Flotation bags

Bow flotation is easy, I never put anything up there anyway. The stern is not so clear cut. I don’t want to fill the entire space and give up all my storage behind the seat. The shorter bags aren’t wide enough to wedge in tightly, leaving a gap of up to 4 inches along the side. Is it OK to go with a stern bag that doesn’t fill the area or will this cause problems. How much flotation do I really need?

The more floatation the better, and the deeper and bigger the water you’re going into, the more it matters. If you want room for your gear behind the seat, put it in dry bags (making sure there’s some air in the bags as well) and shove it in back there, and it will act as floatation too, assuming it doesn’t float out. In reasonable shallow water, try filling your boat with water and see how fast it sinks without floatation. The goal is to have enough bags and foam in there that your boat won’t sink, and so that it won’t take you all day to get water out if you tip over.


I’ve been thinking about the issue too…and am considering placing gear as close to the bow & stern ends(and underneath the bags) as possible, will interfere least when you might need to roll…


Heck, get a bag that fills the stern with no gear, and deflate as needed to make cargo room. The less water you have to get rid of, the better.

Gear stowage
heavy gear should be as close to the cockpit and as low as possible. Putting weight out at the ends of the boat will make it harder to turn and more sluggish in waves.

How gnarly are your conditions?
I used to live in the Pacific Northwest and wouldn’t consider going out in gnarly conditions without floatation. I personally experienced splitting a bow open off the Washington coast and can’t imagine the problems that would have caused if I didn’t have a bow floatation bag.

On the other hand, we moved to Chicago and very rarely have felt threatened by the paddling conditions.

So the real question is where and when do you paddle. If you prefer slow/flat water and do leisurely picnic type paddles, then float bags are not needed (I’m assuming you have water tight hatches of course).

One key point though, floatation bags are cheap and are good insurance, so why not consider them?

Good luck


Gear close to cockpit, not at ends.
YOu have this backwards, you want to float bags in the tips and the gear close to the cockpit. Easier to handle the boat, more stable and easier to roll.

My reference comes from british style boats that have significant rocker.


there ya’ go mdloon…

Certainly sounds like the previous guys are correct. I know the paddling aspect is right…rolling too, especially if you properly build up the floatation to the max.

Give it a try for less than $30
Overstock.com has an assortment of Gaia float bags on sale. Shipping was only $2.50 for me. http://www.overstock.com/?PAGE=CATLIST&pro_sub_cat=451&pro_ssub_cat=461

I do what angstrom said
I like big bags you can inflate them to hold everything from sliding around.