Emergency Kayak Repair Materials



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One day, if you venture far enough, you will need to do a repair during an expedition. It would be wise to have repair materials with you.




Emergency kayak repairs come in two varieties - on water repair and on land repair. Most damage to kayaks occur fairly close to land when kayak meets land abruptly. So most repairs are usually going to be done on land. But damage to the hull can occur on reefs and rocks well off from shore or well away from any safe place to land. You must be ready to handle both conditions.


Cleopatra's Needle

The immediate and critical purpose of a kayak repair is to keep the kayak from sinking. This problem is greatly alleviated by proper packing and preparation of the kayak before leaving shore. If you are day tripping, fill your empty hatches with inflated float bags or empty closed dry bags. Then if a compartment is compromised from a hole, crack or loss of a hatch cover, the kayak will not sink or needle. If you are on a camping trip, you hatches will be filled with gear. But if that gear is in dry bags and any remaining space is taken up by a partially filled float bag, then sinking is unlikely. Tightly inflated float bags add extra rigidity to the hull and might prevent a problem in the first place.

After avoiding sinking, the next objective is to keep the water out to maintain the stability, seaworthiness and performance of the boat until you can reach land and make an improved or permanent repair. When attempting an on water repair, simplicity is the best option as there is likely to be a lot of other things going on that will be distracting you. First make sure your repair kits are accessible. Being all the way in the bow or stern behind all the other gear will be a problem if the kit is needed. It doesn't need to be on deck, but it does need to be easily accessed. Day hatches or behind the seat (tied in) are the mostly likely places. Placing it in the front or rear hatches requires opening perhaps the only flotation that you have left and exposing it to flooding.

A simple temporary repair may consist of little more than a sheet of plastic (Garbage Bag) and some tape. Just enough to keep out the water until landfall can be safely made. Pretty and neat aren't important at this point. Smallish repairs are possible with epoxy putties, perhaps combined with tape and plastic.

Once you arrive to a landing spot and have taken care of your people, you can begin on repairing the boat. Most traditional epoxy and glass repairs require dry, warm and longer curing than the putties intended for emergency repair. But once on land you have options that you don't when tossing around on the ocean. Carrying some mixable epoxy and fiberglass sheets will allow you to make the needed repairs.


Here is some manufacturer supplied information on emergency repair materials.




Vycor Plus - Flashing Tape

I have it on recommendation of very experienced kayakers that I trust that this stuff works great. It is a strong, long lasting repair, fairly easy to apply on the water, easy to stow and inexpensive. It works on plastic, fiberglass and exotic materials. It must be applied on a clean and dry surface, so be prepared to dry your application before hand using towels and alcohol swabs. Obviously extreme on water conditions will make this difficult to impossible. Available in 25 mil thick (Vycor Plus) and 40 mil thick (Vycor V40) in 4, 6, 9 and 12 inch 75 foot rolls. I am now carrying a repair packet of paper towell, alcohol swabs and a piece of this tape for my main hull repair kit.









Sea Bowld - Epoxy Putty Stick

Keep this Epoxy Putty Stick on board for fast permanent and emergency repairs on fiberglass, wood, metal, and plastic surfaces. When applied, it forms a tenacious bond in minutes--even underwater. Easy to use: just cut off an appropriate amount of the putty stick for the job and hand knead until the color turns white and apply to the damaged area. Great for boats, tanks, outdrives, and more.
4 oz. Epoxy Stick

Editor's Note: This stuff seems to be very popular and can be found in many different stores. See below for purchase. I have used for several field repairs. it seems to work OK for crack and small hole repair on fiberglass hulls. However it failed to hold for a tent pole repair and a kayak seat base. It proved too weak and brittle in both instances. Tends to drys after being opened from the package and become unworkable over time.

Price $13.99

Permatex Permapoxy 5 Minute Underwater Repair Epoxy Stick

Ideal for underwater applications, this two part hand kneadable putty type epoxy has contrasting colored materials that are mixed together to form a uniform color to indicate thorough mixing. Eliminates need for brazing or welding. Unaffected by fresh, chlorinated or salt water. Sets up underwater in five minutes. Off- White in appearance. Fills gaps and will not shrink. When cures can be drilled, sanded, tapped, threaded, or filed. Temperature range -40 C to 204 C. Permanent strength up to 3000 PSI. Fills and plugs holes, leaks and cracks in pools, tanks, gutters, pipes, fittings and concrete. Bonds ABS, PVC, fiberglass, styrene, acrylic, concrete, steel, aluminum , vinyl and wood. 4 OZ tube with vial.

This company has a very long history of providing marine adhesives. Other products of theirs have always been top shelf. See below for purchase.

Price $8.29


Selly's Knead It Aqua

Australian equivalent to the above but with a 20-30 minute set time. Set time increases for temperatures below 20 C. Does not adhere to polyethylene, polypropylene or polytetraflouroethylene (Teflon) or silicon rubber. Therefore it will NOT work on rotomolded plastic kayaks. (polyethylene) Use only on fiberglass/composite boats. Doesn't work well for repairs to flexing material.

This material is popular with the big expedition kayakers in Australia.

Price Unknown


SYNTHO-GLASS® is a new miracle resin coated fiberglass cloth repair and maintenance system that will set even under water. No mixing! No measuring! No waiting! No cleanup! The fiberglass cloth has been impregnated with a water activated resin prior to packaging. Simply use directly from the package. Normal setting time is 30 minutes, but may vary depending on temperature. Water, salt or fresh, is the activator!!

This revolutionary product will set under water making it ideal for applications in the splash zone, corrosion protection, reinforcement, piling protection, and electrical insulation to 16,000 volts. SYNTHO-GLASS®, will retain pressure on supply lines and will function under intermittent temperatures up to 500 degrees F. SYNTHO-GLASS® is ideal for all types of repair and maintenance applications. Odorless, non-combustible and non-toxic SYNTHO-GLASS® can be sanded and painted if desired. Once set, gas, oil or diesel fuel will not effect the repair material.

Syntho-Glass® exhibits good adhesion to most surfaces including; steel, iron, pvc, frp and most metals and plastics.

I have not tried it on kayaks or heard of anyone who has. Opinions welcome. With a very small bulk this item can be carried on deck or in a skirt pocket or deck bag. It would also be useful for long cracks or splits.


Get it here.

Price $19.95


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EVEN THE BEST BOATERS CAN FIND THEMSELVES IN SERIOUS TROUBLE ON THE MILDEST OF DAYS ON THE WATER. PARTICIPATION IN THIS SPORT IS A STRENUOUS ACTIVITY. CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE UNDERTAKING ANY SUCH ACTIVITY. PLEASE BE AWARE THAT EACH BOATER TAKES FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS OR HER OWN SAFETY, AND IS TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR ASSESSING THE DANGER LEVEL AND ACCEPTING THE CONSEQUENCES OF PARTICIPATING IN THIS SPORT.


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