Tuesday, 22 March 2011

MYOG, Throw Bag

I had a bit of a spend today, more of which later so I decided to offset that by making instead of buying a Throw Line for canoeing. A throw bag is basically a stuff sack attached to a floating rope that you throw to someone needing rescued. Throw bags come with different lengths of line, 15-25m and can cost upwards of £40. I mentioned before about finding some floating rope in a washed up life raft pack when camping on the north coast and although I'd used about 10m to make 2 painters for the canoe had had plenty left, 21.5m to be exact so decided to make a bag to hold it.

I'd tried a few stuff sacks I had to see what size I needed to make and to be honest I could just as easily have used a ready made stuff sack but decided to make one from scratch.

I gathered together the bits and pieces, some coated nylon from an old groundsheet, a length of webbing, 2 x brass eyelets, a piece of shock cord and cord lock, a piece of closed cell foam an empty milk container.

The line should have a small loop at one end, it then runs through an eyelet on the base of the bag, through the closed cell foam (to help it float) and through a piece of plastic (cut from the milk container), a 2nd knot is tied on the rope to keep the stuff sack in place and that's about all there is to it.

I started off by sewing the webbing to the coated nylon roughly where the center of the base of the stuff sack would be, I kept the webbing long until it was sewn on and then cut and sealed it as it was easier to keep hold of it while sewing it on. I sewed a 2nd piece near the top of the fabric where the draw cord would run.

With the webbing reinforcements sewn on I melted a hole through them and fitted a brass eyelet to each before folding the fabric over and sewing up both sides to make the bag.

With the sides sewn I folded the bag and sewed the corners of the base to make the bag rectangular rather than flat, most commercially available throw bags have a sewn in circular base but I find it easier to make it the way I did. With that done I turned the top over and sewed around the cuff to make the tunnel for the drawcord, I should have given myself a bit more fabric for the seam as the foot of the sewing machine was a bit close to the eyelet but it worked ok if only just.

Once I'd added the drawcord it was time to fit the rope, 1st I tied a figure 8 knot on the end of the rope before feeding it through the base eyelet. Next I fed the rope through 2 pieces of closed cell foam and the plastic washer made from the milk container.

With the foam in place I tied another knot in the rope as close as possible to the plastic washer and finished off the rope by splicing the tail into the main part of the rope using the end of a ball point pen.

With that done all that remained was to pack the rope into the bag by laying it back and forth in handfuls and stuffing each handful into the stuff sack, repeating the process until there's only a short tail remaining before closing the drawcord, the tail then hangs free from the bag. To use the throw bag all I need to do is open the drawcord, hold the tail in one hand and throw the bag containing the rope.

While I'm reasonably happy with the end result as usual with these projects I could have done better. The stitching was bit iffy to start, especially where the webbing was sewn on and I should have given myself a bit more fabric for the drawcord tunnel but it wouldn't cost anything to have another go if I felt the need. So far I've only thrown it down the garden but managed to get all but the last meter or so of rope deployed so it does what it's supposed to do.


  1. Great work, this is definitely going on my MYOG to do list. I should have a rope bag for long-skating, especially this time of year when the ice looks so dodgy.

  2. Thanks Tomas, I remember your rope tarp from last year, nice work it was too so I expect your throw bag will be nicer than mine. Look forward to seeing it as and when.