throw bag/ rescue rope questions - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-08-2009   #1
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 137
throw bag/ rescue rope questions

Im in need of a new throw bag. Im wondering what type (spectra vs. poly) I should get to serve as both a throw rope and a rescue rope for vector pull, z-drag etc. How long should it be? I've heard everything from 70,65 and 50. Is there a good place to get them? Is it possible to go somewhere and just buy the rope and replace my current one in the bag? Any advice here would be great!


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Old 06-08-2009   #2
Longmont, Colorado
Paddling Since: 98
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 328
NRS sells rope. Get the strongest one you can afford if you are going to use it for pulling hard.
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Old 06-08-2009   #3
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 88
I agree, NRS would be a good place to look for rope. A few thoughts regarding rope properties:
  • Polypropylene – strength is 50% less than nylon, melting point is about 330 deg F, floats, has poor abrasion resistance, handles shock loads reasonably well.
  • Spectra – Polyethylene fibers wrapped in a polypropylene sheath, twice the strength of polypro monofilament yarn, low melting point (220 to 255 deg F), floats, excellent abrasion resistance, slippery (knots slip), does not handle shock loads well, doesn’t show much elongation before it breaks (<4%) which means it won’t give you much warning before failure.
  • Some approximate rope strengths:
    • 3/8” Polypro = 1900 lbs
    • 3/8” Spectra = 5000 lbs
    • 1/4” Polypro = 950 lbs
    • 1/4” Spectra = 2500 lbs
I would caution anyone about the hazards of applying too much mechanical advantage to a throw bag. If possible I would have and use a polypro bag for bagging swimmers and move to a true nylon kernmantle limited stretch rescue rope for mechanical advantage systems.

Understanding that it is sometimes not practical to carry a nylon limited stretch rope, a spectra rescue bag can be used in a pinch keeping in mind the inherent limitations of spectra.

There's obviously a lot more that can be said regarding ropes, rope properties and mechanical advantage systems but I hope that helps a bit. A good Swiftwater Rescue class will cover all of this and more in much greater detail.

Feel free to contact me if can help with any other questions.
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Old 06-08-2009   #4
Cisco, Utah
Paddling Since: Dawn
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 351
Throw bag and rescue rope are 2 different things. If you need a wrap kit, get a real rescue rope. That said i have certainly set up a few z drags wih throw bags. Problem is the rope isn't meant for large loads, throw ropes are typically dynamic, ie. you have to pull the stretch out of the rope before you affect the load & then the throw rope is typically all bunched up inside the sheath... Throw bags typically take a lot of abuse which is not good for a rescue rope,... So what are your priorities here? If you want a strong throw rope spectra is strong. If you want something for a wrapped raft you should put together a wrap kit also with static rope.

If you are using a throw bag for a z-drag, be aware that the rope is not as strong as you may want it to be, and consider that the core of the rope may well be compromised as well; stepped on, sand ground into it, stored wet, general abuse, etc..

Another thought on throw bags is don't get the thin guage ones, too hard on your hands. Think mine are all 3/8"
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