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PostPosted: June 3rd, 2021, 1:20 pm 
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Hi All,

I'll be taking a WW course this summer followed directly by my first WW trip. I'm starting to get gear together and am wondering what I should be looking for in a throw bag in terms of specs (length? thickness? break strength in case of a pin?) and/or if you have recommendations for particular bags.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!


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PostPosted: June 3rd, 2021, 10:04 pm 
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I almost exclusively use Outdoor Research for throw bags. A few years back I stumbled on a factory 80% off sale and bough a thousand bucks' worth. I still have bags of theirs I bought 25 years ago.

Length, thickness, strength - that all depends on what it will hold. You want your sleeping bag bag to be somewhat more secure and waterproof than your unmentionables bag, and that one to be somewhat more secure and waterproof than your toothbrush bag...

They generally come in two kinds - the cinch shut kind, and the roll top closure kind, the latter being far more waterproof than the former. The roll top bags though, need to be somewhat full to be effective, but the cinch tops are still functional at ¼ full.

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PostPosted: June 3rd, 2021, 10:19 pm 
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Hi bigcat19, I'm no authority on throw bags, but I've used them for years, and I'll tell you what I think I know, that might possibly be useful to you. I trust if I am incorrect or lacking in any information that I throw your way (pun, get it? Pandemic fever) more experienced members will chime in. So, my dos centavos:
- For boat to boat throwing, as in someone in an eddy after a drop, watching someone following on behind them, go for a standard 15m polypro bag in 3/8" dia. Anything longer or stronger is wasted in trying to throw far, or accurately from your boat.

-Longer lines are more easily thrown from shore. Many longer lines in the 65 to 100 foot lengths are very thin, as in 1/4" or smaller. They are difficult to work with in comparison to larger diameter ropes, but they can be thrown surprisingly long distances with accuracy, with practice.

- If you want your throw bag(s) to do double-duty, and be as useful as possible in freeing a pinned canoe via a Z drag or other mechanical advantage system, then for sure you want cordage with an inner core of Deenema (Spectra is a name brand of a specific deenema cordage), and a floating polypro sleeve around it in a bright colour. This is what commercially available Spectra throw bags have (Northwater, Level 6, Salamander, etc.) They are expensive ropes, they don't re-coil as easily as straight polypro rope does, they are usually thin and not all that hand-friendly, but they are as strong as it gets.

- Some people use Spectra for making their painters, and with the painters on each end of their canoes, they clip in a longish Spectra throw bag for doing rodeo self-rescue, where if you dump your boat, as quick as you can you grab lines from one or the other end of your boat and get to shore and anchor it off, so that the boat will pendulum into shore shortly after you get there.

- Bulk Deenama/Spectra can be purchased by the foot, or in pre-cut lengths, from various sources online.

- At present (early June 2021) neither Amazon, nor Amazon.ca have any throw bags in stock, however they are available from various smaller independent distributors or the manufacturers themselves (Level 6).

- When I did a Swiftwater Rescue course on the Panther River in western Alberta in the foothills, all we used were standard 15m polypro throw bags both from boats and from shore.

And, I can't think of much else that I can tell you about throw bags, other than to keep one handy.
Cheers.

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PostPosted: June 3rd, 2021, 10:22 pm 
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PacketFiend, the OP is talking about throw bags, which are mandatorily carried safety devices containing a piece of floating rope, to be thrown to people in the water in rescue situations.

You are talking about Dry bags, meant to keep kit and equipment dry.

Wow.

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PostPosted: June 3rd, 2021, 10:27 pm 
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If I were to only take one throw bag it would be a bigger sized Northwater of some variety with the 1/4” spectra x rope. I wanna stuff as much rope in the bag as possible. If I need more than 2100lbs my solo composite boat is probably write off anyways.


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PostPosted: June 3rd, 2021, 11:42 pm 
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guyfawkes041 wrote:
PacketFiend, the OP is talking about throw bags, which are mandatorily carried safety devices containing a piece of floating rope, to be thrown to people in the water in rescue situations.

You are talking about Dry bags, meant to keep kit and equipment dry.

Wow.


Oops :oops: I call dry bags "throw bags" as well. Last year was mostly flat water. This year too.

I've only done class II with the odd easy CII tech. I really have nothing to add about throw bags. I'm also a bit of a cheap b**stard who just stuffs a bunch of floating rope into a bag with a tennis ball.

No need to get snippy over a simple misunderstanding, though.

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PostPosted: June 4th, 2021, 9:52 am 
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Just back from a rescue course at MKC last weekend. Highly recommend a rescue course to become more comfortable and safe in and around the river. It's also great fun, and most of my bruises have disappeared already ;-p

On the course, we used mainly 3/8" (or maybe 5/16"?) spectra in northwater throwbags. There were some polypropylene ropes kicking around, but they were a little bit tanglier (in my not-very-experienced opinion). Mostly 75' ropes, with a few 60' ones. 60' of rope disappears fast.

Our setup is 2 x 75' northwater bags with spectra (A, I think - it's a little more flexible... and cheaper!). One in 1/4", one in 3/8". 1/4" easier to throw (as mentioned above), 3/8" easier to handle for tethered swims, mechanical advantage etc. (but both work fine). Northwater sells a nifty quick release belt to keep the rope on your person (don't notice it at all) and easily accessible. Ideally, everyone carries a rope and a sling and a few carabiners.

Throwing ropes well (especially a coil throw after you've missed with the bag) is not easy, so I can see we'll be spending asome evenings at the local park dialing it in.

Hope that helps!


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PostPosted: June 4th, 2021, 10:15 am 
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I've commented on this before, but I'll mention it again: I wish the industry would help educate us by differentiating in its labelling and marketing "throw bags" from "rescue bags". Good for you for asking.

As mentioned there is a safety requirement to carry some floating rope, and lots of people carry a pretty minimal (thin) poly throw rope. This is not the same rope or for the same purpose as what you might need to use a Z-drag to recover a pinned boat (or in other more serious scenarios).

In a pre-trip safety meeting a trip leader might ask "who has a rope?", and if everyone who has a dinky throw rope puts up their hand, the group may have less rescue capacity than it thinks. We need to be more specific about who's carry a thin poly throw vs. who's carry a thicker Spectra rescue rope.

I have a throw rope I can wear on my waist, but I don't count it as a rescue rope, I carry a rescue bag in addition to a throw rope.

I'm no expert on specs for thicknesses, strength or material either, but in practice the big difference between a rescue bag and a throw bag is that the rope in a rescue bag is not stretchy.

My bags tend to be North Water (because they were local in Vancouver and always supported our paddling events, good people), but most brands (I also have a Level 6 I really like) make good products.

P.

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PostPosted: June 4th, 2021, 10:18 am 
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If possible, don't buy your bag until after your course, and you can ask & observe there.

If you're thinking about a pin kit, you should also pay attention to knots, slings, carabiners and pulleys.

Take advantage of the course/instructor to ask all your questions while the products are in-hand!

P.

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PostPosted: June 4th, 2021, 11:05 am 
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I have seen quite a few paddlers with those rink dinky CTC throw bag kit. I guess they meet the min safety reqmnt but, as I see it, it's never a good idea to cheap out on safety eqpt.

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PostPosted: June 4th, 2021, 11:20 am 
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That was the best two cents worth of throw bag perspective I have read. I’ll add a couple cents of my own.

I paddle whitewater infrequently at most, and have only needed a throw bag a few times. And, luckily (and future preventable), only needed a throw bag once when I didn’t have one.

ImageEK_0009 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I was not even paddling that day, just playing Master of Ceremonies at a Canoe Orienteering event. Those folks went over 30 feet from shore as I watched, and a throw bag at the landing would have made the recover a lot easier.

So I now carry a backup bag in the truck 24/7/365. Spare PFD, spare throw bag, change of clothes. That backup bag accomplishes a couple things. I always have dry clothing. People have forgotten their PFD, I have a spare. I’m around the local rivers a lot, and if I see someone in trouble I have some equipment to assist. Even in winter, if someone went through the ice, a throw bag might be helpful. I hope never to test that theory.

But a throw bag is carried for to assist other folks in need; you can’t throw a rescue line to yourself. I want my companions to have a throw bag to save my ass, and they can borrow that truck spare if need be.

About rope diameters, lengths and strengths – what Guyfawkes said. In a WW or moving water situation 3/8” diameter rope is a lot easier to hold onto than ¼” stuff.

My ancient NRS river rescue bag has 75’ of 3/8” line. The size of a loaf of rye, 2lb, 4oz

https://www.nrs.com/product/1825/nrs-st ... -throw-bag

That bag has close to 20 years on it, and of course there are now pricier “Pro” versions with better rope. Still, there is no way in hell I can throw that bag 75’ with any accuracy. Without some adrenaline I doubt I can throw it 75’ in any guise, and I have a good arm.

The one in the truck was originally a compact rescue bag, 70’ of ¼” line, essentially a kayak rescue bag, 70’ of ¼” line, 1.2lbs, the size of a large potato.

https://www.nrs.com/product/1822/nrs-co ... -throw-bag

I found I could get a lot closer to full rope length throwing that compact bag, and my accuracy at distance is better. I swapped it out of the truck for a DIY’ed bag with 50’ of 3/8” line.

I like the compact/kayak version for “flatwater” paddling, where a pinned boat or WW swimmer scenario is unlikely, and it is less than half the size of the 3/8” rescue bag, and so easier to always bring along. Always as in as routine as wearing a PFD; I strap that little bag to a thwart even on solo trips, just so it is an always thing.

But that ¼” line would be uncomfortable to grasp in a swiftwater rescue, and I might not trust the tensile strength to unpin a canoe. Like canoe choices, compromises, pluses, and minuses.

Bigcat, the WW course you take may have throw rope demo and practice, hopefully including first throw, second throw with no rope in the bag and - kind of like the consequences of a poorly packed parachute – how to properly re-stuff the rope in the bag so that it plays out freely, easily and unsnarled.

Heaving a throw bag with accuracy is an acquired skill. It helps to practice on your own. Got a stretch of moving water nearby where a momentarily thrown rope won’t present a hazard? Throw a stick in upriver, and try to lay the rope on target before it passes by.

Just like practicing in-water canoe recoveries that was a fun family exercise, we even did some easy “live-bait” practice in swimming weather for some weight on the line. Those are the people with whom I paddle most often, so. . . . .

Try it again with an empty throw bag; you can dunk the bag in the river to add some throw weight. Try loosely “coiling” some of the line around your throwing hand and heaving that at the same time as the bag as a second throw. Practice whatever works best for you.

Try re-stuffing it and throwing it again, not so much for a speedily packed second throw as to verify that your re-stuffing technique plays out snarl free. Over the (will get wet) shoulder, pushed loosely into the bag a foot at a time.

A few of the times I have needed a throw bag I awarded myself a Gold Star for accuracy. Laid the line perfectly; that is really good feeling.

guyfawkes041 wrote:
Bulk Deenama/Spectra can be purchased by the foot, or in pre-cut lengths, from various sources online.

- At present (early June 2021) neither Amazon, nor Amazon.ca have any throw bags in stock, however they are available from various smaller independent distributors or the manufacturers themselves (Level 6).


Everyone in my family paddles, so four solo boats = four throw bags. Some are store bought, some DIY’ed from (quality, bright colored, floating) rope, a small ditty bag with a grommet punched in the bottom and a webbing strap/side release buckle around the cinch top, so I can clip it instantly accessible around a thwart.

There is a little foam circle of minicel at the bottom of our store bought throw bags, and I copied that feature as well. Not just to float the bag high and visible, it helps keep water in the bag for a second throw.

I’d still buy a quality throw bag first if available, use it, and then copy the features, including the loop size and knots at either end, with some possible variations; different diameter rope, less length, etc, before DIYing one.

That was more than two cents, even at the exchange rate.

Eh, another penny. If (when) you use a throw bag unpack the line when you get home so it, and the stuff bag, can dry out draped back and forth over a line.

Is that necessary? I dunno; I wouldn’t pack a tent or tarp away wet, or any of my other quality rope or line. If I’m paying a buck or more a foot it’s worth rope maintenance.


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PostPosted: June 4th, 2021, 12:24 pm 
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Holy moly, thanks for all the tips! It really helps me narrow it down to what I'm looking for.

@PacketFiend: No worries, thanks all the same! (I did for a moment odd that you had stocked up on a lifetime supply of rescue bags and then I clued in what you were referring to.) But useful info, all same! I've been using contractor bags inside my pack to keep my stuff dry. Could probably stand an upgrade at some point. haha

@guyfawkes & @Milke McCrea: thanks so much for the rundown. So based on this and other comments, for a bag that will function in both a human and pinned boat rescue situation, it seems that I'd be well served with 75' of 3/8" Dyneema rope. Based on that, some of the other recommendations in this thread, and needing a site that ships from Canada to avoid customs hangups for next month's trip, it seems like this would be a good bet? https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5041-664/ ... 22-SpectrA
(But if anyone has come across a deal on something with similar specs, please let me know!)

@yarnellboat, @celatoblatta, @Mike McCrea: good tips about practice. No doubt that'll be in the course as the instructor told us we gotta have one. I won't have the chance to learn and then go buy as I'm going directly from the course to the trip due to vacation and scheduling constraints, yada yada. But we have built in one extra day to practice what we learned in the two-day course. After that, we'll hopefully have a decent idea of what's in our comfort zone and what's not. When it's "what's not," we'll portage. The river is the Chochocouane, mostly CI & II, and the instructor knows the river and is tailoring it with this trip in mind. Currently I am sporting the $20 Canadian Tire Fox 40 orange rescue bucket for lake tripping so time to upgrade for WW.

I'll figure out the pin kit stuff from another really good thread that was in here and will ask further questions in there if needed. I'll make sure the instructor walks us through all this stuff and will forward this thread to my buddy in the other boat who will also be shopping for a throw bag.

Thanks again!


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PostPosted: June 4th, 2021, 2:42 pm 
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bigcat19 wrote:
So based on this and other comments, for a bag that will function in both a human and pinned boat rescue situation, it seems that I'd be well served with 75' of 3/8" Dyneema rope. Based on that, some of the other recommendations in this thread, and needing a site that ships from Canada to avoid customs hangups for next month's trip, it seems like this would be a good bet?
https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5041-664/ ... 22-SpectrA


Northwater make well designed and well constructed gear, I doubt you will go wrong there. The teardrop-ish shape is an improvement over a slab sided |_| cylinder for playing out line and easier re-stuffing.

Eventually you may want to buy, or DIY, a second bag for different purposes or loaner use.

If your WW course includes a Z-drag or other pin extraction demo, with an actual pinned victim boat, you may think about carrying that kind of “kit”. That is probably different instruction/class; if you don’t know what you are doing unpinning a canoe, worst case scenario a canoe with ‘wales facing upstream and wrapped, eh, you may do more harm than good.

The local canoe clubs once held Rescue Classes; I provided a couple of the too-beat-to-repair “victim” canoes that they pinned, and it was a worthwhile and educational day. Not just for boat recovery, they laid an artificial strainer log at water level and had us experience “swimming” into and over/onto it.

I have only unpinned one canoe, a loaner boat of mine stuffed deep, fully out of sight in a strainer pile by an “Oh Shit!” surprised friend. When it came free of the current’s hold it shot out like a submarine missile launch. Damn near knocked me off the bank. Never did do that in practice.

There are some rollover tricks to freeing canoes from a pin, and taking a dedicated rescue class was worth the time. I have a few friends who seriously know their shit in that regard, and happily step aside and let them direct.


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PostPosted: June 4th, 2021, 8:25 pm 
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When I did my whitewater rescue training we practiced throwing the bag many many times, both across a swimming pool to a partner, and then at a cascading whitewater training facility. 3/8 inch, 75 feet of floating line. The worst part was restuffing the rope into the bag. I detest that opeation with a passion. You don't have to stuff for a rethrow, but if you start fresh, or at the end of the exercise, stuff away.


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PostPosted: June 11th, 2021, 3:09 pm 
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Yes, that North Water product (North Water Pro Throw Line 3/8" SpectrA) you mentioned is an appropriate upgrade.

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