Inflatable kayaks are quickly becoming a game-changer in the paddling community due to their portability and ease of storage. Issues to deal with the durability and utility of the inflatables have also been addressed to ensure the boat serves you longer. But, proper storage of your kayak plays a big role in its durability. You have to follow proper care and maintenance routines, which can be different from traditional yaks.
But I got you covered! Below I give you 5 easy steps to proper inflatable kayak storage to ensure you keep it in good shape.
5 easy steps for proper inflatable kayak storage
Step 1: Clean your kayak
Cleaning your kayak is part of the proper storage process. If you stow your boat when dirty, it can easily get damaged, especially if paddling in saltwater. Even small grits can de-braid the inflatables increasing the chances of leaking and tampering with UV protection.
In many cases, it may be impossible to thoroughly clean your kayak at the shore. You may have taken your kayak out in a muddy, dirty, sandy, or grimy spot where you can’t access clean water to rinse off your boat. In such a case, use a towel to wipe your kayak and put it in a car.
Once you get home, give it a comprehensive cleaning following the steps below:
- Disassemble and remove all gear mounted to the sides, attached inside, and any detachable on the base of your kayak.
- Clean off, rinse and dry all the attachments you have removed, such as seats, paddle, rudders, skegs, directional stabilizers, detachable thwarts, and any other gear and set them aside.
- You can clean your kayak when inflated or deflated, but it is easy to do it when blown up.
- Take a towel and use it to wipe any dirt and debris left on the kayak. If your boat is very dirty, use mild soap and water to clean it thoroughly. If you are from a clean, freshwater body, use water only.
- Wash the inside and outside of your inflatable kayak and in-between all the air chambers. Always close all the valves when cleaning your kayak.
- Flip your kayak over and wash the underside as well. If your boat has a detachable floor, remove and clean it separately. This also allows you to clean the inside bottom of your kayak.
- Thoroughly rinse your kayak with fresh water to get rid of any soapy and grimy residue from all the nooks and crannies of your boat.
- Once done, go to the next step.
Step 2: Dry your kayak
After cleaning your kayak, you must ensure it is dry enough before deflating and packing it away. If stored during the off-season, the inflatable kayak should be bone dry to avoid the growth of molds and mildew. Molds and mildew degrade the surface of your kayak, thin it and make it more vulnerable to punctures.
Use a towel to wipe the inside, outside, and underside of the kayak dry. Please leave it to air-dry for some time before you go to the next step.
Step 3: Deflate and fold your kayak
To avoid punctures and expansion due to temperature changes, you should always deflate your inflatable kayak before storing it. Expansion damages the valves and seams, causing leaks. Open all the valves to slowly deflate your boat while gently applying pressure to the floor, sides, and other parts to speed up the process.
Once your kayak is fully deflated, fold it. Follow the process below:
- Roll or fold your kayak a little differently each time to avoid weak points forming over time.
- Start by folding the sides towards the center and aligning the spray kits over the middle of the kayak.
- To push any remaining air out, continue to roll/fold loosely your kayak at the opposite end from the valves.
- Avoid sharp corners and bends as they can easily damage your kayak.
- Ensure the resulting shape can easily fit in the storage bag
- Keep stabilizing base such as skeg base flat within the fold
- Close the valves once the kayak is nicely folded to avoid any debris from getting in.
- Place protectors over any rudders, skegs, or directional stabilizers attached to the inflatable kayak.
Step 4: Pack your kayak in the storage bag
Put your inflatable kayak in the storage bag once it is clean, dry, deflated, and folded. If your boat didn’t come with a bag, consider buying one. Storing the kayak in the transport bag has the following benefits:
- Protect the kayak against UV rays
- Keep ant dirt or debris off the kayak while in storage
- Has breathable mesh that ensures the boat dries well to avoid the growth of molds and mildew
- Apart from storage, the bag can be used to transport the kayak whenever and wherever
Step 5: Store your kayak in a suitable place
After packing your inflatable kayak nicely in its storage bag, look for a suitable place to keep it until your next expedition. It is always best to keep the kayak indoors in a cool and dry place free of any rodents. You can put it in a closet, attached garage, or basement.
However, if you don’t have space inside, store the kayak outside, but cover it with a tarp to protect against UV rays and rodents and prevent any debris from falling on it. Again, if your preferred place is likely to be infested by rodents, keep your kayak inside a sealable container to avoid any damage.
Can you store your kayak while inflated?
Though it is not recommended to store your kayak while inflated, there are some circumstances where keeping it when blown up is ideal. For instance, if you are camping by the lake, you can leave the kayak inflated during the entire trip. Doing so means you spend less time deflating and inflating the kayak, and it is easily accessible when heading out to the waters.
But, to avoid any damage to the kayak, you have to store it the right way, even when inflated. Follow the tips below to keep your inflated kayak safely:
- Always keep your inflated kayak away from the sun once out of the water. If you expose a blown-up kayak to the sun, the air inside will become warm and expand. As a result, the psi of the kayak will rise, putting much pressure on the seam and causing it to burst.
- Clean it after every use. Even if you intend to take the boat to the waters the next day, wash it off after use, especially if you are kayaking on salty or dirty water. Give your vessel a quick rinse to prevent corrosion from salt and scratches from sand and mud.
- Release a little air. The recommended inflation psi of the inflatables keeps the kayak in optimal stiffness without being overinflated. However, you shouldn’t store the kayak at optimal psi to give it some allowance if the air inside expands. Release at least 3-5 psi, and pump the inflatable kayak back when you want to use it again
- Keep it off the ground to let it dry. Even when keeping the kayak inflated, it is best to ensure the sides are dry. Once you rinse the boat, set it on wooden planks or buckets to ensure the sides are dry and clean.
- Store it in a safe place. While out kayak camping, ensure you leave your boat away from wind storms. Inflatables can easily be blown away by the wind as they are light and buoyant. If the place is windy, use ropes and stakes to secure it in the wooden planks.
Key insights & Takeaways
Properly storing your inflatable kayak extends its lifespan and ensures it serves you well for years to come. Always follow the steps I have highlighted to avoid any regrets with inflatable kayaks. Whether you have a budget inflatable kayak or an inflatable fishing kayak, the above-mentioned tips apply to all types of inflatable kayaks.