Do I need flotation devices for flat water?

Here’s a silly question: Do I need flotation bags for all kayak types/waters ?

I’m a beginner and I’m thinking about buying a recreation kayak to use in a calm lake, but I found what I believe to be a good offer for a whitewater kayak ($200 for a Piranha Inazone 230) .

The question is, do I need to worry about flotation bags if I’ll only use the whitewater kayak in a lake?

You’ll look and feel like a water beetle going nowhere. What you need is a life jacket.

Short answer … Yes

You may be more likely to have an OBE (Out of Boat Experience) in a white water kayak on flat than you might expect.

String’s comment alludes to the fact that you will get an excellent education on how to make a turny boat go more or less straight with the Inazone. Not entirely a bad thing as long as you don’t get too frustrated. It’s good to know how to make a turny boat go straight and a straight tracking boat turn.

What these guys are saying is that a whitewater boat is designed for ease of turning so it can avoid obstacles (rocks) in a river… On a flat lake it won’t track - go in a straight line - very well at all. I’d suggest that you look for a recreational design.

And, any kayak without flotation of some sort, whether that be sealed compartments, or air filled flotation bags, will sink if you tip it, and at some point you probably will. Then everything depends on how deep the water is!

A properly fitting life jacket/PFD is mandatory.

The answer is no. The Inazone has central foam pillars fore and aft which will provide positive buoyancy so it won’t sink.

Relatively short whitewater play boats like the Inazone have very little room forward of your feet to put flotation in, apart from the central pillar. Sometimes you can fill the nose with a little shaped minicell foam, if it does not already have some, but that is about it. You can put a pair of small, split bags in the stern if you wish. That would make it float a little higher in the water if you capsized and it completely filled up with water, and there would be less water to have to dump out if you did capsize. But even with stern bags, because modern whitewater boats are so short, the cockpit area and volume taken up by your legs and feet constitutes a much higher percentage of the total internal volume than it does for a sea kayak or longer, old-school whitewater kayak. So even with bags in the stern, I am doubtful that you would be able to paddle the boat even if you could reenter it if it were completely soused.

Yes, a whitewater kayak will be slower, turn easier, and be trickier to paddle in a straight line than other kayaks. But an experienced paddler can make any boat go straight, regardless of how easily it turns. That does not mean that you will be able to do so, at least not at first. And you may or may not find it frustrating whether or not you can.

As for stability, I suspect you would find the Inazone 230 to be quite stable on flat water, moreso than many sea kayaks. The Inazone is 26" wide, considerably wider than the majority of sea kayaks, and it has a pretty flat bottom which offers a lot of primary stability.

Gawd not the Innazone unless you want to work really, really hard. I have the 220, my husband had the 230. You will hate this boat for regular paddling. Plus it has a catchy edge and stern, I personally would not reassure a beginner that they can’t capsize it in calm water.
Find a rec boat that has something resembling hull speed and put float bags in it.

My answer is depends. Which is also why you are getting both yes and no answers.

Is there any law or requirement to have flotation? No.

Without float bags or other flotation in the boat, if you flip over and exit the boat, the boat will fill with some water. Depending n how little built in flotation the boat has, it is possible (but not likely) that the boat could totally sink (as in down to the bottom gone). More likely, the boat will sit very low in the water. Too low for you to be able to climb back in. But low enough that it would be hard to swim it to shore and drain it,so you might end up having to abandon it and swim yourself to safety.

So if you are paddling close enough t shore to be able to swim to safety when you flip over, then you should be Ok flotation wise. If you want to paddle further out from shore, then this boat has some safety implications.

That said, others have mentioned that this isn’t the right boat for float water paddling, and they are right. It will work in that you will float around and be able t paddle, but waiting for a more appropriate boat would give you a better experience. You may want to check out an article in California Kayaker Magazine on the different types of boats at Issue #10, starting at page 6.

Side note - flotation device is generally used as a term for a PFD, so when I read your subject I was wondering if you were asking about needing a PFD. The base law for the US is to have a PFD on board which is accessible and correctly sized for each person. Some local areas have more strict rules (perhaps requiring they be worn).