Packing Throw Bags?

Is there anything I need to know to pack a throw bag or do you just stuff it all in there?

When you get home, do you unpack it to dry the line?

throw rope bags
Just stuff it back in a little at a time. Sometimes it is easier to turn your back on the rope and let it trail overt the top of your shoulder as you re-stuff it. And it may be quicker if you leave your hand inside the bag as you re-stuff the rope, at least till the bag gets too full for your hand.

I usually do take the rope out to dry it after it gets wet, unless I forget to do so.

Here’s a video from NRS

It can make a difference how far you can throw it, depending on how you stuff it.

Speedloader LiquidLogic

– Last Updated: Dec-04-12 7:54 PM EST –

There are various "openings" allowing for
easier re-packing of the bags.

Speedloader LiquidLogic

I always attempt to dry out the line
before storing it away for a few days.

Throwbags take some practice to properly
judge distances, current, timing, etc.

All you need to know is in this video
Think about it like packing a parachute. Practice it, get it right, and remember that someone’s life may be at issue.

…OK, it loads way easy, very cool; but to suggest that you can reload for a second throw is, well, stupid IMO. Basic swift water SAR teaches to pull the bag in as quick as possible after a miss, scoop the bag full of water and throw again. Even with the rope strewn all over a bag even half full throws better/further than the first deployment. If someone needs a rope they need it without delay.


IMO its not stupid
We deployed some six throw bags in a canyon on the Snake River. Fortunately we had six throw bags. We were some twenty feet above the river on canyon walls. No way to reach the river to scoop water up.

The video states you can scoop water up too so it is offering an alternative way to do a second throw.

Perhaps if we were better aimers we would not have had to use six throw bags…but so it goes. At least four people were happy to be out of that Arctic glacialmelt river.

different view…
…a handfull of gravel would do the same W/O taking time to re-pack…just plain gimmicky,(to the point of dis-service), to state things that way IMHO; why not just stand on the fact that it packs easily and who knows, maybe it deploys better with that large opening.

My friend has one

– Last Updated: Dec-05-12 5:42 PM EST –

of the L.L. Speedloader bags. It surely can be restuffed much more quickly.

We used his bag along with a bunch of others to practice rope throws at an annual whitewater class our small club had this spring. The L.L. bag seemed to me to deploy the same (no better and no worse) than the others.

When you have multiple paddlers queued up to run a rapid, being able to restuff the bag quickly after reeling in a swimmer so as to be ready for the next paddler's run can surely be convenient.

I would not suggest putting rocks or gravel in your throw bag. The last thing you want is for your bag to sink to the bottom.

Opinion is divided, but I usually don't put loops or knots in the end of the free line of a throw bag as shown in the NRS video. There will be times when you have to let go off your throw bag rope, to avoid clothes-lining a paddler coming downstream for example. Throwbags which are loose in the river usually move downstream bag first trailing the rope. A knot in the free end of the rope trailing upstream might well jam in a rock crevice and hang the bag up in a relatively inaccessible spot. This isn't just theoretical; I have seen it happen.

As others have stated, you pack them in a few inches at a time so the rope will play out smoothly and without tying itself in knots.

It is good practice to let your rope dry out after a trip so it doesn’t mildew or deteriorate. A dry, but shady spot is best (limit the UV exposure if you leave it out for a week at a time).

Second throws are always a little more tricky, but with a little practice, you will find something that works. I like making two coils and throwing half the rope.

If you put water in it, you don’t need much, a cup or two is probably plenty. If you hit someone with a half gallon bag of water (or even worse, a bag of gravel) it could hurt or knock them out.

On the river, try to pack you rope while standing in an eddy or a place that doesn’t drag your rope through a bunch of dirt and sand.

A rescuer letting go of a rope should be a pretty rare event, so the knot or loop in the end is a fairly small risk of causing a problem. Can it snag, sure, but it can probably be recovered too even if it does.


re drying the bag
I keep my throw-bag on deck so even if I never use it or never overturn, the bag is presumed to have gotten wet via splashing or use.

After every trip, I unload the bag, rinse it well in my shower, then drape it to dry.

Then I carefully reload it for the next trip.

Before leaving for a trip, all gear is
checked. The size of rope taken on a trip will depend on the river we’ll be paddling.

For smaller diameter rope, I tend to pack it with a chain loop and it comes apart very easily when thrown. On a heavier rope, it goes in as most, a bit at a time. Your ropes can also be used to tie up along the shoreline.

I throw overhand and for the second throw, I wrap a bit of rope around the bag and toss. Time is essential.

Practice throwing the bags almost as much as you do reentries and you’ll be more ready, should it be needed. You may never need your rescue skills, but better to have and not use than to need and not know how. I’ve had occasion to use the bags twice plus my Gerber River knife once. ALL equipment is dried fully before storing for the next outing.

Better to be safe than sorry.

Paddle on and enjoy your outings.

Throw bag evolution
I sold Charlie Walbridge’s bags in retail back in the late 70s. His design used a longer bag which left LOTS of room for what I call Ratchet Stuffing. Many bags on the market now are short, which makes them look good on the retailer’s shelf and makes them non-floppy on deck or in a watercraft. But the Wildwater Designs bags were much faster to stuff IMO.


throw bags

– Last Updated: Dec-13-12 1:02 PM EST –

I was attempting a rescue on a friend's boat once with a line that was coiled and stuffed in the bag. I never want to repeat that experience. People have it right. Lay the line in there in lengths.

Yes Jim
I still have one of those Wildwater Designs bags and they were indeed easier to stuff. Not only that, because the rope was not stuffed in as tightly, it seemed to pay out more smoothly and with less friction.

I assume that by “ratchet stuffing” you mean starting out with your hand inside the bag and quickly moving it up and down like a piston loading small “knuckles” of rope into the bag without taking your hand completely out?

That is how I usually try to stuff a bag if the bag is big enough.

If you can’t find a bag like that and you are fairly good with a sewing machine you can make your own bag pretty easily. You need a circular disc of some type of foam the size of the bag bottom, and a couple of stainless steel or nylon washers with a hole big enough for the rope to go through, some 1" nylon webbing (or polypro or polyester webbing), some nylon accessory cord for a drawstring, and a plastic spring-loaded cord lock. You can make the bag any size you want so long as it accommodates the length of cord you want to pack (I recommend 70 to 80 feet).

If one has basic sewing skills it
shouldn’t be too difficult to remove either remove the bottom (I’ve not looked at how it’s designed yet), add some more material, connect the rope to it, sew your seams and you’re set to refill.

Open arm sewing machines are just the ticket to do this type of project.

I think I’ll try that on my shorter rope.

My old Wildwater Designs bags had
enough exttra volume and depth that I could get my large hand partway inside where I could reload by flexing and extending my wrist. My WD bag with Kevlar line cut the line because the brass grommet at the bottom of the bag was sharp-edged. With any grommetted bag, check that detail.

I had a “Perception” bag with 60’ if nice line, but the bag was so compact that it was hard to reload. I cut the end of an old Nylon paddle jacket sleeve and sewed the cut end as an extension to the top of the throw bag. With that, I could get my hand in, reload quickly, and then compress the rope and sleeve into the bag.

When I was a c-1 and kayak paddler, a compact bag was important. In OC-1 a larger bag package is tolerable.