• Happy Birthday, Clarence Birdseye (1886-1956)! ❄️🍴😋

How Much Rope do you carry?

Jun 15, 2022
Reaction score
Spartanburg, SC
I am getting ready to replace my old 100' rope that is getting old and worn. I started carrying it while whitewatering (along with a throw bag), so it usually lives in my ready pack and gets thrown in to the canoe when I paddle flatwater. I was thinking about getting some 8mm static line (verses dynamic line) to replace my old 3/8" poly line.
I was wondering how many non-whitewater trippers and day trippers carry rope and in what diameter and length.
Last edited:
Two 16 foot painter lines and one 75ft throw bag, other than various pieces of sub 4mm cordage everything is floating line.
Two 12-15 ft. painters for each canoe. One 50 ft. throw bag. All are polypro and float.

What would you use the static line for? IIRC it is non-floating and has minimal stretch; probably polyester with maybe some high-tech fibers. I can't think of a use on the river, except for a pulley system to recover swamped canoes.

For rescuing a swimmer or for tying up boats I would prefer a floating rope with some elasticity.
Hi UCanoe_2,

Thanks for the input. The greatest part of my rope use has been my throw bag, but I have used my line to rig a Z-pull, tow canoes up steep take-out ravines and also as a handline for assisting in river crossings. In those cases I would have preferred a non-stretchy line. But that is whitewater stuff.

For flat water paddling, what "rope use" have you run into? I can imagine using it to tow a boat, or help in a rough takeout (although a 30 lb. canoe is a lot easier to manage than a 75 lb. whitewater craft), but what else might it be used for? Is 100 feet of line ever needed in flatwater paddling? I have not used mine on flatwater and wonder if others have found uses for it.
My 75ft throw bag makes for a good clothes line! I also use it for tying up my boat when it's a long way from the water to a secure attachment point. I've rarely used it as an actual throw rope (my aim is not that great) and when you really do need it 75' isn't enough.

The painters are primarily for lining/wading, floating is critical for that. they need to be long enough that when you are positioned at the bow or stern you can still hold both ropes (for tricky 2 person lining that throw rope can sometimes be helpful.

On bigger rivers where a dump is possible I will attach the throw bag to a thwart with the loose rope/bag where I can grab and then get to or close to shore to pull the boat in. In a strong current trying to swim to shore with boat in hand isn't a good idea.

I have minimal experience with z-drags, doing it with a stretchy rope kinda sucks but it will still work albeit with more resets.

I covet those long climbing ropes, the high end ones, too expensive for me and no real justification.
I am mostly flat water paddling.
20 ft 1/4 inch floating painter on the bow, always. I have an optional 25 ft floater for the stern. It's enough to line a boat up past
an old dam or short section of fast water.
In cold water, I clip a 75 ft throw bag to the canoe because I'd rather just swim to shore and pull the boat in (I'm usually that close)
I also carry the throw bag when I am going to be paddling near idiots.

8mm static line is the wrong rope in my opinion. Get some floating stuff.
For quick access, Wilma is equipped with a 4.5 m floating line with an 8 mm diameter at the bow and stern.
This is sufficient for my purposes to quickly tie her up somewhere or to tow her a distance.

P1010004.jpg . P1010026.jpg . P1010097.jpg

I also have a throw bag with me that has a throw line length of 20 meters with a thickness of 8.5 mm.


Since all my luggage that I have with me on tours is attached individually, I have 3-5 short pieces of line with me, each 60cm long and with a attached carabiner.


If it should come to a more difficult and larger rescue of a boat, I still have a 30 meter floating rope whith thickness of 10mm in my rescue bag to build a Z-Drag (1:3 ore/and 1:5) with the carabiners, pulleys and Prusik loops.

P1200584.jpg . P1200591.jpg

and then I have 10 to 20 meters of Paracord 5.5 with me for the small, quick opportunities to tie things up.
As you can see, I have plenty of lines, cords and ropes on board.
Last edited:
On boats there are no ropes, only lines.
Two 25 foot lines for lining boats.
2 throw bags, at least 50 feet.
For rougher water, I might add a longer line with some carabiners and prussiks, in case we need to rescue a pinned boat.
Some paracord is handy around camp for rigging tarps.
On boats there are no ropes, only lines.
Two 25 foot lines for lining boats.
2 throw bags, at least 50 feet.
For rougher water, I might add a longer line with some carabiners and prussiks, in case we need to rescue a pinned boat.
Some paracord is handy around camp for rigging tarps.
I've tossed the paracord for Atwood 3/16 static as well as 0.8 and 1.18mm poly/nylon cord, far less stretch, just as strong, and available in plenty of high-vis colours. the 1.1mm has 100lb tensile strength and the 3/16 is 1000lb, I use my cord for dozens of uses from tying up a cracked thwart, yoke or seat, to running a clothes line, it's cheap enough to cut off a piece to tie back a branch protruding into a portage trail, then hack it off again when you're done. I've even "sewn" a split pack or tent with the thin stuff using the sewing awl on my SA knife.
All of the rope that I use on the water is of kernmantle construction, 3/8" or 7/16" diameter, with a synthetic Spectra or Dyneema kern and a polypropylene mantle so that it floats. The synthetic core makes the rope much stronger than all polypropylene construction and thus makes it suitable for rescuing a pinned boat using a mechanical drag.

I typically have a throw bag with about 60-70 feet of line in the boat, and a belt throw bag with 50-60 feet of line. I use painters of the same type of rope on both ends of the canoe each roughly the length of the boat.

I used to carry Prusik loop cords made of 8 mm line but now use 7 or 8 mm "split tail" or eyelet to eyelet Prusiks of commercial manufacture.
Thanks all for the responses. I may start leaving the 100' line at the house when I'm on flatwater, but I may take it since it's in my pack anyway. Good idea about the floating line, but when I replace my old one I will probably go with a static line in case I need to set a drag to free a boat or pull a WW canoe up a takeout ravine (that does happen around here, but 100' is usually overkill). I still feel that the lack of stretch is handy in those situations.

My next decision will be what color painters go with a Blacklight canoe? A blue looks pretty good on my old carbon GRB Classic XL, but I may go with yellow for the Northstar in Blacklight. Whichever color, it will be floating line.
Last edited:
I don't do whitewater, and am not required to carry a throw bag. I have about 6-8' of painter on each end of my canoes, just enough to get out and keep it on a leash while fording or landing. It's mostly 3/16" nylon braided line.