Tips for Cleaning Paddling Gear and Maintenance
With even minimal paddling gear maintenance and care during paddling season and before storing away, your boat or board and gear will last a lot longer. These are a few easy steps you can take to ensure your kayak, paddleboard, canoe, and paddling gear stay in good shape for years to come.
Kayak, Canoe and Paddleboard Cleaner and Protectant
Cleaning paddling gear and using a marine-specific surface protectant is an easy way to extend the lifespan of your boat and board. Whether you store your kayak, canoe or paddleboard inside (highly recommended) or outdoors (sometimes the only option), time eventually affects the surface and rigging. Using a boat cleaner and protectant will help keep your boat or board and hatch seals in good shape. DO NOT use Armorall – it is not made for marine environments and is also toxic to aquatic life.
Polyethylene (plastic) kayaks are relatively maintenance-free, other than cleaning and occasional UV protectant plus repairs to aging deck rigging. On composite kayaks, scratches or superficial damage can be buffed with rubbing compound and followed with a polishing compound. Gel coat repair kits are available for more extensive repairs. If you have specific questions about repairing your composite boat or board, contact the manufacturer for the best advice.
Wetsuit, Drysuit and Neoprene Gear Cleaner and Deodorizer
Neoprene booties are many paddlers’ introduction to the infamous neoprene stink common in paddling and scuba circles. Even when you rinse and dry after wearing, things end up really smelly. Regular laundry soap is NOT a good idea but there are good cleaning and deodorizing options specifically made to clean and extend the life of your neoprene footwear, gear, wetsuit or drysuit. Be sure to follow the specific instructions.
After cleaning and drying, repair small tears or holes. This is great stuff to add to your repair kit for use on wetsuits, booties, sprayskirts, gloves, or other neoprene gear.
Drysuit (and Other) Zipper Cleaner and Lubricant
Zippers on drysuits, life jackets, tents, and other gear are a common point of failure, and will last much longer and work better with basic prevention and maintenance.
- Always hang your drysuit to dry after use, and dry tents and other gear with zippers before packing them for storage.
- Use even, firm pressure with straight pull to zip and unzip (not tugging from sides or off-center).
- Store plastic drysuit zips all the way closed, and metal zips partially closed (refer to manufacturer info if unsure).
- If zipper feels like it’s jammed, don’t force it – carefully back it up and figure out what is causing problem.
- Store drysuits with zipper flat – never folded or rolled with zipper bent. Fold the drysuit horizontally with zipper flat, then roll it up like a sausage so the zipper stays flat.
- Use a marine-specific zipper lubricant to keep gear zippers in good shape. If your zipper is old and dirty, use a zipper cleaner before lubricating.
These few basic cleaning and maintenance practices will help extend the life of your boat or board and gear. For more tips on maintenance and storage, join us for upcoming Paddlers Happy Hour Meet & Greet events in the Kansas City area (Missouri and Kansas).
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