Float bag question

How many people take their float bags out when traveling on hiway? I’ve left them in and taken them out. I know there are risks such as bugs, chafing, etc, when leaving in, but it sure saves time at the put in, especially when you already have alot of gear to load.

Just wondering if anyone does something unique to leave them in the boat and keep them from getting damaged.



Ah’ let a bit o’ air out…

– Last Updated: Jun-07-09 11:29 AM EST –

an' check dem every so often waan they be a'travelin' on de car in de hot sun - cood cause dem ta split or cood cause some damage ta de boat iffin' dems expand too much fro' de heat.


You can leave them, but like the previous poster said, let a LITTLE BIT (NOT a lot) of air out, if it is a sunny day, because the bags will expand on the way home. Of course, you don’t want to deflate them enough for them to flap around. Usually, I decide to deflate mine for very long drives and but say, I’m camping and paddling on Sat. and Sun., I’ll for sure leave the airbags in for the drive back to the campsite on Saturday afternoon, but when I get ready for the 4 hour drive home, I’m taking them out. I probably could leave them, but those suckers really hurt my wallet when I bought them! Big altitude changes can also pop bags, so be aware of that.

Here’s a Cboats.net discussion about it:


and one guy’s homemade cover:


Never take them out
They should be attached to the boat and never need to be removed. I leave them fully inflated until the boat is back home then let a bit of air out so they can dry all around. They do expand when heated in the sun but not enough to cause damage. Been doing it this way for years with no trouble.

great links, thanks!!!

– Last Updated: Jun-07-09 12:27 PM EST –

When I have left them in, I've found that what FE and others have said; as full as possible but back off enough to keep them from expanding and popping. Too little air and they flap and can abrade.

I always take mine out
I developed this habit after driving around with a boat on my company truck for about 3 months. I was careful about the air pressure from the sun. But after a couple months I had about 25 pin holes in each bag. All the holes eventually got found and fixed with Aquaseal but now I don’t drive around with bags in anymore.

I think shorter bags may take less abuse being left in than say 60s, but that’s just an untested theory.

thanks Clarion
my bags are short, and I carry a tube of aquaseal just in case. I really like the idea of the homemade shield in the above post, just have no idea what coroplast is or where to find it, guess a search is in order.

I never take them out. I have
longitudinal bungee segments to see that the bags don’t get loose and flop around.

I’ve gotten good life out of all my flotation bags. After a few years of use, I expect to deal with some small leaks caused by the bags flopping in the wind. Controlling the flopping will hopefully cure that.

I can’t even begin to contemplate spending the extra time to insert, inflate, deflate, and remove bags at every river. I also suspect that inflated bags lower the drag of an open canoe when it sits on the car.

Always Take Them Out
I got tired of replacing them.

Since I started taking mine out to transport they’ve been lasting much longer.


Flapping in the wind
I’ve traveled with them installed/inflated, or deflated and stuffed/crumpled into the stem. When they’ve been inflated I’ve never seen any flapping in the wind on the front bag, and haven’t felt any when I reached up with my hand to feel the part that I can’t see when driving. None. In the rear, I often have a double piece of surveyor’s tape about a foot long hanging from the stern to prevent head-banging, and as seen in the rear-view mirror, that surveyor’s tape only puffs around a little bit in random directions, this way and that, rather than being pulled tight in any direction by wind. Based on that observation, I don’t think there’s much wind inside the canoe.

Of course, I haven’t driven as many miles as a lot of you, and I don’t drive as fast as a lot of you either, so take it for what it’s worth, but at 55 to 65 mph, this is what I’ve seen.

I take them out
I had a center bag rip off its moorings at interstate speeds, deflate and go splat against a following car.

A police cruiser.

Traveling with air bags

– Last Updated: Jun-07-09 6:27 PM EST –

The air bags I used in 5 different solo canoes over the course of nearly 20 years were well secured by a lace kit. A center strap ran the full length of each bag and was then was secured to a d-ring. A piece of bungee cord ran from the narrow end grommet of each bag & thru a small hole at each end of the canoe. I used the bungee cord to pull the bags into a secure fit in the bow & stern before inflating them.

Secure? Yes.
Overly complicated? Nor really.

I timed myself once, just to see how long it would take to get both bags in place, fully secured & inflated.
Result? Less than 12 minutes.

To remove the bags, deflate them & put them into my camper shell?
Less than 8 minutes.

I figured it was 20 minutes(or less)well spent.
I was never in that big of a hurry to be on the road, and I worried none at all about them overinflating/stressing the bags, or underinflating/flapping in the wind.
Typically, I was always finished & ready to go on the river, or the road, before the majority of my buddies.

To each his own........
I expect no one to change their method.


Removing will preserve their lives

– Last Updated: Jun-07-09 8:48 PM EST –

Most regular whitewater paddlers don't remove bags when driving because of the inconvenience. I never did. I also never removed them during storage season. And I have paid the inevitable penalty over and over again.

Driving at speed definitely damages bags. It's not only the flapping and air currents; it's the grinding against pebbles and grit between the bags and hulls.

Storing bagged boats outside also kills the bags. Temperature, mold, critters, wasp nests ... and there is definitely some sort of bug that eats vinyl coated nylon.

Just yesterday I took the ancient rotting bags out of my Millbrook ME, Dagger Encore and Whitesell Piranha, and every single one of them is destroyed. That's $400-$500 worth of bags at today's prices.

There is one exception to all this. The sturdy clear vinyl end bags in my Explorer, which I bought 28 years ago from the late Anne Dwyer's Dragonfly Designs in California, are completely undamaged and haven't lost an ounce of air in all that time.

I save my breath (hot air) for pnet.

air bags
Take them out, good way to let both the bags and the boat dry out, they normally don’t get much air circulation when they are in place.

Bill H.

please share the rest of the story! :slight_smile:

Should take them out
but I’m too lazy, so they stay in all the time - at least until they start to leak.

Inflatable bags
We leave ours in the Pungo 120, it is secured with several zip ties. We do let some of the air out, then once we are home the valve is opened completely and left this way. We generally transport with the cockpit cover left on,

Ouch! nm

Spare paddle consideration for WW boats
Since the only spare paddles that fit in my little Inazone are 4-part, for highway travel either the bags have to be in and partially inflated or both the bags and the spares have to be out. I usually use door number 1, but on really hot days I can see option 2.