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Old 05-23-2011   #1
Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 8
Z-Drag System - Any Feedback?

Trying to add to the safety equipment in my setup as I hope to start tackling longer and more difficult trips where self-rescue could be more of a necessity. Looking for some quick feedback on a Z-Drag system from more experienced rafters. I've been learning about them and plan to take some upcoming courses to learn more (along with practice once I have my own setup). The NRS Z-drag seems to provide a good component template and between REI and NRS and various rebate programs, I think I can get the price down around $210. Below are the components I'm currently considering:

1) Drybag for storage (have an extra)
2) Z-Drag Setup Reference (notes from class/printed diagram online/etc)
3) Static Rescue Rope 150ft $90 PMI E-Z Bend Sport Static Rope - 11mm x 46m - Free Shipping for Members at $90
4) 3 - Omega Locking D Carabiners $29 Omega Pacific ISO Locking Standard D Screwgate Carabiner at
5) 2 - 6' Prussik Cords (6mm = 55% of Static Rope Diameter) $4 PMI Accessory Cord - 6mm at
6) Tubular Webbing (2 - 15' sections, 1 - 10' section) $11 BlueWater 1'' Climb-Spec Tubular Webbing at
7) 2 - SMC 2" Swiftwater Pulleys $80 SMC 2" Swiftwater Pulley at

Interested in if anyone with experience would suggest any different products, lengths, etc. Anything missing? Is a static rope w/ 27kn (~6050lbs) sufficient? Is the treatment (dry/non-dry) a meaningful consideration in a z-drag system?

Thanks for any help...

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Old 05-23-2011   #2
Osprey's Avatar
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 683
I would probably buy the pulleys from REI instead of NRS, should be much cheaper. And I would have way more biners available.

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Old 05-23-2011   #3
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,409
I suggest you make one of the tubular nylon tape units maybe 20 or more feet just to have extra if you set up multiple attachment points on your raft to equalise the pull

also the more biners you have the better as they are really handy to have around
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Old 05-23-2011   #4
Cpt. No Scout
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In a Van, Down By the River
Paddling Since: 91
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 517
I carry my climbing gear with me as well. Its always nice to have a harness, repel device, nuts and cams for anchoring. Think about how you will anchor if there are no trees or big rocks. I also carry a big orange tarp to act as a warring sign. If youre on wide rivers, I'd go with a enough rope to spand the "average" distance of the river. If you need to hook up to something 75' in the middle of the river, 150" might not cut it there and back but it would be more than enought if the river was narrow. I would take the saftey course before I bought any new equipment.
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Old 05-23-2011   #5
Emmielou's Avatar
Moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 106
Hey there, I might shell out for the sterling rope. Store it right and it will last you 15 years - better to pay more up front to get equipment that will last.

Include 3 (or 4) pulleys - 2 for a 3:1 and one for a redirect - best to keep yourself as far away from the system as possible. I might throw in a few extra biners so you have some extras in case you need a more complicated system. I have some friends that swear by the bear claw but that is something you can get later and certainly isn't necessary.

Just my $.02. Good on ya for setting up your own rescue kit.
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”-Ed Abbey
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Old 05-23-2011   #6
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Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,907
Forget the static line and go with Spectra.
You can never step into the same river; for new waters are always flowing on to you. - Heraclitus of Ephesus
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Old 05-23-2011   #7
Palisade, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 181
Look for a pair of Jumars or other climbing ascenders...they act as a brake and allow you to "let go" when pulling on a Z-drag without having any rope slip back. Very usuful "second set of hands"
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Old 05-23-2011   #8
Boise, Idaho
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 427
I concur on burly static/spectra line and a lot of it. 150 ft is good. I carry 200 in my kit. Got my pulleys/biners from an outlet store. 20kn rating should be strong enough but more is better. I have a bunch of heavy duty steel rescue biners(always locking) in my kit. Maybe a little overkill but 111kn could drag a house off the foundation. Lots of tube webbing is also good. I often make prussiks out of my 1/2'' rope because I have snapped lighter stuff.

Make sure you have a good helmet on when z dragging and watch your teeth around flying metal. Climbing gear is also a good idea. My brother used cams and other anchors when guiding on the grand. He was often the hero when he was able to pull boats off of wrap rocks at the bottom of certain rapids.
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Old 05-23-2011   #9
BruceB's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 170
This is all good advice. Take a safety class soon. Get more of everything - more biners, more pulleys, more rope. 300' sounds like an awful lot, until you need it. Several times I have used every inch, even on small rivers. You must be equipped for more than textbook rescues. Also use good line for throwbags and painter lines, so you can use these for other purposes as needed.

You could probably get the biners and climbing gear on Craigslist in Bozeman.
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Old 05-23-2011   #10
Dipshit with the most.
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Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,497
Originally Posted by dirtyoar View Post

If you really want to be ready go longer. 150 is just enough to get laid and make you realize you don't quite have enough. And what a tease that is. Z drags eat rope like a bunch of dirt bag boaters at an all you can eat buffet.

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