Rescue PFD's

I dont know paddling equiptment well and was looking at PFDs and saw one with a ring on the back of it and a quick release on the front. Could someone please tell me how to use this to tow. Thanks.

Regular PFD

– Last Updated: Apr-16-06 6:00 AM EST –

is your best bet. Less money and safer for you. Don't think about towing someone unless you have learned about the possible dangers of towing someone and have practiced it. Then you can simply add on a waist tow rope and bag with a quick release belt. Among some folks who carry tows, that the waist belt is a less stressful and more comfortable way to go anyway than a slightly higher mount on a PFD. The waist belt can also be passed off to someone else whereast a Rescue vest cannot readily (at least not on the water).


rescue vs. tow
A rescue PFD(type V)and a tow belt are not the same. Tow belts can be added to many “standard”(Type III) PFDs. Most tow belts use a simple plastic quick-release buckle.

Rescue PFDs have additional reinforcement to sustain the loads imposed during swiftwater rescue. The belt has an additional friction plate and is designed to hold the load of one or two persons in fast water. If you rig it for rescue, it may not release under normal towing loads. I bypass the friction plate if I’m using my rescue vest on flatwater.

For whitewater, a short elasticized “cow tail” is usually attached to the back ring for recovering boats. For touring, a longer towline is usually used.

other reasons and ways

– Last Updated: Apr-16-06 4:02 PM EST –

This is meant to compliment the other responses, both of which accurate and important.

A rescue PFD, for some, can be safer than a waist tow set up. Yes it is somewhat higher, and thus may be more tiring, however, the vest affords some cushioning and dispersion of load. For some, a waist tow is very constrictive, so this is an alternative. In addition, the vest quick release can be used as your separate quick tow, and the waist your long tow.

A separate issue is the practicality of longer towing situations using either waist or rescue pfd. Reasonable and advanced paddlers have diffiering opinions on this matter, but a well though out deck towing system, one that is a one hand, one step pulll, line out the bag, and hook up system, can be LESS tiring to use than a waist tow system. Not for everyone, and nto for all boats, but a number of folks utilize this method of towing for long distance operations.

Bottom line, practice this in successively bigger conditions in the safety of skilled folks and develop what works best for you and your boat and the situations you wish to take yourself and others into.

For me, I like the lower center…
of gravity a deck or waist tow affords. My back deck is usually clean, too, so I don’t have many snags.

When capsizing and releasing the quick release buckle, vest mounted systems were hard, if not impossible to get off my body and away from me. YMMV.

My suggestion to those learning towing is to find a useful and versatile system made of quality materials suitable for the marine environment and take a clinic from a good instructor focusing on towing.