Need help selecting Float Bags for SOF

I have a new traditional West Greenland SOF with the following dimensions:


Beam: 20"

Depth to Sheer 7 3/4"

I’m looking at Feathercraft, which offers three options:

  • large end float bags (17" X 49")
  • small end float bags (17.5" X 32")
  • main stern bag behind seat(17" X 30")

    I’m new to float bags and need assistance deciding on size, whether or not I need one of each or 2 of the same, etc. All advice and opinions welcome.

Double duty
You might consider these dual purpose gear dry bags and floation bags.;jsessionid=678B6561F8E60BA55C621D6DF7179294.qscstrfrnt04

I’m sure there are many options which work well, but I have been very happy with my float bags from Spirit Line in WA. If you will be using your SOF for day paddling, then I suggest you get the float bag for the bow and a combination gear and float bag for the stern. That lets you carry your day kit and kept dry in the stern float bag. They will mix and match if you ask them to.;jsessionid=67C4C1955B3ABF331C63C4FBA0EFE042.qscstrfrnt04?categoryId=4

Yep - his Baidarka Bags…
… or make your own custom for best fit. Not hard. Heat sealable material(s) from Seattle fabrics, valves from NRS, tubing & PVC cement from local home center.

You’ll need different sizes
The rear will take a longer bag than the front. Another alternative is to use the same size for both, but put a paddle float in the rear to make up the difference. You may also want to consider getting “stow float” type bags that allow you to fill them with gear, if you plan to use the boat that way.

A bigger issue than size is getting the bags in and out of the boat. The best method I’ve found it to rig a pull-cord system when you build the frame. It starts by placing a dowel between the gunwales as far forward and aft as possible. Before you skin the boat, run a length of cord from the cockpit, over the deck beams and back to the cockpit in the open space between the deck beams and the ribs (down the center of the boat). Tie it into a loop so you can pull it in either direction. install tabs or grommets on your your float bags at the front and rear, then tie matching loops in the pull cord that you can clip to the bags. That will allow you to pull the bags into and out of the boat easily.

If you look in my SOF albums on Webshots, you’ll see some examples of these pull cords. I know there are some in the “SOF #2” album.

Yep - DIY

Good point on the pull lines. I’ve done
that on a couple of whitewater kayaks where I wanted to use the nose grommets on the bags to keep them up in place, but needed to get them back out for repairs and cleaning.

The other option…
… is to put a small pocket near the end of the bag - then use your paddle (GP helps here) to push the bag in. I have a very long SOF and this method works well. Tip: Rear bag first, bags deflated [at least mostly].

If building, might as well try a pulley system. If built, see above.

Inflation tubes
Another thing to keep in mind is that you may have to extend the inflation tube on your float bags in order to be able to inflate them after they are installed. This is easily done using tubing and plastic barbed connectors available in the plumbing department of hardware stores and home centers. In the bow I run the tube along the keel of the boat and under the ribs, starting as far forward as I can easily reach. That prevents it from interfering with your feet. Depending on your boat design, you might be able to run the tube along the deck stringers, if you prefer. in the stern, it doesn’t matter.

Installing pull cords after building
Although it’s not the easiest way to go, it’s possible to install pull cords after a boat is skinned, provided that you have deck beams far enough forward and aft to pull the bags in and that the deck beams are recessed below the top of the gunwales (standard SOF construction). The process is as follows:

1- Tied a large washer to some thin string or heavy thread.

2- Invert the boat, rest the end on the ground and stick your head into the cockpit.

3- Slide the washer and line down the deck skin until it’s past the forward most deck beam. This may require tapping on the skin to keep the washer moving.

4- Right the boat and the washer will drop over the deck beam.

5- Stand the boat on end and let the washer and line drop down the center of the boat, between the deck beams and the ribs.

6- Attach your pull cord material to the line and pull it through.

7- Tie the two ends together to form a continuous loop.

8- Repeat on the other end of the boat.


float bags
From Brian Schultz at Cape Falcon Kayak (try Google)

Spirit Line Baidarka Bags $61 each

If you are in a kayak without bulkheads you must have flotation. These innovative float/gear bags are the only bags I’ve ever seen that aren’t garbage. They’re big, which is important because if your bags are less than huge they won’t provide anything more than emotional support in a real swamping. Seperate float and gear chambers and excellent quality nylon.

Thank you, thank you, thank you
I have not spent time thinking about how to add lines to put bags in having thought it would be a pain and have been using the pocket method. An now I have a reasonable painless way to add lines. With this gift I can set about installing something to make life so much easier.

Regarding other replies.

I don’t understand why anyone would travel with inflated bags, if nothing else with a SOF you need to pull the bags out to let the boat dry properly and if you use them for gear, they need to be deflated anyway before you add stuff. Also, I don’t think it is worth dealing with multiple small bags, get the bags made by folks who know about SOFs and what works. You will save yourself grief and perhaps more if you really need them some day. And, the provide the proper length inflation tubes. You simply cannot do a proper job on the bow without extra long tubes.