I'm missing something, apparently

I paddle mostly quiet lakes and rivers - no whitewater, so I haven’t had any experience with throw bags. Why are they so expensive? Aren’t they just good floating rope in a bag? Can I not make my own?

That’s what my scout trop did back in the day. We bought polypro rope, a bunch of nylon stuff sacks, and went to town. Cheaper that way, for sure.

But our ropes were not the best. Spectra rope (which, unlike polypro rope) does not stretch, so it is a bit better for prying boats (and sometimes people) off of rocks. That is a bit more expensive. Also, some bags have integrated flotation foam, which is a nice feature.

Most people don’t have the patience or know how to go ahead and do it, so you pay not only for the materials and someone’s time to make one, but also the convenience of not spending your own time to do it.

But if you want to make you’re own it is pretty easy.



– Last Updated: Feb-14-07 5:10 PM EST –

if you go to the sporting goods store and get a quick-release rifle cartridge belt ($5-$10) and a stainless marine grade carabiner from the marine store (OK, probably $10-$15), and attach the throwbag to it by the grab loop, and attach the carabiner to the end of the rope, you now have a towing rig, too!

You can also substitute high-strength flat webbing for the rope, ala Nigel Foster, if you like. Takes up less space, and if you're not paddling whitewater, every bit as functional.

DIY gear can be just as good as store bought, and customized to your usage.


The Spectra ropes I have uses stretch.
This does not make them unuseable for prying loose pinned boats. But Spectra does stretch somewhat. The typical Spectra rope in a throw bag is not at all like the static (low stretch) ropes used for some climbing applications.

If you’re not in a hurry
Haunt online stores like Sierra Trading post. I got a nice basic throw rope for $16 or $18

Many Discount Sporting goods stores
carry a 50’ polypro throw bag that sells for about $10-$15 (I have seen them at Big 5, Dick’s and Academy). They come in a nice orange cloth bag and work just fine, provided you do not need to continually use and reload them. I would not recomend them for WW use but for emergency use on a flatwater boat they would be fine.

Got one of each homemade & storebought
home made bag.

Blue and white striped 1/2 poly line–this is the stuff they make swimming pool lane markers out of, 100 feet at your h/w store for about $12. I cut mine at 70’, which turns out to be as far as I can throw rope. Forget that 1/4 line like ww kayakers carry in a little beltbag and put in the bag a piece of rope somebody can actually grip. Sunny’s Surplus sells a variety of nylon bags and I think mine cost about $3. Sew one end of the rope into the bag and put a small bowline in the other end. While not considered high quality, this rope has rescued a kayaker out of the Lehigh and pulled a tandem canoe and two chilly paddlers out of the 43-degree Transquaking. They did not complain about the rope quality.

Real paddling throw bag.

This one I picked up from the CCA rummage sale for something like $7. The rope is stalkier and higher quality, also about 70’. There is a styrofoam disc attached along with the rope to the bottom of the bag. This bag has better rope, the bag seems of better quality, is overall larger in size, and I haven’t ever used it to fish anybody out.

~~Chip Walsh, Gambrills, MD

I knew I could count on y’all to give me the straight scoop. I might try to make my own using your suggestions. It’s been a while since my husband has had to tow me, but it might happen again.

In some areas homemade throw bags
won’t be accepted when a throw bag is required so you might have a problem meeting the local paddling requirements. I guess the authorities feel it’s like making your own PFD.

river junkies website
has info on how to make one (professional-like) http://riverjunkies.net/HowTo/ThrowBag.pdf

and other things to make too


one of the main things about spectra
fibers is that they do not stretch…

when you first use any spectra fiber you might get a bit of elongation due to the braid of the fibers tightening…but that is not stretch…and once it has been tightened it will not stretch…if it does stretch then it is not spectra…

I bought a nice ine on Ebay from
a seller called skatercharlie cost me about $25 with shipping. I think he still has some.

rope color
My experience in a couple of swiftwater rescue classes was that yellow rope was easier to see in whitewater than red, blue, or white. If you have a choice, go for yellow. If not, anything’s better than nothing.

yaknot - Question for you?
I’ve never been to an area where any kind of throwbag was required equipment. What areas have you been to where the authorities require anything other than a pfd for a paddlecraft?

Throwline is required as well as PFD. Unless the law has changed since the last time I paddled there.

Not an actual throwbag, no.
To satisfy our legal requirements, a 50-foot buoyant heaving line will do. You can buy these at WalMart or Crappy Tire for about 8 bucks. Obviously, this will be nowhere near as functional as a good waist-mounted system.