Foam Kayak floats/ 200 pounders

I’m 6’ 195 lbs.

I’ve been interested in switching from an inflatable paddle float to a Northwater foam but I’m concerned that the foam floats aren’t big enough to handle my weight.

I know, if my form is correct I don’t need that much support but I look to err on the side of caution.

Any of you 200 lb’ers out there use the foam floats. How do they work for you.



we use
them, along with other air floats, in our R&R (Rescue & Recovery) courses and they certainly have limitations compared with the BIGGEST of the air floats.

Anyone should develop the necessary skills to ‘slither’ back into their boat w/o sinking the float but the bigger the float the more bouyancy and the easier to re-enter. practice enough and you should be able to do it w/o a float, just paddle bouyancy.

The NW (and most other foam) float is small, bouyancy-wise.


they may have less buoyancy than the average inflatable but I wouldn’t think of it as being a problem,it you’re relying on putting weight on the shaft and not the kayak you get to find out how strong the shaft is. Focus more on the movement and less on the paddlefloat as a fixed floatation. Use the float as a reminder where to put “some” weight as opposed to a LOT then a little then OOPS wrong side.

Why are you thinking of switching?

very cold water
there’s no reason to be immersed in very cold water if you don’t have to. Once water gets into the 40’s or a person who isn’t well suited to cold water (skinny person in wetsuit) gets dumped it makes no sense to float around trying to blow into a bag. If that flotation is the only thing that will get you out of very cold water and you’re not able to kick up on the back deck without a float then why not cut the immersion time down especially if hands are freezing and the person is gasping. Think of Alaska temps. where the water is in the 30’s.

I’ll sell you one
Red, never used. Nice item, and as others have said, for colder waters (NorCal certainly counts) it would be nice not having to inflate something.

Water’s warm here - and I prefer the compact inflateable wedged behind seatpost and nothing on deck. Better suited to euro blade too, and I no longer paddle with any.

Paid $39.95. Respond in 24 hours and it’s yours for $25 + $5 S/H (Priority Mail). Otherwise it goes on eBay. Thanks for reminding me - one more thing for the Spring cleanout. It’s been in the car trunk since I bought it!

This model (plain - not the radar enhanced, and not the one with stirrup):

When we were in AK…
…last year, we were the only ones with the blow-up type.

Everyone else used the foam ones for the speed factor.



I totally understand, and was

– Last Updated: Mar-13-04 9:26 AM EST –

wondering if that's why you were asking. I just didn't want to assume:)

I had a rescue and reentry class this year. I was cold, and I was surprised at how much harder it can all feel and be. I saw a new paddle float on the market, that can be manually blown up, but also has a C02 cartridge (I think it may have been in seakayaker magazine???). I think minimizing time spent in the water working, getting back in your boat, is a really good idea. I know if I do start paddling solo in my sink, I may invest in a different float for the same reason.

Found the link. Here you go:

Randy Knauff
he’s an instructor/guide up in Alaska who posts on the guillemot forum,didn’t occur to me until he said that the goal is to get the person out of the water in seconds,floating around in 38 degree water puffing on a bag is ludicrous. It all points to the accomodations we make in the lower climates to a craft that is based on the assumption that wet-exit=dead so skills and ability to roll are paramount. For some skinny folks in 3mm farmerjohns doing a pf rescue in 55 degree water is like some well insulated folks in a dry suit and 35 degrees doing a pf rescue. Even with a dry suit no one really wants to hang out puffing on a tube with ice cubes drifting by.

I’ve seen some people get blue lips after three practice rescues in 50 degree water in calm conditions with the standard 3mm wetsuit and insulated paddling jacket combo. That’s not in rough water and not at the end of a day of paddling.

The other reason
I’ll get around to buying a foam float this year, too, partly for use in cold water conditions but also just as a backup float on camping trips. Anything that’s inflatable can fail due to a leak, which you may not find until you actually need the float.

Hi I just made my own float and it only tok 3 houres

try this link for a model:


you could use it as a soft log for dragging short distances?

my take on it is that by the time you get good at a pf self-rescue in a variety of conditions you are learning how to roll as the conditions that wet-exits occur limit your ability to self-rescue with a pf to begin with. Likewise the agility required to do a pf rescue quickly AND the strength required to pump out the water while managing the paddle/float AND remove/re-pack the pf in rough conditions is MUCH more than a cowbow rescue or roll.

Backup - and to help others