How to Tow a Kayak

How to Tow a Kayak
Towing a kayaker and his kayak may be necessary if exhaustion overcomes him in harsh weather, if illness or injury occurs, or if a kayaker is rendered instable by fear. Especially in large groups, it may be necessary to tow whether you are leading a group or just paddling among your friends. Make sure your towing equipment and skills are in order by practicing in good weather, because more often than not, when you actually need to tow a kayak, the weather conditions will be harsh.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Tow line, 15 ft. long
Step 1
Fasten your tow line--which should be fitted as part of your kayak's deck line system for convenience--to the bow toggle of the victim's kayak, and begin paddling. This is the single-tow method. It is very hard work for the person towing.
Step 2
Prepare for your speed to be diminished at least by half. It can be hard to keep up with a group in this manner, but if you are the only two kayakers, it is the only way.
Step 3
Choose the tandem-tow method if you have at least three paddlers. This is a much more powerful system with little danger of collision. The victim's kayak will be placed last in line, with an able kayaker towing, and another able kayaker in front of that one, towing the first tower. Regular speed can usually be maintained in this manner.
Step 4
Place two able kayakers in front of the victim's kayak, with both their tow lines connected to the victim's kayak, similar to how sled dogs are connected to one sled. This method can be just as powerful as the tandem tow, but some people find that the paddles of the two towers get in each other's way.
Step 5
Prepare yourself mentally for a worst-case scenario when towing. A towed kayak can become swamped or even sink. If this happens do not perform a rescue with the tow line still attached. The kayak being towed can override the back deck and stab your rib cage or harpoon your hull. More than one person on any outing should be trained to tow.

Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.