Dry bags used a weight?

-- Last Updated: May-12-07 8:27 AM EST --


Dry bags used AS weight?

Does anyone used inexpensive dry bags filled with water when soloing in a canoe? The bags are put in front of the canoe for weight. Thanks.

Dry bags too expensive for this…

– Last Updated: May-12-07 4:44 PM EST –

... and the water pressure would be very hard on the seams.

Go to you local camping supply store (or big-box hell-hole, failing that) and look for folding/flexible 5 gallon jugs. They're cheap, light, fold flat, have built in handles, spigot and best of all, are *meant* to carry water. I've used 'em for ballast when soloing my 16 foot tandem Mohawk.


Well, you could use high-class
water bags to carry your water and as ballast. I have thought of doing this in my MR Guide. The bags in question have grommetted borders. One would NOT want to fill it only with water, so the bag would have some positive flotation in a spill. It would be better to use a smaller bag placed farther forward than a larger one closer to you.

All things considered, it is better to correct trim problems by changing the paddler position, but if one has to carry water anyway (and I had to carry about 40 pounds of water when paddling a western river with untreatable water), then using a quality water container for trim correction is OK.

Why high class?

In the worse case of a complete swamping, the water jugs are neutrally buoyant. Tying the jugs in transforms them to a liability however, if you manage to completely capsize.

If your boat already has flotation for conditions of the day (and it should), using water jugs for ballast should be a non-issue.

Did I say he shouldn’t use milk jugs as
ballast? No. I only said that high class water bags are available (from MSR) and they have grommets for locating in the boat. I would rather have my water in such a bag, resting low on the keel, than in milk jugs, but the difference is not great.

I do not see a problem with having 32 liters of water strapped into the bottom of the boat in a grommeted bag. It is true that, in a capsize, the water bag may make recovery more difficult. But if the water bag is NOT recovered, and is lost, then one is stuck on a desert river with no water, and (in my situation) no way to purify and desalinate water.

If you are in an area with rocks use a couple of big ones from lake/stream side. Done this for years in the BW. Pick em’ up at a portage and leave at the next and pick up new ones at the new lake after the protage (make deposited ones look nice and natural). Or, around home for day trips with no portages or on a lake I use a 30 pound dumbbell. FYI - water goes at 8 pounds a gallon. Collapsible 5 gallon water bags work well. You can fill them with some effort at the lake and leave the water when done (I know people who have done this a bit).

I believe the story is . . .
Omer Stringer was a young lad guiding fishermen. The style at the time was to use rocks as ballast, as was mentioned. He was too slight to do this, being a child, so he invented a new way of paddling. This is the heeled-over, paddler in the centre way, often called Canadian style paddling.

Some find this more graceful than ballast. Of course, in certain craft (kayaks, long solo canoes), it doesn’t really apply.


– Last Updated: May-13-07 9:47 AM EST –

I didn't mention milk jugs either.

I agree that if the poster was carrying water for consumption, lashing the containers in would be advised. Plain ballast? No so critical.

I know the original paddler said "when paddling solo", but sometimes the best ballast as another paddler.

Float what ya' got,


I’ve seen that
I’ve seen that done just last week. I think it would be good to add a high visibility float to the bag though, and as someone else has mentioned the collapsible water containers are another option.

I have only been kneeling for 33 years
while Omar Stringer was evidently born kneeling flat on the ground. I have never found an adequate moveable butt support for kneeling anywhere in the boat. After several efforts, I believe there is no >good< solution to this problem for most paddlers. You are either built like Omar so that you can kneel on your ankles, or you aren’t.

I have considered whether I might design an extended length center minicell pedestal, so that one could move fore and aft to correct trim. In a boat that is not over (for me, with long arms and reach) about 34", this will allow some shift of weight to heel the boat, if useful.

buddha bench
quite moveable, cost nothing cents if you have scrap lumber duct tape and a little foam for wrapping.

This ia a variation on a prayer bench that has to be portable. Its purpose is to support your butt and get the weight off your ankles.

Top is about six by 11 5/8 plywood. Bottom is a little smaller. Upright is tailored to the length that you need to clear your ankles. Can be about 5 or 6 inches. I used a stair baluster. Use screws to secure to bottom and top. Wrap all with foam (any kind) and duct tape.

Been using mine for many years now

Dry bag
Yes I use some cheapo ones that I got through NRS. I used to use a bucket filled with water but it was a pain hauling that bucket around. The dry bag idea works great, there when I need it, rolled up when I don’t.

Was just wondering about this
I paddled my tandem kayak solo this weekend on a long trip. I needed weight in the back and was thinking about this.

I was planning on filling a few milk jugs with fresh water & jamming them in the back. If I get thirsty, I’ve got fresh water… I was thinking of running a rope w/ caribeaner through the handles, so I can quickly take them out of I need to portage the kayak over beaver dams.

But I am in a small, contained river/stream, not open water. Typical depth is 4’, so I’m not too worried about losing the boat if I completely swamp.

when i paddle a canoe solo, ill use my cooler full of beer, ice etc as ballast.

works like a charm :wink: