How to Make a Kayak More Stable

Updated March 28, 2017

Kayaks have two forms of stability: primary and secondary. Primary stability is the stability when the kayak is at rest, and secondary is the stability when the kayak achieves hull speed. To increase either form of stability it is necessary to add something to the kayak that provides extra buoyancy and girth. This is accomplished using a piece of kayak rescue gear known as a "paddle float." These are air bladders that slide over the end of a paddle.

Open the air valve on the paddle float and inflate the bladder halfway. Slide the paddle float, using the dedicated sleeve, onto the blade of one side of the spare paddle.

Fully inflate the paddle float once it is on the paddle blade. Slide the non-paddle float side of the paddle through the deck bungees of the kayak, so the paddle float extends out and onto the water, acting like a sponson. Place the paddle float to the opposite side of any waves or swells.

Position the newly fashioned sponson so you have proper room to paddle and move the kayak. Lean in toward the sponson and notice the added stability to the kayak.


Use two paddle float sponsons, one on each side, to make a dual-sided and stable craft.

Things You'll Need

  • Spare paddle
  • Paddle float
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About the Author

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.