Recommendations for a good Contact Tow Line? (not a tow belt)

Already have a quality tow belt. Can anyone recommend a good quality ready Contact Tow Line? If I can’t find one, I’ll make one, but trying to save some time if there’s a good off-the-shelf one.

Well, if you end up wanting to make one, it is pretty easy. I followed the instructions on this video:

Video: How to Build a Sea Kayak Contact Tow Line - Paddling Magazine

but modified it by using eye splices in double braid, using this video:

splicing double briad - Google Search

I have been very happy with the results:


That looks professionally manufactured. Nice job!

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For some other ideas review this thread:

Polypropylene rope tow line specs - Advice -

As mentioned in that thread, I made some and tied them with a quick release knot, so if needed I can release the tow line without having to unclip it. I did exchange the clips for a larger size, as someone suggested.

Thanks for the suggestions everyone - look forward to reviewing them later today and over the weekend.

Just wanted to say I don’t see this as a choice between Tow Belt and Deck Contact Tow Line. Both have their place in our quivers.

What do you see as best use cases for Deck Contact Tow Lines? And what disadvantages do you think they have (someone mentioned it in the other discussion linked here)?

I made mine adjustable. You want marine grade 316 Stainless clips.


Personally I would not take any boat under tow with a line attached to my craft that was not connected with some type of quick release mechanism on my boat that could be disconnected with the line under tension.

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The three most common use cases are:

  • When you need to get someone out of a bad situation right now and don’t have time to mess around with a long tow.

  • Towing an injured paddler who needs your boat for support, for a short distance

  • Retrieving a lost boat and pulling it out of danger or back to the paddler

The key is that a contact tow is only temporary, for a short distance to get clear of danger. For longer-distance towing, you switch to a long tow and add support paddlers if necessary. That’s one reason that paddling in threes or larger groups is recommended.


I have mostly use mine to stabilize my kayak at the dock since I have to sit on the combIng to get my legs out. The one time I did a short tow I just used a short section on rope I keep on deck. One can quickly tie a slip knot in one end of the line if a quick released is considered necessary.

You could also mount a nylon jam cleat on the deck of your kayak at a convenient location and use a floating rope of appropriate diameter as a tow rope with nothing attached to one end. That would allow infinite length adjustment and immediate release of the line with a tug.

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I tend to keep a shorter line for a contact tow on my front deck. Not far ahead of the grab loop. Length twice the width of the boat and clipped into the deck rigging. I mostly use it to move something simple, like if l need to move a boat, or to secure a boat to a dock where l may have stopped for lunch. If l need more length for those purposes l use the tow belt.

I tend to think that another rope is always good to have on a boat, as long as it is properly secured.


You also would use it as #3 in an assisted rescue to keep the rescuer and rescuer from drifting into danger…breaking waves for example. For example hook onto the 'er boat and back away holding them off.

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We made ours pretty much the same as GregofDelaware did except that we just used polyester dock line.

Since no one has yet suggested a vendor, I got curious and checked North Water’s site. They have a contact tow, and it can be made at a custom length:

Contact Tow – North Water

Looks and sounds just like how the contact tow is made in the video I posted.



@GregofDelaware beat me to it. I even know a physical store that has them in stock and can ship them day. :grin:

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Made a few of these.

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Well I never thought of that, I made the boat. Why wouldn’t I make the contact tow line?

Well, I agree, however, the OP was asking for a vendor more than how to fabricate.

A contact tow is so basic that it makes sense just to make one to the specifications that you want.

Whetman makes a fancy contact tow.

Capital City Kayak is a US vendor for Whetman products.

Here is the infomercial: