Flotation Bags- where to buy them?

This is a two part question. Who makes the best quality trouble free float bags and where to buy them at a decent price?

Some years back someone posted that they had Gaia bags on sale at Overstock.com and I have not seen them for that kind of a discount since. Wish I had bought more because they have worked well all this time. Now I need more for new kayaks but can’t find anything on sale.

I’ve seen some information in the archives about making them but can’t figure out how to attach the fill tube so it won’t leak.

Buy vs. build
To buy them, I’d probably just go to www.nrsweb.com.

To build them, here are 2 links:



I’ve found that my valves aren’t always leak-free. I usually have to glue a bit of extra PVC around the piece that screws together to the bag.

My first bag is working great.

My second pair of bags gave me lots of woes getting the leaks out (the easy one was around the valve).

But, I’d still build them - once you have all of the parts, they’re pretty cheap to make yourself.

on occasion
Sierra Trading Post has them, deeply discounted. Afraid I bought them out last time but they may have some in again, bags are real high quality, way better than my Voyageurs. $80 retail, I paid $22.

I just ordered a couple of Gaia
Everlast 48" canoe bags at 69.95 each. Not cheap, but then one of the Harmony bags I was using self-destructed because of air turbulence while being carried around. I have never had a Voyageur lightweigh Nylon bag do that, and I expect Gaia will perform even better. I think Gaia may turn out to be worth the price, but get their Everlast bags, not the somewhat cheaper, almost-as-light PVC bags.

floatation bags
You can buy floatation bags from Gaia, Nantahala Outdoor Center, Mohawk Canoes, Bell Canoes and Harmony.

Harmony now appears to be selling the Voyageur lightweight nylon bags that many used to be very fond of, at least in some sizes. NOC sells Gaia bags and I believe Bell’s bags are made by Gaia.

Mohawk’s bags are good, but considerably heavier than the Gaia Everlast bags or the Voyageur (now Harmony) bags.

I haven’t tried the Everlast bags, but I have heard good things about them as well. The regular PVC Gaia bags are about the same as the Mohawk bags. I haven’t used the NRS bags, but I have heard they are good.

Wenonah and NRS sell bags, too
The actual manufacturers may boil down to Gaia, NRS, Harmony and Mohawk.

Every bag I have ever owned (many, many) over the past 30 years has disintegrated or otherwise failed, except my 28 year old Anne Dwyer Dragonfly Designs vinyl bags, which haven’t even lost any air.

I bought Gaia Everlast 30" bags this season but really don’t have enough experience to share anything. They appear to be significantly tougher than any of the urethane coated nylon bags I have ever used (Voyageur, Mohawk, Perception, Whitesell), and also appear to shed water better than any of those nylon bags, which waterlog.

Note that the NOC website is not

– Last Updated: Sep-01-09 10:47 PM EST –

offering the premium Gaia Everlast bags at this time. The PVC coated Nylon bags NOC offers are a little heavier and a little less expensive. That's OK, but I opted to order my Everlast bags from Millbrook, but I don't know if Kaz is stocking kayak bags. Of course one can order direct from Gaia, but if you pay by check and wait, Kaz doesn't charge for shipping.

old Mad River bags
I got a set of Mad River bags with a canoe I bought used. The canoe is a '94 model year and the bags are probably the same vintage.

They are very, very light and have held up very well. Anyone know who made them for Mad River and what their equivalent is today?

Voyageur, probably
Voyageur made the canoe accessories for Mad River.

I have heard others complain of Voyageur nylon bags waterlogging. I have never observed it, even in whitewater boats in which the bags are completely immersed so I am curious under what conditions this occurs.

If I am driving long distances, I take the bags out of my canoes. I have often taken wet Voyageur nylon bags out of boats. They are still much lighter than dry vinyl bags.

Thanks, I thought they were Voyageur

– Last Updated: Sep-02-09 9:49 AM EST –

These bags have some age to them and they definitely don't sop up any water. Like you said, soaking wet they are still lighter than my Mohawk and Bell bags dry. They aren't fragile either. My dog was in my WW boat with me and did his best to climb all over the tops of the bags and I got no leaks, pin holes or abrasion marks whatsoever.

They are different in my other bags in that they are lighter, thinner, slide very easily and they have a distinct "crinkly" sound to them.

Harmony is now selling what appears to be the lightweight nylon float bags previously made by Voyageur: http://www.harmonygear.com/product/203803/3D_END_BAG_NYLON_60/_/60

They also sell the 54 inch bags. They are not cheap, but they are very good. I haven’t used the Gaia Everlast bags, so I don’t know how they compare directly.

Seems like they may be the same
I’m looking at the cloth loops sewn in the corners.

I saw and felt the Gaia bags sold by Kaz over the weekend. They seem heavier and thicker to the touch. But beyond that, I don’t know anything about them.

making your own flotation bags
The book “Building the Greenland Kayak” has a very detailed chapter with patterns and instructions for making your own float bags including sources for the components. Seattle Fabrics sells the material on-line.

Even for someone who doesn’t plan to build a Greenland boat, this delightful book (which you can generally find on line for $10 to $15) is a great reference with much advice on kayaking gear and directions for making it.

Haven’t heard anyone say that
Voyageur Nylon bags get truly “waterlogged.” I have pointed out on occasion that the exposed Nylon surface does pick up a little water weight, which does partly offset the weight advantage over vinyl bags. One must remember that Nylon absorbs water more than other fibers such as polyester.

I’ve used Voyageur lightweight Nylon bags since the early 80s. They are durable, but I’ve had to do the occasional patch. I believe Gaia urethane-coats their Everlast bags on both sides, which would prevent the Nylon fabric from picking up water, as well as provide an outside surface that sheds water better. I should find out as soon as my Everlast bags get here.

Spirit Line

– Last Updated: Sep-02-09 11:22 AM EST –

Spirit Line float bags double as gear bags - they're well made. They are listed as for Greenland boats and Baidarkas, but will fit regular kayaks (Greenland is for symmetrical hull, Baidarka has a wider stern bag). A pair is $96.


Remember to give us some feedback on the Gaia bags.

(If any of my Voyageur bags ever gives out, I might have to buy a new bag someday)