If you’re like me when it comes to gear maintenance, the bag of rope that sits in the bottom of my kayak all day isn’t always at the top of my list of priorities. I use my throw bag every once in a while on the river, but it doesn’t happen often. As a result, this vital piece of safety equipment gets neglected. Before I started doing this little “ritual,” my throw bag almost always ended up left in my boat or at the bottom of my wet-gear bin, soaking in water until the next time I used it. If it isn’t obvious, disrespecting your throw bag like this severely decreases the lifespan and reliability of the rope inside. In addition, if the rope is left wet, packed tightly the bag, it’s likely to become stiff as it dries and more prone to snags/tangles should you need to use it in the future. Not what you want to be worrying about as you toss your buddy a lifeline before they swim downstream.
Instead of leaving your throw bag in a bucket to grow mildew after a day of paddling, I’d like to suggest the following:
1) Pick a target as far away as your rope will allow.
2) Open your throw bag and throw it as you would in a rescue scenario, aiming for the target, of course.
3) Rinse your rope with water if it’s dirty and stack it neatly before hanging it on a drying line/hook, don’t stuff it back into your throw bag.
Boom. You’re done. This simple post-paddle ritual has become important to me for a number of reasons. First, it allows for the rope inside my throw bag to dry out more thoroughly and without developing kinks. This prolongs the life of the gear and helps decrease the likelihood of the rope snagging/tangling mid-throw. Additionally, this ritual provides an opportunity to practice using my throw bag every single time I get off the river. It’s important to know how skilled you are with a rope, especially if you, like me, land on the lower end of the spectrum. You have to know your limits and set realistic expectations for yourself so you don’t overreach in an emergency. I was surprised how horribly inaccurate I was with my rope when I first started practicing regularly. It scared me to think of all the carnage that could have ensued if I had missed a throw when someone needed a rope. Fortunately, even after only a few reps, this throw bag ritual became part of my unpacking/ hanging stuff up to dry/end of river day process and my accuracy began to improve dramatically. The entire ritual can be done in under a minute and can refine one of your most basic yet important water rescue skills before you need it next. Stay safe, and see you out there!
Written by JT Hartman
How to choose the right throw bag - Click Here to read our full guide on choosing the right Throw bag for you.
Basic Throw Bags;
Most throw bags are a simple bag with a small loop of rope on the bottom to anchor off somewhere if needed and a pull cord closure on the top like the Salamander Safety bag (5/16” rope) that retails for $30.00 and the Fatty Throw Bags (3/8”rope) start at $45.00.
|Fatty Throw Bag - Buy Now||Safety Throw Bag - Buy Now|
Add some bells and Whistles;
Some throw bags such as our Pop Top Series features a side clip buckle feature so you can easily clip it into your boat or onto a raft frame for quick access. The Pop Top closure on the top of the bag is a quicker option than dealing with a pull cord closure. .
Another style bag that falls in this category is the Little Big mouth (5/16” rope) and Big Mouth (3/8” rope) bags. These come equipped with a loop knot on the end and a carabiner for more in depth rescues. They also feature a quick clip to attach to your boat and a pull cord opening. The Little Big Mouth and the Big mouth are available in multiple rope types and lengths and range in price. Click the links below to price out your throw bag.
|Pop Top Throw Bag - Buy Now||Little Big Mouth Throw Bag - Buy Now|
Personal Preference comes into play;
In our line of throw bags we have the Dart series which look and perform just like a football. These bags feature the Pop Top closure for quick access to the rope. If you’re confident in your overhand throw you can put this bag right where you want it!
|The Dart Series - Buy Now|
Ultra Dry Throw Bag
Some paddlers prefer this bag because the bag is actually a dry bag and keeps your rope dry until you need to use it. This helps keep your rope in great condition because it does absorb water on each paddling trip and that also keeps additional water weight out of your craft. You also won’t have to do as much rope maintenance with this throw bag.
|Ultra Dry Thow Bag - Buy Now|
A lot of paddlers chose to carry throw bags on their person for quick access. Being from a whitewater kayak background I am a big fan of this because you ALWAYS have it on you. When you get out to scout, it’s right there. When something happens and you have to jump out of your boat to help, you don’t have to take time to pull your throw bag out of your boat, it’s right there! Salamander Paddle Gear makes 3 different types of Waist worn throw bags.
The Guide bag is designed with rafters in mind. It features a small loop knot on the end in case you need to tie it off for rescue and a pull cord closure for the rope end. The belt also features a quick release pull cord to avoid getting tangled on anything yourself.
|Guide Throw Bag - Buy Now|
The Retriever and Golden Retriever
This bag was designed with kayakers in mind. One end of the bag has an 8’ tow line in it for quick boat rescues on the river. The other end has a pull cord closure with 52’ of rope. It also features a quick release pull cord to avoid getting tangled. The ‘Golden’ Retriever simply refers to the Spectra rope.
|Retriever Waist-worn throw bag - Buy Now|
The Rapid Fire bag was designed with SUP paddlers in mind. This bag features small D-rings on the top and bottom of the belt to attach a SUP leash to. This particular bag detaches from the waist belt and can be done while wearing the belt for a quick rescue in timely situations. This bag is also great for Rafters and Kayakers, having the ability to detach the bag from the belt has been long overdue. The neoprene pouch on this belt keeps the bag stored more compact than the others and does not allow the bag to flop around as much. Having immediate access to a bag that throws as nice as this makes the Rapid Fire the go to choice for anyone that wants a waist worn bag!
|Rapid Fire Throwbag - Buy Now|
Hopefully this helped you pick the right throw bag for your adventures. Keep in mind river etiquette and common sense play a huge part in river rescues. Keep calm and hopefully you will never have to use your throw rope for anything more than hanging up your gear at camp. Keeping your rope dry and clean will keep your throw rope in great condition for many river trips. If you start to notice damage to your rope then it’s about time to replace it. Check back soon and we will have more written guides to ‘How to Stuff your Throw Bag - Many Technics’ and ‘Proper Rope Care’.
*Keep in mind that almost every bag listed above comes in each rope option we discussed. Check our website for all options.
If you have more questions about what bag is right for you, email firstname.lastname@example.org