There are many ways of fastening a canoe to a vehicle. How well the canoe is attached to the vehicle is essential! This may sound like a "no brainer", but having done a number of repairs caused by improper transport, I have got the impression that some people figure that gravity is the best form of attaching a canoe to the vehicle. Crosswinds at high speed need to be accounted for. When tying down the canoe, there should be at least two lines running across the keel and fastened either to the roof rack or clipped into the door frame. As well, the painters should be tied down to the undercarriage (not the plastic bumper!) both front and back of the vehicle. Tying the front at two points reduces the crosswind effect. Use foam blocks to support the front section of the canoe when the roof rack is set back (as it is on many vans) towards the rear half of the vehicle. Use old pieces of carpet or flexible foam (pipe insulation works well) to protect the gunwales when they are against the roof rack.

Prolonged exposure to weather can cause some hull materials to oxidize and/or degrade. Storing your canoe indoors protects it from most weather problems, except for extreme cold. If you store your canoe outside, make sure the covering tarp protects it from precipitation. As well, be sure that rain and/or snow won't collect on the tarp and push down on the hull.
Prolonged exposure to cold won't harm most fiberglass, wood/canvas or plastic canoes, but realize that repeated freeze/thaw cycles can damage seams, joints or cracks in the hull. Extreme cold and/or weather can also damage wood gunwales and decks. Be sure to maintain all the wood pieces on your canoe as recommended by the canoe builder.

Some Don'ts:
Don't leave the canoe in the water!
Don't store the canoe upside down on the ground (too hard on your gunwales)
Don't support your canoe from one end only
Don't hang it from the handles or thwarts
Don't lay it down on its side on a flat surface for a long time
Don't store the canoe near any major heat source such as a furnace or a water heater.

Correct storage can add many years to the life of a canoe.
The longer that you store your canoe, the more important it is to store it correctly.

Protection against the sun:
Sunlight can degrade almost any canoe hull material, from fiberglass to plastic to epoxy-coated wood. It can also damage wood gunwales and decks, as well as cause paint to crack and fade. The best way to protect against sun damage is to store your canoe upside-down, (with the gunwales down) in a cool, dry, covered location. Inside a garage or shed is preferable.
For a method of hanging the canoe in a garage or shed, see below.
If you have to store it outside, use a cover, such as a tarp, that will provide protection from the weather but will not touch the canoe and will give some air circulation. The canoe must be off the ground so that moisture will not accumulate and rot the gunwales, decks and stems (see picture below). Securely fastening the canoe on a rack or sawhorses is the best option. If you are suspending the canoe from above, make sure that the canoe's weight is resting on the gunwales. Do not put heavy objects on top of the canoe or store the canoe on its side, as either of those will eventually cause the hull to warp.

This is what happens over time when a canoe is stored on its side. Water collects under the gunwale and eventually rots out the ribs and planking. The repair involves peeling back and possibly replacing the canvas in addition to replacing ribs and planking. This kind of repair can be quite costly!!


When suspending a canoe from anything, take into account the weight of the canoe and the force needed to pull down to lift it into position.

I have used the method shown in the photos for several years with good results. I am short, so lifting the canoes into a position high enough to park a vehicle or walk under it needs pulleys,etc.
This method is safe, since you are in control of the whole canoe when raising or lowering it, and can stand out of the way while you are doing it.

Try to position the "slings" about 25% in from the ends of the canoe.