New Product: Roll assistance

A member of a local club posted his webpage for a new product he invented on our site. I thought I’d open up some discussion about it here.

I’ve never learned to roll, choosing an SOT in only up to class III whitewater because of it. Anything over III and I get into a raft or Shredder.

But this product looks pretty amazing. Maybe a bit awkward to get use to due to its size, sure. But I haven’t tried one, so I can’t say. The price is a little steep too, but I suspect he may be able to bring that down if he gets enough buyers. Anyway, take a look, post some thoughts.

FTR, I don’t personally know this guy, he’s just in my club. I’m sure I’ll be accused of marketing, but whatever. There will be enough here to bash this product, I’m sure, that marketing on the boards is never smart. I just want opinions before I consider laying down the cash myself.


Look in Discussion
Your buddy posted this product there. I’ve been the most vocal, but yes there has been some discussion.

The device appears to force one to use the paddle in such a way that is not conducive to proper rolling form.

It also appears to cause one to paddle with a more vertical stroke, which is a good thing. On the flip side, it would totally be in the way during a low brace.

It looks like it might work for a camp pillow. :o)


– Last Updated: Apr-22-12 3:09 PM EST –

I would really make a concerted effort to learn to roll without it.

I have seen a variety of "roll aid" devices and they might have value in helping an individual work out the motions and mechanics of a roll in a pool or calm water but I think they would have very limited applicability for an actual combat roll in whitewater.

I have sometimes had people tape a thin piece of minicell or some other foam to their paddle blades to give a little extra support when they almost had a roll, so they could practice on their own without having to exit after every failed roll. I have done that with a single bladed paddle when working on an open boat roll. I can tell you from experience that even a relatively thin piece of foam on the blade creates enough resistance to make it difficult to maneuver the paddle through the water, even when the water is absolutely calm.

I would be concerned that the thickness of this device would require you to set up in a bad position with your hands and wrists too far away from the hull, as well as cause way too much resistance during the sweep. For a C-to-C roll especially, I would expect the thickness of the device to make it difficult to get properly "wrapped around the boat". I am also concerned that in moving water, or if one capsizes when the boat has some speed, the device could have a tendency to pull the shaft and blade too far toward the stern, out of "the box" and putting the shoulder in a vulnerable position. All this in addition to encouraging too much reliance on the paddle for support.

I watched the entire 24+ minute video from the Nantahala River on the site and saw only 2 rolls demonstrated (by the father). One was basically executed half into an eddy at the bottom of a Class I+ rapid on the left side of the island below Patton's Run ("Isle of Dumping"). The second was in moving flat water below Delabar's Rock.

I would have been more comfortable with the use of this device in whitewater if I had seen someone go up into the bottom hole at Lesser Wesser and roll up a few times. I did see at least a half dozen times the father's back hand way behind his shoulder plane out of the "paddler's box". My concern would be the scenario in which a less experienced paddler tries to brace or roll up from this position in real whitewater. Snagging either the paddle or the float on an underwater obstruction would very likely result in a dislocation if the paddle shaft were not instantaneously released.

He’s posted it on other websites also
Free advertising, not really discussion.

Rolling aid
This thing doesn’t impress me as something that would help in the learning process. It would probably be more beneficial to get some pool time with a qualified instructor and learn how to do it properly.

Agree…instruction would be a better dollar spent

Best Wishes


A few comments …
1. Ha Ha Ha ha …

2. Does anybody find the chick with the heavy make up for a rolling session a bit … unusual.

3. I’d love to see someone paddle out through dumping surf with that …

Seriously if you want to roll …
1. buy and older whitewater boat for a couple of hundred dollars

2. Buy Eric Jackson’s video “Rolling and Bracing”

3. If you want a learning aid, put a paddle float on your paddle.

4. Find a good instructor if you can’t do it after watching EJ’s video.


3. If you want a learning aid, put a paddle float on your paddle.

Won’t sell

– Last Updated: Apr-23-12 9:35 AM EST –

Tell your buddy to save his money. It won't sell. Nobody wants to carry around a huge thing like that on a paddle. This is aimed at the same crowd that doesn't want to carry a pfd let alone a giant pillow on a paddle.

I don't like to discourage anyone with an idea but good ideas are practical.

I don’t think so.
It may work as a training tool but I can see people relying on it way too much.

This falls into that “It’s so easy, anyone can do it” category.

Not for me.

Roll avoidance…
There’s getting out of the water and doing a roll - and getting up is something that this device does seem to do. If the shoulder concerns can be managed, I can see an argument that this device can get someone down a lower class river who otherwise would be out of their boat. I don’t know that it is a very good argument, but I can see it.

But with enough floatation that is not the same thing as having a roll. For the long haul, you want a roll, and one that will get you out of a bad situation. The idea of this device helping with a roll is where I am skeptical.

This device enables common bad habits that are roll-killers, and once patterned into the body are very hard to break. Lifting the head up too early is a normal response to feeling challenged by having capsized in a difficult situation, and this float allows the paddler to get away with it time and again. Another is pulling up rather than hip snapping and having the boat’s roll bring you up, again really enabled by this float for a smaller person (like the woman in the video).

If you look around long enough, you can probably find a paddling scenario where just about any kind of floatation could be useful. People aren’t fish and have lots of ways to get into trouble on the water. But to learn rolling, this device doesn’t seem to be it.

Seems I missed something
I checked half an hour ago and there seems to have been a comment about the comment from the inventor about my comments… failed to spot it but I had mail to check. Just went back and the whole thing is gone. Likely was going to happen anyway because it was really advertising, but there may be some strong feelings here.

airbag effect
At least you won’t break your nose if you go through the surf zone and your paddle gets hit by a wave.

Could also just buy a
large pool noodle for $5 at Wallyworld, Target etc…

Just the opposite …
If a LARGE wave hits you with that thing in front of you you are likely to get knocked unconscious or suffer a bad neck injury and loose some teeth .

Fill er up…

– Last Updated: Apr-23-12 1:59 PM EST –

Fill your canoe/kayak with flotation bags, add outriggers to you canoe/kayak, keep your canoe/kayak in calm waters. I jest...........

I went to a canoe rolling class 2 times.
By the time I had 1 1/2 hours of instruction; I'd done a sloppy, though successful, full roll.
In the second 1 1/2 hour class; I was able to roll successfully on 1 out of 4 attempts & come close on every 2 out of 4 attempts.

I was unable to follow up with the remaining classes in the series when more important issues arose.
No doubt in my mine I was on my way to success.
NO gadgets; me, my canoe, and my paddle.

Get some instruction; simple as that.
Forget all those "anybody can do it" gadgets.


P.S. It's all about technique & technique requires practice. Using massive amounts of strength & force aren't necessary; in fact, they appear to be detremental.

Spend the 87.50 on rolling instruction
Nothing beats having someone stand in waste deep water and teach you. Barring some incredibly hard to roll craft or really bad flexibility, a hour or two of practice is all it takes to get the basics then LOTS more practice to bombproof it.

That was me
It wasn’t just your comments so much as the defensive nature of the inventor. I pointed out that it was going to be a hard sell to convince the skilled paddlers here that this product is worth much and that we are not, perhaps, the target demographic. I was also advised that he get the instructors who endorsed his product to put their name on it so that I knew who not to recommend.