Friday, 13 December 2013

Which Throwline?!


We have written some thoughts on throw lines. We are well aware this can be discussed till the cows come home and everyone has their own systems. Here is a quick round up on some major differences, followed by our recommendations!

A line is arguably the most important piece of kit for a white water kayaker to carry. There is a large selection out there and each have their pros and cons, it’s as simple as that.

What line for me? This depends on your common role in a group, the type of kayaking, the nature of the rivers you commonly paddle your ability to throw etc. A WWSR course is always well recommended for new paddlers and as a refresher for seasoned paddlers. Franco Ferreros WWSR book is an excellent resource.

Two common uses of a line are:

  • Rescuing a swimmer

  • Retrieving kit

The two most obvious features that vary in a line are:

  • Length
  • Thickness of rope

Pros and Cons.

If a rope is thick (10mm) and long (20m) e.g. HF Compact Alpin, Palm 20m


  • Excellent for retrieving boats as it can take large strains and the shape of rope runs through karabiners and hitches well.
  • Large thick rope is easier for a swimmer to hold on to.


  • It is going to be heavy and therefore difficult to throw with accuracy!

If a rope is thin (8mm) e.g. HF weasel.


  • Light and very accurate for hitting swimmers


  • Not the comfiest rope to hold to when swimming
  • Not a high breaking strain
  • Doesn't run through mechanical advantages.

"To add my personal twist to it I think accuracy is paramount and the most likely use for a throw line every weekend in the UK is pulling in a swimmer.

So if you are a 5 foot 4, 10 stone new kayaker who doesn’t know how to do these mechanical advantages then be wary of recommendations of a 20m 10mm rope. 

Chances are you going to want accuracy and a smaller lighter line is of much more use. Try other peoples in the car park on the next trip. 

My personal set up is to have a HF weasel in my boat always close to hand. If I’m guiding/on a tougher river or no one else has one in the group I may be tempted to take my larger 20m line in the back of the boat as well as, or instead of, my Weasel."

Our three favourite throwlines

HF Weasel (18m): Easy to throw and easy to re pack with enough length to be of use. Our best seller!

HF Compact Alpin (20m): A line with a high breaking strength, a fat rope, easy to repack but heavy.

Palm 15m: A great all round line. Simple. Comfy fat rope, high breaking strength and not too big.