Why Do You Need Float Bags? [& What Are They?]

Float bags can be a contentious subject. Some say they don’t work or that you don’t need them. At the same time, many people won’t get into the water without making sure that their float bags work. On the other hand, you have those who aren’t sure what float bags are and what they do. Well, here is the answer:

Float bags are designed to fill empty spaces in your kayak with air. Float bags also improve the kayak’s buoyancy, which is advantageous in rough water. In addition, they improve stability and safety and make it easier to right your kayak after a flip.

This article will look at why you should use float bags and the best way to use them. So, for everything you need to know about float bags, keep reading.

What Are Float Bags?

In most kayaks, you have empty spaces. When your boat flips or cracks, these spaces start to fill up with water, and that can weigh your kayak down. In the worst case, it can become almost impossible to recover when you flip, and that is where float bags shine.

The materials used to make a float bag are typically highly durable. They come in different shapes and sizes because not all kayaks are the same. The float bags are filled with air before or after being placed in the kayak.

How Do Float Bags Work?

Without getting too scientific or technical, air is a lot less dense than water, so it weighs less and does not sink. On the contrary, air rises in water. Your kayak typically has a lot of open space and areas that can get filled with water.

When your kayak starts to fill up with water, it pushes air out of those open spaces, and the kayak begins to sink. If a kayak takes on too much water, it can also become tough to flip over.

A float bag is a sealed pocket of air; this means that the water cannot push it out. Instead, it pushes up the entire sealed pocket of air, and in turn, that helps to keep your kayak floating. I must note, the float bag needs to be anchored down somehow. If you tie it down, it will have a pulling effect.

If the bag is closed off in the stern of your kayak and not tied down, it will cause a pushing effect. Remember, the bag should not be able to escape.

Also, a float bag makes it so that the water cannot fill up the space that is occupied by the float bag, which means your kayak takes on less water

3 Reasons Why You Need Float Bags

As I mentioned earlier, whether or not the float bags are necessary is a contentious subject. However, there is no denying that regardless of what conditions you are kayaking in, the float bags bring a few qualities that make not using them hard to justify. Here are three reasons why you need a float bag.

Float Bags Offer Safety

I am sure that most people generally understand that different bodies of water present various dangers. For example:

  • Rapids tend to be the most dangerous.
  • The ocean is highly unpredictable.
  • Flat bodies of water like dams and some lakes tend to be the safest.

However, a float bag can come in handy in even the safest-looking bodies of water. Anything can happen to your kayak between your last kayaking session and the one you are about to on. Even on the trip down to the water, you can crack your kayak without knowing it.

On the other hand, you could flip your kayak and even the calmest waters.

If you have a float bag occupying empty space that would otherwise be filled by water in an emergency, you have taken a step to prevent an unforeseen danger. 

Float Bags Are Convenient

With all of my experience, I have tested different methods of making my kayak more buoyant. There are a few methods that work. For example, If you don’t have access to a float bag, you can achieve a slightly similar result simply by putting empty plastic bottles in the open spaces of your kayak.

That said, the reason why you need to use a float bag apart from safety is its sheer convenience:

  • Float bags are easy to install.
  • Once they are in your kayak, you hardly ever have to take them out.
  • Having too little space is almost never a factor for many kayak enthusiasts.

Recovering Your Kayak Is Easier

Flipping it back over becomes immensely challenging when your kayak fills up with water. Also, if your kayak has taken on too much water and you try to get back on the boat while in the water, you will be surprised at just how difficult it can be. That statement is true regardless of how physically fit a person is

Once you start putting your weight on either side of the kayak, that side will begin to submerge very quickly. When this happens, you are essentially trying not to let the boat sink while also having to push down on it.

With a float bag, you will have less water on board; this improves buoyancy, and the better the buoyancy, the easier it is to recover.

Float Bags: How Do You Use Them?

Before you get a float bag, you should look at the open spaces in your kayak. Doing this will tell you three things:

  • What size float bag is best for the kayak.
  • What shapes will best suit the open spaces?
  • Whether or not you have places to anchor the float bag down.

The first place you want to check is behind your seat. There is typically a lot of space available, and it is a space that is not easily accessible while you are using a kayak. 

This means that by putting a float bag behind the back of your seat, you aren’t occupying space that you would have otherwise needed.

Some kayakers get small float bags that go between their legs or to the sides. Having the bags in front of you can be uncomfortable, so be sure to check that out.

Finally, it is possible to have a smaller float bag in the front of the kayak while having a larger bag at the stern. If your kayak has a hatch at the back, be sure to put your float bags in there and close that hatch. That way, you don’t have to anchor them.

Are There Laws Regarding Float Bags? 

Are float bags mandatory? I did an immense amount of research regarding this, and there seems to be no law that dictates whether or not you have to use float bags in your kayak. So, if you want to go out without them, you won’t run into trouble with the law.

Just because not having float bags is not against the law does not mean that you should go out and do it; instead, I would suggest that you do use a float bag.

Final Word

Underwater is an environment that humans cannot survive in. So we have to adapt, typically with gear, if we plan on spending a few minutes in the water. That is how unforgiving it can be, and when you go kayaking, 

I recommend taking a few safety precautions, such as using float bags to aid you in emergencies. Perhaps they can prevent an incident.

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