How Long Do Kayaks Last ?

A kayak has to face many different conditions in water bodies. Because of this, it is best to understand the kayak’s lifespan and how best you can take care of it to increase its durability.

Most types of kayaks may last an average of 7 to 12 years. It will largely depend on the material, use, water conditions, care, exposure to the elements, and other factors we shall look at in this guide.

Factors That Influence the Life Span of a Kayak

The construction material

Plastic kayaks are common on the market today. They are lightweight because of the polyethylene component. The construction process of a plastic kayak includes UV resistance matter, giving the kayak a longer life span of about 12 years.

Moreover, there is also composite as a construction material. This is a combination of several materials like fiberglass and Kevlar that are held together with epoxy. The lifespan of these kayaks depends on the number of layers on the composite body.

In addition, wooden kayaks are also available. They are the most durable kayaks and can stay up to 15 years with maximum maintenance. However, they are heavy and hard to control in rough waters. Wooden kayaks require periodic maintenance like painting.

A combination of several construction materials can also increase the life span of a kayak. For example, a plastic kayak with a metallic frame can stay for a few extra years.

Type of kayak

The type of kayak can also influence the life span. Every type is made for a specific purpose and type of water. The common types of kayaks are; whitewater kayaks, seawater kayaks, sit-on-top kayaks, and recreational kayaks.

The white waters kayaks and seawater kayaks are designed to run in rough waters. As a result, they have a shorter lifespan of about four years. They run on rocky river beds and against strong water waves in the sea.

Furthermore, touring kayaks and recreational kayaks run in soft and calm waters like the lake. They do not face rough environments and hence have a chance to stay for long. On average, these types of kayaks can stay up to 10 years.

Exposure to sunlight

UV rays are the biggest enemy of kayaks. These rays penetrate the material weakening the bonds. In this case, your kayak will be vulnerable to destruction with little impact.

Plastic and fiberglass are the most vulnerable to UV rays. Ensure you place the kayak indoors after using it. If it is wet, wipe the body with a towel and store it under a shade.

Exposure to salty water

Yes, a kayak has to run in water, but the type of water can affect its life span. Salty water can easily react with the construction material, weakening the bonds. Your kayak will not stay for long if it always runs in salty water. Please wash it with soap and fresh water after exposure to salty water.

Storage and handling

A kayak is like a baby; handle it with care and love. Avoid dragging over hard surfaces, and it will have a longer life.

User a roller wheelbarrow to carry it to your car or from the car to your house. On the other hand, make sure you store the kayak in a cool and dry place. Cover it with a plastic bag to prevent dust. Also, ensure the kayak is dry before storage.


How frequently do you maintain your kayak? Maintenance highly affects the life span of a kayak. You should maintain your kayak after every three months, and it will live longer. Draw out a schedule and set a reminder on your calendar.

Take time to check for holes in the hull and also replace damaged parts, including the accessories. Cleaning the kayak is also a good maintenance tip.

Frequency of usage

Of course, the more frequently you use your kayak, the fewer years it will survive. Recreational kayaks stay for longer because they only run once in a while.

You should also take out your kayak in the warmer months of the year. This is because cold water can also affect the construction material of the kayak.

Care and Maintenance Tips of a Kayak

–       Always wash your kayak with fresh water and liquid soap

–       Avoid long time exposure to sunlight

–       Wash the kayak after a trip in salty water

–       Store it in a cool and dry place and cover the kayak in the storage area

–       Remember to maintain and replace old kayak accessories

–       Dry the kayak, especially in the hull, before storage

–       Do not drag the kayak on hard surfaces

–       Tighten the ropes while transporting the kayak in a car

–       You can apply the UV-resistant spray to protect it from the damaging sun

–       Grease the metallic parts to prevent rusting and corrosion

–       Seal the cracks and tighten loose screws

–       Paint your kayak, and it will have a longer life

How to Wash a Kayak

What you need

–       Hand brush

–       Liquid soap or dish soap

–       Two soft cloths

–       Three towels

–       A hose pipe with clean water

–       The polishing wax

Step 1. Find a suitable outdoor space to clean the kayak. It is best if you do it under the shade. Then hose down the dust and other debris with clean water.

Step 2. Pour some water into the bucket and add half a glass of liquid soap. Shake the solution until bubbles appear.

Step 3. Start by cleaning the hull. Pour some of the soapy solutions into the hull and scrub it with a hand brush. Be gentle with the brush not to damage the hull’s surface. Ensure you also clean the footrests.

Step 4. Turn the kayak upside down to remove the soapy water. Again hose the hull to rinse the soap. For the last time, turn it upside down to remove the excess water.

Step 5. Next is to wash the exterior body. Dip a clean cloth in the soapy solution and wash the whole body. Do not use a hand brush on the body because it can cause some scratches.

Step 6. Once the body is clean, rinse it with clean water. Avoid pouring water into the hull. Use the towel to dry the kayak, including the hull.

Step 7. Finally, apply the polishing wax to give it a shiny appearance. You can also apply the sun-resistant spray. Allow the kayak to settle under the shade for thirty minutes before taking it indoors.


How to remove stains on a kayak

After washing your kayak, you can find a few stubborn stains on the body. Here you need ethanol or alcohol, a washing sponge, liquid soap, and warm water. Apply the liquid soap to the stain and add a few drops of ethanol. Scrub the surface with the sponge in a circular motion. Lastly, rinse the surface with warm water and allow it to dry.

How do you know if a kayak is good ?

The quality of the kayak depends on several features. But the prominent feature is the type of construction material. In addition, the shape of the hull can also determine its quality. A narrow kayak has better speeds.

Is there a metallic kayak ?

There is no fully metallic kayak, but it can be a combination of other materials. You can have a metallic frame with a fiberglass kayak. Such types of kayaks are usually durable and can serve you for over 10 years.

Do kayaks break ?

Of course, kayaks break especially when they don’t have adequate care and maintenance. UV rays and salty water weaken your kayak hence easily breaking or cracking with the slightest impact.

Can you repair a crack on a plastic kayak ?

Yes, it is a simple procedure that involves the use of a silicone seal. If the crack is too big, you can add some screws and clips but finish up with a water-resistant seal. However, call a profession when it is a huge crack.

Final Thoughts

Under optimal conditions, a kayak can stay up to 15 years. But it all depends on several factors. The construction material is the main determinant of the life span. We recommend a plastic kayak because it is lightweight, cheap, and resistant to cracks and bends. Always practice proper maintenance to have a longer useful life.

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