Newbie and flotation

Okay, I’ve got a Dagger GT 8.1 on the way. My question - is it normal practice to add floatation to this kind of kayak? The things that I’ve seen don’t mention anything about float bags included. Both of my touring kayaks came with floatation. Not sure whether this type of yak is meant to be used as is or have floats added?

Yes To Floatation
makes river retrieval of boats easier. I was in one retrieval process that took three of us and three sets of rapids on a class II to get the boat to shore. Why? Because there was no floatation installed and the boat acted like 2 ton elephant going where it wanted.

Floatation - split float bags to fit on both sides of the center pillar on the stern. Front floatation depends on whether you want to built up a front foam footrest on either side of the bow center pillar and remove the foot pedals. Because I let other folks use my boat I leave the pedals in place for where I want it. Them I cut and tape foam to fit behind it. If someone taller than me wants to use the boat, I can pull the foam out and the pedals can be lengthened accordingly. Of course, it that situation, if the borrower wet exits, then we got a floatation problem.


Thanks for the quick response!
Much appreciated!

Sing is right. Plus…
Many experienced paddlers I know won’t even try to help out someone who swims and doesn’t have flotation (assuming no danger to life). Flotation is simply standard equipment in a WW kayak. It also comes in handy to secure stuff. Put in your float bags (flat), put items you want to carry inside and on top of the flat bags, inflate. That works for lunch, first aid kit, or whatever.

stern for sure
Get float bags for the stern, at the very minimum. The GT I test paddled didn’t have much room in the bow for flotation–my feet were nearly in the nose of the boat, and I’m not that tall.

Probably Still Should
try to squeeze what you can and as far up the bow as you can. I don’t use good minicell for that. Rather, I save up the white ethafoam (the same white stuff that perception used for their center pillars in rec boats) that computer companies use in shipping boxes. I cut, shape, tape and shove up there as far as they go – further than where my feet go. The other thing I have done in a couple of boats is to cement irregular pieces of left over pieces of foam in the cockpit areas that do not affect my fit. I’m just filling up space that would otherwide be occupied by water in a wet exit.

Also, with float bags, they are quite easy to make with heat sealable nylon. I’ve saved money by buying yards of heat sealing nylon, valves from NRS, and plastic tubing from hardware stores to make my own floatation bags. It’s worth it since I have enough boats to outfit. Most recently, I spent something like $60 for 20 yards of nylon (on a group purchase). I probably used like 4 yards so far to make floatation bags for a Mystic, a Boogie, and to replace a bag in the Umiak. The last time, I bought a set of float bags was for the umiak. That cost me almost $50. So, I have saved some bucks, have custom fitted bags, and still more than enough material for bags to fit a couple of boats in the planning/construction process.


Thanks for all the info, folks!
Somalley - Maybe the GT you tried was the 7.8. It seemed to have a lot less interior space than the 8.1. (Yeah, I know it doesn’t seem like there should be much difference, but the capacities are like 67 gal and 76 gal.)

Volume & weight
Remeber that every gallon you keep out is almost 10 pounds that you don’t have to wrestle with.

floatation is good,
a sunk boat is bad. Welcome to the world of white water. Have fun, see you on the water.