On the Water And In The Woods

Sea kayaking, sailing, and lightweight backpacking in the-Chesapeake Bay, Mid-Atlantic region

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dry storage for flares

A prudent sea kayaker carries hand fired flares on trips, and carries them on their pfd. I typically carry SkyBlazer hand launched flares by Orion.

One of the problems with flares is that their reliability decreases drastically when they are repeatedly exposed to submersion, as in a kayakers' pfd. The failure rate for flares goes up dramatically, as proven at the Sk102 flare demonstrations, where I have tested flares that were stored in a pfd pocket for one year versus flares stored dry for one year.

What can you do to try and keep the flares dry? A number of suggestions have been suggested and tried over the years:

  • Keep the flares in a small dry box in the pfd - hard to store due to bulk of the box, and not all pfds have pockets of a suitable size. Also, when you open the box, you risk dumping all of the flares.

  • Seal the flares in a "seal a meal" type plastic, either using a commercially made machine that does this, or the home iron. My experiments have found the seals to rupture or fail after repeated stuffing in the pfd pockets. Also, some of these plastics are difficult to rip open without a knife.

  • Store each flare individually in a commercially available latex product, and tie a knot in the end. Sorry, haven't tried this one myself, the it is reported to not be particularly sturdy over the years.

Recently at a SK101 intro to sea kayaking class put on by the Chesapeake Paddlers Association, Todd showed me a new way to store the flares. He stored his flares in a dry pack bag.

Here's how to do it:

Materials needed:

Dry Pak Cell Phone Case, small, Clear/Blue, product #DP-46.

SkyBlazer hand launched flares by Orion - Four pack

Make sure the flare expiration dates are far in the future.


1. Insert three of the flares in the dry bag. Put the fourth flare in your emergency bail nalgene bottle.

2. Close the dry bag, and use the lanyard to lash it to one of the lash points in the pocket of your pfd.


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