Homemade Gear

-- Last Updated: Jun-18-05 5:51 PM EST --

I'm trying to meet several needs and hoped some of you could share your suggestions.

Need 1: I want to be able to safely load/unload my boats (16.5' PE and Trylon) on/off of my TracRac by myself (about 6.5' above grade). I want to install a roller so that I can lift up the bow and then roll it up onto the truck. I was thinking of using a 12' boat trailer roller and mounting it to the bar using the T-bolts. It should work. Any suggestions or alternatives to consider. It would be cheaper than buying a ready made solution but still a bit pricy buying marine parts.

Need 2: I need to pad out my cockpits a bit. The Tracer feels fine but I have a bit of play in the CapellaRM. Also, the skeg control mount digs into my knee when I brace and so I need to pad it soon. If I don't want to order from foam by mail, what sort of distributor would have minicell and other foam products (neoprene, etc) locally?

Need 3: I want something to hold my wet gear. (PFDs, skirts, clothing, etc) in the bed of my truck on the ride home prior to washing. Ideally I'd find some sort of oversized milk crate with a (lockable?) lid to keep stuff from blowing out and rolling around the bed. Any ideas? I haven't seen anything but was thinking maybe there is some sort of ventilated patio storage box I could use?

I've got more but this is a start. All in all, I love the new boats and am really getting comfortable. GF and I have spent a bit of time practicing exiting and rescues and I (and her to a lesser extent) are really getting comfortable. I did a reenter and assisted roll successfully on my first try and was pretty stoked. I've worked a little on my "hip flick" pulling myself back up with the paddle with paddle float (w/ GF holding the paddle) and am amazed at how little effort it takes (I've gone 180 back underwater several times) to roll the boat. I have not tried a "real roll" since I anticipate taking a few classes and do not want to have to unlearn anything.

Thanks for the tips. You all are great!


If security isn’t an issue
Wendy K gave me one of her homemade gear bags, constructed of heavy-duty black nylon mesh. It’s big enough to hold ALL my gear including a break-apart paddle, and has shoulder straps for an easy carry. Because it’s mesh, it wads down into a small ball which can be stowed easily in a hatch or behind the seat. This makes for a single trip from car to boat and v/v for most daytrips, and the gear dries nicely in transit. Dunno how I did without it!

RE: #1
Check out the SUV roller from Oak Orchard.


I’ll bet you can find and old boat roller from a junk boat trailer at a big marina.

Good luck!


That SUV Roller
is exactly the concept I have in mind but about twice what it should cost. I’ve seen the 12" rollers mounted for around $50 at Marine shops but they have an offset (axle is not centered over the mounting plate) and I really want the load to be over the bar to reduce the risk of damage to the rack.

I wish I had a Northern Hardware near me…


I use a dive bag for my gear.
Available at any dive store or over the internet. Basically it’s a large, tough mesh bag. Mine is somewhat like this one:


Gear storage
I got one of these XL Mesh bags for all my gear. I use it to and from boat, and to and from home.


I was in the same predicament…I have huge cockpits and I am small… foam is expensive!!! The way I cut my costs: I went to the Sportsman Warehouse, in the archery dept. I found a block of foam that is normally used to shoot arrows into. It cost me $40. I have so much foam, I dont know what to do with it all!!! And I saved huge $$. I padded out my double kayak and have plenty to do more! It is not minicell like REI sells, but so close most people cant tell it isnt. Its easy to cut into shape and is close cell foam.

I should also tell you… The block of foam isnt actually a solid block either… It was a bunch of square slabs back to back… once I cut away the packaging holding it all together…(mostly cardboard), I found all these great foam pieces underneath. Make sure you get this kind. A solid piece of foam would not be manageable when cutting it to your needs.

Ive been using this foam in my kayak for over a month now… and it does super!

Other Ideas…

I found a good mesh bag for my gear for under $5 at Walmart in the laundry storage area. Good heavy mesh. Cheap!

Need Dry Bags? I found a sale on rain gear at a liquidation store… bought nearly all they had in the largest sizes and Ive been cutting up rain gear and making it into all sorts of great stuff! Deck Bags, Dry Bags, Cockpit covers, and even made a mini-spray skirt for my daughter to fit the little back hatch.

The Legs of Rain Pants, especially XXL, make simple to make Dry Bags. And if you get lucky, many of the materials will even heat seal. I have been able to heat seal all of my pantleg/Drybags at the bottom seal with a hot iron. Be careful to put something like freezer paper in between as to not melt the iron.

Extra Heavy Duty Vinyl Shower curtains at Walmart make nice material to make cockpit covers or half-skirts.

I bought clear vinyl sold in Walmarts fabric section, and made my own map cover case. This vinyl also heat seals with a hot iron. No leaking at the seams!

And if you find messing with a big bulky iron for little seams is a pain… try a wood burning kit with a flathead attatchment. But you will have to attatch it to a reastat to reduce the current…otherwise normal range is too hot. I find my setting about halfway are just right to do most my heat sealing.

I made my own pogies, foam footpeg covers, deck bags(nice dome shaped ones!), half-skirts, cockpit covers, yakima saddle covers, dry bags and more… the more kayaking I do, the more I keep creating and modifying! I love it!

For materials, I am always watching out for old wetsuits to recycle… tent material… rain coats… etc… anything that has outdoor gear potential!

Here is a pic of my little one, in the back hatch with her new homemade spray skirt.


Have fun!

When to you actually paddle? My sister is making paddle sacks for me out of towels as was suggested here sometime before. I can’t wait to get them.

I’ll have to look for archery foam! I don’t really mind paying for foam but would like to see what I am dealing with and you can’t touch it buying online. I’d also like it to be relatively cheap so that I can screw up a few times. I may go to the dealer and have them help me fit out the boats or at least give suggestions on how to best do it. I’m sure they have foam but I doubt it’s inexpensive.

I’ve been keeping my eyes out for cheap mesh bags. Haven’t really thought about laundry bags.

Drybags I have plenty of. When the local Kmart was clearing out inventory for converstion into the new “Sears Essentials” store, I was surprised to stumble across dry bags in their sports department. They were marked down and then had another 30% marked off. 19" was something like $4.50 and the smaller size was under $3. I bought all they had in stock. Even if they turn out to not be that durable they are cheap enough to make them a good deal. Walmart had similar dry bags for around $11 each. If there is a dying Kmart near you it may be worth a look.