Inflatable Kayak Maintenance - How to Prevent Sun Damage

By Miller Johnson

Inflatable kayaks are getting more popular among avid boaters. It's apparent that they have a lot of benefits compared to traditional wooden kayaks. Because they are foldable, they are portable and can be carried anywhere in the world's most challenging rapids. Inflatable kayaks can be placed in your bag for these adventures, although a lot of kayaks nowadays come with their own backpacks for the ultimate in carrying convenience.

Aside from portability, another advantage of inflatable kayaks is that they are safer and more stable than their hard shell counterparts. On the water, a portable kayak does not tip over as easily as a traditional hard shell. Contrary to the popular assumption that inflatable kayaks puncture easily, wooden kayaks are much more prone to breaking apart when they hit sharp objects like rocks and jutting tree roots.

But while a kayak can become nearly immune to these elements, it's not invincible to the heat of the sun. The PVC or Hypalon material that inflatable kayaks are made of can withstand the bumps brought about by rocks and hard objects, but they are no match to the wrath of the sun, particularly when it's out of the cool waters.

The sun can cause irreparable damage to an already-inflated kayak when left out in the sand or any other place where it's at the mercy of the intense heat. A kayak should not be exposed to the rays of the sun when it's fully blown-up. After air is pumped into it, it should immediately be launched into the water.

The reason behind this is that the sun's heat can destroy the structures inside the kayak, the most important of which is the septum or the part of the boat that makes the kayak's floor flat. The tube-like sections of the boat's bottom are made up of septums. Too much exposure to the sun's heat will cause the septums to be torn apart and when this happens, the floor will not anymore have those tube-like sections but will instead have a single shape that will make the kayak unstable. You won't be able to sit on a firm floor when this occurs, but that's the least of your worries.

What compounds your problem is the fact that you'd be hard pressed to repair a kayak with damaged septums. You might find a shop who could do the repair job for you but that would cost you quite an amount. So as far as the sun goes, just keep your kayak away from the sun's rays if that is at all possible.

Is there any way of knowing if the sun is too hot for your inflatable kayak? Basically, if the sand is too hot for your bare feet, then it's too much for your kayak to handle. Better yet, on a sunny day out, just don't leave your fully inflated kayak out in the sun or in the parking lot with no form of protection. Get it into the water as soon as it's inflated.

Should this not be possible, you should take the time find a shaded area for your kayak or get it into shallow water for the meantime. Taking out a little air from your inflatable also helps prevent sun damage to your inflatable kayak.

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