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What? This Tow Belt?

January 4, 2019

A few years ago, I attracted the attention of a local sea kayaker, rather by accident, and somewhat obliviously. The matter started out as a simple point about the "correct way to wear a tow belt." He said "a sea kayaker should never have more than one or at most two inches of tow line outside their pouch." I disagreed. Oh no, I expressed an opinion, suggested there was more than one way to do something.


Remember my personal slogan? “This instructor and that instructor will say this is right or that is right, but the only right is what's right for you.” It is something I’ve returned to consider often.


Hence, this post is not really about what that guy said on the interwebs. Its true topic is the various and yet safe ways people, paddlers, do things. The given example being tow belts.


Tow belts have line, and line can be a problem, but I do believe any of the common ways of wearing the belt are likely "safe." In hand with the safety thing, ”if you are wearing a tow belt you are carrying a knife.” This is a given, right? Line can become tangled and being tangled in tow line would be bad. Hence, the knife, or trauma shears, utility shears, whatnot.


I offer a few photos, with tow kits noted by large red arrows, for the reader's convenience.








Where was I going with this? Sorry, I got side tracked looking at photos of some of my favorite people.


I collected a number of photos and determined that, for the most part, most paddlers have more than one to two inches of line outside their bags. I have once or twice had another paddler yank some part of my kit, like the line on my belt, during an assisted-rescue. I gave that some thought, but concluded that for myself, I prefer to have the 'biner where I can grab it easily, thus exposing a bit of line.


In order to conclude my rather unscientific research I asked around, does anybody know anyone who was spontaneously throttled by their own tow line, while not in use? No? How about just entangled? No?


NOT SAYING IT COULD NOT HAPPEN. And I have personally had to ditch out of one tow when the line became entangled. But it was not the first two feet of line that were the problem.


Different strokes for different folks. What did I say about dogmatism?




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