Flotation Bags

I have a Wilderness Systems Pamlico 145T kayak and I was wondering if someone could recommend flotation bags (one in the bow and one in the stern) for fast moving and/or hazardous water.


So Solly, are there tie in points in the
bow and stern? If not, we’ll have to discuss how they might be put in.

Of available bags, I favor Gaia, but I don’t know if they make bags for the ends of rec boats. Probably you will not need to spend extra for their best “Everlast” bags. The less expensive and still-fairly-light bags in their line may suffice. Google them if you want. They sell direct.

I’ve had some luck buying discounted bags from Sierra Trading Post, although you have to check often for what’s available.

Cancel the Gaia suggestion, but
I did find one possible float bag option at the following link:


There seems to be little market for flotation for the wider bows and sterns of rec kayaks. This bag was designed for narrow bow tandem canoes, and NRS says it will fit rec kayaks pretty well.

The largest size float bags that fit compartments in sea kayaks might work for a rec boat such as the Pamlico. But please be advised that a recboat such as the Pamlico is great for ponds and quiet water paddles, but is not designed for use in fast moving or rough water.


The number or WW paddlers trusting
to DIY bags rather than commercial bags is diminishingly small, approaching zero. I’ve made everything from raingear to paddles to harpsichords, but for flotation I have found the very best companies FAR exceed what I can do.

Dry bags
How many folks here just use dry bags full of gear as float bags? I’m a folding kayaker, so adding flotation is a must in my boats, but I prefer longer trips that require lots of gear. I just don’t have room for dry bags PLUS dedicated float bags. I’d be curious to know if anyone else does the same thing.


Your options are limited. In the past,
Voyageur provided some good tapered bags with slide closures for inserting gear, and with an inflation tube to render the result into flotation. Though the fabric was light and had to be handled carefully, the slide closure was airtight. I have several of these and use them in both my kayaks and in my WW canoe. Unfortunately Voyageur has changed hands and as far as I know, these bags are no longer available.

Watershed makes the Futu storage/float bag, a tapered bag with Watershed’s wonderful zip closure at the wide end. And there is an inflation tube. The fabric is very solid, but the wide end doesn’t slip into boats as easily as my Voyageurs.

I believe Prijon (try wildnet.com) offers a tapered float bag with some kind of wide end closure and with a flotation tube. I’ve heard some good reports.

Re; Dry Bags

Thanks for the tip on the inflation tube-equipped bags. I did not even know such a product existed! These seem ideal for folding kayaks, which need much more flotation than hardshells due to their lack of bulkheads.

In my first post, I had been referring to the practice of using regular gear-filled dry bags for flotation, since even a dry bag crammed with gear will be less dense than the same volume of water. These inflatable dry bags you’ve recommended may be just what the doctor ordered!


Skinboats bags
The flotation is important of course but so is displacing the maximum amount of water possible.

Cory et al. at the skinboat school make combination float bags/dry bags. They seem well made and are huge - important for skinboats where you want to really fill the space. My set took quite a while and a number of emails to arrive, but I wouldn’t hesitate to order from them again.


Floatation bags
Folbot (folbot.com) makes large, very sturdy floatation bags designed for their Cooper. I use bow and stern foatation and a Feathercraft sea sock with my Cooper. It takes on almost no water after many practice wet exits and re-entries.

The Skinboats bags appear to offer
some dimensional alternatives to what Watershed has.

Floatation bags on top of the load
Floatation bags are a great addtion to any loaded boat. Just put the dry bags and all the other gear under the tied in float bag and then inflat it. It will take up the rest of the space and help keep the gear in place where it belongs on the bottom of the boat. If you already have dry bags then most any large float bag will work.

I’ve used canoe float bags in rec boats with success. Make sure you have installed straps and tie ins to secure the float bag in place and test your instalaation out flooding the loaded boat in warm shallow water.

Folbot bags
Actually, Folbot’s flotation bags are the single product they make that I DON’T like! I’ve had two of them crap out on me by getting these tiny little holes poked in them just in the course of normal use. One of the bags I tried to repair by melting the material over the hole, but the heat ended up just making the hole bigger!

I’m surprised to hear someone speak highly of them. I don’t feel like I was unduly hard of them - they just didn’t seem that strong to me.


Spirit Line
I’ll put in another recommendation for the Spirit Line combination float/dry bags sold by Corey at skinboats.org - mine are 3 years old and still working well. I also have the GP paddle float, which is useful.

with good directions on yostwerks.com