How to store a canoe outside

How to store a canoe outside
Video How to store a canoe outside

Unless you regularly canoe in cold weather or live in a region that makes canoeing year-round possible, you’re going to have to store your canoe for the offseason. How to store a canoe is a topic that’s important because it can affect the overall lifespan of the canoe and give you peace of mind that it will be ready for action once spring weather finally rolls around. Whether a canoe is stored inside or outside, there are considerations to be made that can keep a canoe in great condition year after year.

How Do You Store a Canoe When Not In Use?

There is a right way to store a canoe, and some options are better than others. In all cases, a canoe should be stored upside down, resting on the gunwales. A canoe should be ideally stored inside, off the ground, and away from direct sunlight. If storing a canoe outside, the canoe should be resting on its gunwales and upside down on a rack. The canoe should be covered and kept free from direct sunlight and excessive moisture. Finally, secure the canoe to deter possible theft.

Reasons to Properly Store a Canoe

Protect from UV Damage

UV rays that accompany direct sunlight are incredibly damaging in general, but when a canoe is directly subjected to UV exposure it can damage the hull material. This can cause oil canning, fading, and degradation to the material.

The UV rays of the sun are not just damaging to plastic either, fiberglass, and fabrics can be damaged as well.

Shield From Extreme Hot and Cold

Even if a canoe is kept away from direct sunlight and UV rays, exposure to excessive heat can still cause damage. Some canoes can become misshaped from the heat over time.

The cold itself is not always as big of an issue when it comes to a canoe’s exposure to extreme temperature drops. But, the freeze-thaw cycle can be damaging. Fiberglass canoes are particularly sensitive to this freeze-thaw cycle.

Avoid Excessive Moisture

Moisture from rain and snow can corrode and degrade the canoe material over time when exposed. Plastic, in particular, will absorb water and moisture can weaken the molecular bonds in the plastic.


Properly storing a canoe also means locking your canoe. Storing the canoe indoors greatly reduces the chances of thieves stealing the canoe.

People will make the mistake of storing a canoe outside on a rack without any thought to locking it. This is a risk that shouldn’t be taken.

Prevent Damage to Canoe Hull

Leaving a canoe resting on the flat ground-especially on its hull-can damage, distortion, or flattening of the hull of the canoe. When a canoe is stored on the ground and its hull the weight of the canoe is on the hull and can cause damage.

Should Canoes Be Stored Upside Down?

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Resting the canoe upside down and on the gunwales, puts the weight and pressure on the gunwales to carry this weight. In addition to being stored upside down, the total weight should be spread out as much as possible across the length of the canoe.

What Is the Best Way to Store a Canoe?

The best way to store a canoe will always be in a dry and climate-controlled area like your house or a garage. Keeping a canoe stored indoors for the offseason will help to protect against UV rays, exposure to extreme hot and cold, moisture and theft.

There are several different storage methods when keeping a canoe indoors or in the garage for several months while waiting for the warmer spring weather. Below are the best ways to store a canoe indoors.

Indoor Canoe Storage

Wall Rack

A wall rack is an easy and space-saving way to store a canoe in the garage. Most wall mounts are J-shaped and have padding for a soft cradle.

The key is to mount the wall racks low enough on the wall. This will allow the canoe to be loaded or unloaded easily. Wall space can also be an issue. Typical canoes can be anywhere between 10 feet and 16 feet in length.

Take into account the required wall space before going with the wall mount option for your canoe storage solution.

Overhead Suspension System

When there is limited space indoors for storing a canoe, the best option is to go up. Hanging a canoe using an overhead suspension system can be a creative option for saving space. A garage is the most likely place for an overhead hoist system.

A store-bought overhead suspension system will come with all the necessary parts and instructions for installation.

Wall Straps

Wall straps are similar to the wall rack. The difference is that instead of J-type racks that cradle the kayak, the wall straps wrap around the canoe, while a longer strap is anchored to the wall.

Finding studs for installation is key here because the weight of the canoe will be held by the straps, one on the stern and bow, with the canoe hanging horizontally on the wall.

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An advantage of using wall straps is the canoe will be more secure and the straps are out of the way when the canoe is not being stored.

Saw Horses with Padding

If you want to save money or leave your options open for storage ideas, there is the option of the DIY portable canoe stand using a pair of sawhorses and some padding.

The good thing about the sawhorse canoe stand is being able to set up when needed and get your canoe easily on the stand and secured quickly.

There are situations when a person won’t be able to drill holes in the wall. A canoe stand like this will solve that issue. Plus, your canoe won’t be stored in one place at all times. If needed, the canoe stand makes it easy to move to a different spot if it gets in the way.

The one drawback of using this method is that it takes up floor space, which can be limited, especially in a small garage or shed. Make sure to carefully measure the available space before going with this option.

Free-Standing Rack

A free-standing rack is very similar to the portable kayak stand shown on option 4, but these free-standing racks are often less portable and made to store multiple kayaks.

A nice feature of these racks is that they are adjustable to fit the size of your kayak. The hooks can also be made adjustable when making room for adding multiple kayaks.

Again, the drawback here can be floor space, and with the free-standing rack, especially when holding multiple kayaks, it’s not as portable to move out of the way if needed.

Vertical Storage

If the best way to store your canoe is on the wall, but you’re lacking the horizontal space to do so, there is the option to go vertical. Keep in mind that canoes are pretty long, usually 10 to 16 feet or more. Be sure to have the ceiling clearance before opting for indoor vertical storage.

Using a vertical storage option will require straps or tie-downs that attach to the wall. Most of the weight of the canoe will be at the end that sits on the ground. Place padding or other material under the end of the canoe that’s resting on the ground.

Can You Leave a Canoe Outside in the Winter?

canoes stored in winter weather

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A canoe can be left outside during the winter, or any other time of the year. But, if leaving a canoe outside for an extended time, there are ways to protect the canoe from damage.

Below are some ways that leaving a canoe outside can cause damage if not properly stored.

  • Direct and Extended Exposure to Sunlight: The sun emits harmful UV rays that can damage the material of the canoe. Whether the canoe is made from fiberglass or a plastic, it’s vulnerable to warpage, oil canning, fading and breakdown as a result.
  • Moisture Build-Up: Rain or snow can eventally take it’s toll on a canoe if left to sit for long periods. A heavy snowfall can put extra weight on the canoe. In adddiotion, rain and the pooling of water can be bad for the canoe.
  • Exposure to a Freeze-Thaw Cycle: As the temperature fluctuates, water will freeze, thaw, expand and contract. It’s this freeze-thaw cycle that can cause damage. If a canoe is exposed to this cycle repeatedly it can damage the hull and material of the canoe.
  • Theft: Leaving a canoe outside unattended is a easy target for theives. Don’t get trapped into thinking that just becuase the canoe is a large item that someone won’t steal it.
  • Hull Damage From the Ground: Laying a canoe directly on the ground can be bad too. Over time, the weight of the canoe can damage and deform the hull. It’s always recommended to keep a canoe off the ground and resting on it’s gunwales.

How Do You Winterize a Canoe?

Before storing a canoe away for the season, there are some basic maintenance steps to take. These will ensure the longevity and continued use of the canoe.

Wash the Canoe if Needed: if the canoe has dirt, sand, algae, and debris on it from use or even saltwater use, be sure to hose it off and use some fresh water to clean the canoe inside and out, before putting it into storage.

Let the Canoe Dry Out Completely: Even if thorough cleaning is not needed, still make sure all the water is gone before storing the canoe away. Dump out any water sloshing around in the cockpit.

Add a Cover For Extra Protection: Check to make sure the cover will withstand snow, sun, and rain. It’s best to leave one side slightly open for airflow in case moisture does penetrate the cover.

Outdoor Canoe Storage

canoe storage outdoors

If you’ve concluded that outdoor storage is the only way, there are a few options for how to store the canoe outside.

First, always remember to keep the canoe off the ground. The best option is to build a rack against an existing structure or a freestanding rack with arms. Lay the canoe upside down with the gunwales resting on both rack arms.

Adding a cover to the canoe or a cover overhead will help keep the canoe partially protected from the elements.

Finally, always remember to lock the canoe. Locks and cable locks can always be broken. These locks aren’t 100% effective against possible theft either. But, they can be a substantial deterrent to a would-be thief eyeing your canoe.

Summary | How to Store a Canoe

A canoe is built to withstand a lot of wear and tear, but improperly storing a canoe and necessarily subjecting it to additional wear and tear will eventually decrease the lifespan of the canoe. The goal is to protect your investment, so when the time comes to hit the water, you can rest assured that everything is ready to go for the start of a new season.

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