Many inexperienced people don’t think kayaks need a lot of maintenance because they assume since they’re already in the water, they must already be cleaned, but this can’t be further from the truck. Here’s the ultimate kayak maintenance 101.
Maintenance During the Season
When kayaking season is in full swing that doesn’t mean the water will simply wash all of the dirt and debris, and you don’t have to take care of it. There are many things you need to take care of before and during the kayaking season. First and foremost, make sure your kayak is in pristine condition by spraying it down with water after each use to wash away the dirt, grime, and salt if you’re kayaking at sea. A quick wash can prevent corrosion and even keep mold at bay. Furthermore, pay attention when you’re dragging your kayak to and from the water as the bottom can wear out quickly and lead to holes. Kayak karts are a great way to prevent this from happening, and they also provide an easy and effective way to transport it. Wizard's Eye Kayaks explains that whenever it’s in storage during the season, make sure you keep it out of the resin and critters that might damage it.
Hardshell Vs. Inflatable?
Spring kayak preparation consists of checking all the hardware, bungees, lines and repairing them if they are broken. It also includes applying zipper lube to skeg pivot or rudder, housing, pedal, and cables. The equipment you’ll need for this is a paste wax for composite kayaks or a special cleaner for polyethylene kayaks, mild soap and a zipper lubricate. To start with spring prep, set up a pair of sawhorses and place your boat on top, so you can have a better view when you’re examining it. Many whitewater kayaking professionals have stated the obvious benefits of owning an inflatable kayak vs. a hardshell kayak when it comes down to maintenance. To further add to the case of inflatable kayaks are their incredible durability and ease of storing, mainly because they won’t get damaged by the sun rays as hardshell kayaks do. UV rays can damage the hardshell kayak and even break down plastic padeyes and cause weakness in bungees which can only be fixed temporarily.
As you might have gathered by now, kayak maintenance is a year-round endeavor and starts in spring, over the kayaking season, and ends with follow-up fall maintenance. Fall kayak maintenance consists of washing the kayak from the inside and out, inspecting for damages, loosening rudder pedal straps, and properly storing it until spring is near. After you’ve had all the fun you can during the kayaking season it may be quite tempting just to throw it in storage, but this can create lasting damages, and you might end up needing an entirely new boat for the next season. This is why fall maintenance is the most important part of kayak maintenance. Place it upside down on the sawhorse and start cleaning it inside and out with a mild cleaner. Then spray it down starting with the cockpit and into all of the hatches with a hose to loosen sand and all kinds of debris that end up inside. Fix any damages if there are any, loosen the tension on all pedals, bungees, and straps, and undo any buckles. Then simply store it on rigid brackets until next season.
Storage and TransportationIf you have a rotomolded (plastic) kayak, your boat will become malleable to some extent if it’s exposed to excessive sunlight and heat. This is something that’s often overlooked and should be paid special attention to, especially when you’re transporting your boat on a roof rack. To take care of this, follow the professional advice to use a rigid bar roof rack in addition to a kayak cradle attachment which will ensure the weight is evenly distributed, and you don’t end up with dents in your boat. Another clever way to avoid this is by not tying it too tightly to your roof for a longer time. Furthermore, you should always protect your kayak from the elements. To achieve this, keep it stored in a garage or storage unit under a tarp to reduce exposure to frost, sun, and heat. A good kayak is often a big investment, so you will want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect it and not waste money.
Make sure you follow through with this essential kayak maintenance throughout the year to ensure your kayak is in pristine condition and lasts you a lifetime.