Cam-Lock buckles on tow systems

I am wondering if anyone out there has actual experience with waist-mounted tow systems using cam-lock buckles. In particular, do you have a QR-knob-on-a-cord type or just pull on the webbing for release? Have you experienced unintended releases due to the knob catching, such as during re-entry?

I know some have eliminated the buckle in favor of velcro, but I am not ready to do that yet. I have eliminated the 1 inch cam set-up on my Northwater (ala Bnystrom). Just wanted to know what your field experience has been.


which model are you talking about
from which company.

I believe. THe one with the contoured lever on the cam. Lotus Designs modifies the buckle with a cord & knob for a QR. Northwater leaves it bare.


Took the knob off…
I have the Astral 300 with the built in towing strap. It has the cam release with a knob. I took the knob off after an unwanted release… GH

I like the cam without toggle
I’ve had one release (that had the bobble/ball/toggle) when doing a self rescue - once. But didn’t loose the belt.

The one I have now just has the cam buckle fitted through the PFD. It’s easy to find in an emergency, even with gloves on. However, the buckle does have a slight ‘swoop’ outwards so it’s easy to get the fingers behind (I think it came from a fabric store), I know that some lie much ‘flatter’ which may make it a bit more difficult to release: hence the toggle.

Practice it with support
Always always practice your set up and you and how it works in all condiitons. Don’t want a surprise at the end of the line, pun intended. There is alllot of force in rough conditions.

I was leaning towards
leaving it stock (no toggle) anyway. I figgered catching it was a distinct possibility - heck, I’ve partially unzipped my PFD doing recoveries - but then I looked at a Lotus and ther’s the toggle. Hearing that some have actually experienced unplanned releases convinced me.



never a problem for me —
mine has the cam buckle with attached the little quick release toggle and button. i’ve been using mine for years and have employed it either for practice sessions, instruction or in real life situations. i’ve probably used it over a hundred times so far and never an unintentional release problem.

me 2
never had an unintentional release. I run the release buckle to the back and the bag in front.

We found some nice heavy duty cam buckles with big teeth and firm clampage to use on the new Wildy proto type. I may have one at Kittery and SE sympo.


I use a plastic doggle off a

– Last Updated: Mar-23-05 10:48 AM EST –

I like it because there is only one shape like that in my kit. If upside down and getting thrashed I like that feature Feel a big round knob on a string? Pull it away and lose the tow.

If I lose more weight so that it is not quite so crowded at my waist, then I'll go for marine velcro sewed on. I've seen nystrom's rig done that way and it is elegant.

Never had an unintentional release with this system. Did snag the one inch cam lock on the northwater system and release bag, which later peeled off during tow. Using new belt now.

I never had an unintentional release

– Last Updated: Mar-23-05 10:26 AM EST –

...with a buckle with a ball on it, but I really hated the buckle for comfort reasons. That's why I switched to Velcro.

Since you apparently have one of the older Northwater rigs, it's a simple matter to make up an extra belt with an alternative closure (like Velcro) and test it. If you don't like it, just put the original belt back on the bag.

BTW, if you wear the rig with the bag facing forward (my prefered setup), you'll never snag the release ball on anything during a typical prone re-entry.