When you treat your kayak, paddle and other gear well you can have confidence it’ll last you for years of enjoyable paddling. Spring is the perfect time to give it all a good cleaning and to check it over for any damage.
For those like us who live and paddle mostly in the north, our kayaks and kayak gear have taken a break for a few months over the winter. But even if you’re able to paddle year-round, it’s still smart to check everything over occasionally to keep it all in top shape.
Our friends at Paddling.com have a couple great articles on this topic (here and here), which we’ve summarized for you:
Is Your Kayak Still Watertight?
If your kayak has bulkheads and hatches, when’s the last time you tested to be sure they’re still watertight? You’ll want to check for any water leaking into the cockpit as well as leaking out of the hatch covers.
Any Deck or Hull Repairs Needed?
Scratches and dings are normal wear-and-tear for kayaks. But if you see a deeper gash that needs repair then you’ll want to take that seriously. You can follow the manufacturer’s suggestions and make the repair yourself, or take it into a local shop for the work.
Are Your Deck Lines, Grab Loops and Fittings in Good Shape?
Deck lines, grab loops and fittings can all weaken and loosen over time. Sunlight, salt water and lots of use all can affect them. Some kayakers like to replace lines every year or two if they depend on them to be full-strength.
How About Foot Pegs or Pedals? Seat and Rudder?
Check the cables and systems for sand, dirt, salt water corrosion. It’s easier to find issues with your kayak up on a couple of saw horses in the backyard than on the water—safer, too!
Is your seat still in good shape? You certainly don’t want that giving out on you in the middle of a long day of kayaking.
Your paddling season will be more enjoyable when you don’t have gear failures!
Now Check Your Paddle(s) and PFD
Hopefully you cleaned your paddle shaft out good and stored it (preferably separated) in a dry, clean spot during the winter. Now check the blades for cracks or other weakness. Be sure the ferrule system is clean and works easily.
Check the straps or zipper of your PFD so you know it’ll fit still you snugly but comfortably.
Don’t Forget Your Roof Rack System
Look over your roof rack and saddle system. Is the padding in good shape? Is the rack secured tightly to your vehicle? Anything rusted or corroded? Clean and lubricate any moving parts so they continue to work smoothly.
Do You Have a Fully-Stocked Emergency and/or First Aid Kit?
This maybe isn’t so necessary for “cabin paddlers” but if you regularly paddle long distances or for several hours at a time this is important. Does your bilge pump work well? Do you have a watertight (i.e., dry bag) with First Aid supplies and other emergency items like fire starter, dry clothes, a whistle, energy bars, etc.?
If you used things from your emergency kit last season and haven’t replaced them, now is the time.
You don’t want to be surprised by gear failures when you’re ready to load your kayak on your vehicle or put it on the water for the first time this season! A little spring cleaning goes a long ways.