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Underdeck bag ?

I would give very cautious thought regarding under deck stowing, now matter what form it takes.

In my trip last summer from Fair Harbour in Kyuquot Sound down to Friendly Cove in Nootka Sound, I found myself coming in on a beach on the outside of Nootka Island in a moderate amount of swell and, therefore, a little surf. Nothing exceptional.

I had stowed a small dry bag under the deck to accommodate some of the stuff that I couldn't fit inside.

This has always been against my religion.

On landing, I found that I was unable to remove my legs fast enough to make a proper exit from my kayak. As a result, the waves put me upside down with the kayak above me and crushed me into the beach. Not once by over and over again. Without my paddle buddy helping to get me out of the kayak as the waves kept coming in over top of me, I would have suffered some serious injury. Most likely a broken leg or two and probably some permanent back damage.

Think twice about what it is going to be like if you can't get your legs out in serious water.

Just saying.
I use the North Water underdeck bag. It stays nicely out of the way and doesn't move around. It has never gotten in the way of forced exits. Pump and paddlefloat stow between the top of the bag and the underside of the deck. Mounting tabs are glued securely using Vynabond or similar.
The cockpit is meant to be a cockpit. Period. Not a storage area. Who doesn't get this obvious point.

If the manufacturers thought it was safe and they would have no liability, they would, without hesitation, in this competitive environment, offer it in the form of clips, hooks, Velcro, etc.

If the manufacturer doesn't offer it, who are we to take on this legal liability as if we know better?

Many sales types will offer all sorts of ways for us to stow more gear. Do they know more than you?

This is not OK.

Safety is the most important issue of all.

If you think that all things will go well on the water then you shouldn't be there.

The best plan is to 'prepare for the worst and expect the best'. This way you will have fun without ever having to worry about what could go wrong. If it all does go wrong, you are fully prepared and will have fun anyway. No?

Stowing stuff in an area that is meant for your body, and your body only, is expecting the best and having no responsibility for the worst. I thought all experienced paddlers knew this.

There are much better and safer ways to stow extra stuff in our kayaks.


Living in the real world.
Outsider covered all the caveats and cautions.

Couple ways I have safely stored gear in the forward part of my cockpit ... noting that my boats have voluminous cockpits and ginormous openings; Outsider's boat has a smaller cockpit, lower foredeck, and would be a real squeeze for me to enter and exit (I paddled with a guy for five seasons who had the same model boat ... he could only enter or exit via the butt on the after deck route):

1. Consider D-ring anchors for straps well forward of your feet, to securely hold a sleeping bag or water bag or similar, to ensure you do not have an entrapment hazard, especially when the straps are not in use.

2. Consider three inch PVC pipe, firmly anchored to the center of the foredeck, with caps fore and aft, the rear cap removable. This works ONLY if the pipe is out of the way of entry and exit, and the anchors are smoothly faired into the underdeck surface.

Something I have not done, but others feel is safe and workable is a custom glass bulge, smooth sided all around, and faired to the underside of the deck, with access through a porthole style hatch on the deck. I don't think the absence of underdeck enclosures like this one at manufacture necessarily means the manufacturer thinks they are unsafe. Rather, more likely they cost too much to install and/or nobody asks for them. Note that several narrow boats of the low volume persuasion have these installed by the factory. Check out the Tiderace-S model which M2G acquired recently, as an example.
Outsider said:
I had stowed a small dry bag under the deck to accommodate some of the stuff that I couldn't fit inside.
Outsider, I don't know which boat you were paddling. How large is the cockpit opening (to allow quick egress)?

How big was the dry bag, and how did you fasten it up under the deck?
I am not sure that questions about size, location, etc., are relevant or the issue here.

It's really about safety and whether or not it is at all acceptable to stow gear in the cock pit.

We can debate everything regarding size, location and all else, but we are giving advice to people who may or may not be as experienced and who will stretch and bend these ideas to suit their needs.

What everyone seems to be saying is that it is OK to store gear in the cock pit. Right?

That's a very broad statement and is subject to all kinds of interpretations especially to those who have not had to deal with lack of space before.

Any advice that we give to the ( I am happy to say) seemingly growing numbers of 'newbies' is serious in that if they follow what we say, we are responsible for the outcome.

Many things are said on these forums that provide 'expert' advice in the legal sense.

Last summer I read, and I am sure that many of you did, that a family successfully sued a paddle partner who gave advice to his less experienced buddy and who subsequently didn't finish the trip. This is a US case, but the family was successful because the court ruled that the less experienced guy would probably not have gone out except for the information that his more experience partner provided.

I am less than guessing that eventually such a case will survive the Supreme Court here.

Maybe someone can find this reported case via the internet and share this. I have been looking for hours and can't find it, but, it's not my imagination. It's there. I swear :)
I tried Kayaker vs Kayaker but to no avail :)

For the record, I am saying that it is not OK to store gear in a cockpit. Gear belongs in the hatches and at the very worst on deck.

My third, though probably not my last, rant :)

Trouble if you look for it,

Outsider said:
I am not sure that questions about size, location, etc., are relevant or the issue here.

It's really about safety and whether or not it is at all acceptable to stow gear in the cock pit.

It seems to me that it does depend on the volume and location of the items stowed, if the items are secured, and also on the cockpit volume and deck height of the boat in question.

Is a pump stowed under the side deck a problem? An inflatable paddlefloat behind the seat? Flares secured to bulkhead? etc....
The OP didn't specify what he wanted to 'stow' underdeck.

There are production boats with under-deck stowage, and have been for decades (Mariners, for example),and as Dave pointed out, 'glove boxes' are showing up in newer glass boats.

Lots of people feel that small (or large) cockpit boats are a safety hazard, but we don't make a big deal about that.....same with gear on the back deck.....there's no 'one answer to all questions' solution....just IMO, of course.
The Solstice Titan came with an under deck bag.

I cannot find it ! :?

Using a 5L vinyl dry bag between legs is OK with flat water…and interesting finding stuff with out grope n feel. But the small Pelican box with cell phone, VHF stored as dormant until necessary, flares, Cliff bars, paper towel wad, small jigger sunscreen, utility tool…goes in the missing and we are now ‘used to it,’ under deck bag.

North Water was recommended before here. The bag isn’t readily available from a source we used before.

Adapting an above deck to under deck is possible but costs are up with dry seals. UP !

There’s a standard mesh bag from Seattle Sports but again not readily available. Mesh is OK. Using small dry bags for individual packing of small dry equipment. A small leak stays small.

With the Titan no problem from the under deck bag on wet exits. NOT having the bag is a lot cooler or warmer up your way. The sponge, half gallon bailer are tied in with 1/8th shock cord. Always tied around my leg. I’m gonna try shock cording the shock cord to side hull.

The between legs aisle has 2 MSR 10L Dromedary bags, Pelican holding 5Ah trailer battery/relays for hydrophone, Pelican holding 5Ah/relays for bilge pump…then space for a 5L bag against the forward bulkhead.

When you have to leave, you leave !

I bought helmet. Never landed on my head until ….

After looking over Costs, I’m looking at gluing vinyl together with mesh and hardware in stock. Custom fit equipment with a pig tail into a designated sleeve.

A deck bag obscures the compass. Reason for a deck bag mounted compass.
Local noise sez under deck bags are unpopular before purchase and use age, as said by the Outsider.

A glassed in compartment ! pass…..

weight on keel side.

You have so much gear in the cockpit with you it is scary! No way would I have anything loose in the cockpit. I know too many people who have had a foot trapped, or themselves trapped, by a loose dry bag, or an MSR bladder. Change your ways or it will happen to you, also. In heavy seas, you would be unable to effect a self rescue.

The North water underdeck bag is a low profile, nearly snag free arrangement engineered about as well as a flexible attachment can be. I bought one years ago, thinking to install it, but did not, because of concerns I would catch a foot on it.
Astoriadave said:

You have so much gear in the cockpit with you it is scary! No way would I have anything loose in the cockpit.
I second that opinion!

datakoll said:
The sponge, half gallon bailer are tied in with 1/8th shock cord. Always tied around my leg. I’m gonna try shock cording the shock cord to side hull.

Are you serious? Or just trying to keep things lively around the ole forum??? (Often I can't tell....)
I certainly agree with most of the posts here, don't keep too much in your cockpit. That is what day hatches are for. It can be dangerous, personally I'm not sure about lashing anything to yourself but that's your decision, I may have a paddle leash etc. but personally I might lash some items to the boat but not myself.

When I was in Mexico on my 11 day excursion I did keep a camera in a Pelican case between my legs and a water bottle clipped to my deck lines on deck with a cabriner. But that is all. Bear in mind we were in large Seaward South Winds tandem kayaks so they weren't as much of a risk as smaller single boats, but I still was very wary in the boat.

If I am just recreational paddling in calm water around the lake here in my home city I may use my Current Designs Spray Tray which does have some under deck storage. (http://www.cdkayak.com/Items.aspx?id=37).

As a side note I am very sure my Seaward Tyee has more storage than my Current Designs Storm but very similar cockpits

Just my thoughts......others may differ. :?

I use a North Water under deck bag on one of my kayaks. The deck is slightly peaked and the bag is well out of my way, despite my bulky 145 pound 5'5" frame. I always ensure that the deck bag is closed and secure before setting out, nor do I fill it to bursting. It hasn't pestered me rolling or wet exiting.

That said if I were a much larger person I would rethink this, especially with all the input on this topic. There are thousands of safety issues ... should I carry an extra paddle, a vhf with dsc, a first aid kit and so on. These occasional discussions on such topics are always of interest.
The gear is tied down. Of course, gear always comes loose. This fact leads to an absolute position of no gear in cockpit.

I assume gear - no gear depends on what type of paddling is happening. I'm paddling involved in recording dolphin and whale not bouncing off rocks n boomers.

The Titan's foot room is adequate for no problem wet exit practice with the middle hull floor partly filled with 2 boxes down by the feet and beyond to the bulkhead. No doubt, the percentage for problem's in wet exiting goes up without a clear floor.

First design was mounting the equipment in forward and rear holds where the hardware for this is now glued in with 5200. But trying center mounted weight not end mounted weight won out. I'll try the end mounting .

Photo's of the bag when done.
Northwater has one. If your boat is composite, the attachments can be glued. If your boat is plastic, you likely will have to bolt it in.

I still enjoy seeing the posts about how under deck bags need to be verboten because there may be a risk. No room for the person's specific situation/space available. I distinctly remember this same thought coming up about keeping decks clear. These people probably also say that o can;t put anything in;pockets on your PFD, as it may get in the way of rescues. Guess they don't carry anything.

I generally prefer to look at the specific case and to make sure I understand the potential cons that go along with the pro of carrying something in some non-standard place. Yes, if you put too much stuff in your cockpit with you, there could be entrapment issues. But I don't think it is appropriate for any of us to say that you absolutely shouldn't put a deck bag in, as we don't know your size, your flexibility/comfort with tight cockpits, bag size, boat size, etc. Some people should be in rec boats with nothing in the cockpit, others can stuff themselves in (and get themselves out of) surf boats with extra gear in their cockpit.
Throwing stones, there, Peter. Mark me down as a minimalist on deck loading, but an adherent to VHF in/on the PFD. If it does not get in the way of rescues, keep it.

Agree with your main point ... ya gotta test your setup and adapt it to you and your boat. Yours will be different than mine, and just as good or better, more likely :D if it has been tested.
I personally have both a northwater underdeck bag and a space where, on longer trips, I stow a 35l dry bag past my foot pedals. I also keep my pump stowed out of the way in my cockpit. The dry bag is secured with a strap out of the way and well past my feet (the cockpit in a chatham 18 is really long), and the northwater system does not come anywhere near impeding my ability to escape the cockpit in the event of a capsize. I have spent quite some time practicing wet exits with this system to ensure that there is minimal risk to me with this system.

I think the that every system and paddler is different, some things will work for more than one paddler, and some things won't work for any paddler. My system was originally installed by Chodups when the boat was his, and after practicing with it in safe conditions I am quite happy with it. The key here is that I practiced with it and tested it thoroughly before heading out with it.

Would I recommend that someone goes out and installs the exact same thing as I have? Not necessarily. I do recommend that people practice with their gear in safe conditions (IE with a friend to assist if things go wrong) and ensure that it works for them and they are going to be safe before heading out on trips.
Oh, so you own the C18 now. I spent a lot of time agonizing over this issue before I installed it and did a lot of testing before ever using it. I think it's solid and safe and installed the same system on my Tempest 170. Again I tested it a ton and have used it on many trips.

I understand that when stuff goes bad, bad things can happen but I am happy with my potential exposure here.

I don't do deckbags. I do keep my spare paddle on the front deck with Flatpick's Invention and bungies, map case and GPS. Back deck holds my helmet which is easy to detach and swim/paddle away from leaving a clean deck for self rescue. A prerequisite of any paddling footwear is that it either has no laces or can be pulled off without much effort in an entrapment scenario. This has a consequence on muddy beaches that I accept.