Most paddlers don’t properly store their gear for the winter. This is usually just an oversight as a result of not knowing that the last paddling trip of the year was indeed the last trip. Then after months of getting buried and kicked around basements and garages we get frustrated when our canoe or kayak gear is lost or ,worse yet, damaged.
Here’s a list of 5 things you can do in the late winter and early spring to make sure you are ready for that first paddling trip of the year.
Locate All of Your Paddling GearYou will want to make sure you have easy access to all of your gear. So, unbury your kayaks and canoes. If you’re like most people, after a long winter your boats are probably buried underneath a bunch of stuff in your garage or basement. You’ll want to do some spring cleaning to give yourself easy access to your boats. Also, locate and bring out all of your containers and bags that contain your kayaking and canoeing gear so you can go through it all.
Inventory Your Canoeing / Kayaking GearOnce you have everything, you’ll want to make sure you’ve found your kayak or canoe, your PFDs, your paddles, dry bags, and your spray skirts if you kayak to say the least. Then, depending on the type of paddling you do you’ll need to make sure you have that specific gear. For whitewater paddling, check for booties, gloves, dry top, rope bag, knife, wet suits, shirts and shorts, and float bags. For sea kayaking you’ll want to check for your paddle float, bilge pump, compass, signals, footwear, paddling jacket and pants, and wetsuit. Also, think of gathering up all of the other things you use while paddling such as sunblock, lip balm, water bottles, dry boxes, duct tape, tools, knives, towels, hat, sunglasses and cord, and whatever else you may need to have with you while on a paddling trip.
Check Your Canoes / Kayaks for DamageStart your inspection process with your boats. Check that all screws are tight, elastic is resilient, adjustment points work, hatches are secure and dry, drain plugs are present, foot and thigh supports are in the boat and functioning, backrest is intact, the hull has no compromising damage, and any other feature your canoe or kayak might have that I failed to list. And oh yeah, change out any duct tape repairs you have on your boat to start the season off fresh. You know exactly what I’m talking about.
Inspect, Repair, and Inventory Your GearLay all of that gear out in a nice organized fashion. Then item by item begin to inspect everything. Inspect that all zippers, buckles, straps, and snaps function as intended and are free from decay or damage. Check all neoprene for tears and separations from other materials. Ensure that all padding and flotation in the various gear items is intact, attached, and in good condition. Check that gaskets and seals are not cracked and still resilient. Check everything for tears and holes. As you go through each item, put aside the ones that need cleaning, replacing or to be repaired. Clean or fix what you can with Aquaseal, by sewing, or duct tape, and make a list of what needs to be replaced.
Repack EverythingOnce everything is fixed and dry, repack all of your gear. Keep it organized. Then put it all somewhere that it will be easily accessible and ready to go! Believe me, when the time comes for that first paddling trip of the season, you’ll be glad you did all this beforehand.