longer. As part of our Kayaking Fundamentals series, here are some good tips on taking care of your boat. Plastic kayaks are a good choice for low-maintenance paddling, but they too require a little TLC.

One of the best things you can do is store it properly. A cool, dry place like a garage is ideal. Storing it on its edge is best; this can help prevent “oil canning.” The NRS Kayak/SUP Hanger is ideal; it holds the boat on its edge and keeps space below it available for other storage. If you must store the boat outdoors, turn it upside down or use a cockpit cover to keep moisture out. Cover it or keep in a shady place to prevent sun damage. Longterm exposure to the sun can cause considerable damage to the boat. You can also apply 303 Aerospace Protectant, an excellent sunscreen material, to the hull.

Rinsing the kayak with fresh water after each outing is a good idea. This is particularly important when boating in saltwater. Pay particular attention to items with metal parts, like rudders, foot pedals and backbands.

Plastic kayaks can stand up to quite a bit of abuse. One thing that’s fairly common with them is warping or deforming of the hull. When this happens, usually setting it out in the sun on a hot day will cause it to pop back out to its original shape.

Superficial scratches and gouges in plastic kayaks aren’t usually a problem but hit hard enough the plastic can crack or puncture. The polyethylene in plastic boats resists most adhesives, but G/flex Epoxy Adhesives adhere just fine. Follow the linked instructions for strong, permanent repairs. G/flex also works great for repairs to fiberglass and composite kayaks.