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Modest Floatation

30" bags are generally the shortest fore to aft. I use them in my 15' Hemlock SRT when running rapids and I used the same length bags in my old tandem canoes in the 80's and 90's. Not sure who still makes them, but NRS, Harmony, Voyageur, Campmor, Nantahala Outdoor Center, and Cascade used to carry them.
 
Voyageur is long gone but NRS and Harmony still make 3D end bags around 30 inches in fore and aft length. Harmony bags are available in lightweight nylon or heavier vinyl. You can check out Harmony and NRS canoe end bags on Amazon. Mohawk Canoe used to sell vinyl bags but I doubt they still do, but you could check.


The 3D end bags are shaped to work optimally with canoes without internal float tanks such as Royalex, T-formex, three-layer rotomolded poly, or single layer poly boats with minicell foam bulkhead pedestals. They can be used in canoes with float tanks but you won't be able to inflate them fully. I wouldn't worry about the bag compromising carrying capacity. So long as you have a suitable "bag cage" of some sort to keep the inflated bag restrained in the canoe, simply put whatever gear you need into the boat and then inflate the bag as much as the gear will allow. Long items like tent poles can be slid under the bags.
 
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I wouldn't worry about the bag compromising carrying capacity. So long as you have a suitable "bag cage" of some sort to keep the inflated bag restrained in the canoe, simply put whatever gear you need into the boat and then inflate the bag as much as the gear will allow.

This is an excellent point. If even 30" is too long, you can just restrict the bag length further with an appropriate length bag cage.
 
When a buddy and I took a weekend whitewater training course a number of years ago we needed to a have a canoe with float bags. So we bought several kiddy inflatable beach toys we laced into the hull fore and aft. This worked well and we inflated them to the extent needed. Way cheaper than float bags we would never need again.
 
I use replacement seats for inflatable boats. They're tough and less expensive than dedicated float bags.
 
When I started serious whitewater canoeing in the early 1980's, some frugal paddlers would stuff the ends of their canoe with net bags full of empty plastic soda bottles and milk jugs, or jam automobile tire tubes under their thwarts.
 
I read somewhere making paddling fun was important when paddling w kids. So I let the kids pick out a pool float for last summers trip. Gerald Giraffe provided floatation for our mile crossing. I was surprised how much he improved morale.

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