Updated: December 1, 2020
One of the biggest disadvantages to owning a traditional hardshell kayak is that it takes up more space than an inflatable kayak. Storing your hardshell is an important part of preserving it and not just a means to get it our of the way when not in use.
While the benefits of kayaking are well known, storage is one of the main drawbacks. The following kayak storage ideas are some of the most popular ways to keep your kayak in peak condition between outings.
Preparing for Storage
Before storing a kayak, it’s important to follow a few simple steps. This helps ensure there’s no rot or other damage when you’re ready to take it out again.
This is especially important in the winter, when you’re likely to leave it sitting for several months.
Selecting a Spot
You should have a good idea of where you want to store your kayak beforehand. Having a space large enough is only the first part of the equation however.
You’ll want to place it somewhere away from direct sunlight or heat sources, and where the temperature doesn’t fall below freezing or rise above 100 degrees. For this reason, indoor storage is usually best.
Cleaning the Kayak
It’s important to clean the kayak before storing, as dirt, debris, and oils can degrade the shell over time. Use a mild cleaner and sponge to gently wash away all dirt and oils from both the outside and inside of the kayak. Rinse thoroughly to ensure no soap residue remains.
Next, take a soft towel and dry the shell completely. Make sure there’s no water in the hatch or near the drain plug. Not only can water eventually break down the coating, but mold or mildew can occur during storage.
If mold or mildew does appear, the process for removing it is similar to that of life vests.
Whether you plan to store the kayak inside or outside, it’s best to buy a storage cover. These covers will help ensure no moisture (or critter) gets in while the boat is in storage. Something like the Richermall kayak cover is a good option.
You can also use tarp, but be sure to leave space between the tarp and kayak to avoid trapping moisture. Creating a frame or setting up a “kayak tent” are both good options for using tarp.
The biggest consideration of all, you need to decide if you want to store your kayak vertically or horizontally. Both have their advantages. Note, however, that it’s best to never store a kayak perfectly flat when choosing a horizontal position, as this can cause the craft’s shell to bow over time.
Storing in the Garage
One of the most popular places to store hardshells, the garage provides several options. Choose the one which works best for you.
#1 – Kayak Racks
This is an excellent choice when you own a small collection. A wall-mounted kayak rack can store two to three hardshells at an angle, while free-standing racks can support up to six.
One advantage to these racks is that you can buy one that fits the number of hardshells you own, allowing you to plan out the space more effectively.
The Rad Sportz heavy duty kayak rack is a popular floor-standing option.
#2 – Suspended
Hanging a kayak from the ceiling is an excellent way to save space, if the ceiling’s high enough, of course. By adding pulleys, you can raise and lower the kayak, making this method hands-down the best way to store a kayak in a garage. Rad Sportz sells a popular, inexpensive pulley system.
The only downside is that the kayak will often be suspended flat, but you can invest in a sling which supports the midsection to prevent stress.
An alternative is a heavy duty ceiling mount such as the one by StoreYourBoard. It’s a bit more expensive than a pulley system but there’s no chance of sagging.
#3 – Wall-Mounted
This is a very popular garage storage method. Before deciding how to hang a kayak on a wall, you will first need to think about how high you plan to store it. Higher racks will allow you to store items underneath, but will take more effort to hoist the boat into position.
A lower mount allows for overhead storage but makes the hardshell more accessible to critters and accidental impacts.
Our favorite by far is the Suspenz EZ Kayak rack. Your kayak will be well protected and always within easy reach.
Mounting brackets or straps are relatively inexpensive, but cannot be mounted on drywall or plywood. You will also want to attach the mounts to a stud, as they’ll be bearing the kayak’s full weight for long periods of time.
Storing a kayak outside isn’t ideal, but sometimes can’t be avoided. Thankfully, there are a few options that can help with safe storage.
You can store the kayak vertically, so long as you make sure the stern is supported above ground level to avoid damage from the weather or pesky ground animals such as squirrels.
#4 – Kayak Tent
As you’ll want a location shaded from the elements, a kayak tent is one of the best solutions. Begin by finding a sheltered spot (an outside wall that’s facing away from the weather is ideal).
You can build an angled A-frame so that the vertical beams will stand nearly flush against the wall. Add some horizontal support beams to rest the kayaks on (this can be as many beams as you have kayaks or you can widen the base to accommodate more than one kayak per set of beams.
Finally, cover both the wall-facing and outside-facing sections with tarp. Be sure the cabin is covered and preferably also seal the kayak in a storage cover.
Outdoor Theft Prevention
One of the biggest dangers of storing your kayaks outdoors is the risk of theft. You’ll want to find some way to secure them that acts as a good deterrent.
The easiest method is to place a steering wheel lock in the cockpit. You can then run a chain through the scupper holes or grab loops. The chain can also be wound around the support beams.
While it’s possible to steal a chained kayak, the effort of cutting it free (and later removing the steering wheel lock) will cause all but the most determined thieves to simply walk away.
Other Storage Methods
There are a few additional options which work when space is at a premium. These methods can be most effective when there are no other options, but are good enough to consider under most circumstances.
#5 – Renting Space
Since storing a kayak in an apartment or other location where space is a premium is usually a no-go, an excellent storage option is to rent space. Many kayak clubs and schools will allow you to store your hardshell there for a small fee.
#6 – Vertical Storage
Perhaps one of the best space-saving options, this method requires the least amount of horizontal space but requires a high enough ceiling to accommodate the kayak. Because the stern will be bearing most of the weight when you store vertically, you will want to add padding beneath it.
Make sure the cockpit is facing outwards, and that the shell is leaning slightly against the wall for support. Having pegs near the top will help prevent the kayak from falling sideways, but are not essential. Remember to build some form of raised stern support if using this method outdoors.
#7 – DIY Kayak Storage
Most of the methods discussed here require some type of equipment that can be built by hand. Wall racks, free-standing racks, and even bases for vertical storage can be crafted with some PVC and a bit of time. Kayak tents are almost entirely DIY.
By building storage equipment yourself, you can save a lot of money and ensure the resulting racks fit your kayaks precisely. Best of all, there are plenty of good project instructions available online for all these options.