paddle floats

Was wondering which paddle float most paddlers like. The blowup or foam float. The blowup take up less space but you have to spend more time in the water, while blowing it up. The foam are large and fasten to the deck.

I vote for blow up…
but I’m in warm water and have never needed to use it in real life. I keep it tucked behind my seat just in case all else fails.

Easier to reenter and roll or have another boat nearby help out…

It makes a good pillow for camping though…

And the foam ones are HUGE… GH

even tho
they seem huge in size they are winky in flotation.

using the foam model takes balance and dexterity not so required with a dual chamber inflatable float.

plus how many times do you actually use a PF?

I have never really needed one in many years of sea kayaking. I paddle solo alot. I DO carry one, out of habit but…its tucked away and rolled up and ‘like new’.



I have both, but the one I carry is the
inflatable. I use the solid float as an aid for people learning to roll. It’s easier to use in that situation, but is bulky and difficult to carry on or in my boat.

I have been told that in very cold climates, the inflatable is very hard to use because it is difficult to seal your lips around the tube. In California, we don’t have that problem.

Not cold?
Went out yesterday, air temp 15 deg F to start, NE winds at 20kts and water temp 39. South Lake Tahoe, Ca. ( Tahoe does not freeze). It warmed up to 40 deg and the wind died down 3 hours later, that was balmy!

Gaia double chambered paddle float

– Last Updated: Feb-03-05 8:24 PM EST –

is the best. An athlete should be able to inflate it adequately wiht four puffs of air.

My Seattle sports? double chambered flat is designed wiht slow flow valves to keep the user from hyperventilating.

Foam floats are great for leaning to roll, and for getting proper technique down. When you can do a re-entry with a foam float you are not putting as much stress on your paddle.

North Water Foam
I have a dagger catalyst 12’8 and my foam float works great. I’ve never had to you it in a real emergency but when practicing from flip to re-entry it took no time at all. I’m 5’10 215 and I able to place all my weight on 1 side of the boat (full of water) and I didn’t have the 1st bit of problems. The water wasn’t smooth there was 1 -2 foot swells. I strap mine to my rear deck lines or stand it up behind my seat depending on my gear and trip situation.

Go for the foam and get keep yourself out of out the water a little bit faster. If I was in 50 degree water the last thing I would want to do is blow up a paddle float.

Jason S.

I have both, with the inflatable tucked under my deck bag year 'round. In winter, the solid float goes under my aft bungees, with the paddle shaft buckle fastened around a line for extra security.

I have foam
The big North Waters one and like it a lot, despite the awkward size. It’s real easy to get on in the water, though storage is a consideration. While it fit inside the cockpit of my Squall w/o being in the way (between my legs), I had to order a couple of extra RDF’s on my Explorer LV so I could run an extra cross of deck line to hold it. A lot of people may not like that part - but our ocean paddling is in Maine so there is the matter of water temps, even in July.

I’ve never used it in an emergency - haven’t had my first live swim yet - but have used it lots in practice. It works great for re-entry and roll up and does turn a little bit for paddle flaot re-entry, but not enough to have been fatal for me anyway. In the end the flatness of the rear deck makes the most diff for that.

I’d say consider it seriously, especially if you have room to throw it into your cockpit between your legs. I never bothered to anchor it with velcro strips either, though I could have. If the boat flips over the float stays inside the cokcpit and eminently available.


you actually want
a big chunck o’ foam rattling around between your legs in the cockpit? and in a swim it gets in the way of a clean wet exit and then disappears in the wind.

a rolled up inflatable float can live out it’s life secure and out of the way for those very occasional times you may (or may NOT) need it.

just my opinion


I use a dual chamber Mariner inflatable. I keep it partially inflated under my knees attached to the seat with a quick release. Serves two purposes; first to be quickly available for self rescue and secondly to keep my feet from falling asleep. A paddlefloat reentry in challenging conditions is less likely to be successful than a reenter and roll. IMHO

Prion has a nice inflateable that doubles as a dry deck bag. Does not work well with skinny paddles though. Works fine with my wifes midtour.

Float in the cockpit
I’m 5’3" and weight 135 pounds - and had the Squall pedal tracks moved back from their original position to center better on my leg length when I had the Smart Tracks installed. So most of the time the float was sitting well forward. The Squall has a quite high deck, lots of room for someone my size. I should note that I am also quite limber. With a little focus I can also wet re-enter my Explorer LV, extra small cockpit and all.

I could have glued in velcro strips to secure the float if it have ever gotten in the way of a wet exit or re-entry. I practiced both a decent bit both with the float still in the cockpit. As long as I remembered it was there before re-entry I never had a problem, and it’s not an issue for re-entry and assisted roll-up since the float is on your paddle.

As to it coming out of the cockpit - I went over a good bit in practice and it never came near leaving the cockpit. Again, the Squall may be more favorably configured to trap it because of the relatively high peaked deck and the float’s tendency to sit forward. And the North Face one is big - you’d have to have some serious clearance for it to sneak out. But if I were paddling solo in tough stuff, I’d have probably done that to just to be sure.

One other consideration - the float can unclip and pull off very quickly because there is no heavy tension on the blade, and there’s not a significant length of strap wrapped around the paddle shaft. As above I haven’t taken my first live unplanned swim yet (hopefully it’ll wait until I’ve hit 100 on my rolls), but I presume that it’ll happen at some point when the conditions make it important to be ready to paddle into something as quickly as possible.

Flatpick: “The Winky”?
Must be a West Coast term! LOL

Has anyone seen the combo folding chair & foam float recently profiled in Seakayaker Mag? Looked interesting, but very pricey.


Harmony Foam
I may invest in an inflatable to use for roll practice. Can’t let the air out of the foam.


I have the ACME 5000
self-inflating paddle float with water-sensitive CO2 cartridges. It comes equipped with On-Star and automatically dials 911 if it deploys.


– Last Updated: Feb-03-05 5:31 PM EST –

excellent! But does it communicate and coordinatte with the GPS, Barometer and VHF Channel 16? And, more important, does it come with a deck mount assessory and still fit in the day hatch?


you mean
you don’t have ‘winky’ in other parts of the states??

as in ‘winky’ surf waves (those under 4’) =:-0)

‘winky’ current (less than 5 knots) =:-0)

or ‘winky’ wind (less than 25 knots) =:-0)

btw- just got to play in some winky conditions in the gulfo Mexico at Sarasota, FL. 75 degrees air, sunny, probably 60 degree water and 6" waves. winky in anyones book, eh??

just flew back to Greensboro (not winky) where it’s 33 degrees and freezing rain. ouch.



is anything over 30 degrees around here. I’ll TAKE IT! Winky me, Winky me… :slight_smile:


Well, when I was growing up in western PA a “winky” was a part of you that experienced shrinkage after swimming in cold water.