Towing System - Rope or Webbing?

Hi all,

I need to buy a new tow system for Sea Kayaking. (Not WW)

I’ve always used rope based systems (in a waist mounted QR belt), but am now seeing “webbing” (nylon strap) based systems…

Just wondering… has anyone used webbing and/or rope, and can you provide insight on benefits/disadvantages, one way or the other?

Thanks, and Happy Birthday USA!!! :slight_smile:

More drag with webbing
There’s much more drag with a webbing tow from winds and currents.

I have a short one (about 10’) for a quick tow from a rescue vest, but almost never use it anymore. I prefer my Expeditions Essentials that I keep daisy chained so I have an immediate short tow of about 10 feet that can easily be lengthened on the fly to 39 feet.

webbed short tow…
was teaching a class this past weekend and the fella doing a assisted tow had a vest mounted northwater QE sea link that he was trying to use to tow us in 2+ foot swell. he had about 10 feet of webbing…anyway, too short for a tow in even those very small conditions and about the same time i was telling him it wasn’t a very good tool, it broke anyway.

was not impressed.

and palm god bless them sells something that uses thin webbing and has a PLASTIC 'biner. even less impressive.

We went with rope…
The Salamander Keel Hauler Pro…

I’m real happy with the decision… Thanks.

Webbing doesn’t make sense…
…for anything longer than a contact tow. It’s bulkier that rope - especially when it gets twisted - and it’s MUCH stronger than necessary. Add in the extra drag, difficulty in tying knots in it quickly (for shortening it) and I just can’t see any point in it. Tow rigs need to be simple and fast to deploy and stow. Anything that is difficult to manage, adds unnecessary complexity and/or slows you down is a liability.

webbing like this?

or webbing like this?

The latter…
I was briefly considering the 2nd one…

A friend has one and really likes it, but I went with the Salamander Keel Hauler Pro…

I had to use it the day after I bought it, and was glad I got it…

Note: Some say the Salamander bags are hard to stow… I disagree. It took me just seconds to flake the line and less than 2 seconds to shove it in the bag.

I’ve watched tows fail in
current because of the excess drag.


Was it the long line or the short line
that took just seconds? I have the same bag and no longer use it because it’s a real pain to work with. Much prefer the Expedition Essentials or the Northwater Sea Tec upgraded one.

As Brian Nystrom said. Simpler is better.

I would love to see someone…
…try to stow that Extrasport rig in a hurry in rough seas. What a joke! With the webbing coiled like that, it’s guaranteed to end up being a twisted mess once deployed, making it impossible to stuff it into that change-purse sized bag.

I’m surprised to see such a ridiculous product from a company with Extrasport’s reputation, as it looks like it was designed by someone who doesn’t paddle, or at least doesn’t paddle in anything other than flat ponds. Maybe it’s intended to be disposable? Rather than trying to stuff all that webbing in the tiny bag, you just jettison the mess and paddle on. :wink:

Hmmm. Maybe that’s why it’s on REI’s “outlet” (clearance) site…

dangers of the two rope system
and as for the long and short tow in the same system nice idea but bad news in rough conditions unless you really understand it which I’m not even sure the manufacturer does.

Even a situation which needs a long tow (big swell etc) it is usually better to star with a short tow so the towed kayak(s) doesnt broach as the system is tensioned or to get away from an imediate danger and then create a safe distance between tow-er and towed. With the 2 rope system you need to go back and switch, hazard #1 = close to another kayak in rough conditions, hazard #2 = time wasted drifting back to danger area and increased potential for capsize etc. and then you have hazard #3 = loose line in the water (there is a way around this but it relies on the long line being able to pull the short back through the bag which the system is not always set up to do).

Long line daisey chained with a quick release for the daisy chain at the belt end solves these problems.

Get the expedition essentials or in my mind better the north water that it copied (you will probably modify either of these but they are the best place to start) or make your own.

can’t beat the price

Hey that’s my tow system!
I use the short North Water tow system that you’re describing. I’ve never had problems with it in current or waves.

Maybe you all aren’t paddling fast enough :wink:

it was designed by Nigel Foster
it would be interesting to chat with him about why he choose that particular setup.

Free is too much.

It was the long line…
I coiled around the forearm, folded in half, and it went right in…

And came out easy for drying later in the day…

I had reservations about it, but it seemed okay.

RE: The Extrasport design
Maybe all of the good designs were taken.