Protecting against hull damage: Over time most kayak hulls will deform or bend if its weight is not distributed evenly. Plastic and fabric hulls are the most susceptible to damage, but it can also happen to fiberglass and wood-hulled boats. The ideal method for storing a kayak to avoid hull distortion is on its side, the strongest part of the boat.
The weight of your boat needs to be distributed evenly so it is spread out over its length using durable webbing that conforms to the curve of the hull. This means supporting the boat at two points positioned slightly less than half the length of the boat. For example: if your boat is 16 feet long, then the support towers should be approximately 6 feet apart, (16' x 0.40 = 6'). See the spacing guide chart at the bottom of this page. The goal is to have the length and weight of the boat balanced equally on the suspension straps.
Avoid these storage methods:
Supporting your kayak from its ends only.
Laying poly boats on the floor, flat surface and/or on their sides for long periods of time. This may cause a flattening, deformation, or "oil canning".
Hanging it from its grab loops at either end of the boat. This can cause the hull to bow.
Standing the kayak up on one end (white water boats are the exception.)
Protecting against the sun and moisture: Sunlight can degrade just about any kayak hull material, from fiberglass, kevlar and carbon fiber to plastic. Prolonged exposure to weather can cause some hull materials to oxidize and/or degrade.
The best way to protect against sun damage is to store your boat inside. When that's not possible, store your boat in a shaded spot or under a tarp. Look for a cover that is made from UV resistant materials. A lot of less expensive covers look great when you first get them, but after a year or so the UV rays start to make the material brittle and fall apart. Rig the tarp so it's suspended above the hull allowing the air to flow and reduce mildew, also angle it so that rain water and/or snow can run off to one side.
Another option is to use a kayak cover. When choosing a cover look for one that is "water resistant", not "water proof". This type of material will breathe, letting moisture out while keeping most of the rain and snow from coming in. Avoid wrapping your boat with a "water proof" tarp as the hull will hold moisture and promote mold growth and discolor your boat. Note: moisture + heat = mildew, the last thing you want in your boat! Do your best to cover your entire kayak for maximum protection and be sure that rain and/or snow can't collect in the tarp/cover and press down on your kayak hull. We have found a few options for tarps at West Marine .
Protecting against the other elements: Avoid storing any kayak near a significant heat source like a furnace or a water heater. The longer you store your boat, the more important proper storage technique becomes.
If you store your boat outside or in an unheated building, be aware that repeated freezing and thawing can cause damage to fiberglass boats. If water has seeped into seams, joints or cracks in the hull, it will expand and contract. Inspect your boat carefully for signs of damage prior to and after long term storage. If you paddle in salt water, be sure to rinse your boat thoroughly with fresh water before you store it. Salt water can degrade hull materials and corrode metal parts.
Apply a UV protective coating to your plastic or fiberglass kayak prior to any long storage. The coating will shield the boat from oxidation and sunlight.
If storing your kayak outside it is best to cover with a loose tarp to keep the sun off of it and remove the hatch covers to prevent excessive temperature extremes inside. Do not let your fiberglass kayak sit in the back yard full of rainwater. Fiberglass is porous and will absorb water permanently adding substantial weight to the boat!
Safety for you and your kayak: These simple guidelines will secure your boat safely and prevent someone from getting hurt in the event that the boat is knocked off the storage rack.
Be sure your boats are secure for short- and long-term storage. Whether you store your boats inside or outside, they can get bumped or moved by a gust of wind;
Strap your boats securely onto the rack (SUSPENZ™ also uses locking pins on pivot arm for extra safety)
Secure the racks to dock (or floor if necessary)
Distance between 2-Point suspension concept: To determine the distance between the suspension points is based on the length of your kayak. The goal is to position the two points so the length and weight of the boat are balanced equally, meaning the distance between them is ~40% of the length of your kayak. For example: If your kayak is 16' (192") long, the two points should be 77" apart. (192" x 0.40 = 77" / 6'5") Here is a chart to help you decide what will work best for you...
2-POINT SPACING GUIDE LINE