The Complete Fishing Kayak Storage Guide – Ideas & Tips (Must Read!)


Owning a kayak comes with several challenges, and perhaps one of the most important (and often overlooked) is figuring out you’re actually going to store it.

It can be such a head-scratcher, that it regularly puts people off purchasing a craft in the first place.

And so in this article, we’re going to take a look at some potential solutions, in our ultimate fishing kayak storage guide.

Of course, it’s not just for fishing, and these practices can be applied to most recreational kayaks and canoes.

So, before you kill your dream of owning a kayak, or even if you’re just looking for storage alternatives for an existing craft, read on to learn some top tips.

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How to Store a Kayak – Too Long, Didn’t Read

Before we get into the good stuff, I like to outline the points we’ll be talking about in more detail later on – just for anyone in a rush.

The key factors and considerations for storing a kayak are as follows:

  • How you store your craft will depend on the kayak type.
  • Where possible, always keep it indoors.
  • If storing outdoors, be sure to protect it from the weather.
  • Choose a suitable location – somewhere safe and unobstructive.
  • Keep it away from extreme temperatures – hot or cold.
  • Consider a kayak rack, suspension system, or simple hook hangers to keep the craft off the floor.
  • Proper support is essential.
  • Keep extras and accessories in a cool, dry, location.
  • Pay attention to security – protect your kayak from opportunist thieves.
  • Don’t forget to clean and maintain your kayak – particularly when storing for a long time.

Of course, that’s just scratching the surface of some of the main points, so I would encourage you to read on as we explore each factor in depth – including some awesome kayak storage solutions.

car with two fishing kayaks on the roof rack

Why Good Kayak Storage Matters

It’s as simple as this – all boats, no matter the quality, expense, features, or design, will deteriorate with improper storage.

Kayaks can bend, warp, scratch, dent, ping, and break surprisingly easily – given the right unfortunate circumstances.

Not to mention fading or other such cosmetic damage from the elements and/or the nibbling and clawing of pesky critters.

And should any of this occur as a result of storage, you’ll be kicking yourself you didn’t adhere to good practice when you ruin a perfectly good boat.

Because a damaged kayak can have seriously negative (and potentially deadly) consequences when it comes to safety and performance on the water.

Not forgetting your own pocket when you have to fork out for a new one.

Don’t learn this the hard way – start good storage practice from the get-go, and your kayak will give you years of fun and successful service.

Kayak Types and Size

For the purposes of this article, we’ll be looking at the three most common kayak types on the market.

They are:

Hardshell Sit-on-Top Kayaks

By far the most popular type of kayak for fishing is the hardshell sit-on-top variety.

When it comes to storing these craft, the best option is to turn them over, so that they face deck side down.

However, they can also be comfortably stored on their sides, or right side up, providing enough support is provided with straps or pads that conform to the shape of the hull.

The best sit-on-top hardshells, like these awesome pedal-drive fishing kayaks, will come with lawn-chair style seating.

It’s recommended you keep this in place for storage, as it will provide decent lateral support if you’re storing it right side up.

Hardshell Sit-Inside Kayaks

Although not as popular as sit-on-top kayaks for fishing, sit-inside models are perfectly suitable for the sport.

They’re particularly common at the lower end of the price scale, like many of these fishing kayaks for under $500.

Storing them is effectively the same as their sit-on-top counterparts, with the addition of installing a cockpit cover to prevent any undesirable tenants from making a home when it’s not in use, as well as ensuring dirt and moisture is kept at bay.

Take a look at this article to see the benefits of using a sit-inside kayak for fishing.

Inflatables

One of the major advantages of the inflatable fishing kayaks, is that they’re super easy to store and transport. Follow that link for some great examples.

Most of them come with a good-quality carry bag or cover, and they can be stashed just about anywhere around the home, garage, or shed.

As such, we’ll be focusing more on hardshells in this article, as they take up much more space, and aren’t as portable as inflatables.

However, as a cautionary tale – it’s still important to keep inflatable kayaks off the floor, as I’ll bet my bottom dollar a cheeky rodent will have a nibble on the material otherwise.

And speaking of transportation, if you have a hardshell, or you’re thinking of getting one, I’d highly recommend you check out this review on the best kayak carts, to help you get to the water and back with ease.

red inflatable fishing kayak on the autumn river

Indoors or Outdoors?

When you visit your local paddle sports club, or you see a community kayak and canoe rack, there’s a strong possibility that they’re using outdoor storage.

Contrary to popular belief, storing a kayak or a canoe outdoors is fine – with a few key caveats.

No matter the season, you should keep your kayak covered and protected from the elements – particularly UV rays. Sunlight can seriously damage a plastic kayak, especially in very hot locations.

Likewise, if and when snow and ice hit in your region, such extremes of temperature can be detrimental to your kayak’s hull.

Moisture can find its way into even the tiniest cracks and crevices, freeze, expand, and cause significant damage to the plastic.

Furthermore, storing outside always carries the risk of theft – however unlikely. Keep reading for more information on kayak security.

As such, while outdoors storage is fine, indoors is the best possible solution.

However, not everyone has the space for indoor kayak storage, and if you do have to keep your beloved kayak in the cold (and hot), be sure that it’s always positioned deck side down, secure, and well-protected.

And be sure to remove any mesh components or fabrics, such as with the seating system or padded backrests.

Location, Location, Location

Once you’ve decided if you’re storing your kayak indoors or outdoors, you then need to find the actual location that it’s going to live.

Outside, many paddlers simply lay their kayaks on the ground, down the side of the house, along the wall of a garage, or some similar location.

It makes me cringe when I see it.

While it certainly keeps them out of the way, I strongly recommend you raise them off the floor – at the very least. Otherwise, you’re exposing it to dirt, moisture, and other unwanted factors.

If storing inside, finding the space can often be the issue, but there are some ingenious ways to help you stay organized coming up.

Storing kayaks up in the rafters of a garage, hoisted on a wall, or on a dedicated rack are the best solutions, as they can help maximize your limited space, and safely keep the craft out of the way.

Let’s explore these options in more detail, below.

fisherman wearing camouflage with kayak going toward the river

Fishing Kayak Storage Ideas

As I mentioned in the introduction, one of the key factors in good kayak storage is adequate support. Indoors or outdoors, supporting the hull properly is vital if you want to prevent warping, or general hull damage.

Bear that in mind as you take a look at the best ways to store a kayak, below.

Kayak Hoist/Sling

A popular kayak storage option is to use a specially-designed hoist, strap, or sling, that winches the craft up off the ground.

They can be mounted on the wall, or up on the ceiling to really keep your kayak out of the way in the rafters.

These products come in as many different types as the kayaks themselves, but this set from Rad Sportz is a good example. It uses a pulley system to winch the kayak into position.

Alternatively, this option from Cor Surf Store can be used to strap a kayak to the wall.

Either way, you need to make sure you mount the hardware correctly, using the correct screws and anchors for the surface you’re attaching it to. Finding wall studs is highly recommended for bearing the weight.

Remember, it’s important you position the straps at balanced locations down the hull. A rule of thumb is at around 30% of the kayak’s total length from each end. Pressure points and stress need to be avoided at all costs.

The major advantage of this storage method is that it’s hands-down the best for keeping your kayaks out of the way, while making use of the otherwise dead space up in the ceiling or against a wall.

However, they can be challenging to install if you’re not competent at DIY, and the strap pressure can still contribute to warping cheap, poorly-made kayaks in any significant heat.

Aside from that, physically lifting or winching your kayak up there can be something of an effort – especially if you’re of advancing years, or not as physically capable as you used to be.

This is the current setup I have at the moment. I’m not getting any younger, and I’m honestly not sure how much longer I’m going to be capable of managing it.

Kayak Racks

Freestanding floor racks are another popular choice as a kayak storage solution.

The main advantages of a floor rack is that they’re easy to put together, require no drilling or damaging of walls, and it’s relatively easy to lift and load a kayak onto them.

However, they have a tendency to take up a lot of floor space, so this option might not be the best for anyone with a collection of bikes/boats/cars/motorcycles/lawnmowers/snowblowers all vying for precious garage real estate.

Again, they come in all shapes and sizes, but this one from Raxgo is a popular, and solid choice, not least because of the fully adjustable arms, and the soft foam padding that gently cradles the kayak hull like a newborn babe.

Raxgo Kayak Freestanding Storage Rack

Wall Hooks/J-Bars

With a similar design to kayak transport brackets that you attach to the top of a vehicle, wall hooks or J-bars allow a craft to be stored on its side against a wall.

They’re a sort of happy-medium between floor racks and ceiling hoists, and offer another practical solution to kayak storage.

You’ll still need to be competent at DIY to install them safely and securely, and as with any storage option that lifts the kayak off the floor, you need to make sure your craft is under the maximum weight capacity.

These wall hooks from Rad Sportz offer a generous 125 lbs weight limit, and I particularly like the safety straps and clips, with thick foam padding on the arms. They also happen to come very highly rated.

If you’re looking for more manufactured storage options, might I suggest heading over to this article on the best fishing kayak brands. You can always contact a manufacturer directly for tailor-made storage advice.

Sawhorses

It’s highly likely you’ve got a couple of these useful tools hanging around the house already, especially if you have a workshop, or you’re handy with the DIY.

And they do make a suitable kayak storage option, providing that they’re correctly positioned along the hull, so the weight is evenly distributed, and you’ve wrapped some padding around the top of each bar.

Arguably the most cost-effective option, sawhorses are the easiest kayak storage solution to set up, and you can make use of the space below each craft to stash extra gear, like these awesome kayak paddles, for example.

However, they’re more of a temporary solution, and will likely get in the way as they take up the most floor space.

Still, in a pinch they’re an effective choice, and they’re also very practical for when you’re cleaning, maintaining, and customizing your kayak.

Build Your Own Rack

If you’re handy, and you have the space to do it, then I would highly recommend building your own kayak rack.

The huge advantage of this, is that you can suit it perfectly to the type of craft you own.

So even if you’re rocking one of these compact 10-foot fishing kayaks, or a sleek, slimline ocean-going touring boat, you can design a rack to accommodate the specs.

And there’s a wealth of assistance out there if you need it, with all kinds of plans and designs available to choose from, depending on your circumstances.

For inspiration, take a look at the video below as a guide to building your own kayak rack, but trust me when I say – that’s just one of many.

Extras and Accessories

Aside from the kayak itself, you should also take care of any paddling extras and accessories you might own.

This includes things like paddles, bilge pumps, dry bags, on-board storage, and fishing tackle, gear, and hardware.

Check items for damage, and replace anything that is worn out or broken.

If you need a new rod holder, for example, now’s a good time to pick one up – so check out this review of the kayak rod holders.

Make sure you keep everything clean, stored in a cool, dry place, and away from direct sunlight and excess moisture.

And head on over to this article for more kayak fishing accessories, should you need to upgrade, or purchase something new.

Cleaning and Maintenance

While it’s not that necessary to clean and maintain your kayak after every trip out, if you’re putting your craft in long-term storage, such as over the winter, then it’s important to give it a spot of TLC.

Having said that, I would highly recommend giving it the once over after each trip, anyway, just to make sure it’s clean, everything is working as it should, and there’s no new damage or faults that need your attention.

This is especially true if you’ve been out in saltwater – and at the very least, a hose down with freshwater is encouraged.

For more information on how best to care for and clean your craft, take a look at this detailed article on proper kayak maintenance.

colorful sit-in fishing kayak on a folding kayak cart

Long-Term/Seasonal Storage

While some of us are lucky enough to live in a location that allows year-round paddling, alas, others have to say goodbye to their water-steed for several months a year.

And when winterizing your kayak and preparing storage and setup, there are a few extra tips you could benefit from.

Remove your drain plugs and store them in a safe space. This will help prevent the build up of condensation and improve ventilation.

Likewise, for any scupper plugs you may have on board.

Remove any batteries, electrical connections, electrics, pedal drives, and/or trolling motors. Store them in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Somewhere they are not liable to freeze is essential.

Secure all hatches, and replace anything that’s loose, broken, or frayed – such as bungee-cord or T-handles.

Apply a coat of 303 protectant as an extra precaution to keep the hull of your kayak looking spick and span for the next season.

A Word on Security

Kayaks might well be challenging to steal, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen – particularly if you’re storing a quality boat outside, and/or it’s a lightweight craft.

Always try and keep your kayak out of sight. Most thieves are opportunists, and they can’t nab what they can’t see.

Consider using a steering lock across the cockpit if you have a sit-inside model.

And use a security cable through compatible areas of the boat, such as the handles, or dedicated anti-theft hardware. Attaching two or more kayaks or canoes together in this manner can be an effective deterrent.

Dos and Don’ts of Kayak Storage

Although we’ve covered a lot of the best practices for suitable kayak storage, it’s worth drumming in a few poor choices that can potentially compromise the integrity of the craft.

Never hang a kayak by its handles. Sure, they might be rugged, durable, and tough as nails, and although they’re unlikely to give way, the lack of support in the middle of the craft can cause it to warp and bend.

Don’t try and store a kayak vertically. While there are some rigs that allow you to do this, it’s not recommended for more than a day or so. Again, the hull and shape can easily distort in this position over time.

Some paddlers out there have reported they store their kayaks vertically with no issues, but personally, it’s not something I’d be keen to do – particularly as a long-term solution.

Finally, and it has been mentioned above, but it’s worth reiterating – don’t ever store your kayak on the ground. You’re asking for a whole heap of trouble, so be warned.

angler fishing on the kayak in river

FAQs

How do you store a fishing kayak?

There are many ways to store a fishing kayak, including hoists, slings, wall, and floor racks, outdoors, and indoors.

But what’s right for me might not necessarily be right for you, so check the article above, and see if you can find the perfect solution for your needs.

Can you store a kayak on sawhorses?

Yes, you can.

Just so long as you make sure they can take the kayak’s weight, they’re adequately spaced to provide balance with no stress points along the hull, and any area that is in contact with the kayak is wrapped in some kind of thick padding.

Is it okay to leave a kayak outside in winter?

Yes and no. I would highly recommend bringing a kayak in from the cold, but if you absolutely must leave it outside in icy conditions, you should ensure it’s fully off the ground, and well wrapped with a tarp.

Remember, any moisture that builds up will freeze, and that can play havoc with a plastic hull.

Can you store a kayak outside?

Again, yes you can, but it’s not the best option. However, many people don’t have the luxury of being able to store a kayak indoors, so outside is the only choice.

Just be sure to treat the kayak with a UV protectant (which will also keep it coated against dirt and grime), raise it off the ground, and cover it with a suitable tarpaulin.

Check out the video below for more top tips on storing your kayak or canoe outside, and head on over to this useful Pinterest page for more kayak storage inspiration.

Summary

If you want to keep your kayak looking and performing to the best of its ability, then you need to make sure it has a lovely home for when it’s not in use.

I hope my fishing kayak storage guide has given you plenty of ideas for how best to keep your craft in the best of health.

Let me know in the comments if I’ve missed anything, or if you have any top storage advice you would like to share with the community.

Happy kayaking!

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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