Everything is for a season. In the spring and summer, we’re thrilled to find an irresistible lake or river or biking trail, but as it gets colder we have to face the reality that it’s time to tuck away our kayaks, rafts, and bikes. It’s a good idea to store these items correctly so they avoid problems, like mold, and last as long as possible. You’ve invested in them to help you glide through loads of fun in the warmer months so it makes sense to keep them in optimal condition. We’ll help you do just that with these essential tips for proper storage of these bulky items throughout the winter season.
Where to Store Them
Indoor storage is best, if you have the space, because exposure to the elements in icy weather may make the plastic brittle. Overall, warm storage is better than a cold environment and inside you can control the temperature your kayak is in.
The hull will be better protected if you hang your boat so that the hull faces up toward the ceiling.
If the only available space is outside, it’s important to cover your kayak with a tarp to protect it from UV rays, which can degrade fiberglass, plastic, and even coated fabric. However, it is best to avoid wrapping your kayak in a tarp, particularly in wet environments, as direct contact with the hull can promote mold or fungal growth. Instead, suspend the tarp above the hull rather than simply wrapping the tarp around the boat but make sure the tarp won’t fill up with rain or snow and press down on the hull, which may deform the boat.
Avoid moisture at all costs – rain and snow shouldn’t be able to accumulate in or on the boat.
Also, consider that a heavy pile of snow or a tree that’s toppled by strong winds can crush your kayak.
A shaded spot, such as under a deck or below the eaves of a roof, are suitable outdoor spots for storing your kayak.
How to Prepare for Storage
- Fill any cracks to avoid damage that water freezing inside cracks may cause.
- Keep it elevated. Animals may fancy a kayak for their new cozy spot, so keep it elevated. You don’t want to have to deal with the effects of sharp claws and the acid in urine. Also, if you store your boat directly on the floor or ground for long periods, it can lead to deformation of the hull and expose the boat to moisture and dirt from the ground.
- Stored plastic kayaks should be stored on their sides.
- Store composite kayaks on their sides or upside down.
- Kayak hulls may deform or bend over time due if their weight isn’t distributed evenly. In storage, support the weight of the boat at points along its length, using padded cradles or wide nylon straps that match the curve of the hull. It is recommended to support the boat about one-third of the way in on each end.
- Avoid strapping down your kayak tightly as long-term pressure can deform the body.
- Secure racks properly and if you need to hang your kayak outside but you don’t have a rack either use or build a pair of sawhorses with a webbing in place of the top support. Alternatively, you can use two universal foam kayak blocks, spaced six to eight feet apart, leaning the kayak on its side against the wall.
Here are some general tips for storing your raft during the winter months:
- Clean your boat before you put it in storage to reduce the chances of it developing a foul odor or mold. Use a purpose-made inflatable boat cleaner and thoroughly wash off any residue, like debris, dirt or microorganisms.
- Store your raft dry. Ensuring your raft is completely dry before storing it away prevents the formation of molds.
- Is your storage area dry? Moisture in a humid environment can cause mold.
- Keep it off the floor and away from the wall. This helps you avoid contact with objects that might puncture your boat or mice that want to nibble on it.
- Make sure your raft is stored in a well-ventilated space.
- Avoid a storage area, such as a garden toolshed, where temperatures may be extreme.
Many people wonder whether to leave their raft inflated or deflated. We answer that question next.
Storing Your Raft Inflated
If possible, it is best to keep your raft inflated because the tubing is strongest when it is pumped up. The surface of the tubing will be resistant to getting caught or punctured and the seams and attachments hold up well with pressure.
Inflated, your raft is also more difficult for mice to nibble on if any get into your storage area.
Air pressure can slowly decrease over time so check your raft periodically to see if it needs more air pressure.
Storing Your Raft Uninflated
If your raft is deflated, it is best to store it like this only for short periods until you can move it to a storage location where it can remain fully inflated. Of course, there may be instances in which your only option is storing your raft deflated. If that’s the case, consider rolling it up with dryer sheets or a moisture absorber to ensure moisture does not accumulate.
It is best to store your bike in a dry place with a constant temperature that does not drop below 66°F.
- The first step when storing your bike is to clean it thoroughly and dry the entire frame, including the bike seat, the frame, handlebars, tires, and hand grips.
- The chain should also be cleaned properly, using either a bike chain cleaner, special washing brooms in a variety of sizes, or even a small hand broom along with an old toothbrush.
- Wipe the frame tubes, using a cloth moistened with silicon oil, to prevent material degradation from humidity.
- If there is no danger of soiling the floor or furniture, grease the bike chain to protect it against air moisture.
- Covering the bike with a blanket or tarp will shield it from air dust that might adhere to the oil layer.
- Make sure the tires are completely inflated and check them once a month, otherwise the rubber may degrade and the weight would eventually press the rims through the rubber. If possible, it’s better to hang your bike so the wheels are off the ground, helping tire pressure to decline more slowly.
- A space-saving solution is storing the bike in a bicycle bag. To do this, you’ll need to remove the wheels, dismantle the handlebars, and the seat post. This is sure to keep your bike in good condition.
- If you have electronic features on your bike, such as rechargeable batteries, check the manufacturer’s instructions for storing them for a long time, which will tell you whether the batteries should be fully or partially charged prior to storage, or in some other state.