Pool noodles replace airbags?

I have 3 old school whitewater kayaks a Phoenix mini-slipper,slipper, and wildfire. I haven’t used them in years and most of the air bags are trash. I was thinking of instead of airbags of taking a bunch of pool noodles and cutting them to the desired length joining them with large zip ties in place of air bags. They will add buoyancy and displace water in case of wet exit basically the same function of air bags. No blowing them up or leaking air. I’d like some opinions,thumbs up or thumbs down on this idea.

Short term

– Last Updated: Mar-20-12 8:44 AM EST –

It'll work in the short term. I've done that before with similar foam but over time the blocks (in my case) got grunged, funky smelling and started to powder.

If you've got a bunch of noodles laying around and some time you don't have anything to loose. Just pull the foam when it reaches the end of its life.

See you on the water,
The River Connection, Inc.
Hyde Park, NY

Not as effective
Properly used and a quality brand float bags are better. They conform better to the inside of the kayak (hence displace more water) and you can inflate them partially, put in dry bags of gear, and then inflate them fully to keep the gear in pace. You cannot leave float bags in your boat. Remove them after every paddle, deflate them, and dry the outside. Quality bags do not leak air.

mostly down
As they said - more negatives in the long run

Better get float bags, or there are instructions on the internet how to make your own. I heard of people using inflatable beach balls.

There is a marine expanding foam application - doesn’t absorb water, isn’t afraid of UV. It is a two part system - mix two fluids, it will expand within a few minutes.

I can’t find the link at the moment, I suggest running your favorite search engine.

I leave them in
I very seldom remove flotation bags from whitewater kayaks and have some that have been in since the early 1990s.

Not that it is a bad thing to remove them, but in my experience nothing too terrible happens if you do not. You might get some mildew on the bags but nobody sees them in the boat anyway.

Pool noodles…
Ask yourself 2 questions:

  1. What were pool noodles designed for?

  2. What were floatation bags designed for?

    My opinion: Get some decent flotation bags, and maintain them. They’ll more than likely pay for themselves over time, and the cost of usage over time will be minimal.


    Analogy: A recreational kayak with a large cockpit, and no skirt is not suitable for paddling the Grand Canyon. Can it be done? Yes. But why would you want too?

That’s been my experience also.
Some mold may develop in areas that don’t dry, but I haven’t seen any harm come of it.

Having to remove, dry, deflate, and later insert, blow up again, is so tedious that people aren’t going to do it unless there’s a serious consequence for not doing it.

beach balls
you can also inflate some cheap beach balls in the stern as well for a cheap alternative.

I use beach balls, works great. I would
have switched to airbags but never had a problem. I found some good quality beach balls that were twice the thickness. They never leaked air, not even a little.

yes, the will work

they are not as good as the air-bags.

Given a choice and money, go with the proper gear.

But, if you must, pool noodles will work, just not as well.

I didn’t have any air bags fior one river race so I filled my dry-bags with air and shoved then into the bow.

They worked. and i am still alive. and my boat remained afloat.

But were they as good as a real float bag? no.

You have todecide which you will do based on money, what you can get, how valuable your life is, how rough the water and chances of being flooded.

FYI, I slide pool noodles inside my SoT through the dry hatches simple because they are better than nothing!

Phoenix are glass boats, not plastic,
so is water trapped between the bags and resin a concern?