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Submitted: 06-10-2009 by abc

Anyone can capsize. Anyone can fail to roll. Anyone (even if he started with other paddlers on a trip) can find themselves upside down in his kayak with no one to help. In this situation, having to wet exit and then either re-enter and roll, or do a paddle float rescue, and very poor choices in difficult conditions. Enter the BackUP. Within a couple seconds, one has a float with 80 pounds of flotation with a grab handle. Righting the kayak with this is quite easy, from the first attempt, on either side. This is FAR superior to any rescues based on a wet exit.

The one enormous flaw that I found is what to do AFTER you use it. The manufacturer recommends tethering it to the back deck. The problem with this is the dragging float strongly pulls the kayak to that side, making forward paddling very difficult (I do not have a rudder). Worse yet, trying to find and then use this tethered float if one re-capsizes is quite difficult. The system I came up with that appears to solve these problems is to attach a small circle of bungee cord to the handle, then slide this bungee loop onto your arm. You're then wearing the float on your arm. It is easy to paddle like this (although the wind can certainly get high enough to cause problems), and it is very easy to simply slip your hand back down to the D-ring handle and re-use it if you have another capsize.
I believe this is an enormous and important safety addition to the safety repertoire of any kayaker in any but the most benign of conditions.

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