Securing gear in a bagged solo canoe

I’ve been reading up here on canoe flotation, and have decided to purchase a pair of 60" bags for my Supernova. I have a question about securing gear in a boat with float bags. From pictures and discriptions I have read, it seems that it is common practice to insert the gear inside the bag cage and inflate the bag around the gear.

Is the cage itself strong enough to hold the gear in place, or do there need to be “D” rings bonded to the hull under the bags?

If attach points are required, what is the best location and type? Seems like the Northwater Anchoring strips would be a good solution for flexible tie downs, or would a few “D” rings be a better setup? Where do I put them…on the side of the hull, or on the bottom?

Anyone have any pictures that would show how gear is rigged in your boat?

WW canoes are pretty sparce out here in the west, I don’t get the opportunity to check out boats in person, so this is a great source of information for me, thanks for your advice and suggestions!


What kind of rapids
are you planning to run in your loaded canoe? I think that will determine how securely you need to secure your gear bags.

Some long items, like a tent bag, can just be stuffed under your flotation bag, with a tether line to a D ring if you feel the need for it. If the bag is sufficiently inflated, it will hold it in place pretty well. Now if you are running the Colorado through the Grand Canyon, you may need something more secure.

The bag cages can just be extended beyond where the end of bags will be, and a second set of D rings secured to the bottom of the hull so that the keeper strap that secures the bag can be lengthened enough to extend over your packs and keep them tucked into the cages. The keeper strap can be run through pack straps for additional security. I think this type of arrangement is quite sufficient for Class II and some easy Class III rapids.

You may need something more elaborate for more difficult rapids, but once again I would ask yourself whether you are really planning to run that type of water in a loaded canoe.

I don’t think this canoe will see
anything over class II, at least with me in command! I am a very light packer so I don’t have huge gear loads, and will not be doing week long trips (yet), mostly 2-3 day. Basically, I am just looking to find the most effecient way to secure the gear and see if anything needs to be incorporated in the bag cage attach points.

I would
just make your float bag keeper strap longer than necessary for the bag and install a second set of D rings at centerline on the hull bottom about where the front of your kneeling pads and your feet will wind up when kneeling. If you secure the keeper straps with nylon “triglides” it is a very simple matter to disconnect the keeper strap from the D ring at the end of the bag, elongate it over your pack(s), and secure it to the D ring closer to you. If your bag cage extends above the pack, it will be pretty secure, especially if the keeper strap goes through a shoulder strap or carry handle on the pack.

If you need more room for gear, you can just scrunch up some of the nose of the bag in the stem of the canoe, and inflate the bag as much as your gear will allow.

Here is what I would do.
What I would do, in fact, what I DID do, is attach tie-downs to the floor of the boat between the seat and the bags. I use 48-inch bags, but there should still be sufficient room in a Supernova to store gear the same way when using 60-inch bags.

I attached four tie-downs to the floor in a rectangular pattern in front of where I kneel, and four more right behind the seat. Place a pack anywhere within that “square” defined by the four tie-downs and it is easy to lash down securely. I usually use a diamond hitch because it is about the easiest way to cinch-down the pack while providing four-sided support to keep the pack from moving, but the method isn’t critical.

Lashing your gear to the floor as close as possible to your paddling position will give the boat better “manners” in rough water and when doing sharp maneuvers than what you get by placing it farther away and under the float bags. Placing weight farther from center makes the boat change headings more sluggishly, and increases its tendency to plow into waves instead of riding over them. I think the under-the-float-bag storage method is only needed for really large bags that don’t leave any bare floorspace near the center of the boat. If you have bare floorspace, and I’m sure you will, by all means use it.

The tie-downs I use have webbing loops sewn onto squares of vinyl “fabric”. They bond very securely to Royalex with “Vynabond”, or probably any other solvent-type of adhesive. Others here are old pros at using Vynabond. The only trick I know, besides thoroughly cleaning the hull first, is that it’s best to let Vynabond cure under conditions of low humidity.

Sounds like a good idea
A 60" bag inflated is supposed to measure 51" long, so I should still have plenty of room for gear outside of the bags.

You wouldn’t happen to have any pictures of your setup with the 48" bags? It would be nice to see a SN with bags so I can picture where they will lay.

Some Photos

– Last Updated: May-27-09 8:24 PM EST –

I have a few photos.

(copy and paste the entire link)

This set of photos shows my new style of bag cage (minus the bags), and also my old style (with bags in place). In the old photos, you can see a few of the tie-downs for securing gear bags to the floor. That little loop of white rope connected to each tie-down was added because it wasn't easy to quickly lace a rope though the existing nylon loop. Now that I've move the seat farther forward (for the second time), I need to replace two of the front tie-downs, and I have noticed that the new ones have a much "looser" loop, so threading a rope will be easy. Getting tie-downs equipped with metal "D" rings is another option. The top item in this list... the same, or roughly the same, kind of anchor I use, but one of my boats has the second item in the list - the one with metal "D" rings.

Thanks for the pics
it is much clearer now. Without knowing, I would have probably placed the anchors on the flatter section of the hull instead of further up the bilge.

I like your cage system!

By comparing your pics to my boat, it looks like your 48" bags fill pretty much 48" of the hull. From what I have read, it seems that the bag measurements are with the bag flat and it shrinks in length when inflated. According to Mohawk Canoes, a 60" bag inflates to 51", which I thought would be about ideal, but if that isn’t really the case, maybe a 54" would be better?

Do the bags stay seated in the stem or move away from the stem when inflated?

Class II…
I wouldn’t bother with bags for only Class II. Just pack your gear in dry bags.

Bag Fit
I can’t tell you the exact length of my bags, but I’m pretty sure they are a few inches shorter than specified once they are inflated.

They stay seated in the stems, because the pointy end of each bag has a “D” ring for keeping it there. I have drilled straight through each stem of the boat to allow a 1/4-inch rope to be pushed through and tied on the outside. On the inside, it passes through the “D” ring on the float bag. See that little bit of white rope on the outside of the hull at the top of the stem? That holds the bag in. Also, there’s a lengthwise rope (most people use a strap) running from that same anchor point inside the stem, along the top of the bag, and down to the floor of the boat at the big end of the float bag. Some people provide some really sturdy anchorage to confine the bag at it’s fat end, but my setup is pretty simple.

Regarding bag length, your 60-inch bags will be plenty for what you need to do, so if you haven’t yet bought them, you could get bags that are slightly shorter and still be well equipped for keeping the boat floating high after a capsize. There’s no reason you can’t equip the boat for more than one size of float bag either. To do a “neat” job of that, all you need is two tie-downs at the fat end of each bag, one for each size bag. Chances are you can get away with the same tie-down for use with different size bags too.

My tiny experience
I have the Anchor strips. I like them. My boat is all over function, so they fit my needs for versatility.

as far as floatation goes, I am all about it! I only have a Wenonah Solo Plus that doesn’t see long trips, will never see rapids and doesn’t usually HAVE to get me too far. I think the roughest water it was in was in a rainstorm on top of the car coming home from vacation last year. I have floatation bags in it though. If you have ever flipped a boat and had to empty it why would you ever concider NOT having them?now my 16.5 foot boat can’t fill that much if I am in it solo. I leave the rear one in no matter what, so even if I have gear strapped in, and the kids decide to rock the boat, (and I sing “Don’t Rock the Boat”) I have NO fear that we can’t manage to do SOMEthing with it.

I love floatation and I love anchor points You just can’t get enough!


Separate for gear . .
Have to agree with separate anchors for gear. I don’t like tethers so I have four glued in D rings for each pack. I use a 14 foot Esquif Vertige X for tripping, sometimes set up with 48” bags, and I can get two packs plus some other gear in and still have enough room for legs. Packs are lashed in with plain old parachute cord in an X pattern.

The only thing that goes under a flotation bag is the yoke.

This picture shows it at a put in ready to go.

If you are concerned about being short of space; don’t be. Creative packing will reduce numbers and size of packs. My SO paddles a 12 ½ foot Dagger, with 48” bags, and has soled it for up to twelve days.


Seperate tie downs it is.
This makes the most sense for me, so I will head in this direction. I think I have a good idea for a two position cage assembly that will allow max flotation for light day trips, and plenty of cargo room and lash points for multi days.

By bunching up the stem end will a 60" bag fit into a 48" or 54" cage without causing problems?

Thanks again for all the replies/ideas and pics!