How To Choose A Kayak Tow Tether
Towing another paddler or kayak from the seat of your own boat is a basic safety skill both river and sea kayakers should be prepared to undertake. Many risky incidents on the water can be safely managed by towing a sick or fatigued paddler with a kayak tow tether. Also known as a safety tether or tow line, this essential piece of rescue gear consists of a length of floating rope inside of a compact, belt-mounted or PFD-mounted bag, and carabineers on either end of the line. With practice, proper training, and the right equipment, you can quickly and safely clip to a distressed paddler or runaway piece of gear.
Paddling tow tethers are specifically designed with the rescuer in mind in addition to the distressed paddler. Tow lines are very easy to deploy rapidly, foregoing the need to know complex knots and riggings in emergency situations and the Cordura bag and high-tensile strength floating rope ensure that the rope is reliable when you need it the most. Every kayak tow system also includes a quick-release mechanism to free the rescuer in case of entanglement.
There are tow systems available for all types of paddlers and situations that may occur on the water. Longer length kayak tow tethers are ideal for sea kayaking while shorter lines known as cow tails work well for short tows and equipment retrieval in whitewater. PFD-mounted tow tethers are becoming more and more popular among recreational and advanced boaters, though this style requires a rescue PFD with a tow harness and quick-release mechanism built in. These PFDs generally have a metal ring on the back of the jacket to clip into . Polypropylene and Spectra ropes are both available in multiple diameters.
Towing kayaks can be risky business, especially on the open ocean. When a tow becomes necessary, there are usually many options available to the rescuer, but like any rescue scenario, you are only as competent as your gear and your skills. Avoid becoming a second victim and always keep a paddling knife within reach any time you’re using a rope on the water. Never tie the rope to yourself or wrap it around your hand! The best instruction will come from an accredited Swiftwater Rescue course. Practice using all of your gear before the need to use it arises.
Having a kayak tow tether and the knowledge of how to use out on the water makes you a safer boater. Make sure someone else in your group has one, too! Safe boating is more fun for everyone!
Check out our selection of top-quality kayak safety tethers from Salamander, Kokatat, and more. Having a tow line when you need it the most will make sure everyone enjoys their paddle, no matter how long the journey.