Spectra Tow Rigs and finding materials

As one of those sad, confused kayakers who goes between ocean and whitewater, I find myself liking how some equipment works in one application and wanting to apply it to the other.

I’ve got an Astral Green Jacket, which seemed to be the best fitting and best featured model that I tried in my whitewater rescue and safety class earlier this Spring.

Since it fits really well and is super comfortable, I wear it in my sea kayak too. Same goes for my whitewater helmet…

Yesterday I took a sea kayak rescue skills class. At one point I ended up towing someone, which obviously was fairly awkward with a 6’ whitewater tow.

I really like the rig though and would like to make a longer tow, appropriate for short sea kayak tow.

Does anyone know the source of spectra tape like the stuff Astral uses for their web toe?

I know a real sea kayak tow is much longer, but in an emergency, this would be a cool thing to have as well.

Don’t know about the tape – maybe a climbing supplier? Is it the same stuff that’s used for slings?


I don’t think it’s common in bulk because it doesn’t knot well like nylon, and not many people sew their own gear.

For high-strength small-diameter marine line, there’s sailboat racing stuff;


The problem with the exotic stuff is that it doesn’t stretch, and with a waist tow any shock load goes straight into you. It’s all a tradeoff…

thank you!
I KNEW if I asked here some other creative person would have a resource for me.

Oh boy, I’m off to make a sea kayak tow rig!

Dyneema is esentially Spectra
Virtually all Spectra (Allied Signals’ trade name) has been going to the military. If you haven’t already found what you want, you can increase your odds of finding what you want by searching for “Dyneema,” essentially the same product, not made by A.S. Good luck with your project.

same jacket…
same rigging problem…went to west and got some 4mm line…has a rating to somewhere around 2000 pounds…plenty for a little short tow line. coupla knots, some hog rings and shrink wrap later and it looks downright pro-fessional like.

daisied it up and then stuffed it between the pocket and the body where the belt goes through…stays well enough…surfed all day with it in there and it didn’t get loose.

how’d you get around the lack of a reservoir? i rigged an old mti puch i had laying around on there when i got home and will try it later this week…looks like it oughta work fine but we’ll see.

Why bother with Spectra webbing?
Spectra is harder to sew securely, it doesn’t hold knots well and it’s expensive. Nylon (or polyester) webbing is way more than strong enough for a tow rig and doesn’t have these downsides. Nylon (or polyester) cord is more compact than webbing for tow rigs, it’s easier to handle, easier to knot and again, much stronger than necessary.

Good comments
Spectra/Dyneema/Vectran are all incredibly strong. And expensive. And total overkill for most SK applications.

If you are towing someone, line with 1500lb load ( 1/4 Vectran) might sound very impressive, however I am not sure you would want to be attached by the waist to something that rips you with 1500lb.

Nylon/Polyester will be adequate, will have quite a bit of stretch (no need for shock cord). Need to thank Dale Williams, formerly of SK Georgia for opening my eyes to this line of reasoning :wink:

Anyways, for WW you have totally different scope of problems. If you want to unpin anyone, or pull them out of bad place, you need all the brawn that both your gear and you can provide.

1’’ Kevlar Webbing will hold 4000lb, which is probably enough. Vectran/Spectra will work well for drags.

Of course, they are all expensive.

Oh yeah, I love to plug McMaster-Carr for purchases of this sort :wink:

i needed something that would stow as compactly as i could get it. tried the webbing but found it too bulky.

as is, i still needed to daisy the line - the vest is super comfy but there is a bit of room to tweak to personal use.

as far as the strength of the line and would you wanna be attached to something with a zillion pound rating…no, i wouldn’t BUT i’d rather be attached to anything i set a 'biner to until i decide it’s time to let go and yank the quick release but i understand your point.

Webbing will “catch sail” in
current. Seen it before. The flat side catches the current and makes towing difficult.


regular line would work and with a keeper, would stay nice and neat…

interesting idea about the reservoir - I’ve never had a PFD that had any kind of hydration system built in - but I could see piggybacking it on the back?

that spectra webbing, or dyneema
is pretty narrow stuff, 11 or 14mm

Still affected by wind, I wonder?

The stuff I saw was 1/4 inch or less.
The point is, any flat side will catch sail. I saw it catch sail and prevent the users of said tow make a critical move. Rope works fine, none forbade that that weekend.


I think many people WAY overestimate the forces involved in towing a kayak. They are in the tens of pounds, not hundreds. Considering that a typical kayaker paddles with force of less than 10 pounds per stroke, if the towing forces were huge, it would be impossible to tow anyone. Obviously, a significant safety margin is required, as knots, hog rings, abrasion, UV exposure and age all reduce the strength of tow lines, but something in the 400-500 pound range is certainly more than enough.