Float bag in Pungo?

My wife has a 12’ Pungo. Even though when paddling together we stay 100% in environments suitable for a Pungo I still worry that one day we are going to have a heck of a task on our hands dealing with a swamped boat with no bow bulkhead.

Has anyone here ever installed a float bag or other flotation in the bow of a boat like a Pungo? How did you tie it in? Is it worth doing?

Yes and an electric pump
If you don’t want an electric pump, use a bailer. Treat you Pungo like a canoe and you’ll be fine.

On my original pungo I could fit a sealed 5 gallon bucket in front of the foot pegs for floatation. It provided pleanty of float and with a gamma lid it provided storage too.

Test it yourself?
Get into shallow water, fill her boat up with water and try to haul it over yours to empty out, or try flipping it so that the paddler re-entering would not be sitting in several inches of water. Or try pumping it out with the usual kayak hand pump that is sold in kits.

Stop BEFORE you destroy a shoulder trying.

You can get waterproof battery-powered electric pumps from West Marine, and Hamilton may have one as well. For something like a Pungo, I’d suggest you carry one.

Treat it like a canoe - good

– Last Updated: Dec-04-11 10:01 AM EST –

advice. I'll have her carry a windshield washer fluid container with the bottom cut out. Drag boat to shore like you would an open boat. Tilt it on edge and dump most of the water. Pump or sponge the rest. A pain - but it would work in the places and conditions she paddles and it is unlikely she will ever dump the thing anyway. Something about carrying a battery operated pump sticks in my craw a bit.

I may also try to get a sealed container or bag up there in front of her foot pegs to keep the bow from sinking completely. Wondering how to be sure it stays put.

Truth is I personally wish she had picked the 13 or 14 foot Tsunami she was paddling but I believe it was her decision and the last thing she needed was an over bearing type A husband giving her a raft of endless persuasion. I did just once mention that the lack of stability she perceived in the Tsunami would quickly disappear after a bit of paddling - but, she LOVED the Pungo. So there you have it.

securing bow flotation bag

– Last Updated: Dec-04-11 10:18 AM EST –

Find a triangular bag of appropriate width and length that has a grommet or sewn in nylon loop at the tip (not all bags do). The bag can be a little wider than your kayak but you don't want the bag so long that it interferes with getting your feet on and off the footpegs.

A tandem canoe end bag might work also if the filler tube is long enough for you to be able to add air to the bag when it is secured in the boat.

Drill a small hole through the deck just behind the bow grab loop or toggle just big enough to thread a length of 3mm nylon paracord through the hole. Use a length long enough to grab through the cockpit and tie it to the float bag bow grommet or loop. Draw the uninflated bag up into the bow of the kayak, tie the paracord off to the bow grab loop or toggle, or just use a figure-of-eight stopper knot. A tiny amount of water might leak in but the nylon cord swells a little when it gets wet. You can also use a little silicone sealant on it if desired.

If you really don't want to drill any holes in your boat, you can probably secure the bag to the sliding footbrace rails. This will require a bag that has grommets or loops at each side of the fat end of the triangular bag, as most do. You may need to unbolt the foot brace rails from the hull to do this. Use a short length of paracord on each side. Either run this through the most forward hole in the foot brace rail on each side, and tie a loop in the cord, or tie a small loop in the cord and put it over the machine screw that secures the bow end of the rail to the boat, between the hull and the rail. Tie the other end of each cord to the bag grommet or loop.

This method won't secure the bag quite as well as a cord to the pointy end, but as long as the bag is inflated, it will stay put.

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We find ours helpful
Depending on the paddle and who is on it, Jim sometimes sticks the battery operated unit in his day hatch. We first heard about this from a highly rated coach. It has come out to help quickly empty a boat, especially in more challenged situations or cold water. It’s a good tool - no reason to ignore it.

I’m sure it is useful and
probably smart to have in some situations. I’ll try to keep an open mind, ;-).

My wife’s pungo 120
has these installed in the bow and they work very well.

The thin ends are tied together and worked around “the grey thing” (pillar). Glue in some D-rings to secure the wide ends.


If the boat has a central minicel pillar
you can secure split flotation bags quite well and easily without gluing anything in. Just take a short length of 3/4" PVC pipe matching the width of the pillar. Find the spot on the pillar where the wide end of the bags will be when fully inflated. Just a little forward of that location, push the PVC pipe through the pillar about midway between the hull bottom and the deck. Run a length of nylon parachute cord through the PVC pipe and tie each end to a grommet at the wide end of one of the two split bags.

great idea
truth is I don’t even know if this boat has a pillar - I’ll go take a look.

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I 2nd the treat it like a canoe

– Last Updated: Dec-05-11 10:55 PM EST –

No reason you can't do a t rescue just like you would with a canoe ,which holds a lot more water than a pungo.a capistrono flip might work to,Put some floatation in and give it a try. Practice is more valuable than a pump that may or may not work when you need it

Hello there.

if I use flotation bags, spray skirt to keep water out to some extent, and pump (or bailer? which one is better?) on a 10’ recreational kayak (1 hatch, not airtight), would it be crazy to take it into the ocean along a harbor coastline? I’ve taken the 10’ kayak out on tidal rivers that were pretty rough because of wind and boats. While it was a challenge to keep the boat in a straight line, and the boat was super slow, I’m a glutton for punishment, and I’d love to take it out into the harbor. For now, I can’t afford to buy a sea kayak, but I live so close to the ocean…and it keeps tempting me… At the same time, I’m open to being talked out of it if it can’t be done - or if it’s like an 8 to 10 on a 1 to 10 scale with 1 being “that’s a great idea” and 10 being “that’s the the worst-you’re-going-to-get-yourself-killed-or-lose-your-boat-forever-idea” ever.

If it can be done, but I need to do other things to make it work, I’d definitely love to hear any ideas you may have. If it can’t be done safely, then would any of the above measures enable me to take the kayak on anywhere else besides flatwater without it being an “8-10” bad idea?

Many thanks in advance.

Don’t waste time with home made stuff go directly to NRS and buy a float bag with the dimensions you need for your boat. Install some way to secure the bag into the boat. Take measurements don’t ask NRS if it fits in a pungo 120 . They will just message one of us and I’ll end up answering it anyway.

I’ll post pictures if I can find 'em.

Here are the pics………note you can also get glue in d rings from North Water that would allow you to attach it within. But I didn’t have any. I did have some double braid cord and a drill so it put a hole in the foredeck just big enough to string the cord through. It puts less water in the boat than my wet shoes. Then string the cord to a “Y” bridle to the two d-rings on the back of the bag.

You inflate the bag partially. Pull it into position with the cord. Then inflate to jam fit. Stow the inflation tube and tie off the cord. Keep extra cord so you don’t have to fish another in when you replace the bag or patch a hole when you fiddle with it making fart noises with your foot on the bag. (Duct tape over hose clamp) Just suppose……….

I get about five to seven years on a bag before replacement.

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Thank you, Overstreet, for the ideas and photos! Dropping on here in 2021 with the same question and you’ve solved it for me! I’m in an Old Town Loon120 with no forward bulkhead. NRS float bag is coming this week along w 550 paracord and cord lock to tie off on deck. Thanks!

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For the Pungo 120 I found no need to alter or drill. Wire ties connect the ends of the foot pegs to a proper fitting NRS float bag. I’m not sure of the Loons configuration.

Foot pegs on my Old Town Egret with the float bags move. They are part of rudder control. Can’t restrict rudder movement.

I should have been clearer about that. I meant to say the end of the foot peg track.

A forward float bag is pretty much essential to have any chance of getting the water out of a swamped Pungo while on the water or do a successful rescue.

And don’t take lightly “I’ll just tow it back to shore”. Towing fully swamped Pungo, either by another kayak or by a swimmer is like towing a giant sea anchor and any adverse current may make it nearly impossible.

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@Flyjimmy - updating here to say the Loon 120 foot peg track has no place into which I can tie the float bag. So I string paracord through each eyelet (grommet?) on the bag, and then up through the bow drain hole. It’s a 1.5cm opening. Used a rubber stopper plug topped with a rubber gasket (hello plumbing dept) to cap off the drain hole well-enough, and then tying the paracord to the deck shock cords. When it’s a bit warmer I’ll do a shallow water submersion test to see how it goes.