Paddel floats: Let the fight begin!

Here is a contested point.

What do you think of paddle floats?

Useful, life safety necessity: Waste of space, dangerous psychological crutch giving the illusion of safety?

I hope a couple of people will get into this because it is truly worth a public debate.


I carry one for a few reasons
1- Someone else may need it.

2- If I’m injured, I may need it.

3- Two of them mounted on a paddle stuck through the rear deck rigging of a boat can function as emergency outriggers for a sick/injured paddler that cannot stay upright while being towed.

4- It makes a good emergency backrest in the case of a backband failure.

The float I carry is a double-chambered inflatable type.

I think this has been around
The diff between this and skegs and rudders is that it’s hard to argue that having an inflatable paddle float creates a physical inconvenience of any kind. At least with the other you can argue about maintenance and re-entry options.

I carry one to use
as a pillow on camping trips

good wine insulator…
For the most part, I think the paddle float for it’s primary intended use (paddle float rescue) is pretty damn useless. However, like Brian mentioned, there are plenty of other uses for it in other circumstances. A seasick paddler being towed with a paddle with two inflated paddle floats tucked under his arms is much more stable. I like inflatables because they are unobtrusive but I also don’t rely on it to be a rescue device so it isn’t necessarily stored on my deck.

I actually got to do this
A couple of years a paddling partner was experiencing back pain and there wasn’t a place nearby to get out and rest. He inflated his paddlefloat, we rafted up, and I stuffed it behind his back for some added soft cushioning for his back. He was comfortable enough to paddle for a while longer.


my 2 bits worth
#1 … If u don’t think it’s useful , don’t carry


#2…bigger argument …inflatable or hard foam

floats? personally …i’d rather have a hard

foam, u’ll have enuf 2 do while neck deep in

water, maybe frigid waters, than blow up a

“balloon”, after you capsize.

#3…would you rather have it if you need it or

need it and not have one ?

#4…i like the idea of using it as a pillow/back

cushion/emergency pontoon…WTG! good

thinking, on that thought…it could serve

as a xtra emergency floation device to a

badly injured paddler, such as in a power

boat/kayaker collision. we had a event this

past summer where a power boater, literally

ran over a 14’ rowboat , killing the guy.

#5…for what little weight it is, why not carry

one, like a rudder,there’s no law that says

you have to use it , but it’s a nice option

to have. Safe paddling all.

Says it all.

+1 for nystrom and celia’s reasons…
Carry one so it’s accessible, but make sure to have/develop a reliable roll both sides.

Another equipment question…this should be good…

Whaddya mean? My paddle floats just fine!


See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

a bright bag of air

anyone knocked over in conditions beyond their capability is going to be back in their boat with gallons of water in the same conditions. Which is better than swimming but is worse than the what knocked them over.

So the assumptions are:

  1. the specific conditions that sent them over won’t happen during the time of the self-rescue.

  2. they will be more “present” and skilled during the entire self-rescue and recovery than they were in the incident that took them over.

    That said I would still carry one for the reasons given. I don’t see pf. as a ticket for solo paddling.

Paddle float re-entry and roll
-easy to do if mentally or physically under par for some reason

-can prevent the immediate recapsize that seems to happen a lot in the Deep Trouble type cases, or if there is a recapsize, a guaranteed roll back up.


a non-issue for me
I use an inflatable and keep it stowed behind the seat. I like the reasons bnystrom gave and would add, it makes a decent camp pillow in a pinch!

It can be a crutch, the way many things can be a crutch. I don’t think that’s reason to exclude it.

BTW - rigid foam floats are easy to make, don’t need inflating (but tough to stow in a tiny hatch), and are a nice aid to use in teaching or learning a roll.

best application
first time I saw someone use one that way just outside the surf zone it made all the sense in the world.

One more tool that takes little space
In addition to what Bryan and others said it can reinforce a hatch if a lost cover is replaced by a neoprene or nylon cover.


My paddle floats just fine!
some don’t :wink:

Personal preference
… but I don’t have one, don’t need one, don’t want one

but should I change where I paddle it “might” be something worth investigating.

Too many carry too much gear already. I’ve seen lots of gear heads that when needed didn’t know how to use what they had so I you aren’t proficient with it…don’t take it unless some requests it, then make them tote it.

they are awesome!
I put it under my legs right next to where the seat ends and can paddle for a while longer before my right leg goes numb.

They’re pretty good for floating paddles too.

It’s not the gear’s fault, just the
person who misjudged the scene. I think of gear in terms of a system. The paddlefloat is part of that system in case of failure in any category from judgement to technique to other equipment.