Proper Kayak Maintenance

If every paddler had their way, kayaks would glide through the years without a scratch or dent to it’s hull. But let’s be realistic here – a well used kayak takes a beating! The good news is that kayaks are very resilient and kayak maintenance requires minimal effort. There are a few basic things to do and think about to keep your kayak and equipment in good shape and soon, it will be routine!

Pre-Season Kayak Maintenance

Doing a little kayak maintenance at ACK Houston.
Doing a little kayak maintenance at ACK Houston.

The last thing you want to happen when you pull your kayak out of storage for your first spring paddle is to find that something was left broken from last year, or worse, was damaged during storage. Refer to these pointers to prepare:

Look over the hull for damage. Long term storage is one of the most common ways a kayak’s hull can be damaged. In the case of a depressed hull, heat will often be enough to return the kayak to it’s original shape. Leaving it in the sun on a hot day will often pop it back to it’s original shape.

Inspect the rigging. Make sure the hardware, perimeter lines and bungees are all in good shape. UV radiation can deteriorate plastic pad-eyes and degrade bungees/lines.

Look over the rudder or skeg if it has one and evalutate the deployment lines, stainless steel cables, pivot hardware and pedals. Make sure to repair anything that needs fixing now, rather than finding out on the water!

Replace old parts and accessories, or just add new ones. This is the perfect time to retire old gear like a seat or bulkhead. Look over all of your gear and remind yourself what was bothering you last year.

If you found yourself wishing for an extra something last season, like another rod holder, this is the time to add it!

Refill emergency gear. Go through your first-aid kit, bailout bag and emergency repair kit to make sure everything is stocked. This is especially important to do because if it needs refilling it means it was something you had to use last year!

In Season Kayak Maintenance

Keep these pointers in mind during the peak of your paddling season:

Avoid kayak maintenance by using a cart!
Avoid kayak maintenance by using a cart!

Use a kayak cart. Dragging your ‘yak on the ground will thin and weaken the material at the bottom, the worst case scenario being that it could lead to holes that will have to be repaired by a specialty shop. Kayak carts are a win-win because they will protect your kayak from damage plus make getting to and from the water a cinch.

Keep it clean. A kayak doesn’t need to look shiny and new, but it’s good practice to quickly spray down your kayak after every outing. This’ll remove grime and salt that can lead to corrosion of the hull and prevent mold from growing.

Usually just taking the hose and spraying down the interior and exterior will suffice but it’s a good idea to give it a thorough scrub with mild soapy water and a kayak sponge a couple times a year.

Protect it from the sun. Long exposure to the sun will affect more than just your kayak’s color – it’ll eventually weaken the plastic, making it brittle and prone to cracking. No, leaving it out for a few days here and there won’t mean you should expect to puncture your hull on the next outing, but several months will certainly lead to deterioration!

Spraying it down with 303 Protectant.
Spraying it down with 303 Protectant.

Using 303 Protectant is a popular method of stopping harmful UV rays, but this will wash away with rain and during paddling outings so it will require re-application. The best solution would be to use a kayak cover or store it indoors.

Cover the cockpit. When it’s not in use, it helps to use a cockpit cover to keep rain and critters out. Remember to dry out the inside before you cover it to keep mold, mosquitoes and scum from accumulating.

Proper kayak storage. It’s important both in season and off! Refer to the link for tips on how to best store your kayak.

Kayak Maintenance to Prepare for Off-Season Storage

Many of you won’t have an off-season, but for some there is a point in the year when water turns solid and the kayak has to go into hibernation. When that time comes, refer to these tips:

Clean and dry the kayak. On a dry day, unload any and all loose gear and put them aside, this includes any rigging accessories that are removable like a seat, deck bag or rod holder. Turn it upside down on a pair of kayak stands and lather it up with mild soapy water. From beneath, spray water throughout the cockpit interior and all the hatches, allowing any loosened sand, crud and dead bugs to drain out. Make sure to let everything dry out before putting it away.

Take a kayak sponge and scrub away if you think it’s necessary. Areas like the cockpit rim can end up being a nesting ground for insects if they’re left alone during storage.

Care for your rigging components. Look over any attached parts on the kayak – like deck cords, toggle handles and bulkheads – and take note of any frayed cords or parts that need replacing and order a replacement part promptly. If any of the bungees, straps or buckles can be loosened or un-done during storage, loosen them. This will help retain their elasticity.

Make sure dirt was removed from bolts/screws during your clean earlier and sponge away anything left over. The use of some WD-40 or other type of corrosion blocking product will keep metal joints in good shape.

Also, be sure to give this short video from PaddlingTV about kayak maintenance a watch:

Life Jacket Facts From The Safe Boating Campaign

Keep these Life Jacket Facts in Mind

Enjoy the water and wear your life jacket!
Enjoy the water and wear your life jacket!

Whatever kind of paddling you like to do, it’s important to always wear your life jacket (or PFD) while you’re out on the water. Think of it like wearing a seat belt in your car – you probably won’t find yourself in a situation where you need it, but it’s a precaution that can be live saving should the worst happen. I came across some great life jacket facts from the Safe Boating Campaign about why you should actually put it on one while you’re out paddling and wanted to share them here:

  • U.S. Coast Guard’s 2010 statistics stated that approximately 88 percent of boaters who drowned were reported as not wearing life jackets.
  • This means that over 400 boaters died unexpectedly because they were uninformed or simply not in the habit of taking this significant safety precaution.
  • It is human nature to think it can’t happen to me–but it can.
    • The majority of people who drown in boating accidents know how to swim, but become incapacitated in the water.
    • Sometimes they are injured or unconscious.
    • Others develop hypothermia or become exhausted.
    • Some are weighed down by clothing.
  • An accident usually happens without warning.Other reasons why people don’t wear a life jacket are that it is too hot, or it will mess up their tan line, or they are simply not comfortable.
    • Usually after the accident, the life jackets are not within reach–in cabinets, trapped under the vessel, floating far away in the water.
  • Many people don’t realize the variety of new life jackets that are on the market–belt packs and other inflatable styles that are low profile and light weight.
  • It is important to wear a life jacket at all times while boating.


CamelBak Paddle Collection Updated for 2014

Stay Hydrated on the Water with the CamelBak Paddle Collection

It’s important to bring water with you on any outdoor adventure and paddling is no exception. That’s why we were thrilled when the Camelbak Paddle Collection was released in 2013 with an assortment of hydration packs designed specifically for paddlers. After spending the year receiving feedback and making improvements, they’ve just released the updated Camelbak Paddle Collection for 2014, a total of three packs designed specifically for a paddler’s needs.

CamelBak Paddle Collection Lineup for 2014

Cortez Deck Mounted System.
Cortez Deck Mounted System.

1. Cortez Deck Mounted Hydration SystemCompletely new for 2014, the Cortez is an insulated hydration bladder that easily clips to the deck of your SUP or kayak using snap clips and a grip strip on the back that prevents sliding. For kayakers, this would fit great on the bow of your ‘yak!

2. Molokai Hydration BackpackThe Molokai is a backpack designed specifically for stand-up paddlers. It’s made from quick drying materials, offers hands free hydration and includes a 70 oz. reservoir so it’s great for long treks with your board. It’s also designed to carry waterproof electronics cases, sunscreen and snacks (not pictured) and is compatible with inflatable PFDs.

Tahoe LR Hydration Backpack
Tahoe LR Hydration Backpack

3. Tahoe LR Hydration BackpackFor stand-up paddlers hoping to avoid anything going over the shoulders and encumbering upper body movement, the Tahoe LR is for you! This waist-mounted paddle pack includes a 50 oz. reservoir and will hold gear ranging from an inflatable PFD, waterproof electronics case, sunscreen and snacks. Compared to the Molokai, the Tahoe is great for lighter SUP outings.

So how do you stay hydrated on the water? Let us know by commenting below!

3 Videos With a Unique Spin on Winter Paddling

Winter Paddling Looks a Little Like This…

Winter paddling has different meanings to different people. For some, it means layering up with different apparel options for cold weather paddling and continuing on with their kayaking as usual. For others, it means putting the ‘yak into hibernation for a period of kayak storage.

For a few people, it means something completely different and rather than try and explain it myself, I thought I would show you with three different videos. Enjoy!

1. Snow Kayaking by Warren Miller


2. Snow Kayak Race in Estonia – Red Bull Snow Kayak


3. Kayogganing and winter paddling at Lochaber Lake Dec. 2013


ACK Now on Instagram

Check Out ACK on Instagram!

ACK is starting off the new year with a newly minted Instagram account! With all of our fun kayaking events, plus our entertaining behind-the-scenes shenanigans, we needed a good way to show off our photos. Give us a follow, @Austin_Kayak.


Tag your paddling/fishing/outdoors related photos with #ACK, or #austinkayak and we will show off some of your best shots on our feed! Also, keep an eye out for some photo contests in the coming months — we’ve got lots of cool gear to give away!


You Might Be A Kayaker If…

KayakerSo how do you know when you’re officially a kayaker? Here’s a few ways you can tell:

You Might Be a Kayaker If…

  1. You can’t drive by a body of water without looking for a put-in.
  2. You can identify make and model of a car topped kayak from a quarter mile away.
  3. You divide your life into kayaking days and working days.
  4. You base career decisions on whether the new job will increase or decrease paddling time.
  5. You don’t have any space in your garage because it’s full of paddling gear.
  6. You buy new clothes not by how good they look but by how fast they’ll dry.
  7. The roof of your car has tan lines.
  8. You buy a car based on it’s ability to transport a kayak.
  9. You keep your kayak on your rig so you don’t forget where you parked.
  10. You have used your kayak as a sled.
  11. You wonder why car designers put the radio antennae sticking up on top of a car when that’s where the kayak goes.
  12. Every big rain or report of flooding, makes you think “I should check the river levels”.
  13. Every time you want a snack you have to dig out one of your “dry sacks.”
  14. You know the difference between a PFD and a PDF.
  15. You’ve ever paddled when there’s ice floating next to you.
  16. Every time you’re out paddling you compare equipment and modification ideas with others.
  17. You buy a “Pool Noodle” every time you go to Walmart.
  18. Your license plate has anything to do with kayaking.
  19. Your car door has kayak dings and your kayak has car door dings.
  20. You fall asleep in your bed feeling like you’re still floating on the river.
  21. Your paddle hangs on your living room wall.
  22. You sit in your kayak in the living room in the dead of winter and watch kayaking movies.
  23. You have nose plugs hanging from your rear view mirror.
  24. You’re old friends with a great blue heron.
  25. You’re all dressed up and don’t notice you’re being rained on.
  26. You visit to ACK’s recently added products everyday just to see what’s new.
  27. You study Launch Points in the dead, snowy winter for future put-ins.
  28. You own multiple boats but are still looking for the next perfect one.
  29. You are considering opening a canoe & kayak rental shop with your personal fleet after you retire.
  30. Your wardrobe is comprised mostly of high performance polyester shirts and zippered fishing pants.
  31. You get depressed because it has rained 5 days in a row, so you get out your rain gear and go paddle anyways.
  32. Your boat is long than your car.
  33. You rent propane heaters in the middle of winter so you can work on your ‘yak in the garage before the good weather comes in.
  34. You’ve learned how much easier it is to launch from the shore when there’s snow on the ground.
  35. You’ve made your own paddling gear.
  36. You have both a roof rack AND a kayak trailer. Because one or the other wasn’t enough.
  37. You own more kayaks than you can count on one hand.
  38. Your New Year’s Resolution is paddling related. Like one of these five common ones.

Help grow our list by adding more your “You might be a kayaker if…” with a comment below. Happy paddling!

Fibers Smaller Than a Strand of Human Hair

Written by Austin Assistant Store Manager Bill Newberry

McNett Microfiber Towel
McNett Microfiber Towel

A towel might not be the first thing that comes to mind when listing out favorite paddling accessories, but it is for me. When I hit the water, I almost always have a McNett Microfiber Towel with me.

With fibers smaller than a strand of human hair, these towels are super absorbent, soft and dry faster than normal towels.  What makes them great for kayaking is that they are light and compact and they can easily fit into a Fisherman or  Chinook PFD, which I like to wear. You might want to think about re-purposing or just leaving the Mesh bag at home, the towel in its mesh bag gets a little too bulky in your PFD pocket.

But the real benefit of the McNett Microfiber Towel is the silver ions they are treated with. These ions allow the towel to stay fresh and odorless longer than a standard towel, making them a necessity for camping or multi-day kayaking trips.  They also do a great job doubling as a bandanna or a dew rag to help keep cool and protected from the sun.

The McNett Microfiber Towel comes in three sizes: medium, large and x-large. Watch the video about them below and then see more info on all three sizes here:

The ACK Survival Guide to Winter Kayaking

dec13_coldweatherAs winter sets in and water starts to turn solid, many paddlers will be hanging up their paddling gear until spring. For others, the cold is just another challenge to overcome before getting on the water.

I believe that winter time kayaking can actually be very enjoyable but it does pose some risks that you don’t usually face other times of the year. Before you put the ‘yak into hibernation, take a look at these ideas and tips for winter kayaking and maybe you’ll end up paddling a little more this year.

Start With the Skills

You need to be confident in your paddling ability before your first wintertime outing. The most important thing all winter paddlers need to know is what to do if you fall out of their kayak. The chances of falling out of your kayak during winter is not increased compared to any other time of the year, but the consequences of it are much worse because of the cold.

For sit on top paddlers, this means being confident in your ability to climb back onto your kayak. For sit inside paddlers, this means having good bracing technique to keep from tipping and a reliable roll in case the worst happens. Ideally, you should be practicing these skills during the warmer times of the year when immersion doesn’t pose such a great risk by intentionally jumping overboard, capsizing or rolling. However, if you aren’t 100% confident in your ability, seek out local instructors and educational resources. We have quite a few helpful books and DVDs to get you started.

Invest In Good Winter Gear

Winter kayaking gear should serve one purpose: to keep you warm and dry. This means a new set of winter paddling clothes plus emergency gear.

Clothing for Winter Kayaking

You winter paddling clothing will probably look completely different than the clothes you’re wearing on summer outings. You need to be dressing for immersion and also for staying warm in the chilly winter air. Remember, just because you don’t think you’ll be going for a swim doesn’t mean you won’t be at risk of getting wet from splash or rain. Be prepared and you’ll set yourself up for a more enjoyable outing.

What exactly you need to wear for a wintertime paddle depends on a number of factors like water temperature, personal comfort, water conditions and the type of water you’re paddling on. Remember that layers are a winter paddlers best friend, starting with a waterproof outer layer and warm inner layers.

For ideas on what to wear, read about apparel options for cold weather paddling or check out our Cold Weather Paddling Apparel Layering Guide.

Emergency Preparedness Gear

Having some emergency gear is always a good idea when going kayaking. It’s even more important during the winter. How extensive you prepare is up to you, but consider bringing along the following items:

Give our Rescue & Safety gear a look for more ideas on what to bring along so you can be as prepared as you want.

Paddle Smart & Think Safety First

The final thing to remember about winter kayaking is to approach it with the right attitude. Don’t take risks you don’t need to and take extra precautions before you go. Paddling during the winter means there will be fewer people on the water, so you need to be able to rely on yourself and your paddling partner should something go awry. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Paddle with at least one partner
  • Make sure someone on dry land knows when you’re going out
  • Watch weather forecasts for bad weather and unexpected warm days
  • Pick spots that are close to home – you don’t want to take a long road trip somewhere and then feel like you have to paddle should bad weather arise
  • While you’re on the water, try to stay near the shoreline to minimize the distance you need to swim should it come to it
  • Always, ALWAYS, wear your Life Jacket

Winter paddling shouldn’t be something you just jump into but it is something you can take on with the appropriate preparation. If you don’t think you’re ready for it this year, keep this article in mind for when it gets warmer and start practicing and getting ready early for the next winter.

As always, if you think I missed something or just have something to add, leave a comment below!

10 Ways to Surprise Them with a Kayak for the Holidays

Surprise them with a kayak this year!
Surprise them with a kayak this year!

Who wants to wake up to find a shiny new kayak sitting under their tree? Everyone! However, kayaks usually don’t fit under the trees and are tough to hide.

To help with this problem, we’ve come up with 10 fun ways to surprise that special someone and create a memory that will last for years to come!

1. Hang one of our kayak ornaments to your tree with a note. It might take them a moment to notice the new decoration, but when they do they’ll certainly be surprised!

2. Snap a picture of the new kayak and stick it inside their stocking. No one ever expects to find a kayak in their stocking!

3. Send them on a mysterious scavenger hunt. Find a good hiding spot for the kayak and leave clues for them to find it. Get as creative as you want with this one but remember that you’ll probably have to help them out or follow along if it’s too hard!

4. Give it your best wrapping job. While wrapping a kayak won’t really keep someone from guessing what the gift is, adding a little something will help make it more special! You can keep things simple and put a bow on it OR you can go overboard with a several rolls of wrapping paper. You bought them the kayak…now watch them struggle trying to tear all of the paper off of it!

5. Decorate the kayak like a tree. The kayak won’t usually fit under the tree because it’s about as tall or taller than your average Christmas tree. Solution? Ditch the tree! Stand your kayak up vertically in the spot you’d normally put your Christmas tree and wrap it in lights, streamers, pine boughs and other decorations. It’ll take some planning but this would be a very unique way to give someone  a new kayak for the holidays!

6. Dress up like Santa and paddle their gift to shore. This is another one that’ll take some planning, but if you have a way to lure the recipient near water, having Santa deliver the gift himself would make for a very fun, and memorable, surprise. Dress up in your best Santa costume and paddle up to them from a hidden spot at just the right time. Hopefully it’s a warm costume!

7. Hide it in plain sight and wait for them to notice. Sometimes a good surprise just requires a little subtly. Hang it up in the garage or put it out on the porch and wait for them to discover it for themselves. Of course, you can always drop hints to point them in the right direction!

8. Who said the tree needs to be inside? If there’s a large enough tree in your front or back yard, put a nice big bow on the kayak and lay it underneath. Then just let them know that something is waiting for them outside!

9. Let them start by unwrapping gear that only makes sense to use with a kayak. If you’re getting them kayaking accessories to go along with the kayak, let them unwrap one of those first. See how long it takes for them to figure out why you just gave them a kayak paddle!

10. Put it on the roof and tell them you think Santa’s sleigh crashed landed on the house last night. This would work best with a red kayak and with a few extra holiday decorations. Oh, and make sure there’s an easy way to bring it down once the surprise is over!

Of course, the options are endless when it comes to giving a gift, especially one as awesome as a new kayak. Have some fun with it and make a great gift even greater! If you think of your own creative way to surprise them with a kayak, make sure to let us know by leaving a comment below.


9 New Products at That You Should Be Excited About

The merchandising team is constantly finding and adding new products to the website year-round but as manufacturers prepare for 2014 this is the time of the year when we start to see some very exciting stuff heading our way. With so much awesome gear either in or on it’s way in, I decided to put together a list of top 9 products you should be excited about. Why? Because they are awesome.

9. SuperNova Lighting Kits – Make your ‘yak glow in the dark with these different lighting kits. Intended for anglers but useful for everyone.

Make your 'yak glow in the dark with these different lighting kits.

8. ACR Personal Locator Beacons (PLB) – Adventure with confidence with ACK’s new lineup of GPS-enabled rescue beacons.


7. Eureka’s Remote Controlled Warrior LED Lantern – A powerful lantern with a pocket sized remote control that also has a light on it.

Warrior Lantern

6. Camo Colored Costa Del Mar Polarized Sunglasses – Because everything is better in camo!


5. Dagger’s new Katana Kayak – For the adventurer who wants to tackle whitewater and expedition style trips with one kayak.


4. Native Watercraft’s New Slayer Propel 13 Kayak – This is one kayak that anglers won’t want to miss.

3. A white colored BlackPak – Just because it’s called a BlackPak doesn’t mean it has to be black.

White BlackPak

2. The new Ovation Kayak Paddle from Werner Paddles – At only 22.75 ounces this thing is seriously light.

Werner Ovation

1. Paddle Britches – Store your emergency paddle or fishing rod and keep it in hand’s reach, plus everyone will ask why you have pants on your kayak’s bow.

Paddle Brithces

 Remember to stay updated on all of the new gear headed for by visiting our new products page. Let us know if you saw something you liked!