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Thread: DIY "stowfloat" - combination storage and float bag?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    19

    Default DIY "stowfloat" - combination storage and float bag?

    Has anyone made their own "stowfloat?" There's only a handful of float bags that are also gear storage that I've seen, the Watershed Futa Stowfloat (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hpwgx57I2k) is one of them. Spirit Line makes some baidarka bags, but are often out of stock. All of these are made from 250 denier urethane coated nylon, which I can buy by the yard. And I'm capable of using a sewing machine (though not well, just well enough to not stab my finger).

    Has anyone made something similar? I've seen some references to float bags Tom Yost used to make, but his website has been down for a long while and I can't find a cached page for the float bags, just his kayak designs. I'm also not sure the vinyl approach he used is suitable for gear storage.

    The Watershed Futa Stowfloat is just two triangles of fabric, the tube/valve/flange, the clips, and the Ziplock mechanism (which I don't think is really needed). The Spirit Line bags are described as being compartmentalized, but I can't find any video/images of what that actually means, and they are out of stock so I can't order one and find out. So as an alternative, anyone have one of these combination float bags that would be willing to snap a few pics so I can get some ideas?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    1,520

    Default Re: DIY "stowfloat" - combination storage and float bag?

    Good idea. Let us know how your prototypes work out. It would be convenient to be able to sew up waterproof(ish) containers that served both purposes.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    northwestern Wisconsin
    Posts
    2,801

    Default Re: DIY "stowfloat" - combination storage and float bag?

    Quote Originally Posted by nloding View Post
    The Spirit Line bags are described as being compartmentalized, but I can't find any video/images of what that actually means, and they are out of stock so I can't order one and find out. So as an alternative, anyone have one of these combination float bags that would be willing to snap a few pics so I can get some ideas?
    Some of the Watershed bags are "compartmentalized" with foam inserts to separate/protect camera gear--you can see that in THIS VIDEO.

    I've been impressed with my Watershed bags after lots of sailing, and two complete trips down the Grand Canyon in Class III-IV whitewater, with no leaks at all. The Ziplock seal is a bit fussy, but is utterly reliable if sealed with care (a bit of saliva is sometimes needed for lubricating the seal if you're in the field, but that works fine). The nice thing about this seal is, you don't need to empty the air out of your bags as you'd want to with a roll-top bag. The bags still seal reliably even filled with air.

    In fact, a lot of the Watershed bags come with a purge/inflate valve as an option for $25, which means you can add air to the bag AFTER packing and sealing it. I've found it simple enough just to trap some air in as you close/seal the bag if you want the extra buoyancy. Filled with gear+air, my two large Watershed dry bags give me a lot more buoyancy.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    7,757

    Default Re: DIY "stowfloat" - combination storage and float bag?

    Any drybag can be used as a "stowfloat." Just roll it up with lots of air inside. If you want fancy, google waterproof duffel bag. They get pricey, but some (not all) will tolerate total submersion. The problem with making your own is that the seams have to be "welded" closed. Sewn seams are, obviously, perforated.

    In his book "Building the Greenland Kayak," Chris Cunningham describes how to make float bags with heat-sealable fabric. This is a nylon cloth that glues to itself on one side when heated with an iron. I haven't tried making one, but that's the method I'd try first. Check out this link. You can get a sample pack for $4 and play with it.

    Let us know how it works. I need some myself.
    -Dave

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Madison Wisconsin
    Posts
    8,573

    Default Re: DIY "stowfloat" - combination storage and float bag?

    I never made stow-floats, but when I was young and broke I made simple flotation bags for my decked whitewater canoes and kayaks. They were seriously budget bags, often built from cotton and full of Styrofoam beads or even peanuts, but they worked. All this aside, one thing I did find out is that if you cut a couple of flat triangular pieces they don't make a very good bag once it is filled up and becomes a 3-D shape. Filling them sucks the sides inward and you lose a fair amount of internal volume as it does. The cure for this is to cut your triangular pieces with slightly convex, curved sides, not straight line cuts. When the bag is then filled, the sides will be straighter and the bag will both fit better and have more capacity. I demonstrated this to one of the major kayak manufacturers back in the early '70s and they actually took my suggestion and changed the shape of their bags - which was kind of cool.

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