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There are a few IK paddlers on this forum and I am looking for stories about drownings or near drownings or head injuries with thigh straps in IK.

If you don't have any such stories, what's your take on thigh straps in inflatable kayaks? Are they valuable? Are they dangerous? What makes them dangerous?

Thanks
 

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All of the best IKers I know use them. I've never heard a story about them being dangerous. In my own experience in IKs, on rivers up to Class IV, I've never felt at risk because of the straps. I've used AIRE thigh straps, which have huge quick release buckles on them. I'm not sure about other brands.
 

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Flippin' an IK with thighstraps is no more dangerous than flippin' an enclosed kayak. If you practice self-rescue correctly, the straps aren't an issue. Just like a wet-exit from an enclosed boat, only easier (no skirt and not wedged into it like a shoe).

The straps help the paddler control the boat. If you're worried about risk vs. benefit, thigh straps win hands down (if you're hand paddling...:D).
 

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I'll echo what these guys said - I like the straps, they give you better control of the boat and aren't that tough to get out of if you turn turtle. That said, always carry a knife, I can foresee the possibility of becoming entangled in a strap, in which case a knife would be handy. I've rolled mine a few times and never had trouble getting out of the straps.
 

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I had a lot more trouble keeping my NRS thigh straps on than off.
I've had trouble with my NRS thigh straps slipping too, I ended up getting another set from Yakworks? and haven't had a problem since (I now use the NRS straps for the forward paddler in my Lynx II). , My Sotar has nice straps and I've never had issues with them slipping.

I've never heard of anyone getting stuck in thier thigh straps, No matter how tight I make mine I can always slip my knee out just by moving my foot off the foot peg or foam block.
 

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They can be dangerous if not used correctly. I once had a friend who often talked about how he was a guide, so I offered to let him use my IK w/ straps. Given his expressed experience with whitewater I did not not inspect him prior to putting on the rio. About a mile into our float from Mishawaka he got dumped and as he tells it he almost drowned because he could not get his legs free from the straps that he warped around his legs. Used properly I have a hard time imagining get out of the straps but beware and always inspect your users, because of my assumptions I was accused of trying to kill a friend for a long time not something you want to experience.
 

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Contrary to some of the previous responses, thigh straps certainly can be dangerous. Of course, most of the time, they would help you stay in the boat and paddle better.

I took my girlfriend in an IK with thighstraps on the ocoee. She swam at hell hole came up next to the boat and floated into the next rapid downstream while out of the boat. In the turbulence of the next rapid her arm somehow got tangled in the thigh strap and she was held under water and struggling, and got the living shit scared out of her. That was the end of whitewater for her.

Any strap can be potentially dangerous, and the best things to do to minimize the risk is to 1) be aware of the danger, and rig your boat properly, and 2) carry an easily accessible knife to cut the strap if you get tangled.

In my limited IK experience, my guess would be that I'd rather have the straps than not.

There are other examples of this type of thing... saw a clip of a raft guide who got clipped into the perimeter line on the raft. Many examples of boaters getting skirts and pfd's snagged on the river. Murphy's law pretty much states that if the shit has a potential way to hit the fan, eventually it will. Best to be prepared for the shit spraying when it happens.
 

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After reading the above posts I have to clarify my position and agree with the need for safety and proper use. Use it right and be prepared for something to go wrong. One reason I like AIRE thigh straps is that each strap has 2 big quick release buckles that I could try to pop before grabbing my knife.
 

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Not dangerous 99.9% of the time.Helps you control the boat much better,I' d say a decent foot brace is even more important.In a fluky situation my leg has gotten caught though the strap, when i got trashed, and it is scary to be tangled in it while trying to swim or self rescue.Many straps have a quick release buckle right at the hip.I have had my foot ,size13, get stuck in my creek boat too,not that much fun on the Big Thompson.Never really consciously executed a wet exit from a ducky ,you usually just fall out of the straps,if you are upside down still in the straps you just straighten your legs to fall out or try to roll,you'll fall out;)
That said the best duckier I know is paranoid about anything that could cause entrapment ,uses a two man Lynx bare .I t is impressive to see him sky over big drops eg Supermax ,using only acceleration ,body english ,and the length of his boat to bridge over big holes or stomp big water,has problems on tight technical creeks though .I have the opposite approach,small well outfitted high performance ducky,like creeks scared of big stuff.

Logan did we get any picks of the good stuff or the funky wood mank downstream?Man that was fun!
 

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Logan did we get any picks of the good stuff or the funky wood mank downstream?Man that was fun!
Yeah, I'm waiting to get the rest of the pics and video from Tom and Angels. Then I am going to combine it all into a kick-ass video of Fossil at good flow...I will post it online or email it to you.
 

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Used an IK, but not much, but I have done much kayaking and also creature crafting (which involves and thigh strap).

I vote yes on the strap from experience.

The safest place to be, if you are held in position, is always in your boat, with an easy escape if needed.

In kayaking, the boater is held in the boat in two ways, one through their purchase via feet, thighs and hips and the other is through the skirt. Releasing this purchase is easy and automatic if needed. The other is your skirt, which will hold you in to the death if you do not pull it, you are strapped in the boat unless you take an action and most kayakers would have it no different.

When running a creature craft (look it up if not familiar) you are strapped it and I would also have that no different. You can pull your strap if needed, but in 999/1000 it is going to save your ass and keep you moving down river without issue. Folks that make fun of the strap, get in and ALWAYS tighten it at the lip of a rapid, it makes instant sense.

In the IK, the amount of additional purchase provided by the strap will make you a better boater and reduce the need to think about the dangers, as you will not be up side down as much and you will have more fun.

With a good thigh strap set up and a good tuck, I would feel safer in an IK...and you might just end up right side up in your boat after that hole.

I agree with the foot purchase as well.

One of the times I IKed was on the grand for a half day or so, I took one of my creature craft thigh straps and put it in, strapped my self down and would not want it any other way. My creature strap is one 4" velcro strap that goes over the lap and may mitigate the thrashing issue brought up above due to 2 straps. The top one has an extra easy grab whip, it will hold you in place but come off with one pull just like a skirt.

Just like any kayaker, I suggest spending some time up side down, strapped in to your IK, twiddling your thumbs and stretching into diff positions, pulling and exiting at will, having someone jerk you around....perhaps even rolling.....

Then get a hard shell...
 

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because you are thinking about the possibility of entrapment puts you higher into that 99.95% margin of not having an issue!

thigh straps do help with staying in and not tipping over much like thigh braces in a hardshell! I find the tighter the less likely of and entrapment! and yes those big buckles help with eliminating the entrapment as long as you stay cool and practice in pool and on water!

but really...... anything loose is a possibilty of danger.... I've had my skirt get caught on a branch under the water once and I believe I read a post a while back about someone with the same deal on Bailey.... and he cut his skirt with his knife so being prepared for the possibilities is key! (I believe that thread was more about using kevlar skirts though?) also rope rescues have caused peril too!!!! just be smart and be prepared!
 

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I have been running a Star Yellowjacket for about 7 years. Have done class IV with it. The thigh straps have been a big help in controlling the IK. Since your part of the boat when the straps are tight, you can put all your energy into every stroke. They also won't allow you to float out of the boat in big water. On the Yellowjacket they are easy to get out of also, just taking your feet off the pegs allows the straps to fall off. While I have never swam a rapid using this boat, some of my friends have, they didn't have any problems with the straps.
 

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While I think you can control your IK better with thigh straps I also would say that they aren't necessary. I have paddled many big water stretches in a tandem IK paddled solo without thigh straps. I would kneel and tuck my lower legs between the inflated floor and the tubes. If I flipped, I fell out yet I found a ton of control paddling this way. The bottom line is that you must understand your equipment and manage risk. There is risk with and without thigh straps. While risk can be managed, it is never eliminated... expect the unexpected... be proactive!


And I didn't swim.
 
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