3 Ways To Patch A Hole In Your Kayak

It doesn't matter if your Tommy Hilleke on the Stikine River, or paddling with a commercial group on the Middle Fork of The Salmon, getting a hole in your boat will put you out of commission. Even if your paddle destination is not that far from civilization, I would recommend having a temporary boat patch solution in your arsenal.You never know when a nasty razor fin rock will decide to slice the hull of your precious boat.

Here are 3 inexpensive ways to patch your kayak in desperate situations:

Duct Tape

Desperate times call for desperate measures. The least expensive way to patch a hole in your boat is with duct tape. This the most primitive of the three ways, which means that it may not hold as well as the others. It can be combined with the other two ways or done on its own.
How to: Clean the entire crack as well as you can. Drill the ends of the split, (or use a corkscrew from a Swiss army knife, or something like that if you are in the backcountry) to ensure that the open seam does not keep on splitting. After that, apply layer after layer of duct tape over the crack and melt it into the gap with a heated spoon. The duct tape will eventually melt into the hole and temporarily fill the gap.
A nice thing about pocket duct tape is that it is just a few strips of tape, with paper on the back (to ensure maximum stickiness). The trouble with using a roll of duct tape wrapped around itself is that it can lose the stickiness for other applications. The pocket duct tape is also in a waterproof plastic package.
  • Weight:1 oz.
  • Size: 2” by 72”, and no cardboard roll


Bichathane is basically Ice and Water Shield. It is is a self adhesive rubberized asphalt membrane. In short, it is made of rubber and is REALLY sticky. It is used commonly in construction on the roof's of houses to keep the H2O out. Only certain paddlesports vendors will sell this material in less than a 50 foot roll. It is for sale in 1 square foot increments here at CKS. If you're a home builder you probably have a bunch that you can sell to people at the put in to OBJ or Rock Creek. CKS squad member Joe Keck says: "Sometimes things happen and sketchy situations occur. This stuff has bailed me out of more than one jam. The Mank Crew takes it on every trip".

How to: Clean the infected wound and drill the ends of the gap to keep it from splitting even more (same deal as above, use a knife in the great outdoors). Rough the interior of the boat up a little (use sand paper or a knife). This will help the adhesive to stick better. If you're going to melt duct tape into the hole, now's the time to heat the spoon. Apply the bichathane to to the cracked area. Make sure to press it down and get rid of the air bubbles. You can duct tape over the patch if you have enough tape. Either way you're good to go until the take out or next rock.

Hippo Patch

The Hippo Patch is probably the most user friendly boat repair solution, and a favorite among CKS staff and squad members. There are a few reasons for this:

  • The Hippo Patch kit comes in a small plastic, watertight package that will fit in almost any dry bag, no matter how small it may be.
  • It does not require heating or any difficult application techniques.
  • It is very inexpensive and adheres to all types of surfaces, not just kayaks. The Hippo Patch can be used on fiberglass, aluminum, canvas, plastic, metal, nylon, wood, concrete, glass and anything else that you want to experiment with.
  • Clean the hole in the boat, rough up the application surface, cut a patch the size of the hole (or a little bigger) and presto....Your boat is temporarily patched.

Keep in mind that all of these repair solutions are for temporary use. They are designed to get you to the take out safely. If you have access to older kayaks or canoes that have holes in them, practice at home and figure out a repair method that works for you.

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