Canoe Flotation

My wife and I have a Discovery 158 and will be on a class I-II (with 1 class III) river.

A rental company that runs the river uses styrofoam flotation on their canoes.

We want to get flotation for our canoe and we are looking for some advice. Should we get two end bags, or 1 center bag, or all three? Also, any advice on product quality would be great.


The 158…

– Last Updated: Feb-09-04 10:10 AM EST –

The Discovery 158 is listed at 80 pounds, and is 15 foot 8 inches in length; that's a lot of boat! If I were you; I would have it rigged with a large center bag, and end bags too. That boat will be a bear to handle if you capsize it, and have minimal flotation. My solo, whitewater canoe is 13 feet long; I have bags that take up more than 9 feet of space & it is still no fun to haul to shore after a capsize. If you and your partner don't have experience dealing with a capsized/swamped boat in whitewater, you should most definitely think worse case scenario rather than doing what you think you can "get by" with.
If you have friends who paddle whitewater, maybe you could get some bags on loan instead of purchasing all the bags yourself????? Or maybe you can find some used bags. I have seen people using large foam blocks, and tire innertubes for flotation; I "don't" recommend that!


P.S. Flotation bags are fairly expensive; so are damaged canoes, and hospital vists.

Float Bags
I have a 158 as well and for running the Bonaventure I ended up buying two end bags and a center bag. I paddle solo in this boat so space wasn’t an issue. With the low freeboard on this boat, and believe me I know all about that, I would recommend all three and then figure out packing afterwards. Look at Mohawk Canoe for float bags. Their prices are very reasonable and there customer service is excellent. Mine arrived in under two wks of making the purchase. I hope this helps and have fun.


What about foot room for the bow-person?
If you put a bag in both ends as being suggested please? Just lurking on this one but interested in the feedback received. Wouldn’t the bow-person have very restricted foot room if you have bow floatation?


not if they’re kneeling
Which is how most folks run classIII in a canoe. I can’t kneel, so no end bags and no classIII. We use a center bag in a Penob16 and it floated high and dry when we dumped. Only a quart of water to sponge out. The Penob16 weighs 58-60lbs, so much lighter than a Disco.

We ordered our Mowhawk Odysseys outfitted with endbags. Haven’t paddled with them yet, but the fit is good and we second the comments about Mowhawk’s good products and service.

I forgot…

– Last Updated: Feb-09-04 9:16 PM EST –

I forgot to add this in my initial response; make sure that whatever flotation you end up purchasing is well secured in the canoe. Flotation not properly secured will not do the job it is intented to do, and can be a source of entrapment.
I agree that Mohawk flotation bags might do the job for you at a reasonable price, and if you do a little scouting on their website, you may find a description of the correct technique for properly securing the air bags.

Good luck,

P.S. Suggest you both kneel; at least in the class 3 water. You may save yourself some unnecessary swims by doing so. Some people may paddle class 3 in a tandem canoe while sitting on the seat, but those people are "not" the norm!

Check this URL for pictures and descriptions.