paddle floats

i would like to by a paddle float—what kind do u prefer–aND WHY—WHAT THINGS DO I NEED TO know or ask before i buy one—also where to purchase-----thanks ----phil

Good discussion here:
Lots of opinions:

Don’t know what is said in the other string but I have recently switched to foam and here is why:

If it is actually rough enough for me to capsize and not roll then it is probably very windy and very rough. I want out of the water fast (water here is cold).

If you use your float you are alone. You will be stressed and inflating a blow up will be a pain under these conditions. Foam is quick, easy, reliable, and I think it provides more “balanced” flotation that a round blow up that is very squirelly in the water.

Dont forget that you ALSO HAVE TO DEFLATE IT after you recover yourself—they are a pain to deflate and store.

Foam is bulky but not an issue if you store inside your cockpit. I dummy cord mine with a paddle leash to the inside of my boat, and then just wedge it on edge between my legs while paddling.

I probably will never need it, but if I do then things are bad and I want it to be quick to put into use, and quick to store after use.


i recently took a lesson and both of the instructors had foam floats----but i failed to talk about it with them----but saw the need to get one----thanks

Your "Rig"
sounds like an entanglement potential in a wet exit. Paddle float between your legs with a leash attached to it and the boat?



Good point. I guess I never really thought of it. I am trying to picture it and I can’t see for sure how I could get entagled by the leash like this. I will have to think about it a bit and maybe reconsider the paddle leash or come up with a better method of securing it.

The leash is pretty long—maybe about 3 feet or so. Even if you got the float stuck on your somehow you would still have enough slack to get out of the boat. The float sits between my legs, but is actually braced up against the deck of the boat like a foam pillar in a whitewater boat would be. Upon wet exit it should stay in position rather than be a hindrance for my exit. I use the paddle leash just in the event that it does come out on a wet exit as I don’t want it to float or blow away.

Any more thoughts on this matter? I don’t know, perhaps there is a better solution out there. Entaglement upon wet exit, even if unlikely, is certainly a scarey thought.


Foam floats
that I have used (I have one too) tend to dive when attached to an off-set paddle as they are on edge at a 60 degree angle. If you paddle whith an un-feathered paddle, then it shouldn’t be a problem? I agree they are faster. I carry mine under bungies on the back deck in the winter.

Worse Case Scenario
is coming out in waves. Your are barely out and get with another wave. Even without being caught in a leash, sometimes just having a leg in the cockpit will result in you being dragged or rolled over by the boat. I’ve felt it powerful enough where I think a sprained ankle or knee is a possibility. Add on a leash that may some wrap around the foot and the rush to get out…

If you have right up against the hull bottom and the bottom of the foredeck, may be consider adding on velcro, top and bottom, so the float does not come out easy on a capsize but can be pulled out when needed.



– Last Updated: Jul-04-05 11:57 AM EST –

why let me would the best float bee?????..........

throw some cash at a lesson with a good instructor and LEARN the FRICK how to USE one FIRST. Everyone needs a good R&R (Rescue and Recovery) class/ and or practice 'what you know' session. if you are not in need of one, you are fibbin' IMO. Plus, they're FUN now that the summer is upon us.

I'm sure the instructor will have techniques, opinions and advice.


Huge foam float
I keep a huge foam float I made on my back deck when the water is colder that I can swim in for 15 minutes. On the front deck I keep a single blade paddle.

In the really rough stuff when I flip, it is nice to leave the float in place with the double paddle attached. That gives me extra stability and I propell myself with the single blade.

Another reason I like a single on the front deck is that conditions that will break your double or blow it away are really bad. I don’t want to try to reach behind me and then try to assemble a spare double then

makes a CO2 inflatable paddle float.

It looks like it would be easily removed from the paddle without having to deflate it. (has mesh blade pocket on one side instead of sandwiching blade between air chambers)

I have two, one foam and one

– Last Updated: Jul-04-05 4:35 PM EST –

double chambered inflateable. If you go inflateable you realy should go double chambered.

I use an inflateable. Here are some reasons:

1. I can alwasy inflate it and store it whereever the foam one would fit.

2. It has greater bouyancy. While using the foam one forced me to refine my technique, I like having the versatility of choosing a range of bouyancy in case I needed to get a newbie up with it.

3. Asking my instructor (boston based) he said that it should take about 5 to 10 seconds to inflate the float (asuming good lung capacity and dressing for immersion) two puffs on each chamber if you like or four in one. The seattle sports float I use is made to restrict air flow, I hear the gaia one is much faster to inflate.

4 I can use it as an air splint if needed.

5: Easier to store.

The upsides to foam are, a touch faster to deploy, (much faster if you are suffering fron gasp reflex). No possibility of floatation bladder failure. Easier to use for rolling practice, (but floatation is not adjustable). Probably harder to break a paddle shaft because the bouyancy is much less than a fully inflated one.

If I had it to to over again I'd buy the gaia. And like Steve said, I could use more practice at this in rough water.

to deflate the float

– Last Updated: Jul-04-05 5:06 PM EST –

jut open the valves and push down on the paddle till the float is empty. Let water pressure do it. Easy as pie. Take it easy raising the paddle up though; it will be heavy with the emply inflateable float attached.

Not for prime time
Be aware if not already informed here or elsewhere that paddle floats are NOT effective in winds over 20 knots, waves over two+ feet, as the float as outrigger moves up and down with the waves.

Thus do not fool thyself that you are now OK regardless of conditions. As already said here, try using it in increasingly rough conditions. Find your limits. Also, it will show you that quite allot of energy is used getting back in.

Compare this with energy of wet exit and roll with float, roll up with foam float, no exit (grap while under water) and finally simple roll.

When back up same conditions are present that threw you over first time. How effective is your fifth paddle float reentry, try 5 in a row.

foam floats in cockpit
I have a sponge in a mesh bag tied in the cockpit with me. A couple of weeks ago I was getting out of the boat, the bag had gotten over my leg then between my legs. I was stuck… had to untangle myself.

If I had been upside down I am not sure how easy this would have been. The sponge is now securly stowed so that this will not happen again.

Your longer line may or may not be safer.


Could you look at the Wilderness Systems Tsunami site and comment on the last message? I would greatly appreciate your input.


Just do it
Buy one and learn to use it. You can always use it as a spare if you end up trying the other kind and preferring it.


– Last Updated: Jul-04-05 8:25 PM EST –

I must be doing my rolling, paddle float, and other assorted rescues wrong. I didn't get any instruction. Just learned an practiced on my own and with partners. Just don't tell folks that I helped pulled out that. Don't want to get sued for malpractice. ;)

Nothing wrong with instruction. It's a faster route but it ain't the only route as some would want us to believe.


Paddle floats
I did’t see it mentioned but the biggest disadvantage of the foam float(IMHO)is stowing it. If it is on your back deck it is not only insecure but a contributor to the effects of the wind. If you have the need to rescue a swimmer it is in the way. My preference is a double chambered Mariner float and a lot of rolling and re enter and roll practice.


I’ll be planning a reenter and roll

– Last Updated: Jul-04-05 9:29 PM EST –

without the float. or with my paddle float if need be. also basically if the waves ain't breaking the paddle float rescue will work OK for me if my boat ir rigged for it. and I do check the rigging. (love those seaward srs straps.) So my self rescue plan is roll, reenter and roll without float, reenter and roll with float paddle float rescue. if none of that works the VHF comes out or I am swimming to shore or both.