weight limit for paddle floats

A friend (instructor) was talking about how a student of hers was not able to do the paddle float rescue because he was sinking the float. She thinks he said he was 300 lbs. Is there a weight limit for paddle float rescues? If so, what are the options for someone who is heavier (I assume one option would be a double barrel paddle float, and inflate both sides)?

balancing act
heavier folks have got to do a balancing act or risk sinking any paddle float, in fact I can sink 'em some if I try and I weight 175.

double sided floats, fully inflated and a good sense of the balances required is the option to success.


Keep weight over kayak
It’s a balance issue. Shouldn’t be loading much weight on the float at all. Of course, added weight means more to balance, and more to shift when one wobbles…

I’m bigger

– Last Updated: Apr-15-09 1:29 PM EST –

[edit: err... "bigger" as in a bigger guy; not bigger than 300 lbs.]

For a caveat - I've only done paddle float reentries in calm water.

I'm 275 lbs. and have always inflated both sides of inflatable paddle floats. I've never tried a solid foam float.

I normally don't have any issues and can usually take a moment to rest with my legs on the float after swimming up onto the stern.

Reentry is all about balance and leverag

It’s for balance and support
not for supporting the whole weight of the kayaker. I took a rescue class with a very heavy woman who could not use a paddle float. It was more issues of no upper body strength and no agility and ability to quickly shift weight and balance.

there’s a limit
on how much weight a paddle shaft can handle. I made a big 18’x25" Chesapeake 18 for kayaking classes because there were those 275#plus paddlers who just couldn’t manage regular sized kayaks. I had one 325# paddler who managed a regular paddle float fine,it’s a function of balance and technique as others have mentioned. If you rely on the paddle float to support body weight the paddle shaft is likely to fail. Basically the person needs to get on the back deck with the paddle float as a place for balance and not a support for body mass.

Archimedes’ principle
Say a paddle float displaces a gallon of water. It has a buoyant force of 8.3 pounds(if fully submerged).

If you have one end of the paddle under the deck rigging and are grabbing the paddle in the middle for support you get 16.6 pounds of support.


– Last Updated: Apr-16-09 12:14 AM EST –

in Canada...they use metric gallons...so You would get more floatation out of a paddle float when used in Canadian waters :)

Best Wishes

metric gallons??
also known as liters?

wet re-entry with paddle float
This may actually be better alternative for many people. A wet re-entry with a double sided paddle float.

YES it requires some learning to slip into cockpit and momentarily be slightly underwater perhaps. And a bit of technique, but not much. Not nearly so as in learning to roll for example.

Many students found once shown how and practiced it was very much easier and way less tiring than the climbing aboard ones boat in wind and waves and chop.

Yes, requires partial pump out. But this actually may be better way even for assisted rescues, as in a scoop recovery method for larger paddlers. Easier on them easier on rescuer.

Give it a thought, better yet let someone who is experienced instructor show you how!

Also the boat.
People who instruct always have sea kayaks with easy lower back decks. Ever try to mount a big, round, high recreational kayak and do a paddle float reentry? It’s not easy even if you’re in good shape and well rehearsed in paddle float techniques. Often the most un-in-shape people are in those boats and the paddle float reentry is just about impossible. When they try the same technique on a normal sea kayak, they often can do it with no problem