Storing your kayak properly will extend its life and protect your investment. There’s no better way to store your kayak in the off-season than in a garage or basement, away from the sun, dust, and critters.
But what if you don’t have that luxury, and your only option is to store your boat outside? How do you protect it from the elements and prolong the life of your kayak?
If you have no other option but to store the kayak outside, an appropriate kayak cover can help to protect it from the elements.
In this article, we’re going to look more closely at why you might want to cover your kayak, and how to select the best kayak cover for your boat. We’ll also review some top rated cover models to help you make the right choice.
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In a hurry? Here are our top picks for kayak covers:
- Best Marine Kayak Cover
- iCover Kayak Cover
- Hobie Pro Angler Cover
- Hobie Universal Fit Cover
- Dulcii Universal Cover
- Classic Accessories StormPro Heavy-Duty Kayak Cover
- Danuu Kayak Cover
- Advanced Elements Kayak Cover
- GYMTOP Waterproof Kayak Canoe Cover
- MAYMII 2.6m-6m/7.8-18ft Kayak Cover
Comparison Table: Best Kayak Covers
Reviews: Top Rated Kayak Covers
Best Marine Kayak Cover
Cover Style: Shower cap Sizes: Small – up to 8 ft. long / Large – 11 – 13.5 ft. long / X Large – 13.5 – 16 ft. long Material: 210D Polyester
The Best Marine Kayak Cover is a simplistic but effective shower cap style cover. The multiple adjustment straps let you cinch this cover tight to ensure water drains effectively. The cover, then, is particularly effective for transporting your kayak, the tautness preventing flapping and noise.
This cover is not the most waterproof, nor the most durable on the market. It is affordable, though, and does the job you would expect. If you are looking to keep your kayak dry, it is worth sheltering your kayak with a tarp or similar as well as this cover.
What we like:
- Affordable price point
- High levels of adjustment and excellent for transport
What we don’t like:
- Not the quickest or easiest cover to fit
- Low durability in tougher conditions
iCover Kayak Cover
Cover style: Kayak bagSizes: 10 ft. long, 27 in. wide / 13 ft. long, 30 in. wide / 16 ft. long, 36 in. wideMaterial: 600D Polyurethane coated polyester
The iCover kayak cover is a sleek and straightforward style. This bag is easy to use and spacious enough to not only fit your kayak but also to stow away accessories like paddles and PFDs. Reinforced zippers with waterproof baffles keep the bag watertight and secure.
The heavy-duty material will see this bag last winter after winter. The bag itself comes with a storage pouch to keep this bag safe and secure throughout the summer, too. Carrying handles at either end of the storage bag makes it easy to carry your kayak.
What we like:
- Sleek and easy to use
- Spacious and plenty of storage
- Heavy-duty durability
What we don’t like:
- Water-resistant rather than waterproof
- Fades quickly
Hobie Pro Angler Cover
Cover Style: Shower cap Sizes: 12 ft. / 14 ft.Material: Polyester
The Hobie Pro Angler 12 and 14 covers are specifically designed for the Hobie Pro Angler 12 and 14. This means that if you own either of those kayaks, these covers will fit like a glove, even over the seat. If you have a kayak with similar style dimensions, you may benefit from this heavy-duty, high-quality cover.
Although these are among the most expensive covers on the market, they do justify their high price. Adjustment straps and pull string tighteners mean you can adjust this cover to fit similar kayaks snugly enough for transport and waterproof storage.
Hobie Universal Fit Cover
Cover style: Kayak bagMaterial: Polyester
Another bag-style cover from Hobie. This one comes in three sizes and fits a range of Hobie kayak models. It will also fit other kayaks with similar dimensions
What we like:
- Heavy-duty canvas is waterproof and UV resistant
- Adjustment points to ensure a good fit
What we don’t like:
Dulcii Universal Cover
Cover style: Shower cap styleSizes: 8.5 – 9.8 ft. / 9.8 – 11.5 ft. / 11.5 – 13 ft. / 13 – 14.7 ft. / 14.7 – 16.4 ft. / 16.4 – 18 ft.Material: Oxford Cloth
The Dulcii Universal Cover fits a wide style range of kayaks easily and securely. The shower cap style cover attaches with straps and pulls tight with a bungee cord around the edge. This cover protects your kayak effectively against water, dust, and dirt, though for full waterproof storage you will need extra coverage from a tarp or similar.
The oxford cloth build is durable. Even with the lightweight material, this cover can comfortably see out a heavy winter. The affordable price point makes this cover a cost-effective choice for a quality cover.
What we like:
- UV resistant and good covers for warm weather
- Affordable and lightweight cover
- Universal fit
What we don’t like:
- For a full waterproof covering, you will need extra protection
- Universal fit means that this cover may sag in places
Classic Accessories StormPro Heavy-Duty Kayak Cover
Cover Style: Kayak bagSizes: Up to 12 ft. long / 12 – 16 ft. longMaterial: 600D Polyester
The Classic Accessories StormPro Heavy-Duty kayak cover is a waterproof bag style cover with large zip access. These bags are spacious enough that you can also fit your accessories in your storage bag. There are carrying handles on the top deck so you can move your kayak easily.
The zipper on this bag is not fully watertight and it is recommended that you store this bag upside down or under another shelter for the best waterproofing. Because of the extra space for gear, this bag can sag too, so you should either cover or build a frame into this bag so that it can shed water effectively.
What we like:
- Extra space for your gear and accessories
- Easy to fit your kayak into this bag
- Carrying handles so you don’t have to unzip
What we don’t like:
- Not suitable for transport
- Not fully waterproof and needs extra cover or internal frame
Danuu Kayak Cover
Cover Style: Kayak bagSizes: 9 ft. – 26 ft. (10 sizes available)Material: 100% Polyester (UV-resistant, water repellent)
Danuu is a California company that makes kayak and canoe covers, seats, and accessories. They offer 10 models of kayak/canoe covers for different sizes:
The Danuu covers are designed to protect your kayak during both storage and transportation. They are made from UV-resistant, water repellent polyester material. The covers have straps that wrap around the kayak, cinching everything down nicely. The permanently attached red storage bag works as a safety flag when the kayak is transported on the roof of your car.
Advanced Elements Kayak Cover
Cover Style: Dry bagSizes: up to 15 ft (2 sizes available)Material: 600D Polyester
The Advanced Elements kayak cover is the only model in our review that provides total protection against the elements. In essence, this is a giant dry bag. Pull the cover over your kayak, then roll down and clip the opening to create a watertight seal.
The Advanced Elements Kayak Cover comes in two sizes:
This cover is great both for storage and transportation. The material is of high quality and should last a long time.
Note that the cover has a rectangular shape and does not come with any straps to cinch down the excess material on bow and stern. While this is not a big deal for storage, it can create a lot of flapping noise during transportation. Get a pair of straps to take care of that.
Another concern is the width. Measure your kayak’s circumference in its widest spot to make sure it fits inside the cover. Some users had to return the product just because their kayaks were too wide.
Other than that, this is a great product that we can totally recommend.
GYMTOP Waterproof Kayak Canoe Cover
Cover style: Shower capSizes: 7.8 ft – 18 ft (7 sizes available) Material: 300D Oxford Tafetta
The Gymtop kayak cover is one of Amazon’s best sellers with over 2,500 customer reviews. It is an inexpensive option that just does the job.
The kayak cover is made from 300D Oxford Tafetta and is fully waterproof. The new version of the product features double stitching for extra durability.
The perimeter of the cover is elastic and wraps around your kayak like a fitted sheet. There’s also an elastic bungee cord to cinch it down even further. If that is not enough, the kayak cover comes with three straps that wrap around the kayak and keep everything nice and tight. Nice features for such an inexpensive product.
The main concern is the durability of the material. We’ve found some user reviews saying that the cover does not hold up well in direct sunlight, becoming brittle and prone to tear after several months. We wouldn’t trust this product to protect a very expensive kayak or canoe in harsh weather.
However, if your boat is stored under a roof and all you need is some dust and critter protection, this cover should work just fine.
What we like:
- Very inexpensive
- Cinch cord and straps for a tight fit
What we don’t like:
- Won’t last long in direct sunlight
MAYMII 2.6m-6m/7.8-18ft Kayak Cover
Cover style: Shower capSizes: 7.8 ft – 18 ft (7 sizes available)Material: 210D Oxford Tafetta
Another product with over 150 reviews on Amazon which is little more than a dust cover. The funny thing is that while the product description advertises this cover as waterproof and UV-resistant, the product labeling says that it is a dust cover designed to be used indoors or in the share. Avoid unless you’re looking for a dust cover.
Why Use a Kayak Cover?
Using a kayak cover can help to extend the lifespan of your kayak. Not only is this good for the environment, but it’s great for your pocket, too. Keeping your kayak in good, working order means you don’t have to spend money either fixing or replacing it every few years.
But what are we trying to protect our kayaks against?
Sun damage is often overlooked. But storing your kayak in direct sunlight can cause rapid deterioration. It’s important that you store your kayak out of direct sunlight, and often the easiest way to achieve this is to cover it.
Dust might seem a minor issue, but it gets into all the nooks of your kayak. This dust can clog up ratchets and bolts, or get into glued foam and potentially cause it to come unstuck. This is the worst-case scenario of course, but best case, it will look a bit gross and you’ll have to clean it off. Save yourself a job and cover your kayak.
Keep Critters Away
Your upturned kayak is the perfect winter home for all kinds of critters and insects. Closed-cockpit kayaks are renowned for rodents and even bird nests being found come spring. But sit-on-tops aren’t safe from the critters, either, and you can find all sorts of grime leftovers after they move out.
Keeping your kayak in a garage can help limit this, but it’s not always a solution because these little guys are pretty persistent. A durable cover is an easy way to keep the critters away.
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Water, on a kayak? Sounds like it shouldn’t be an issue, right? But there’s a difference between going for a paddle and having standing water over long months of storage.
Before you store your kayak, make sure to dry it out thoroughly. Any residual water can damage the outfitting and give you a build-up of mildew and mold over winter. Like with dust, you will have to spend a load of time in spring cleaning this out, when you could be out on the water.
A lot of people wouldn’t think to cover their kayaks when they’re being transported. Covering your kayak, or at least your cockpit, while it’s riding on your roof rack or trailer can keep your gear in good condition. It also means that your hard work keeping your kayak pristine over winter isn’t ruined by slush and road dirt ending up all over your seat.
Not all covers are suitable for transport though, as we will look at next.
Types of Kayak Covers
Bag Style Covers
Bag style covers are probably the best suited for outside storage. They are also the best option for keeping your kayak covered during transport.
These covers work exactly how it sounds. You slide your kayak into the bag and close it up. If you plan to store your kayak outside over winter, make sure your bag is waterproof and has a double stitched zip to prevent water from seeping in.
Because these covers are the most watertight, it’s important to make sure your kayak is clean and dry before storing it away. Bag-style kayak covers can be difficult to put on and off, so you probably don’t want to be bagging up your kayak after each use.
Shower cap covers stretch over the top of your kayak and tighten around the edges. They usually have an elastic band or cord to keep them in place, as well as clips to stop them from blowing away. These covers are easy to fit and remove and can be used all year for storing your kayak.
Shower cap style covers keep just about everything out, but not quite as securely as a bag. They also leave the base of your kayak exposed, so extreme temperatures can still cause damage. For longer-term storage, these are better suited to indoor storage, ideally off the ground.
For sit-on-top kayaks, put your scupper plugs in before covering your kayak. This will stop water and bugs from accessing your kayak through the drainage holes.
Kayak Cover vs. Cockpit Cover
Cockpit covers are a little different from full kayak covers. As the name suggests, cockpit covers cover, well, just the cockpit. This means that your kayak is still susceptible to UV damage and external water and weather damage.
What cockpit covers do well, though, is stop any water, critters, or dirt from getting into the cockpit of your kayak. They are easy to fit and remove and many of them are suitable for transporting your kayak, too.
If you want to know more about cockpit covers, we have a whole article on them here.
What Are Kayak Covers Made of?
Kayak covers need to be made from a tough and durable material. Heavier weight covers are going to be more resilient but are often more difficult to stretch over your kayak.
Choosing your material is one of the most important steps for picking your kayak cover. Different materials have different qualities and will affect how waterproof, tough and expensive your kayak cover is.
Polyester is the most common material used for kayak covers. A higher denier of fabric will give you a more durable cover, able to withstand more wear and tear. Polyester has decent water-resistant qualities, which stand the test of time.
Oxford cloth is often found on cheaper kayak covers or those which aren’t so focused on waterproofing. Oxford cloth is a durable fabric, though, which offers good UV protection and some waterproofing.
If you are going to buy an Oxford cloth cover, aim for one which is 200 denier or above.
Neoprene is often used for cockpit covers. These covers are the easiest to fit, often most waterproof, and best suited to transporting your kayak. They aren’t as tough as other covers, though, and can pool water over time. We’ll cover (pun intended) that in more detail in the next section.
Are Kayak Covers Waterproof?
Kayak covers come with a lot of different uses. Some are designed to keep dust and critters out, others to protect your kayak from UV damage. Some are water-resistant, while some are fully waterproof.
For a kayak cover to be considered fully waterproof, the fabric is usually treated with some polyurethane coating or similar. Covers without this may be water-resistant and some with a particularly high thread count might even be nearly waterproof.
The main concern with keeping your kayak dry is to get a good fit from your kayak cover. A tight fit and correct storage should mean that water runs off the cover, rather than pools on it and seeps through.
If you can, try storing your kayak at an angle to help water runoff. If you have to store your kayak upright, a small spar or similar can create a ridgeline under the cover, which can help the water to run off too.
What Size Kayak Cover Do I Need?
A badly fitted kayak cover will limit its protective qualities.
If your cover is too big, dust, critters, and everything you’re trying to keep out will find their way into your kayak over time.
Trying to fit a kayak cover that is too small is like forcing a fitted sheet onto a bed it doesn’t fit. Every time you think you have it, something will pop off and you become increasingly frustrated. No matter how you adjust the straps and bungee, sometimes it just doesn’t fit.
If you are covering your kayak for transport, you must have the best fit possible. A loose cover will flap in the wind and can even come off as you drive, becoming dangerous debris on the road and possibly leading to an accident.
But how do you get the right fit? Kayak covers come with a set of dimensions for the kayaks they will fit.
Measure your kayak from bow to stern, the beam width at the widest point, and the depth. You can also check the manufacturer’s specifications to get these measurements. Remember to include features that stick out, like the seat, in those measurements. Once you have these dimensions, compare them against your chosen cover to ensure the perfect fit.
Kayak Storage Considerations
Kayak covers are just one step in the line of defense against damage to your kayak. A cover is there to take the environmental abuse you want your kayak to avoid. It’s only natural, then, that they will perish over time.
UV, wind, rain, and freezing temperatures can all damage your cockpit cover, as they would your kayak. Even if you store your kayak indoors, it can be subject to these conditions.
If you are storing your kayak indoors, try to keep it off the ground, especially in winter. Try to ensure that your kayak is not in direct sunlight, either.
If you are storing your cover outside, we would recommend finding a sheltered area or rigging up a tarp over the top of your kayak. This double protection will not only keep your cover in working condition for longer, but it will ensure your kayak stays protected.
A nondescript cover can deter potential kayak thieves, too. We recommend finding a way to secure your kayak while it’s in storage. A chain or similar can be used to lock your kayak up, so you know it will be there, ready to use in spring.