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How Long Does A Kayak Last? 5 Awesome Materials Examined

how long does a kayak last

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If you’re wondering: “How long does a kayak last?” you’ve come to the right place for answers about kayaks of various materials.

Kayaks and canoes are expensive things. Some cost hundreds of dollars, so it is understandable to want your investment to last for a lengthy period. Some investigation is required to establish the expected lifespan of a kayak and what you can do to extend the life of the kayak, and what treatment and conditions will hasten their demise.

A good quality kayak can last for ten years or longer if you take care of it and follow some basic precautions when moving or storing it. Essentially, your actions will determine how long a kayak will last. Don’t leave it in the sun or drag it along hard or sharp surfaces, and it will last a long time. 

How long does a kayak last?
How long does a kayak last? Let’s find out based on materials!

This article will explore how long you can expect kayaks and canoes made of different materials to last. We will discuss the dos and don’ts of taking care of and storing your kayaks. The article will offer some practical advice for prolonging your kayak’s lifespan. So, grab your paddle and lifejacket (make sure you don’t drag your kayak, use a kayak trolly cart like this one from Amazon instead) and get ready for a rapid breakdown of how long your kayak can last and how you can ensure it lasts a long time. 

How Long Does A Kayak Last? Let’s Look At What They’re Made Of!

different types of kayak materials change the lifespan
Different materials change longevity.

How Long Will Plastic Kayaks Last?

How Long Will Plastic Kayaks Last?
How Long Will Plastic Kayaks Last?

I found a quote on a kayak discussion forum that perfectly sums up how long your kayak should last. It says, “It will last about as long as a plastic 5-gallon bucket of the same color. If you bury the kayak in a landfill, it will last forever. If you leave the kayak sitting out in the sun, it will start getting brittle in a few years.”

If you leave your kayak in the sun, like most things, it’ll fade and become brittle eventually. Like other things as well, if you take good care of it, it’ll last longer. That said, if you treat your kayak well and don’t leave it lying around in the sun, it should last for at least ten years. Some better-quality kayaks may last even longer, especially if you take excellent care. 

You can try an inflatable kayak too. Here’s a great inflatable kayak from Amazon that reportedly lasts a very long time when taken care of properly. What I like about an inflatable is that you can safely store it in a bin in your garage after it’s dried out following use. That way you really limit long-term sun damage and exposure issues.

How Long Do Wood Kayaks Last?

How Long Do Wood Kayaks Last?
How Long Do Wood Kayaks Last?

Many specialty canoe makers craft wooden canoes as functional pieces of art. These kayaks take a very long time to make as they are handmade, and the wood used has to be carefully selected. As a result, they are generally quite expensive. 

Wooden canoes should last for ten years or longer. However, they do require some more maintenance than other materials. It is good to varnish the wood every few years, primarily if you use the boat very often, keeping the wood in good condition. 

If you really want an awesome woodworking project, check out the Zen of Wooden Kayak Building. It’s a DVD that is really awesome at teaching you to build a lightweight wooden kayak. I’m a bit of a woodworker, so I found it really interesting.

How Long Do Kevlar Kayaks Last?

How Long Do Kevlar Kayaks Last?
How Long Do Kevlar Kayaks Last?

Kevlar canoes are desirable options if you are spending a lot of time on the water and going on long trips with a lot of equipment. I love my kevlar canoe and I can tell you from experience that kevlar kayaks are no different. It is because they are much lighter than other materials like wood, plastic, and fiberglass. 

However, the trade-off here is that they are not as durable as the other options. They struggle with a barrage of rocks in shallow water. While it is generally never a good idea to scrape your canoe along rocks, some materials can handle it much better than Kevlar can.

But, if you avoid constant rocks barrages and follow the care advice in later paragraphs, your Kevlar canoe should last for at least ten years. 

How Long Do Fiberglass Kayaks Last?

How Long Do Fiberglass Kayaks Last?
We strongly recommend wearing a life jacket, unlike this guy in his fiberglass kayak.

Fiberglass canoes are relatively easy to manufacture, and as a result, are pretty cheap. They are easy to repair, as they don’t require expert skills like wooden or aluminum canoes. Furthermore, they generally do not need much maintenance, so they’re an easy and affordable option. 

They will last longer than their plastic counterparts, especially plastic kayaks or canoes. Some people have had their fiberglass canoes for over 20 years, and they are still going strong. So, if you take decent care of your fiberglass canoe, it should last for a very long time. 

How Long Do Aluminium Kayaks Last?

Aluminum canoes are probably the most durable canoes around. They require a lot less care and maintenance than wood or plastic canoes/kayaks. They are also a lot more durable than other canoes, which means they can take quite a few bumps from rocks and other hard objects. 

These canoes should last you well over ten years, which makes them a good return on investment. However, their drawback is that they are not very maneuverable and are extremely heavy, so they are not practical if regular transport. 

How To Make Your Kayak Last Longer

Your kayak will last much longer if you treat it well. The two main ways of prolonging your kayak’s lifespan are to store it properly and do not scrape, bump or drop it on hard surfaces while transporting or paddling it. 

  • Storage: When you are storing your kayak, there are several things you don’t want to do. The main one is to not leave it outside for a prolonged period. The sun can damage a plastic kayak and make it brittle. In winter, if you live in an area where it snows, the weight of the snow can cause your kayak to warp or break.  

It is best to store the watercraft under cover, either under your deck or in a shed or garage. It is also preferable not to store it directly on the floor, as a hard floor can damage your kayak. Using kayak holders or racks will prevent this, and it’ll also keep pesky critters that can damage the seats or lines out of your seating or storage areas.  

  • Transport: When transporting your kayak, you need to make sure that it isn’t scraping against a hard surface like rocks or concrete. The way around this is not to drag your kayak when it is not in the water. There are two ways to do this.

The first is to get someone to help you carry it to the water, so you don’t have to drag it. The second is to use a kayak cart to rest your kayak and wheel it to the water. This simple device will make life somewhat more manageable for you in the long run and protect your kayak. So, it’s a win-win situation. 

Furthermore, when you are transporting your kayak in or on your vehicle, it is also essential to be aware of a few things that can prolong the lifespan of your kayak. The most important thing is to TIE IT DOWN properly. An event you want to avoid is to have your kayak flying off your vehicle at high speed. It will likely cause significant and sometimes irreparable damage to your kayak. Or, even worse, it could hit another car behind you, which will not end well. 

  • Tip When Kayaking: When you’re kayaking, the main thing you can do to make your kayak last longer is to avoid sharp rocks in shallow water. These can damage or crack your hull, especially if you have a lot of weight on your kayak. There isn’t too much out there that can damage your kayak. 

Final Thoughts

The length of time your kayak lasts is really up to you. Barring any significant accidents or unforeseen breakages, the way you care for your kayak or canoe is what determines how long it lasts. 

Most kayaks and canoes these days have a lifespan of at least ten years. However, you can accelerate your vessel’s decline by leaving it in the sun and by scraping or bumping it on hard and sharp surfaces. The same applies to prolonging its life span. With good care, keeping it out of the sun and off concrete rocks, your kayak should last for ten more years. 

Therefore, if you want your kayak to last a long time, you can go the extra mile and properly look after it. But, if you’re happy to shell out more money in a few years, you don’t have to look after it as well and can leave it lying in the garden. 

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