kayak towing kayak

I was kayaking with my mom the other day. It was a very calm day, easy paddling but mom got real tired on the way back to shore.

I don’t have a throw bag. I was wondering though if that would’ve worked to tow mom’s kayak behind me.

Does anyone have suggestions or recommendations for me?

tow rope, not throw bag
You likely want a tow rope, not a throw bag.

Throw bags are most often used in white water, and the person throws them from shore as part of a rescue.

Tow ropes are used by people on flat water to tow other paddlers who need help. Tow ropes are like religions - if you ask 6 paddlers, you will get 8 ideas on what the best tow rope is. But for basic tows, any commercially available tow rope kit should work fine.

A throw bag will work, but also
any line will work.

I towed a sick older guy half way across Black Water sound, (off key Largo) in large breaking whitecaps using a throw bag rope

Jack L

Proper Tow Rope safer

– Last Updated: May-05-14 7:26 AM EST –

And practicing with it. No one is helped if you try to tow someone who needs it and you end up swimming. It can be a challenge to the stability of the paddler doing the tow if you are not used to it.

A proper tow rope, like a waist mounted bag, comes with a quick release so that you can turn it loose and some amount of flotations so the rope/bag will stay on top of the water until you can retrieve it. Lots of reasons to release it - a motor boat that appears might run between you, a capsize of the person being towed or other things that make the towing a bad idea for a moment.

You do need something to clip the rope thru on the other boat, but if you don't have deck lines there should still be a handle.

You can get fancy and install cleats on the deck of your boat and use that rather than waist mounted - but I get the impression that the level of your paddling does not normally involves drilling and sealing new holes in your boat.

But again - don't try a for-real tow until you have practiced to make sure it is safe for you to do.

Where to tie tow rope
The tow rope will need to be tied to you (the paddler)–not to your boat. There is a type of quick release knot you will need to learn. Another choice would be to get a rescue vest with the quick release belt and tow ring. One other thing to consider is the length of line. Do not attempt to tow anything too closely behind you. The tow line should be long enough for the boat being towed to be several boat lengths behind–especially in rough conditions.

NRS product

– Last Updated: May-05-14 11:37 AM EST –


Here is an example: attaches to paddler (tower) not boat, quick release, some bungee i think.

Also NorthWater…
Mine is attached to a quick release strap on a rescue vest and has served me well.

Almost anything will work in very calm conditions but that’s usually not when you need it. You will want a release if you have to attempt a rescue.


"Will work"
No doubt one can jury-rig up a lot of potential towing solutions in a pinch, but that’s beside the point. The original poster is clearly inquiring about a kayaking towing solution, and throw bags aren’t designed for kayak towing. Plain and simple.

And my answer was plain and …
simple to the OP.

If we carried all the equipment the “purists” recommend, our boats wouldn’t have room for our lunch.

jack l

My dumb suggestion is to attach the
towed kayak overlapping the towing kayak, with the overlap maybe a quarter of the length of each.

They should be harnessed together relatively firmly, but with provision for quick release. Two tie points will be required, but the tie can be combined so the quick release can free both.

If done correctly, the assemblage will be willing to track straight. The towed boat will not interfere with the lead paddler, and the towed paddler may be able to paddle a bit also, without interference.

What a rig like this does is tie the boats together so that the towed boat does not try to veer around on the end of the tow rope.

I know that this approach works well when a larger, tandem canoe tows a smaller, solo boat in calm lake conditions. However, with canoes, once the overlapping craft are tied together, the stern paddler can’t switch sides, because the bow of the towed boat is in the way.

I welcome comments from canoeists and kayakers about the known and unknown disadvantages of this method. As for towing on a loose line, there are plenty of problems, but some coordination between the towing boat and the towed boat can reduce them.

My concern was the exp. of theOP
I may be off, but the image I got was a couple of people neither of whom had any background in problem solving on the water. Personally I feel that going straight, or anywhere intended with the system you recommend, plus rigging a system ad hoc, might be harder than a regular tow line.

And I would not be surprised to hear that these were rec kayaks with no good anchor points - like static line - to start with. Having a snapped bungie hit someone in the face is not fun.

I could be wrong.

I share your concern, but wanted to get
the overlapping boat approach out for comment.

North Water Micro Tow
Some leftovers from last year to be found on eBay!

Mine worked to tow a 24’ motorboat I found adrift on the Hudson last week. Unfortunately the owner eventually showed up. Works great on for towing Mom’s or other craft back to dock.

For the Micro Tows I even know a place in Hyde Park, NY that has them. :wink:

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY



Clever and quite suitable for open water
and the limited goals you suggest.

You may know, however, that some ww kayakers are super fanatic about the risk that a spring carabiner gate would catch on something and cause disaster. Still, that could be modified. Various parts of pfds and clothing can catch on things, but seldom do. One of the oldest snag reports is about pant legss


Overlapping boats

– Last Updated: May-06-14 1:07 PM EST –

I think the idea of overlapping boats makes good sense in some ways, one of which might be achieving partial reduction in bow friction, that is, "the parting of the waters" aspect of travel resistance, and the main thing of course would be in keeping the towed boat from wandering on a tow line. Towing another loaded boat is tough work any way you look at it though, and one time when faced with a very long tow (where a friend in her solo canoe couldn't make progress against a strong headwind on a river trip), I put her in my boat with me so that the towed boat would be empty, and tried towing the empty boat in the fashion you described, except that it was only held in that overlapping position by hand. I soon figured out that her paddling power would come in handy, so we turned the boat loose on a tow line and we both paddled, with the two of us in a relatively small solo canoe (me kneeling on the seat and her kneeling immediately behind, and what little gear I had was moved up into the bow). It might seem like that method would produce no net gain, but her inability to make progress into the wind in her own boat was mainly a control-stroke problem, and with her being free to concentrate on forward power only, we were soon making really good time. The boat on the tow line wandered a bit, often attempting to track off on a diagonal in spite of the line tension counteracting that, but being empty it didn't offer much pulling resistance when doing so. What resistance it did create during those diagonal runs was more than offset by the double-paddling power of the towing boat. Naturally this example is of ZERO value to kayakers, but for two solo canoes it worked wonderfully (I might add that neither of us weigh anywhere near as much as most middle-aged folks do, so our combined weight was at least 100 pounds less than what would be the case for an average couple attempting to paddle tandem in a solo boat).