How Long Can a Kayak Stay in the Water?

How Long Can a Kayak Stay in the Water?

Kayaks are versatile and durable vessels that can be used to explore a range of different environments. However, you must look after your kayak if you want to ensure that it performs at its best for as long as possible.

One question that comes up a lot is whether you can leave your kayak in the water long-term and how long exactly, is too long to leave it floating. 

In this article, we’ll be looking at the issues associated with storing your kayak in the water long term. We’ll also be touching on how you can store your kayak effectively in the short and long term so you can prolong your vessel’s life and ensure it’s performing at its best for several years.

Can You Store a Kayak in the Water?

The answer to this question is yes, but not for particularly long.

You may be wondering whether you can moor your kayak at a dock during the peak season so you don’t have to mess about taking the kayak down to the water every time you want to go for a paddle. This sounds ideal, but it can create a whole heap of issues for you and your kayak.

The first issue is water collection. Even if your kayak is covered, it’s unlikely that the inside of the yak is going to stay dry. Every time you head out, a small amount of water will likely collect inside the cockpit of the vessel. If left like this in a moist environment, you’ll end up with mould, mildew, and/or a nasty rancid smell in your boat. 

The second issue comes from the exposure to moisture, light, and weather conditions. 

When left in direct sunlight for too long, the body of the kayak can become bleached. This will cause colours to fade and make the vessel look “tired” and far older than it is. The sunlight can also degrade the plastics over time and cause the body to become brittle and additional parts to wear quicker and fail. 

When exposed to constant moisture and changing weather conditions, several parts of the kayak can fail. Seats can become worn, fixings can become rotten, and general wear to the kayak body can be noticed quite quickly when left in these conditions. 

The third issue comes from the constant direct contact that the kayak has with the water it’s in contact with. Over time, algae can grow on the bottom of the boat and crustaceans can start to colonise the hull. This will of course cause wear to the kayak and create problems with its integrity over several months or years. In the short term, it will also affect the performance of the vessel, potentially causing poor tracking, stability, and efficiency.

It’s not advised to leave your kayak in the water for any substantial length of time and storing your kayak in the water long term is a definite no-go. However, leaving your kayak moored up at the bank during a tour over several nights won’t do any harm. 

If you need to leave your kayak in the water overnight a few times during a tour, it will be fine. However, where possible, you should drag the vessel out of the water to reduce the likelihood of damage or loss. As long as you clean off your kayak after a tour, there’s no problem leaving it in the water for a few days or even weeks for that matter, just don’t make it a constant habit even if you’re able to store your kayak near the water long term.

How Should You Store a Kayak Long-Term?

You definitely shouldn’t store your kayak in the water long term. So, how should you store it when you’re not regularly heading out on the water?

Let’s take a look at how to best store your kayak to increase its longevity and ensure that it functions perfectly throughout its entire lifetime.

  1. Clean your kayak thoroughly before storage. Using a mixture of detergent and water and scrubbing it clean before hosing it off with fresh water will help remove any built up dirt. You should also dry the vessel off and ensure that there’s no standing water held up in the cockpit or storage ports on the kayak.

  2. It’s always best to store the kayak off the ground with the base facing up. If possible, store the kayak indoors and if this isn’t possible, create a frame and cover it with a tarp. Avoid storing the kayak outdoors with a tarp tightly wrapped around it, this can create a humid environment that promotes mould-growth.

  3. Keep your kayak out of direct sunlight and extreme changes in temperatures. The easiest way to do this is by indoor storage, but if you must store it outside, keep it covered in a shady spot.

We have only scratched the surface on proper kayak storage in this section. If you want to learn more about how to properly store and care for your kayak, check out this in-depth guide.

How Should You Store a Kayak Short-Term?

Now, you don’t need to go through the long term storage process during the peak season when you’re using your kayak daily or weekly. Kayaks are durable enough to take a bit of abuse every now and then, so don’t worry, you don’t need to clean, dry, and hang your kayak up after every outing. 

Although we don’t recommend storing your kayak directly in the water, it’s okay to leave your kayak by the bank (providing it’s secure) when you’re regularly using it during the summer months. There are a few things to consider though…

When storing your kayak short term in between sessions out on the water, you don’t need to take as much precaution as when it’s stored over winter. However, you should follow similar steps.

  1. If you’re storing your kayak on the bank temporarily, give it a bit of a clean after each session. Leave a sponge in the kayak to remove any dirt or grime build-up from inside and outside the kayak. You don’t need to go crazy and use detergent, but removing dirt if and when you see it doesn’t do any harm.

  2. If possible, raise your kayak off the ground. Find an old pallet and put the kayak cockpit-side down on top of it. This will prevent water collecting inside during rainfall and prevent any warping.

  3. Finally, store your kayak in the shade. You don’t need to cover it or create a shelter to protect it if you’re using the vessel regularly, but storing it out of direct sunlight, for example; under some trees or a porch will prevent bleaching.

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