Best brand of floatation bag?

I used flotation bags about 10 years ago, cannot remember the brand, the hoses and fitting leaked after 1 season. I have unlimited access to closed cell foam so I made my own displacement ends that fit in the nose of my boats needing it.

I have come to realize it is a huge pain to switch out when I need storage and I am re-visiting getting some bags. Reviews (of unknown reliability) are advising of the same leakage issues.

I am looking for a non split bow bag that will last more than one season. Has anybody found a reliable bag system?

I have used Harmony with success.
You should work through a knowledgeable Harmony dealer who knows what size of float bag will fit your boat.

The fancier nylon/urethane yellow bags are not necessary. The vinyl bags are usually pretty durable, and of course cost less.

Spirit Line
I’ve had a set of Spirit Line float bags in my skin boat for 7 years and they have held up. Mine double as gear bags, though I don’t use them that way. There are also float-only bags. If the dimensions are OK for your boat, they are worth consideration.

i prefer the nylon coated bags,
I’ve got some 30 year old bags that still hold air. I patched them with aquaseal and have replaced a valve or two ( from nrs) and cut some tubes. One bag I even tie off to use because I can’t get the valve back on but it still works. They are most prone to failure around the base where the tube meets the bag so orient your airbag so that it doesn’t put stress on the tube, and don’t yank on the tubes. A lot (puddle it) of aquaseal there helps with a blowout. If the seam blows out then it goes in the trashcan otherwise its repairable. I don’t worry about fit to much, some of my bigger bags I fold before inflating, better too buy to big than too small. I prefer nylon coated over the vinyl. My oldest bags are “perception” which is now probably marketed as “harmony”. I’ve got a mirage and the air bags still work. If you chew, or dip snuff, make sure you take your chew out before inflating. Otherwise it gets pretty gross.

and don’t yank on them in the winter,
they freeze in the boat and tear up real easy.

I have a few Voyageur nylon/urethane
bags that are still holding air after 40 years of neglect. Voyageur was later bought by Harmony. One enemy of nylon/urethane bags is letting them flop loose in the boat while carrying the boat at 70 mph. Bags should be kept just a bit taut for travel, so air currents don’t rumple the fabric to oblivion.

few problems with care
Since I have always paddled skin on frame kayaks, float bags have been a constant accessory. I have several each from Harmony, Seattle Sports and some no-name yellow vinyl ones and some from Feathercraft that have nylon slipcovers. Never had one fail or leak but I like to think that is due to taking care of them. I am careful to never leave them fully inflated in the boats while transporting them on hot days (expansion from heat can blow out or weaken the seams and valve connection points). I always open the valves as soon as I take the kayak out of the water. I admit I learned my lesson early when one of the inflatable sponsons in my first Feathercraft ruptured a seam from being overinflated on a hot day – recalling the aggravation of having to turn the boat skin inside out and fish the tube out of its sleeve and repair it reminds me to never omit this step.

And when I transport boats with the bags inside on the car, I always have a cockpit cover or sea sock on the coaming to reduce turbulence inside the hull.

It’s too bad that Feathercraft no longer sells their own make of float bags – the nylon slipcover is a good idea to prevent abrasion and punctures and the slippery nylon slips easily into the hull. I have had a pair of them since 2002 and the quality is exceptional.

You might be interested – the book “Building the Greenland Kayak” contains instructions to make your own float bags. It seems it could be quite a money saver to do so, though I have not tried it yet.

I once used a kid’s inflatable shark pool toy to fill in the stern of one of my folders when I came up short on having a pair to outfit multiple boats while preparing to take out a bunch of friends in the large “fleet” I had at the time. You could probably do the same with a couple of beach balls if you could figure out how to tether them so they did not float out. As to securing bags in the hull, when I use them with my wood/nylon skin on frame I sometimes brace chunks of pool noodle between the frame across the inside of the hull to keep the float bags wedged into the bow and stern ends. I’ve even used staggered bundles of pool noodle lengths bound together with long wire tires as flotation.

Digressing from the topic at hand, pool noodles are useful for a lot of kayak modifications and paddling accessories and I always pick up a few once they show up on clearance at the end of summer. I sometimes bring a 2’ length of noodle with nylon rope threaded through that I can slip behind my lower back or under my thighs to change position on long paddles. A piece with a slice carved through to the central void longitudinally can be slipped over the coaming to cushion the kayak on your shoulder when carrying it. I also use short chunks to slip into my knee high paddler booties to help them stand up to dry out after use. I have yet to try it, but I think a short piece of noodle attached to a loop of webbing could be used as a stirrup for capsize reentry. I use noodle threaded with rope for the suspension cradles from which I hang the kayaks stored in my basement.

NRS makes incredibly durable bags
But if I were you and had unlimited access closed-cell, I’d make a kayak out of that.

NRS makes incredibly durable bags
But if I were you and had unlimited access closed-cell, I’d make a kayak out of that.