7 Best Kayak Paddle Float: Your Essential Safety Gear in 2024

by | Last updated Jul 12, 2024

Best Overall NRS Sea
NRS Sea

Rugged 14-liter inflatable float with dual air chambers, reflective tape, and a 3-year warranty. Top pick for durability and reliability.

Best Value Gearlab
Gearlab

Ultra-compact 15-liter inflatable float, lightweight and high-performing. Ideal for minimalist paddlers who value portability.

Most Featured Wisemen Trading
Wisemen Trading

Affordable 15-liter inflatable float with reflective tape and a built-in whistle. Great balance of features and value.

Kayak Paddle Float

Picture this: a rogue wave flips your kayak, leaving you scrambling to recover your paddle. Scary, right? Enter the kayak paddle float: a simple, inflatable device that could save your adventure.

We’re diving into the seven best options of 2024, showing you why this unsung hero is essential gear for every kayaker.

Ready to ditch the fear and paddle on with confidence?

1. NRS Sea

This NRS float is a workhorse built to be tough for serious kayakers. It’s like the trusty pickup truck of paddle floats – reliable, no-nonsense, and ready for anything.

NRS Sea

Our Take

0out of 10

A top performer that excels in all key areas, especially for those who prioritize durability and reliability over compactness.

Key Benefits

  • Inflatable: Packs down small but delivers serious buoyancy when needed.
  • Size and Buoyancy: A generous 14-liter volume (7 liters per chamber) provides ample stability.
  • Ease of Use: A simple buckle and strap system secures it quickly to your paddle.
  • Visibility: Bright yellow color and reflective tape boost your visibility in low light.
  • Durability: Heavy-duty nylon construction stands up to abuse.
  • Additional Features: Dual air chambers for redundancy.
  • Warranty: 3-year manufacturer's warranty for peace of mind.

Pricing

  • Price: Starting at $57.95
NRS Sea

Pros

  • Rock-solid construction
  • excellent buoyancy
  • easy to use
  • highly visible

Cons

  • A bit bulky when inflated
  • not the most compact option

2. Gearlab

This Gearlab float is the sleek sports car of the bunch – lightweight, compact, and high-performing. It's perfect for paddlers who value minimalism and efficiency.

Gearlab

Our Take

0out of 10

A top-notch choice for paddlers who prioritize portability and performance. It's a bit pricier but delivers exceptional value for its size and weight.

Key Benefits

  • Inflatable: Folds down to a tiny package, easily fitting in your PFD pocket.
  • Size and Buoyancy: 15-liter volume offers impressive stability for its size.
  • Ease of Use: User-friendly inflation valve and simple strap attachment.
  • Visibility: The bright orange color stands out against the water.
  • Durability: Made from durable nylon with reinforced seams.
  • Additional Features: None, focusing on simplicity and performance.
  • Warranty: 1-year manufacturer's warranty.

Pricing

  • Price: Starting at $78
Gearlab

Pros

  • Incredibly compact
  • lightweight
  • excellent buoyancy
  • easy to inflate and attach

Cons

  • Lacks additional features like reflective tape or pockets
  • might not be the most durable option for extreme use

3. Wisemen Trading

This Wisemen Trading float strikes a balance between affordability and functionality. It's a solid all-rounder that won't break the bank.

Wisemen Trading

Our Take

0out of 10

A good value option that offers solid performance and essential features at an attractive price point.

Key Benefits

  • Inflatable: Packs down to a reasonable size, easy to store.
  • Size and Buoyancy: 15-liter volume offers ample flotation.
  • Ease of Use: A simple valve and strap system inflates quickly.
  • Visibility: Bright orange color with reflective tape for added safety.
  • Durability: Made from durable nylon with reinforced seams.
  • Additional Features: Whistle for signaling help.
  • Warranty: 1-year warranty.

Pricing

  • Price: Starting at $34.95
Wisemen Trading

Pros

  • Affordable
  • decent buoyancy
  • easy to use
  • includes a whistle
  • visible

Cons

  • It is not as compact as some high-end options
  • it might not be as durable as pricier floats

4. LZKW

This Harmony float is a no-frills option that gets the job done. It's a good choice for recreational paddlers who want a basic, reliable float.

LZKW

Our Take

0out of 10

A basic but effective float that's perfect for budget-minded paddlers who prioritize simplicity and affordability

Key Benefits

  • Foam: Provides inherent buoyancy, no inflation required.
  • Size and Buoyancy: Large enough to offer sufficient flotation for most kayakers.
  • Ease of Use: Strap it to your paddle and go.
  • Visibility: The bright yellow color helps you stay visible.
  • Durability: Foam construction is tough and resists punctures.
  • Additional Features: None, keeping things simple.
  • Warranty: No warranty information is available.

Pricing

  • Price: Starting at $30.40
LZKW

Pros

  • Extremely affordable
  • always ready to use
  • durable foam construction

Cons

  • Bulky and doesn't pack down
  • lacks additional features

5. Seattle Sports

This Seattle Sports float is a versatile option with some handy features. It's a good choice for paddlers who want a bit more than just a basic float.

Seattle Sports

Our Take

0out of 10

A well-rounded float that offers good performance and some handy features at a reasonable price.

Key Benefits

  • Inflatable: Packs down small but provides ample buoyancy.
  • Size and Buoyancy: 15-liter volume offers good stability.
  • Ease of Use: Easy-to-use valve and strap system.
  • Visibility: Bright orange color with reflective tape.
  • Durability: Made from durable nylon with reinforced seams.
  • Additional Features: A storage pocket for small essentials.
  • Warranty: 1-year warranty.

Pricing

  • Price: Starting at $44.95
Seattle Sports

Pros

  • Versatile
  • good buoyancy
  • includes a storage pocket
  • visible

Cons

  • It is not as compact as some high-end options
  • the pocket might not be waterproof

6. Summit Inflatable

This Sea to Summit float is a premium option with a focus on compactness and lightweight design. It's ideal for paddlers who prioritize packing light.

Summit Inflatable

Our Take

0out of 10

A great choice for weight-conscious paddlers who prioritize portability and a lifetime warranty.

Key Benefits

  • Inflatable: Packs down to an incredibly small size, about the size of a water bottle.
  • Size and Buoyancy: 10-liter volume is sufficient for most paddlers.
  • Ease of Use: Easy-to-use valve and simple strap attachment.
  • Visibility: Bright yellow color with reflective tape.
  • Durability: Made from lightweight but durable nylon.
  • Additional Features: None, focusing on minimalism.
  • Warranty: Lifetime warranty from Sea to Summit.

Pricing

  • Price: Starting at $59.95
Summit Inflatable

Pros

  • Extremely compact and lightweight
  • easy to use
  • lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Lower buoyancy than some other options
  • might not be suitable for larger paddlers

7. Riverstones

This Riverstones float is a budget-friendly option that offers basic functionality. It's a decent choice for beginners or occasional paddlers.

Riverstones

Our Take

0out of 10

A basic float that's suitable for beginners or those on a tight budget. It gets the job done but only offers standout features.

Key Benefits

  • Inflatable: Packs down small, easy to store.
  • Size and Buoyancy: 12-liter volume provides adequate flotation.
  • Ease of Use: Simple valve and strap system.
  • Visibility: Bright yellow color with reflective tape.
  • Durability: Made from durable nylon with reinforced seams.
  • Additional Features: None.
  • Warranty: No warranty information is available.

Pricing

  • Price: Starting at $24.95
Riverstones

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • decent buoyancy
  • easy to use
  • visible

Cons

  • It is not as durable as some other options
  • lacks additional features

What to Look for in a Kayak Paddle Float?

  • Inflatable vs. Foam: Inflatable floats pack down smaller, but foam offers inherent buoyancy.
  • Size and Buoyancy: Choose a size that matches your kayak's width and your weight.
  • Ease of Use: Look for quick inflation and secure attachment points.
  • Visibility: Bright colors are essential for safety.
  • Durability: Ensure the material can withstand sun, saltwater, and abrasion.
  • Additional Features: Some floats offer reflective strips, whistles, or pockets.

How Can a Paddle Float Benefit You?

A kayak paddle float is your lifeline in unexpected situations. If you capsize, it transforms your paddle into an outrigger, providing stability while you perform a paddle float reentry.

A man is tying to get up on kayak

This simple yet ingenious device gives you the leverage to hoist yourself back onto your kayak, even in challenging conditions.

Think of it as your personal safety net. By clipping the float onto your paddle blade, you extend the paddle shaft's reach, making self-rescue a whole lot easier.

Whether you're a novice or a seasoned kayaker, this essential piece of gear empowers you to tackle the water with confidence, knowing you have a reliable tool for unexpected mishaps.

Buyer's Guide

When doing our research to find the best product, we determined using these factors:

Kayak and paddle float

Pricing: We compared the prices of different paddle floats, considering both budget-friendly and high-end options.

Features: We looked at the various features each float offered, such as inflatable vs. foam, size and buoyancy, ease of use, visibility, additional features like reflective tape, whistles, or clip-on safety tether, and warranty.

Negatives: We identified any potential drawbacks of each float, such as bulkiness, lack of durability, or limited features. We also considered any negative reviews from other users.

Support or refund: We checked if the manufacturers offered any warranties, customer support, or refund policies. We also looked for online communities or forums where users could share their experiences and provide feedback.

Real-world Testing: We tested various paddle floats in different conditions, including calm lakes and choppy sea kayaking conditions, to assess their performance in float re-entry scenarios.

Expert Opinions: We consulted experienced sea kayakers and instructors for their insights and recommendations on the best paddle floats for different types of kayaking and skill levels.

Safety Standards: We ensured that the selected paddle floats met relevant safety standards and regulations for kayaking equipment.

By considering these factors, we were able to compile a comprehensive list of the best kayak paddle floats on the market, catering to a variety of needs and preferences.

Wrapping Up

Choosing the right kayak paddle float can make all the difference in an unexpected situation.

Whether you prefer the robust NRS paddle float with its two air chambers for maximum buoyancy, the compact Gearlab, or a budget-friendly option, having a reliable float tucked away in your rear deck bag provides invaluable peace of mind.

A man is tying to get up on kayak

Remember, it's not just about buoyancy; factors like ease of use, visibility, and additional features like a clip-on safety tether can greatly enhance your safety on the water.

Consider your individual needs and preferences, and invest in a paddle float that will give you the confidence to explore with peace of mind.

Each of the floats we've covered has its strengths. The NRS paddle float boasts two air chambers for maximum buoyancy and durability, while the Gearlab is favored for its lightweight and compact design.

Ultimately, the "best" float is the one that you feel most comfortable using and that complements your kayaking style and needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a kayak paddle float, and why do I need one?

A kayak paddle float is an inflatable or foam device that attaches to your kayak paddle, turning it into an outrigger for support during self-rescue. It's essential for regaining stability and re-entering your kayak after capsizing.

How do I use a kayak paddles float?

After capsizing, attach the float to one paddle blade using the straps or quick-release buckles. Then, position the paddle shaft under your chest and use it for support as you kick and maneuver yourself back onto your kayak.

What features should I look for in a paddle float?

Consider the float's size (matching your kayak and weight), buoyancy, ease of use (quick-release buckles are helpful), visibility (bright colors and reflective tape), and additional features like a whistle or bilge pump attachment.

How do I choose between inflatable and foam paddle floats?

Inflatable floats pack down smaller and are easier to store, while foam floats offer inherent buoyancy without inflation. Choose based on your storage space, preference for convenience, and budget.

Fahim Joharder

Fahim Joharder

Author

An avid kayaker & fisherman, explores waterways globally, sharing his passion for water sports and conservation through captivating stories and tips.

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