Review: WWTC Throwlines
By raft guides, for raft guides – the new line of throwbags from WWTC.
I recently reviewed a rafting thwart bag from the White Water Training Centre, that impressed me enough to order more of their products. I’m going to take a look at the 27m “Craft” throwbag and the 18m “Classic” throwbag with flip-line pouch – two pieces of kit that have found their way in to my kit bag for this season.
Firstly, for me the main plus point of these throwbags is the carry system. Both lines are carried in a large quick-release pouch, with a length of webbing attached. The 27m bag is designed to be attached around the thwart of the raft and carried as a “boat bag” – mostly for lining rafts and getting a rope across the river in rescue situations. The carry system attaches easily around the thwart, with plenty of room for adjustment for use in different boats and is secured with a quick release buckle. The 18m line is very much a “belt bag,” intended to be carried on the guide and something that I’ll take a closer look at later.
So, what is the actual throwbag like?
In a word, impressive. In more words – “sleek, well thought-out and highly featured.” Starting with the obvious, they’re made of a hard-wearing red fabric that is easy to spot in the water and further enhanced by a bright reflective strip for increased visibility in low-light.
A less obvious feature is the quality of the rope used. The 18m Classic is made of 8mm floating line that has been specially created for increased abrasion resistance and performs significantly better than some of the other common brands under testing. It does feel notably stiffer than standard floating line, but this doesn’t seem to be an issue.
The 27m Craft bag features a softer 10mm line, with similar abrasion resistant properties. A summary of the the specifications can be found below:
So, objectively, what does this mean for your average boater or river guide?
As I mentioned in the article on pin kits, it can sometimes be a compromise between different characteristics when buying a throwline. The Classic 18 comes out well in terms of specs – a lightweight bag with a strong rope of usable length. I look forward to giving it some more thorough testing to see how easy the line is to hold on to whilst actually swimming. Possibly not as good as the Palm lines, but that’s the trade off for the reduced weight.
As for the Craft 27, clearly it excels in terms of rope strength – 17.5kN is huge for a throwbag! Even the knotted tensile strength (the breaking strength once the rope has been knotted) is a very respectable 11.5kN. It is a heavy beast though and there’s no way I could throw it the full 27m. But then, why would I? This really is a bag that’s meant to be stored on the raft and brought out for the extraction of people or gear.
Another feature that sets these bags apart are the karabiner pockets:
These small foam-padded pouches allow the bag to be carried with a karabiner permanently attached, without the risk of injuring swimmers if it needs to be thrown in a hurry. I found that having the karabiner permanently attached also added a little weight to the Classic 18, helping with its accuracy at a distance. An added bonus of this is that the bag retains some weight for the second throw, without having to fill the bag with water in the style that is much loved by swiftwater rescue instructors, but never quite works for me…
Both of the throwlines adhered to the “clean line principle” and I didn’t need to remove any superfluous handles or fittings before using them.
Both bags have a large conical opening, allowing for fast re-packing, even with cold hands. The larger Craft 27 also has a handle built in to make it easier to hold when stuffing the rope back in (and possibly to be used to help throw it further? Unsure.)
I don’t like to see Velcro closures on throwbags, after an incident that happened on my initial guide training course in Scotland. I saw a number of belt bags come undone, allowing the rope to fall out into the water, which is far from ideal… However the WWTC bags have a long length of sturdy Velcro, which fastens neatly and I feel confident that it’s not going to open accidentally. When stowed inside the carrying pouch, there is very little chance that this could happen anyway.
Here’s the Craft 27, stowed away and attached around the rear thwart of the raft, next to the WWTC Thwart Bag:
The Classic 18, on the other hand, is designed to be worn around the waist as a belt-bag. The main reason that I bought this bag is due to how easy it is to remove and refit the bag into the carrying pouch, without taking off the belt. The belt is padded at the back and wide enough to not bounce around whilst running with it on.
I modified my belt straight away, drilling through the plastic buckle and threading a length of paracord to attach a plastic ball from an old white water chest harness. This makes it easier to find the quick release on the belt, should I need to ditch it in a hurry.
I bought the “flip line pouch” as an optional extra. It simply threads through the adjustment strap of the belt and can be used to store more gear in. The only slight criticism that I have is that at my waist size, the pouch creeps towards the front of my body, which I usually like to keep clear so as to not hinder climbing back in to a raft. It’s minor and I can easily live with it.
The flip line pouch can easily accommodate a 5m Palm Safety Tape with a large HMS screwgate:
The flip-line pouch can also be used for storing essential pin kit items and the WWTC website suggests that it will fit 2 pulleys, Prusiks and 2 large Karabiners just fine. These items can be clipped in to the pouch by a small webbing loop, making sure that they are secure.
So far, I have been really impressed with the thought that has gone in to these products and look forward to using them on the river this summer. If you are interested in further information on the WWTC line of products – as well as current prices – then check out the website here. For rafting courses, safety training and updates on the famous “River Rescue Race” check out their Facebook Page.