Flotation bags as a backup measure?


I’m about to take delivery of a shiny new Anas Acuta, and am busy gathering up gear while I’m waiting.

Being of the belt-and-suspenders school of safety, I’m thinking about stuffing flotation bags into the bow and stern compartments while off on daytrips.

Two questions:

  1. Does anyone actually do this, or am I being exceedingly paranoid? I’m more worried about the hatches leaking than I am about bulkhead failure, but…one can imagine tiny bulkhead leaks, too.

  2. If I’m not alone in my caution…does anyone here have any experience with bags for this boat (Anas Acuta), in particular? If so, what manufacturer/size of bags did you choose?

    Thanks for any info you can provide!


Rock Garden Play?
if so, then redundancy is a good thing as puncturing the boat with rock crashes and seal landings aren’t unusual (rather have a RM boat for rock play). If you’re just paddling around, then you really don’t need the float bags. Just give your AA a good going over when you get it to make sure hatches and stuff aren’t leaking before heading.

NRS sells stern/bow float bags but most will be too wide and short for your (still better than nothing) boat as these are intended for rec boats. You can order heat sealable nylon from Seattle Sports and make your own custom fitted. The DIY go-native crowd do this all the time for their SOF. Some may have extra material around.


some do
Met an instructor who did use float bags as a backup. He also liked that when partially inflated they kept gear in the hatches from moving around while paddling and rolling. Can’t say if this is common though.

I have
taken to putting in float bags in the forward and rear compartments of the OI just because I use them in the SOF and I have them. Probably wouldn’t if I didn’t already have them


We added them
Don’t necessarily paddle with them inflated all the time, though that is something I should probably rethink. If you punch a hole in the boat while on the water they aren’t going to do much good in their original package. The spare drybag of clothing would likely not be enough by itself.

But yeah - figure at the least you could pull up on an island and use them and duct tape to lurch home.

Couldn’t hurt
Just picked up a set from Gaia since they were cheap ($10 ea.) insurance. Probably a bit of paranoia on my part for the conditions I normally paddle in, but what the heck.

Of course, I come to find out that the stern float has a bad seam, so I’ll be calling Gaia next week to hopefully get a replacement. Or, I may just get tube of Aqua Seal…

Have them for the 1% …
of the time I paddle in areas where I could damage the boat. Not needed for most of the paddling I do. Depends on where you are paddling.


Keep them inflated
I always put them in and inflate them. They make for a nice safety backup.

There are also some practical considerations: If the boat gets swamped, inflated bags help keep the boat afloat and in the proper orientation. With the inflated bags, there is also a much smaller amount of water you need to bail out to get going again.


– Last Updated: Aug-27-06 11:02 PM EST –

I tend to keep float bags (Seattle Sports pair for sea kayaks) in the boat always. I think my initial on these was from a BCU or ACA training or maybe simply at the urging of a coach.

They are not needed for much of the paddling I do, but if I don't try to always have them, I won't have them when I do need them.

There has been some discussion on another board about using canoe float bags in ones sea kayak as they can better fill a compartment and aid in sealing a hatch. However, the bow bag of my Seattle Sports set fills the forward compartment of my Aquanaut in a manner that seals the hatch.

Thanks for the tip on Gaia!
Thanks for the tip on Gaia - for $30, I bought all three of their (now on-sale) floats, and I’ll jam 'em in the boat somehow.

Seems like very cheap insurance, indeed.


Gaia - thumbs up!
As mentioned in my previous post, one of the float bags I recently purchased had a leaky seam so I called Gaia today for return authorization. They’ve got to be some of the nicest, most helpful folks I’ve dealt with in a long time. Unlike some companies, they’ll pay for shipping both ways on warranty items, and will basically do whatever is necessary to make the end user happy. Now, we’re talking about a $10 float bag here, so I was pleasantly surprised!

Agreed, but…
…since I have enough bags for both of my boats, I just leave them in all the time.