Remember to Check You Paddle Float Before You Need It

I took a regular yellow NRS paddle float and a big orange Seattle Sports paddle float out on a pond to practice paddle float reentries.

After I was rolled with the NRS, I decided to try the Seattle Sports model to see if it made things any easier…it has much more flotation.

However, after inflating it, I heard hissing air and noticed a stream of bubbles coming out of the area where the inflator hose goes into the chamber.

So if you have one these floats–actually any float–remember to check it.

Fortunately it had a second working chamber but this was a pond with dead flat water…


I am relatively light and use a foam paddle float - no inflation needed, it’s ready to use, can even sit on it for lunch. Were I heavier, the foam paddle float might not be adequate.

Of course, the unused inflatable paddle float takes little space.

Good advice!! I don’t think I’ve blown mine up in a long time. I suppose I should give it a test.

If you carry one then you should be practicing with it at least once or twice a year in the worst conditions you expect to need it in. It should be pretty obvious when it’s become time to replace it if you adhere to this sort of schedule.

Similar issue here with a Seattle Sports one that I purchased a couple of years ago to replace a NRS one that failed. Looks like the stems are not bonded to the fabric as one stem on mine was pulling through. I have managed to get it back in place and have used some glue from a vinyl repair kit to seal better. Holds well enough for now. I only need one chamber at most for a re-enter & roll & don’t need the float for a scramble on the new Delphin. The paddle float was useful for reentering the Arctic Tern though.

Foam paddle floats may work for some smaller people and are faster to deploy, but they don’t offer nearly as much flotation as the inflatable ones. We’ve had a number of people taking a self-rescue class where they found that they couldn’t get back in the boat without swamping it or having it tip over.

If you have an old single chamber inflatable paddle float, it’s definitely time to replace it.

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I use a foam paddle float and with a narrow kayak (~19" beam), I had exactly that experience as mentioned by rstevens15. That kayak is gone from my fleet and those above ~21" beam are fine.

As several have mentioned, practice is important. As you get older (I turn 80 in December), it also gets harder. For me, rolling remains easier than a self rescue with paddle float - but both are important.

Nope. Looks brand new (it’s only 1 year old) and it worked in the Spring.

Given another report people should check the Seattle Sports floats

I was told that foam paddle floats are only useful for cold water paddling because they are ready to go instantly.

I wouldn’t want to be out in cold water with a paddle float that wouldn’t work for me.