Is It Okay to Store a Canoe Outside? (+Storage Tips)


Canoeing is an exciting hobby, but there’s no doubt that its storage can quickly become an issue. If you have a packed garage and no shed available for additional storage, you have to start weighing your options. You might be surprised to learn the possibilities of what can happen when you leave it out in the elements versus indoors.

It is not okay to store a canoe outside because of the damaging effects linked with constant exposure to UV rays and moisture. Storage outside may also lead to thievery. Consider locking your canoe up under a tree, tarp, or other coverage source to minimize the potential risk of damage or thievery.

Throughout this article, you will also learn the following information about canoe storage tips:

  • why you should do your best to store your canoe indoors
  • how you can prevent damage to your canoe if it’s stored outside
  • different ways to make room for your canoe
  • damage caused by exposing your canoe to the elements

The Drawbacks of Storing Your Canoe Outside

Most canoes are not designed to withstand long-term exposure to weather and heat. Even though they’re meant to float on water for extended periods of time, the material is no match for the sun’s direct heat. Let’s review a handful of reasons that leaving your canoe outside for a long time could be a bad idea.

Prolonged Sun Exposure Weakens the Canoe’s Structural Integrity

It is no secret that the sun’s hot rays can break down tools, boats, and other supplies. If you’ve ever left anything plastic outside, you probably noticed that it loses its color quickly. These rays can gradually detract from a canoe’s vibrant color, resulting in an old, tarnished appearance.

Another issue is that the sun’s UV rays can weaken the material. This issue creates thin parts of the canoe, resulting in holes, cracks, and water leakages. You might not even notice a problem until you’re out on the water and liquid starts seeping into the canoe. Fortunately, there are patches that you can use to repair these holes.

In addition, sun exposure can break straps, strings, and other parts of your canoe. Anything that’s used to hold your paddle or your seat will be damaged over a few months.

Cold Rain and Snow Can Degrade the Hull

Snow never seems like an issue until it’s too late. The vast majority of damage caused during a snowstorm is not from the wind. It is from the compiled weight of snow that does not melt quickly enough. When several inches or feet of snow builds up, it can weigh hundreds of pounds. Too much weight can crack or cave in a canoe.

Rain is another serious problem. Ice-cold rain weakens the canoe’s superficial layer by exposing it to drastic temperature changes. This process slowly warps the canoe’s surface, especially if it has already been scorched from prior sun exposure. The dye will wither, the canoe’s shape will slowly deform, and weak spots will gradually spring up throughout the canoe.

Hail, lightning, sleet, and almost all other weather patterns are bad for canoes. Even excess amounts of dryness, humidity, or temperature changes can cause headaches down the line.

Outside Storage Leaves the Canoe Vulnerable to Thievery

Keeping your canoe outside is never a good solution if there are thieves in the area. The problem is that you never know if there is a criminal lurking in the local neighborhood until your canoe goes missing. Never assume that a nice neighborhood is enough to keep out thieves. These areas are often targeted because homeowners are too relaxed with their belongings.

Your canoe should not be stored outside for many reasons, but thievery is a top concern. It takes 15 seconds for someone to toss your canoe in the back of their truck and drive away. Using locks, straps, and other methods found later in this article will prevent thieves, but nothing beats leaving it inside.

Keep in mind that your canoe should be stored lying down rather than standing up to prevent thieves from seeing it. However, this setting can cause weight problems, as you will discover in the next section.

Unequal Weight Distribution of the Canoe Is More Likely With Outside Storage

A strong hull serves as the foundation for solid weight distribution on a canoe. As you read above, harsh weather conditions can severely weaken the hull. The problem of the hull weakening is only exacerbated when the canoe is stored so that its weight is lopsided, creating unnecessary pressure points.

Unfortunately, this issue only gets worse if the canoe is left this way for months at a time. Storing the canoe vertically places a heavy amount of pressure on the bow or stern, whereas setting the canoe flat on the ground causes it act as a collecting pool for rainwater and sunlight exposure.

Either way, it is a lose-lose situation. Weight distribution is a key part of canoeing. Without proper storage techniques, you risk losing out the canoe’s true value.

How Much Longer Will a Canoe Last Storing It Inside vs. Outside?

Leaving a canoe outside has been proven time and time again to be bad for your boat. Even so, you’re probably asking yourself, “How bad can it be?” The devastating effects of storing your canoe outside comes as a shock to most people. You’ll quickly learn how worthwhile it is to keep your canoe in the safety of the indoors, far away from the negative effects of the great outdoors.

Average Lifespan of a Canoe

If you take solid care of a canoe, it can last well over a decade. However, improper storage can be extremely detrimental, even if you took extra precautions to maintain your canoe out on the water. In extreme cases, these negative effects can be enough to ruin a canoe in less than one year.

According to Best Boat Report, a canoe can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years (source). They state that the quality, material, and storage tactics are all direct factors that tell you how much life you will get out of it. If storage is ⅓ of the maintenance, then it should be at the top of your list. The other two factors are dealt with when you actually purchase the canoe.

How Different Canoe Materials React to Being Outside

  • Plastic – This material can be weakened by the sun and other weather elements. It also cracks and loses its dye very quickly from getting sun-bleached.
  • Aluminum – This material gets incredibly hot, but it’s fairly durable compared to plastic. However, long-term weather exposure causes calcification and splintering.
  • Royalex – This ingredient is one of the worst for sun exposure. It can be thinned out, splintered, and broken very quickly from direct sunlight on a dry day.
  • Kevlar – This material is similar to Royalex in the sense that it’s not designed for UV rays. Storing a kevlar canoe inside of a bag, garage, or shed is absolutely necessary to prevent long-term, irreparable damage.

How to Create Extra Room Inside for Canoe Storage

I may sound like a broken record, but keeping your canoe inside is the best course of action. It might seem like all of the space in your shed or garage is already taken up, but you might be surprised by how much you can do with a small room. Below, you’ll find two top-notch solutions for this common problem.

Overhead Canoe Hoist System

Getting an overhead canoe hoist system only takes up a little bit of space on the roof of your garage. They are fairly inexpensive, but the price gets higher for hoists that need to support bigger, heavier canoes. Using a few straps and a pulley system, you can elevate or remove your canoe in seconds.

The RAD Sportz 1003 Kayak & Canoe Lift Hoist is an excellent example of such an invention. It comes with two straps; One for each side of the canoe. Attach them around the edges of the boat, then slowly raise it to the ceiling of your garage. Since it uses rubber padding, it will not scratch or damage your canoe.

These straps can handle up to 125 pounds, so feel free to hang a canoe up to 12 feet on the ceiling. When you are ready to bring it down, you can lower it with the straps into your truck’s bed or on top of your car. This is as easy as it gets without having to leave your canoe outside.

Canoe Wall Mount Storage

Another solution is to hang your canoe with a few wall mounts. As long as you’re able to lift and remove the canoe manually, you can use this storage system with ease. The best part is that it does not take up much space when your canoe’s not mounted.

If you’re looking for a wall mount, try the NZACE Giant Storage Hanger. It includes a couple of mounts that allow you to hang various pieces of outdoor equipment, such as bicycles, canoes, and kayaks. You can measure your canoe’s size, drill the holes, and mount your canoe in under 10 minutes.

What to Do if Storing the Canoe Outside Is Your Only Option

Sometimes, keeping your canoe outdoors is the only thing you can do. A packed garage, a lack of a shed, or an apartment lifestyle can severely limit your options. The good news is that—by taking the proper precautions—you can still prevent most of the damage caused by the elements.

Store the Canoe in a Shaded Area

Keep your canoe under a tarp or tree. If you have a balcony, make sure that it is not exposed to the sun throughout the day. A canoe should always be stored upside-down (source).

However, it’s not smart to let the canoe sit right on its face without keeping it elevated. Try placing cinder blocks or bricks to keep the canoe up in the air. This positioning will allow for optimal airflow while also preventing the straps and other components from being squished against the hard ground.

Spray the Canoe With a UV Coating

UV damage is no joke for canoers. It can ruin their boat in a couple of months, so why not protect it with a thin layer of UV spray? The Star Brite Ultimate Paddlesports Cleaner is a top-seller for many enthusiasts.

This high-quality spray prevents the sun’s harmful rays from weakening the material of your canoe. Keep in mind that direct exposure can still prove harmful. Try to leave it in the shade while also incorporating the spray for dual protection.

You can also use the spray to clean your canoe inside and out. It works on paddles, seats, straps, and other components. Every bottle comes with enough liquid for multiple applications.

Place Your Canoe Under an Elevated Tarp

Tarps are an inexpensive solution. Most homeowners already have a tarp as it is. Hang it from fence posts, trees, or chairs to protect your canoe from sunlight and rain. You would be surprised as to how much damage can be prevented by using a small 12 x 12 tarp to cover your canoe or kayak.

It should be noted that tarps become very brittle when the sun hits them for too long. Your only two solutions include getting a new tarp every few months or spraying it down with a UV-proof spray like the one mentioned in the previous section.

If you do not own a tarp, you can also use a canopy tent or an umbrella. Anything that wicks moisture and stops UV rays is enough to protect your canoe. These supplies also work to stop the canoe from becoming brittle by reducing the direct heat to the boat’s material.

Lock Your Canoe Up to Keep It Safe

Locking your canoe can protect it from thieves. It also prevents heavy winds from blowing it around the yard. There are plenty of locks to choose from. Just as with any other type of lock, make sure you go for quality rather than finding the cheapest lock. It might cost a bit more for a high-end lock, but it’s better than having to buy an entirely new canoe because of thievery.

If you want the best lock around, invest in a small shed. Contrary to popular belief, building a shed the size of a tiny house is not necessary. As long as the shed is wide enough to hold your canoe, then you’re good to go. There are countless sheds available online and in stores, so you shouldn’t run into any problems finding one.

Lastly, motion lights and alarm systems also work to keep thieves away. Although they’re not a lock per se, they still work similarly.

Use Straps to Keep the Weight of the Canoe Even

When you have things stored in your canoe, such as seats, fishing gear, and other items, it is important to keep the weight distribution as it should be. As aforementioned, improper weight distribution causes a host of problems that result in a shortened lifespan for your canoe.

Tighten and loosen straps around your canoe to level out the pressure. If you are able to check the weight of your canoe from front to back, you will get a clearer picture of what it’s sitting at. Use straps to fix the lighter areas, or move the items around to accommodate the heavy-weight areas of the canoe.

Rinse Your Canoe Prior to Storage if You Paddle in Salt Water

Salt and sunlight combine to make some of the most damaging problems in the industry. Whether you are dealing with a swimming pool or canoes, there’s no denying the harmful effects of these two factors.

Saltwater that dries onto an aluminum canoe can result in corrosion (source). You’ll end up with jagged edges and a useless canoe after only a few stints on the water. You can combat this common issue by washing it off with fresh water once you’re done canoeing. Hose water at home is more than enough to do the job.

If you happen to leave saltwater on your canoe and let it dry accidentally, follow this simple step-by-step procedure:

  1. Spray the canoe with a garden hose to ensure the surface is wet.
  2. Use a sponge with dish soap and warm water to scrub down the whole canoe.
  3. Again, spray it off with hose water to remove all of the suds.
  4. Use a few dry towels to completely remove the moisture from the canoe. If you fail to follow this last step, it can cause calcification.

Conclusion

As you can see, leaving your canoe outside isn’t nearly as protective as storing it in your garage. There are plenty of solutions at your disposal for indoor and outdoor storage, so you should not have a problem keeping your canoe afloat for many years.

Here’s a quick recap of the post:

  • Leaving your canoe outside exposes it to sunlight, weather patterns, uneven weight distribution, and thieves.
  • Use wall mounts or ceiling racks to keep your canoe in your garage.
  • Canoes can last up to 15 years or more when they’re properly maintained.
  • UV spray can be used to protect your canoe if it’s stored outside.

Sources: 1 2 3

Austin Carmody

I am the owner of HydroPursuit. I enjoy kicking back and getting out on the water as much as I can in my free time.

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