After reading about another fellow kiter losing their life last week (Rene) it was kind of a wake-up call for me to review my safety measures again. A long time ago after looking around at the different options I started carrying a CRKT Bear Claw. It was a great all round package and more than up to the job, bar one drawback. I also have a Shark phobia and living in South Africa we have plenty "bitties". Not that it would ever help I'm sure, but it was reassuring that I could go down putting up some sort of a fight
I mentioned a drawback. The one I bought at that time was the defense version which was not ideal due to it's pointed edge, quite frankly it's one brutal little thing and would not want to be on the receiving end of it should something go wrong. But I used it anyway and thankfully never had to deploy it, took it off a year or two later. For what ever reason
I went back to the CRKT website and found that in the last 8 years they had updated the Bear Claw line with a EMT type version. This version had a serrated snub nose (blunt) in a Hi-Vis orange which IMO rounds the tool off quite nicely and makes to a great addition in terms of safety. Going to start wearing my Bear Claw again, if not for my own safety it might come in handy if someone else is in trouble one day.
I found a few other examples on the net as well. Not going to go into them now, but I think any kind of cut- away tool is a must on a harness over and above the little hook knives we are given. Please feel free to use this post to discuss other options. You have found.
Below are some pictures (cell phone sorry) of the unit with brief description. Thanks for reading Safe Kiting.
Harness 2008 Liquid Force Luxury
In the Box: Knife, Zytel Sheath, Metal Clip, Lanyard, Torx driver, 4 screws
Belt Clip can be fitted handle up or handle down. Prefer handle up.
Comparing old Defensive version (8 years old) with new EMT version. EMT slightly longer same sheath. Old claw still has an amazingly sharp edge. Lack of maintenance on my part saw some of the torx screws rusting, needs a good clean and it will be as good as new.
Knife is right side bias. I'm left handed here it is fitted left hand side. Top of the harness webbing triangle. Fit is slightly higher still comfortable not digging in side with LF Luxury, but drawing with left hand is a little cumbersome. Drawing with right hand not bad.
Here it is fitted to lower part of the harness webbing. Fit's nicely in the middle of the harness protect by the top part of the webbing. Ideal IMO.
Harness on, knife fitted left side
Right side fitted, lower webbing. Added Lanyard rope, it's about 1 meter long. Snub nose Bear Claw will allow for it to dangle should you lose knife
Harness on, knife fitted right side
Excess lanyard rope hidden behind power belt section. Some kind of spring cord (slinky) might work better here?
Only thing I don't like about the Bear Claw in this specific application is that the handle is a little to long you could probably modify it on a grinder and take about half the handle away just below the top three screws that hold plastic to the blade. I found that it tends to dig a little into your sides. You could mount it upside down as well this would eliminate that but might make accessibility harder in tuff situations. As for it accidentally falling out not a chance. It is secured with a simple but effective screw. In standard form it has just right amount of pressure to keep it secure without having to wrestle it out the sheath. I've never had issues with even the biggest wipe outs. You could even modify that pressure by baking out the screw and securing it with red Loctite or adding a small shim/washer if you wanted it to be even more secure.
Although I don't have a Bear Claw, mine has the exact same sheath and I attached it to DaKine Nitrous shorts in the same place by sewing it on. I had tried using the slots for the harness straps but the plastic is much too weak and broke within a couple uses. I have the same complaint about being stuck in the side and have frequently wondered if enough force might be able to applied such that the handle could do some injury - I hadn't thought about grinding it down. I'm also not real happy about the fact that it is on one side of the harness rather than the middle thereby making it much harder to get to if my right hand or arm were disabled.
Some other spots I've considered is mounted on my helmet or upside-down in the middle the wetsuit's chest..
The first one I had, I lost when the little locking bubble rusted enough to get loose. So my current one has velcro on the flat part of the sheath and the contacting portion of the handle of the knife and it's lasted about 2 years. I've also toyed with the idea of putting a leash on it but the added potential for more unknown or possible problems has made me hesitate. What might happen if it came loose and the knife was whipping around while I'm occupied ?
Although it provides significant potential for a line to get snagged or wrapped around it, I think its advantages outweigh this potential problem.
I also carry a cheap double bladed hook knife in the knife pocket of my DaKine spreader bar pad. This knife has 3 little screws holding the 2 blades - the top (middle) screw holds the blades in position. Believe it or not,
when this knife was LESS than ONE MONTH old, I pulled it out as part of lesson and the 2 blades were just dangling hanging loose because the top center screw had fallen out. If I had needed it in the water, I'd still be out there sawing away wondering why it wasn't cutting.
Now, besides using it to demonstrate its purpose, I use it to illustrate why it is important to thoroughly check your equipment and it also helps drive home the concept that YOU CAN'T DEPEND ON THE MANUFACTURERS to take your safety seriously.
Malibu Kitesurfing - since 2002
(310) - 430 - KITE (5483)