Air Bag Tips for Canoes

Kayaks have spray skirts. Canoes have airbags. They're equally as important. You could blow them up with the nozzle here which gives you a nice light-headed feeling, or you could use an electric pump that plugs into your cigarette lighter in your car. They work really well, especially if there's a pump attached to this end.

Or you could use the secret trick of the garbage bag. So this is the garbage bag trick. Get air in your bag. Put the nozzle in, and then lie on the garbage bag.

Smaller canoes have smaller airbags, but that can present its own difficulties as well.

A boat like this, the airbag hose is too short. There's no way I can get my head in to blow that up. I think I have an idea. So I looked all over for the right piece of pipe that could fit in that airbag, and this is what I found. Right in here... this toilet feed pipe. It's perfect. So you take that out, and we're good to go. Oh... yeah, you're going to want to remember to replace that toilet feed before somebody flushes the toilet.

So I've got my toilet feed pipe. Put right in there, fits right in the valve, cool, then I'm done... sweet.


To find really small pinholes, over inflate your bag. Blow it up really tight. Then lie on it and put pressure on it, and move your face close to the bag. You'll feel the air on your cheek. You can pinpoint it. You can always use a bit of soap and water to make it bubble a bit.

When you get a hole in your airbag, it's as if you're in a kayak and you forgot your spray skirt. You can do a couple things. You can use a little bit of duct tape. But duct tape really doesn't stick to wet airbags very well. So unless you want to be doing this all day, we need to come up with a different field repair. So try the tourniquet approach. We used it on the independence on Jamie's boat, and it worked really well.

You can use any kind of knot. I'm pretty sure Mark has a proper one, but I just go around a couple of times. Crank it down, and tie it off.

Here's a trick that Martin Talbut showed me. You break your valve here. You can use an IV clip to seal it up. Works great.

A lot of people take the airbags out of the canoes when they have the canoes on top of the car. I don't. I just blow it up tight, make sure it always got lots of air, and is really tight. If it's a really hot day or it's getting hot, then I'll let a little bit of air out so it's not pulling on the boat. And if you do get some holes, Aquaseal or this is some sort of plumber's goop, works really well.

Kendra and I both teach at MKC which is where we've developed a lot of these new techniques. Well... and we go there for the great food.

Related Articles

Portable kayak stands are amazing for on-the-go work stands or for washing and rigging your boat when…

Learn how to install a fish finder on your fishing kayak without compromising your yak by drilling holes…

Dozens of new canoeing and camping products are introduced every year.  Some are honestly useful;…