Tether for river knife?

I recently purchased a Benchmade rescue hook after researching previous discussions on this site. I like the idea of having a razor sharp blade to dispatch webbing, rope, etc. in a moment of panic. The rescue hook came with a breakaway rope tether for the sheath but once you pull out the hook it’s loose in your hand. A friend of mine uses a small cable pulley that he got at a fly fishing shop attached to a dive knife. I’m trying to accomplish the same thing.

Any ideas on how to tether the hook or knife so that it’s useable and will be retained if it comes out of your hand?


i wouldn’t suggest a tether
If my knife falls, I don’t want it attached to a line swinging around me. I would suggest making sure that you have a good sheath and possibly have a backup folding knife in the PFD pocket or a pair of EMT scissors.

The advantage of a rescue hook
That’s the exact reason I bought the rescue hook. A friend of mine pointed out that the only time you’ll be using it is when either your or your kids lives are at stake. I’m sure there’s some possibility of injury if the hook were swinging around but if I was trying to cut free I’d hate to be out of luck if it slipped loose of my grasp. I’ll accept the associated risk of a bouncing rescue hook. I’d choose a tether that would breakaway if it were to get entangled. Ideas?

Some folks use a beaded chain (dogtag chain). It’s fairly secure but will pop under moderate strain. Don’t know how it might hold up to salt water.

tethered with shock cord
I attached my rescue hook to the front strap of my PFD near my left armpit. The sheath is lashed to the jacket. There is shock cord tether from the sheath to the hook, maybe about 3 feet long.

My PFD has a side zipper on the right side, and a front pocket I’d call “handwarmer” style (side access, no zipper)that is at the top and the excess tether length stays tucked in there quite nicely.

I’ve pulled it several times to cut mostly fishing lines. I know that if I need to I can cut it loose from the jacket. The sharp surface is so protected with a hook, I had not considered it much of a hazard swinging freely.

Get a retracting tether from a dive shop
It will hold up better than the tethers Orvis sells for fly fishermen.

nice reasoning! NM

I keep my hook on a tether cord…
…that stashes in a nearby pocket on my PFD. I just coil the tether, put it in the pocket and zip it up. It stays in place just fine, but pulls right out when I need it, which has only been in practice so far.

I Don’t Know…
I have a Benchmade Rescue hook and I really don’t know what to do with it…

Right now it is in the pocket of my PFD.

It has occured to me it would be easy to lose, but not sure I want any kind of line attched to me…

I use a retractable badge reel…

– Last Updated: Apr-19-05 8:12 PM EST –

... like this...


You can get them in Kinkos and other office supply stores for a couple of bucks each.

The nylon cord and reel are strong enough to hold the knife if dropped, but will give way under a solid tug or -- presumably -- when fouled and starting to bind (don't get one with a steel line!). Also, with a bit of weight on the end, like a knife, it does not retract with wild abandon, thus risking a flailing knife.

The steel clip on the back fastens fairly securely to a pfd strap buckle or other points. I remove the vinyl strap at the end of the cord and replace it with a short loop of braided cord.

I also use them for camera, chart and radio. Yes, they corrode in salt water, but they are cheap enough to replace every year or so.

I use a “sunglass retainer” cord
I got at Wal*mart for $2 for 2. It’s like a very small shock cord. It will hold your knife if you drop it, it will stretch from 18" to 3’ and you can break it if necessary.

I seen a good idea
Use a large rubber band, when you go for the knife run your hand thru the rubber band. It keeps the knife close and can break away if needed.


Rescue Knifes
Why have a rescue knife? What will you get caught on? Rafters carry them because there’s plenty of rigging to get hung up on. Most people I’ve heard getting hung up are wearing a knive or pliers that gets hung up when the raft flips.

Good point
I keep a folder in my pfd pocket. I can open it with one hand, and it’s safely stowed (with tether) in the pocket. I cannot conceive of a situation, in which I would need access to a knife, where the 2-3 seconds I would need to get it out and open it would matter.

I can EASILY conceive a situation where a knife handle could get snared on deck lines, bungy cords, tree branches, coamings etc.

I guess folks will end up on numerous sides of this debate so it’s really personal preference. I can conceive of a situation where I get a rope around the ankle in a rapid (maybe not even from my boat) or a strainer snags the webbing on my vest or God forbid my son’s so I want immediate access. The rescue hook minimizes the opportunity for a tethered dagger and those risks I’ll take.

I followed some advice and I’ll briefly detail what I did for the benefit of others that want to exercise this option.

I have a Lotus Mildwater PFD with two front pockets, a small d-ring inside of each and a compression buckle on the front of each pocket.

I took the Benchmade Rescue Hook and it’s hard plastic sheath and attached it to the webbing that secures the pocket D-Ring inside the left pocket. I used the two outside holes on the sheath and secured it to the webbing with a healthy zip tie. I made sure the cam for the zip tie was underneath the sheath and kept the D-Ring functional by running the zip tie through the webbing but behind where the d-ring rests. VERY IMPORTANT - after cutting the zip tie I melted the sharp edge of the cut zip tie so that it was smooth. Failure to do this will absolutely result in a cut PFD and/or cut fingers. After that I took the badge retractor (Office Max) and attached it to the Hook and used the clipping mechanism to attach it to the very small loop left at the bottom of the pocket compression strap. Works sweet in the living room.

I hope I’ll never need it! The design of this system minimizes possibilty of injury from a loose knife, provides a probability of retaining the Rescue Hook should it slip out of your hand in dire circumstances, and the badge retractor would surely explode should the hook become entangled and present the danger of trapping you.

Thanks for all the input! God Bless. Dwayne

Have you actually tried…
…retrieving it, opening it and cutting something with it while underwater? With gloves on?

That’s one big advantage of a rescue hook, it’s grab, hook, cut and go. If it’s tethered, you don’t even have to worry about dropping it, since it can’t hurt you.

about the hook
Is the hook in a sheath with the handle sticking out (like a knife)? I just can’t get past the danger of having a rigid stick hanging off my pfd that could easily get snared on something.

The Irony!
Wouldn’t it be the most ironic situation if you went over towing someone and the only thing the tow line got hung up on was your knife handle or sheath!!

Bob (Benchmade H20 on PFD)

It depends
The Benchmade Rescue Hook and Model 6H2O hook both come with sheaths. After owning the former and having rust problems with it, I switched to the latter, which is made of a different stainless alloy that’s virtually rustproof. It also has a good sized handle, rather than just a finger hole. The extra length also allows you to use the back side of the tool to clear jammed skegs and such. To date, I’ve yet to have anything snag on it, either during normal paddling or rescue practice.

There are other, more general purpose rescue hooks on the market, some of which are not sheathed. They also tend to be considerably larger. While they will work, I’d rather have something compact and low profile. Also, the opening on the Benchmade hooks is small enough that you can’t get a finger into it, so it would be really difficult to cut yourself with one.