Do I have to use a float-bag?

This may sound silly, but could I use another inflatable object instead of a designated float-bag in my boat?

Say a beach ball or something similar?

I realize the float-bags are made of a tougher material and are shaped to fit inside the boat, but is there any reason why an inflatable ball, or other “toy” wouldn’t also work?

in the beginning
with canoes, the hot set up in my neighborhood was an inner tube folded over, inflated, and stuffed under the center thwarts.Yeah, car tires had tubes back then. Nothings written in stone. Beach ball might be a bit weak though if you’re swamped in moving water. I’d try to find something in rubber, vinyl or a tough nylon…or packing foam.

Truck tire inner tubes, pool noodles, beach balls, air mattresses, anything that holds air so long as you can retain it in the boat.

Do a google search for “dunnage bags”. These are a low cost alternative to flotation bags.

Make reasoned decision…

– Last Updated: Nov-22-11 5:27 PM EST –

There is a reason that the type of inflatable ball I "think" you're talking about is called a "toy".
That was it's designed purpose.

Same reasoning behind why a float bag is called such; it was designed to keep a canoe or kayak afloat, not to be used as a toy.

Same reasoning; a recreational kayak would ideally NOT be paddled 10 miles out into the ocean, or down a class 4 whitewater river.
Just because you could do it, or somebody did do it, doesn't necessarily mean that you should do it.

You could bag up a few hundred ping pong balls, if you could find a cheap source of used ping pong balls? Or old duck decoys?

I jest :^)

Good luck,

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In the situation where you need it a beach ball will split open at the seams, at which time it becomes useless.

While they certainly are not as tough as flotation bags, I actually used beach balls in the first whitewater open boat I ever owned, a thoroughly beat up Sunburst II previously owned by Carrie Ashton.

While the beach balls were somewhat difficult to retain in the boat, none ever split open.

Float bags stay put better

– Last Updated: Nov-22-11 7:42 PM EST –

Though in a rec boat it may take attaching them to foot pegs. But objects like beach balls are pretty much guaranteed to pop out in a real capsize unless it is a real shoehorn of a fit. And once they are floating outside of the boat they aren't all that useful.

_ Cleopatra’s Needle -

– Last Updated: Nov-22-11 8:20 PM EST –

When a kayak fills completely with water and it bobs
up and down like a buoy, it becomes almost impossible
to recover the kayak.

Being on the water isn't an arena where you
want to be "cheap", especially if someone drowns.

Spend the $25 for something that actually works.


A good rule of thumb
is don’t use tools for a function they were not designed for. Most times things will not end well. For example: Don’t use a wrench for a hammer. Don’t use a pocket knife for a can opener. Don’t use an icepick to defrost a freezer. Don’t use an inflatable doll for float bag-or vice versa.

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Carrie Ashton…
I knew we had something in common Pete…

Carrie Ashton was my first ACA Canoe Instructor Trainer; she was one of the best instructors I ever had, anywhere, in any subject, and I’ve had more than a few.

She had the smoothest roll in a whitewater solo canoe I have ever seen; on side or off side. Pleasing personality too.

Any idea where she is now?


The key is
To make sure what ever you use as flotation is secure. I must confess that I have lost some expensive float bags cause I failed to secure them in the boat. I have also used some cheap beach balls secured with velcro to.

Carrie Ashton
As you probably know, Carrie was a member of the USA 1972 Olympic whitewater team in K1W and the first woman to ever paddle the Niagra Gorge.

When I met her she was heading up the Outdoor Club at the University of the South in Sewanee Tennessee. I think she left that post in 2002. I don’t know where she is located now.

Different times
Beach balls were better back in the day.

Now they are cheaper, thinner and less rugged.

See this often
People claim it’s fine to inflate a bag in the kayak and just wedge it against the hull. Inflating a bag is not securing it to the boat. If you go to all the trouble and expense of outfitting a kayak with flotation, it makes sense to attach the bags to the hull as intended. Once installed, float bags never need to be removed.

insufficient information


– Last Updated: Nov-23-11 12:47 PM EST –

Thanks, everyone.

A little background. I recently purchased a used Perception Prism SOT, and I'm simply interested in making it sink-proof, or as sink proof as possible. :p

Given the boat has pretty sturdy straps for holding the hatch covers down, I suppose I could just replace the hatch seals with something better and forget about the float idea all together. I didn't pay much for the boat, so I'm looking for cheap alternatives to purpose-built float bags. Though I don't suppose 55 bucks for a set of bags would kill me.

I like the Dunnage Bag idea a lot! Thanks for the tip.

I use the boat, when I use it at all, mainly for day-trips on the SF bay, where conditions can vary greatly.

I understand not going cheap on safety gear. When I ride my motorcycle It's ATGATT, no exceptions.

Thanks again for the input.

long before ensuring your Prism won’t sink consider how useful filling it’s interior space with 10% of of available volume will be. IMHO it won’t matter squat if your Prism is sinking or sitting 1" above the water and hanging one end up because the flotation is in one end.

It’s a SOT, once it’s integrity is breached you’re screwed. QED. Make sure the hatches can’t be breached on the water.

Ever see Carrie and team tossing a
beach ball in summer dress?

Depends on the kayak, I’d imagine…
Disclaimer: I’ve got a skin on frame kayak.

Despite my best efforts, some water manages to penetrate to the interior of the boat. If I left my float bags inflated & inside the kayak, I’d worry about the fabric & wood frame collecting mold, mildew, and other ick. Pulling the bags out might give it a chance to air out and dry.

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SOT = pool noodles
Thousands use pool noodles. Check out kayak fishing sites ot

Paddling net is a great site, but few sot paddlers are here so there is better advice elsewhere.