Looking after your Inflatable Kayak or Standup Paddleboard (SUP)

How well you take care of your inflatable can directly affect how long it lasts. Wear and tear is  normal and inflatables are made to withstand a fair amount of use and abuse.

Proper care is essential. Some people who finish paddling, get their kayak or SUP out of the water and simply roll it up wet and store it away. That is a recipe for disaster.

Follow these steps to protect your inflatable kayak so you can enjoy it for as long as possible.

1. Cean

Clean any sand or dirt out of the valves. Occasionally clean the rest of the kayak with warm water and mild natural soap.

Things like oil from your skin and sunscreen build up over time as they transfer from you to the kayak.

2. Rinse

Always rinse your kayak / SUP off with fresh water after use particularly when using in the ocean.

Salt water will corrode the material and although not rinsing it once or twice is not that big of a deal, over time it can do real damage.

Close all of the valves before rinsing to make sure no water gets inside the air tubes.  The last thing you want is mold or mildew growing inside of your kayak or SUP.

Rinsing will also help clear any dirt or debris off the material as well as prevent damage from chemicals in the water.

Any body of water where there are speed boats / cruisers will likely contain diesel, oil and fuel as well.

All of these chemicals can eat away at the material of your kayak or SUP unless you rinse it after use.

3. Dry

Drying the kayak or SUP properly not only protects the material but also eliminates the growth of mold and mildew.

There’s nothing worse than being excited to take your kayak out for the first time of the season only to find out it’s a little greener than it was before!

Mold and mildew will degrade the material making it more susceptible to leaks and punctures.

Bring an old towel along and use that to dry the kayak well after use.

We do not recommend leaving the kayak out in the sun for an extended period of time to dry as heat and direct exposure to sunlight can do its own damage, which brings us to the next point.

4. UV Protection

You can use a 303 Protectant spray or  3m marine vinyl cleaner (or similar) to protect the PVC material from harsh UV rays.

5. AIR Expansion

Heat will cause air pressure to expand. So, if you are out in the hot sun for several hours you might want to let a little air out of the kayak to allow for air expansion, which also helps protect the seams.

The kayak tends to get hotter when it is sitting out of the water, especially on pavement. It tends to stay cooler while actually in the water so be especially careful leaving your kayak docked somewhere exposed to the hot sun.

6. Air Pressure

Follow the air pressure guidelines that come with your inflatable kayak or SUP. Over inflating  will damage the seams.

7. Folding or rolling it up

When you fold/roll your kayak or SUP up to store it away there are a few things to keep in mind.

If you roll it the exact same way each time you will crease the same area over and over possibly weakening that area.

Try and fold it up loosely and in a slightly different fashion each time.

This can be tricky as most of use are just trying to roll it up small enough to fit inside the storage bag.

However if you can keep it a looser roll and not crease the same area each time you will eliminate unnecessary weak points.

8. Storage

Storing an inflatable kayak is so much easier than storing a rigid kayak.  You don’t need a lot of space but you do need a dry cool place to keep it.

It’s best not to leave it inflated while storing away for an extended period of time.

Leaving it inflated can cause stress on the seams and valves if the temperatures rises and the air expands. Important if you have a hot garage

Extra care = Less worry

Inflatable kayaks are extremely convenient when you don’t have the space to store or transport a rigid kayak.  They are easy to set up and ideal for storing in small spaces.

Although there may not be time every single outing to follow each step to a tee, if you can follow these guidelines the majority of the time it will make a big difference in the lifespan of your craft.