There has been some movement over the years here. When we started paddling, people kept their spares on the back. Then we encountered some changing thought about that as well as had reasons to reconsider with our own practices. There was a while when I decided to confuse everyone and carry one half front and one back. I was getting tired of the debates about it and that seemed to leave me out of it. The access to the spare in a capsize is about the least important part to me now.
The most important reasons that the splits are on the front for me now are:
Ease of switching between paddles while I am out. It is just easier to swap between my own paddles, as well as loan out mine for someone to try, when they are on the front. (Including aiming right at the Paddle Britches that are on both sea kayaks now).
The GP, if I am carrying that as spare, only fits on the front.
Towing works best with as little on the rear deck as I can manage. Even with low decked boats it is surprisingly easy for me to turn around and find my tow line caught on something behind me that requires another paddler to reach.
I can't say I have had to do much towing as a real life thing, but I have had enough trouble practicing with even minor stuff on the back deck that I don't want anything there extending beyond my arm reach.
Wabakimi Canoe Pack
Canoe Pack Liner
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