Did you cut the panic strap off?

After almost 3 years, I finally snipped off the lovely retroreflective panic strap that Snap Dragon provided–unrequested by me–on my sprayskirt. Goodbye to that #!^&!ing thing.

I was doing a cowboy re-entry and something snagged badly when I tried to scoot forward and into the seat. It wasn’t the grab loop. I managed to lift myself up and then sort of hop forward. It was then I noticed the skirt looked funny. The panic strap had swapped sides; the front part of the spraydeck was now on top of the strap instead of under it. Weird. But that was enough for me. I’d always wondered if it would snag and finally it did.

R.I.P., but not on my sprayskirt!

In surf and WW…
My Snapdragon skirt for the long boat is from the year before they were available on most all of the Glacier line. So, not there but I have periodically mulled over sending the skirt to get it added, again recently after a surf class where one paddler almost didn’t make it out of their boat because the grab loop was buried in the sand when they capsized in really shallow water. With the extra-small deck on the skirt for my kinder long boat for surf, I’m not exactly loaded with material to grab from the side like in the other boat.

Granted it could really be in the way for a cowboy re-entry unless you clip it up to your PFD before starting, but then I find the grab loop itself tends to snag as well.

I have the panic strap on my WW skirt, and use that skirt religiously when trying out new challenges. Even with keeping the strap tight enough so that it’s never come near snagging on anything, I used it last season once when I capsized in some class 2 with a rock and a branch in the way when I tried to get the paddle up for a roll. Yeah I probably could have made it to the grab loop, but I was very glad of the nearer option for release.

I never knew it was a "panic strap"
Our older ones didn’t have it

My new one has it, and I just assumed it was to hold something temporarily.

That is what I use it for and thought it was a neat feature.

I’ll keep mine



I Had to Look it Up
Never saw one before:


So if you can’t find the grab loop you grab this instead? Is that the idea?

I just looked it up and…
it doesn’t say anything about it being a “panic strap”

I don’t think that was it’s intent.

I can see where if you did a cowboy rentry it would probably catch on something and I wouldn’t want it there either in that case.



Good Morning, Jack

– Last Updated: Jun-16-08 7:47 AM EST –

Just finishing off my coffee. I'm on vacation this week. Hoping to do some coastal paddling later in the week. Might do some lake paddling tomorrow. Hope you and Nanci are doing well.

You ever play with that Greenland paddle? Give it to me before you bust it up for kindling!

I’ve heard other names
Actually, this is the first time I’ve heard it called a panic strap. But it makes sense because that’s how it can work. If someone doesn’t go for the grab loop and instead just tried to push up out of the cockpit, there is a decent if not 100% chance that they will put enough pressure around the non-stretchy strap that it’ll pull the skirt off from the sides. I’ve heard it called a knee strap, tho’ I have no idea if that is a name that Snapdragon uses. Maybe they call it a safety strap? In any case it has the same effect as pulling off a skirt by gathering material into your hands on a side and pulling up.

That said, the time I needed it I didn’t knee off. I grabbed and pulled that rather than the grab loop as it was closer, and very easy to find by sliding my glove forward pressing a bit down on the deck.

I called the company
and requested one without it. You pay your local retailer and Snapdragon mails it to you. Got an oldfashioned “suspenders” spray skirt that way too. Normally it comes with a zippered pocket inside the tube. But call Snapdragon and ask and they can leave it out. Very flexible folks.

It’s still standing in the shop in a …

Good thing we don’t live down in the Piedmont, the termites probably would have been in it by now!

“the Bride” keeps saying she wants to try it, but we always forget to bring it with us.

I guess people with sedans and smaller cars have to carry those things on their roofs.

If we can ever get together maybe I can convince her to leave it with you.



It’s a water bottle holder, right?

Knee Release
On the Immersion Research skirts (like the shockwave), it’s actually called a knee release. The idea is that you can adjust the strap so that you can lift up with your knee and pop the skirt off. Note, this is really hard to do on a composite cockpit rim.

Here’s a short video on the IR site that shows and explains this feature, about a minute and a half into the video: http://www.immersionresearch.com/products/sprayskirts/shockwave/

Of course you can grab it with your hands as well.


Virginia Sea Kayak Center

Learned something new!
I use a snapdragon sprayskirt with that strap also. I never knew what it was designed for until that video ! thanks. I just thought it was an additional pull cord for releasing by hand.

Grab loop inside the skirt
Have you never accidentally put the grab loop inside the skirt when putting the skirt on? Getting the skirt off can then be very difficult. The “panic loop” gives you an easy way to get the skirt off without the grab loop.

I was taught right from the start to make sure the grab loop was not trapped inside the cockpit.

Panic strap is my own term for it
Sorry if I misled people into thinking it was an official term.

I was hoping it could be “repurposed” to hold a map case or something similar, but it was not good for that. Now that it has done the flip-flop thing (fortunately during practice, not an emergency situation), I don’t want any such straps on my skirts.

On WW boats, even the regular grab
loop is a tree-snagger in a swim. It would be possible to have a short skirt release strap attached only to the boat, just inside the cockpit. Then the skirt would not have straps or grab loops hanging as a hazard.

Alternate approach

– Last Updated: Jun-16-08 2:06 PM EST –

Have you seen the web straps, not at all grabby or even true loops, that Pyrahnna put on their older schooling boats like the Inazone? They are attached to the boat and come out under the front of the skirt where the grab loop sits. My 220 still has its strap, and it is a great safety feature that I think you'd have to really work hard to feature as a threat. You still have to get to the front of the cockpit, but I suppose the same kind of thing could be installed further back.

On the knee-off/panic whatever strap being a potential catch point in a swim, that is something that hadn't occurred to me because thus far I've always floated feet downstream, facing up and near the surface as advised. But then I've so far only been in class 2 or easy class 3, and as of this last weekend it appears my roll is secure in that stuff. It's a thought for if I were to seek more challenging class water.

panic strap??
Are you guys talking about the strap that goes across the middle of the skirt from one side to the other? Don’t have one on either of my skirts but never really felt I needed one–to be honest I never knew what it was for.


– Last Updated: Jun-16-08 4:43 PM EST –

It's a newer thing - my Glacier that I got for the Explorer LV isn't more than five years old, and the extra strap wasn't an option when I got it. I don't recall seeing it on any WW skirts until a couple of years ago, and thus far it's only Snapdragon and IR that I've seen it on.

It does function as a knee-off strap, though I have no personal experience with one on a fiberglass boat.

Repurposed a little…
I have a chart holder that I tether to my deck rigging and then put it under the strap to keep it handy and in front of me. Also use the Nalgene “bike” type water bottles that fit under the strap with the indent holding it in place.

I’ll have to try that knee release, never knew about that.:slight_smile: