When it comes to kayaking, it’s hard to ignore paddle floats. Paddle floats have now become a somewhat integral and rather indispensable part of kayaking. That’s because you’ll find it extremely hard to perform a self-rescue without them in case your canoe capsizes in the middle of nowhere. The best paddle floats for kayaks make it extremely easy to re-enter the boat in case of the boat upturning somehow. In fact, one of the very first things that kayakers learn is paddle float rescues, which involves attaching a small paddle float to your paddle blade and converting it into a makeshift outrigger. This basically turns your paddles into kayak paddles that float, allowing you to quickly get back on your boat. What makes them so universal is that they’re fairly straightforward and easy-to-use pieces of safety gear.
A majority of the paddle floats are crafted foam-like materials, thus making them ideal for all sorts of weather conditions. If your cockpit somehow fills up with water, then you’ll have a hard time getting back in without paddle floats. To that end, here are the 13 best paddle floats for your kayak.
How To Choose The Best Kayaking Paddle-Floats?
Kayaking might look like fun, but it’s an activity that requires experience or developing it in the first place. This is why we have kayaking accessories such as the Best Kayaking Fishing Rod Holders, the Best Kayaking Fish Finders, or even the Best Kayaking Bimini Tops and Canopies. It’s the same when it comes to kayaking paddle floats too. While there’s just one main consideration when it comes to choosing them, it’s a rather important one.
Types of floats
Basically, there are two types of kayak paddle floats – a closed-cell foam one and an inflatable one. Closed-cell ones, as the name suggests, are made from solid pieces of closed-cell foam. So, they’re easy and fast to deploy in the water. The only problem – they take up too much space on your kayak, which is an issue if you’re on a small boat. Many kayakers thus end up using paddle floats as makeshift backrests or cushions so as to not sacrifice space. Inflatable ones, on the other hand, can be deflated, thus making them very easy to store. The issue with them is that they need to be inflated once you’re in the water, thus adding to the time for making a self-rescue and can make the maneuver more difficult to perform.
Choosing between them
Choosing between inflatable and closed-cell foam paddle floats largely depends on personal preferences. However, it also depends on the kayaking environment as well as your skill level. For instance, if you’re lesser experienced and haven’t had much practice of doing a self-rescue, then go for a foam float. But, if you’re more experienced and comfortable in doing a paddle float rescue, then an inflatable one is better. Additionally, you need to consider the water conditions that you’re paddling in. For instance, if you generally kayak in conditions with heavy winds and choppy waters, then a closed-cell foam float is better. After all, inflating a float in such conditions isn’t possible, don’t you think?
How do you set up a kayak float?
Notwithstanding whether your float is a closed-cell one or an inflatable one, the process post preparing the float is pretty much the same. To begin with, position yourself just behind the kayak’s cockpit and then place that side of the paddle without the float across the boat. After that, you need to grab onto the paddle’s shaft at the nearer end of the kayak, and then place your fingers through the deck lines. Then, propel yourself forward, and you can slip into the boat without the boat turning over yet again.
Beluga Outdoor Microcell Standard MC-8
If you’re looking for closed-cell foam kayak paddles that float, then consider the Beluga Outdoor Microcell Standard MC-8. One of the most popular ones around, the measures 18 inches in length, 9 inches in width, and 3 inches in thickness, making it large enough to accommodate literally any kind or size of the paddle. What’s more, since it’s a closed-cell float, it’s ready when you are and can be deployed in a matter of seconds. Each float is made from two pieces of microcell foam wrapped in a 200D mesh and nylon shell. Additionally, there’s 3M taping along the side for an additional level of visibility in darker or low light conditions.
Since the top slab of foam is curved, it lends an additional layer of versatility to the float, allowing it to be used as a cushion or a camp pillow. Moreover, the float can even be placed at the back of your knees for additional support and comfort on longer kayaking expeditions. Since it provides high levels of buoyancy, this float is even useful for practicing rolls. However, since there’s no way for water to escape the shell of this float, it can become bogged down with water, which makes it more difficult to use during roll practice.
- Doubles as a pillow or cushion.
- Easy to store.
- Ready for use immediately.
- Outer shell tends to fill with water.
NRS Sea Kayak Paddle Float
NRS has a sterling reputation in the world of kayaking gear, a repute that extends to paddle floats as well. Behold the NRS Sea Kayak Paddle Float that’s made from heavy-duty nylon in one bright yellow color. This not only makes you visible but also increases visibility and thus safety in darker or low light situations. Additionally, there are a lot of high visibility safety strips along the float’s sides for heightened visibility. Thanks to the easy-to-use straw-like air tubes with twist valves, this float is easy to use as well. The dual air bladders can be inflated separately or together depending on how much help you need while returning to your boat.
What you’ll like is that this NRS float is also larger as compared to its peers, so it can accommodate even large paddle sizes. Once it’s inserted into the float, the paddle is secured with a cinch cord for additional security, complete with a quick-release buckle. Thanks to the mesh bottom, any and all excess water drains from the float very quickly.
- Larger air bladders make kayak re-entry easy.
- Large enough for big paddles too.
- Easy to inflate.
- Incredibly well-made.
- Mesh panel is small as compared to other floats.
Seattle Sports Paddle Float
One of the best kayak paddles that float is the Seattle Sports Paddle Float which offers the best of both worlds. Not only does it deliver lots of value for money for its price, but also it performs extremely well. To begin with, the model features an easy-to-inflate mouthpiece with twist valves as well as dual air bladders. Made from highly visible yellow nylon, it’s easy to spot even after dark that makes you secure out on the water. The quick-release buckle and the cinch cord are there are attachment and detachment, along with a tether with a carabiner clip for attaching it to your deck rails. This feature is rather nifty as the float is quite large and could get blown away in the wind.
While it doesn’t have a mesh drainage panel at the bottom, it’s a solid option as a paddle float with a host of features. Rounding up the features is the fact that it’s 99% PVC-free and even comes with a safety whistle, all folding neatly into a convenient drawstring bag.
- Dual air chambers.
- Large enough for any paddle.
- The tether keeps it secure.
- Lack of drainage panels.
Riverstones Paddle Float
The Riverstones Paddle Float slightly tweaks the tried-and-tested and classic inflatable float design, making it an ideal fit for some paddlers. Designed from highly-visible yellow nylon, the float is large enough for accommodating almost any size of the paddle. Easy-to-use twist valves and dual air bladders make the float easy to use as well. Where it actually differs from other floats is the way it attaches the float to the paddle. This model features a mesh pocket for inserting the paddle into, with the inners of the float completely sealed by the nylon exterior. It’s this very design element that virtually prevents water from entering the float completely, thus increasing its buoyancy.
If you’re planning to use the float to practice your rolls, then this Riverstones model is one of your best bets. Since it’s on the larger side in size, consider tethering so that it doesn’t end up blowing away in strong winds! Finally, the two bottom loops make it easy to attach a tether as well.
- Accommodates paddles of any size.
- The closed design prevents water from entering.
- None, really.
NRS Foam Paddle Float
If you’re looking for kayak paddles that float that can get into the water within a moment’s notice, then look no further than the NRS Foam Paddle Float. The easy-to-use, simple paddle float is made from robust, long-lasting, and durable EPE foam, thus avoiding holding water completely. Thanks to its equally robust and durable outer casing, the float can take a beating without falling apart. Firstly, the outer is crafted from a bright orange, 400D nylon. In addition to that, there are even multiple reflective tape strips which means that you’re easily visible even in dark and low light conditions.
Measuring 18 inches in length, 8.8 inches in width, and 3 inches in thickness, this is one of the more well-built floats on the list. If you want to avoid wasting time blowing up your floats in the middle of a rescue operation or even just recreational paddling, then this is the one to get.
- Reflective tape for additional visibility.
- EPE foam build.
- 400D nylon outer.
- Slightly on the bulky side.
Harmony Blade Aid Paddle Float
There are a lot of reasons why the Harmony Blade Aid Paddle Float is on this list of best kayaking paddle floats. For starters, it has a host of handy little features that make it incredibly easy to use, especially under challenging windy, stormy, and rough whitewater conditions. It’s made from durable urethane-covered nylon that’s designed specifically for use in saltwater. So, it’s not only resistant to the corrosive effects of saltwater, but even the UV rays, and thus doesn’t fade despite being used continually in sunlight.
Going further, the float allows you to quickly inflate in a jiffy using the auto valve stems, redeeming the inflatable float in the eyes of kayakers. If that wasn’t enough, you can do so with one hand! As the float begins to inflate, it automatically attaches itself to the paddle. That basically means that you can keep one hand free so as to remain in contact with your canoe!
- Deflates for quick and easy storage.
- Self-attaches to the paddle.
- UV rays and saltwater resistant.
- Auto-valve system for one-handed inflation.
- Not double-chambered.
NRS Basic Touring Safety Kit
One of the best kayak paddles that float is the Basic Touring Safety Kit from NRS. It essentially contains everything you might need for bailing yourself out of trouble on the water. Besides the excellent paddle float from NRS, the kit also features a Fox 40 emergency whistle, a sponge for removing water, as well as a bilge pump! The float has a 400D bright-orange nylon outer shell, complete with reflective tape strips providing excellent visibility in dark and low light conditions. Add to that the fact that it has dual inflatable chambers, which provide a high degree of flotation.
Coming to the other features of the kit, the whistle features a pea-less design perfect for water environments and even has a breakaway lanyard and a cushioned mouth grip. The sponge, meanwhile, absorbs every last drop of water that enters the kayak, so you won’t have to deal with water sloshing around your ankles. Helping it in this endeavor is the heavy-duty bilge pump that can remove gallons of water by the minute.
- Foam flat perfect for floatation.
- Heavy-0duty bilge pump for removing water.
- Kit comes with pump, sponge, whistle, and float.
North Water Four Play Kayak Paddle Float
The multi-use North Water Four Play Kayak Paddle Float might cost a bit more than other paddle floats, but there’s a lot to like about this versatile paddle float. To begin with, it can be used in multiple different ways such as a loading pad for the vehicle, a camp chair, a sleeping pad and even a beaching pad, besides a paddle float. The padded nylon surface with buckles and nylon webbing can handle even the most heavy-duty of uses around barnacles, gravel, rocks, and sand. Two paddle blade pockets at every end allow inserting your paddle quickly, especially if you’re in a hurry.
When you’re using it as a skid pad for car loading or beaching, it even protects the vehicle and kayak from accidental damage. As a camp chair, it offers tons of back support as well. Finally, it’s easy and quick to deploy in the water, since you need to inflate nothing. While it’s larger than most other paddle floats on this list, conserving space isn’t really a top priority when it comes to rescuing, does it?
- Quick and easy water deployment.
- Larger than other floats.
- Durable nylon surface.
- Multi-use paddle float with versatile uses.
- Some users said that it was huge to handle.
Crooked Creek Fishing Kayak Paddle
Are there actually kayak paddles that float? Behold the Crooked Creek Fishing Kayak Paddle, a paddle that actually floats! Available in three different lengths of seven, eight and nine feet, you can choose whatever length suits your height or frame. The paddle heads are made from a lightweight poly-fiber dihedral composite, which is what makes them buoyant. What’s more, the paddle shaft is made from fiberglass, which is much, much lighter than other materials such as aluminum. There’s even a laser-engraved measurement system right on the shaft.
Furthermore, the paddle heads feature a hook dock blade that’s even useful in pulling cords during fishing or catching fish. Plus, you can also free your lures, lines, and jigs easily with the lure-retrieval system. Rounding up the features is the feather setting for speedy angle adjustment during the strokes – it’s kayaking on the fly!
- Poly-fiber dihedral blade for buoyancy or “floating.”
- Easy angle adjustment.
- Fiberglass shaft for lightweight floating.
- Slightly expensive.
Wisemen Trading Paddle Float
Available in two bright colors of red and yellow, the Wisemen Trading Paddle Float is the perfect essential piece of safety gear you need for embarking out in the water. The colors offer a high degree of visibility in dark or low-light conditions. Measuring 24 inches in length and 12.5 inches in width, the float measures just 0.8 lbs, making it one of the most lightweight floats out there. The dual chambers with the twist air valves not only add buoyancy but also make it easy to blow the float up even once you’re out in the water.
Going further, the quick-release buckle not only offers secure closure but also secures your paddle blade at the same time. All-in-all, it offers excellent stability for the entire contraption as you try to re-enter your kayak after a tumble into the water.
- Highly stable.
- Quick-release buckles closure for securing.
- Dual air chambers with twist air valves.
- Highly visible yellow or red colors.
- Virtually no
Seattle Sports Basic Safety Kit for Kayaks and Small Boats
Do you need more than just kayak paddles that float? Then go for the Seattle Sports Basic Safety Kit for Kayaks and Small Boats. To begin with, the kit features not only a kayak paddle float but also includes a safety whistle and a bilge pump, all of which come along with a reusable mesh drawstring bag. The paddle float itself is one nifty item with dual air bladders and an easy-to-inflate mouthpiece with twist valves. The highly-visible yellow nylon build makes it easy to spot even after dark, adding to your security. rounding up the features of the float is the tether with a carabiner clip, the cinch cord, and the quick-release buckle.
But, that’s not all. The bilge pump is easy to use for when the boat becomes swamped with water, removing gallons by the minute. Finally, the safety whistle is indispensable during emergencies for signaling. Everything is held wonderfully together in the mesh drawstring bag.
- Excellent starter safety kit with float, bilge pump, and safety whistle.
- Comes with a mesh drawstring bag.
- Dual air chambers.
- The tether keeps it secure.
- No drainage panels on the float.
attwood 11916-5 Blade & Paddle Float
The attwood 11916-5 Blade and Paddle Float is a must-have for every kayaker, whether it’s a novice or a professional. The well-built paddle float helps you greatly to get back into the kayak after it capsizes. The highly visible flat features two yellow inflation chambers at the front and back, complete with orange-colored inflation tube points on both sides. So, it even adds to your safety and security out on the water in darker and low-light conditions.
In order to use it, all you need to do is slip the inflated float over the end of your paddle and use it as leverage and for stability for climbing back into the craft. Thanks to the auto-valve, you can even inflate it in a swift single-handed operation, allowing you to hold onto the kayak while blowing up the float. The fact that it has only one black-colored end where the paddle goes in means that there’s no confusion about which end is which if you end up in the water.
- Auto-valve for single-handed inflation.
- Simple and easy to use.
- Instructions are slightly confusing.
Better Boat Telescoping Plastic Boat Floating Paddle
Finally, we come to the top of the list of best kayak paddles that float with an actual floating kayaking paddle, the Better Boat Telescoping Plastic Boat Floating Paddle. The adjustable floating paddle features a compact and space-saving design that makes it easy to store and transport. It features a telescoping handle that extends from 19 inches to 35 inches, which makes it easy for you to get back on your boat as well. The sturdy and high-impact plastic blades make it easy for it to propel through the water as well.
The lightweight and portable nature of this folding paddle are what makes it so popular with kayakers as an emergency floating paddle. That, and the fact that it boasts Better Boat’s exceptional quality makes it a great accessory to buy for your kayaking expeditions.
- Lightweight and compact floating paddle.
- Telescoping and adjustable.
- Reasonably priced.
- Cannot replace an actual paddle float.