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Tips from the Paddler

Tip 2. Quick release for the other end of the tether

Tip 2. Quick release for the other end of the tether

Here’s a quick tip to help increase the safety of tow tethers (aka “Cowtails”) you might be using on your rescue PFD. I am not advocating the use of an attached tether: They are controversial. They carry real risks and a decision to wear or use one should be a careful and educated process. Get training and practice with one if you do.

 I wish I could take credit for the idea but like most great ideas, this one spreads like a virus: I caught it and am passing it along. I saw this at the 2015 ACA Swiftwater Rescue Symposium. Several rescue PFDs on the market have a purpose-built quick-release buckle/strap intended to secure the carabiner-end of your rescue tether to provide a quick release mechanism both for deployment of the carabiner AND to serve as an emergency quick release for the carabiner-end of the tether in case of an unintended snag. The problem with some of these buckles though is the release tension they provide. Sometimes they are hard to release and sometimes they release too easily when you don’t mean to. This idea (pictured) uses a plastic D-ring that has been hack-sawn through once in the round part of the “D”. The ring is then attached (e.g. cable-tied) to the front lash tab on the PFD. When the tether’s carabiner is secured in the D-ring, the release force, at least to me, seems perfect. I’ve yet had the ring release unintentionally, but when I want to deploy, a quick snatch on the tether has it ready to use. The appropriate ring seems very durable. I’ve been using the same ring for years now, but also carry a spare in my PFD pocket in case it decides to give up or go on vacation elsewhere.

I hope you find the idea useful.

Paddle safely.

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