I thoroughly enjoy the website and movies!
Could you answer one question?
How much arborist throw line do you take into the field? 150’ – 100’ – less?
Thanks for taking the time to answer.
Great question, Barry!
I basically have four variations of throw line kits.
You’ve asked about line lengths, but I’m also asked frequently about the throw weight sizes and throw line bags as well.
First, let’s take a look at my kit variations, then I’ll share my thoughts on throw line lengths, weights, and bags. Note that many of these products are Amazon so there are affiliate links:
Throw Line with folding cube
One is my original Weaver throw line kit made up of two parts:
The line length is 150 feet (45.72 meters).
I tend to use this throw line when I’m doing a POTA activation very close to my vehicle. It’s lightweight, but a bit bulky to take on a long hike.
Compact Arborist Throw Line Kit
This kit is identical to my large folding cube kit above, but the throw weight is 12 oz and I store it in a small Weaver stuff sack.
Here are the components:
This compact throw line kit is much easier to throw in a backpack and take on a hike. It takes longer to pack up because you’ll need to wind the line on your hand and stuff it in the sack so that it deploys without tangling. I made a video showing how to do this–it’s super easy to do and works a charm:
Mini Arborist Throw Line Kit
This kit is designed around portability and is even smaller and lighter weight than my Compact Throw Line Kit above.
Here are the components:
The kit is so incredibly compact even though it contains a full 50 meters of line. I simply pack it in the Tom Bihn bag the same way I do with the Compact Throw Line Kit (figure 8 winding on my hand).
The 2mm line is more prone to pick up small sticks and leaves on the ground as you pack it up and as it slides along the forest floor. The thicker Weaver poly line is much less likely to do this. That said, the convenience of having such an incredibly compact package is work it in my book!
25 Meter Throw Line Kits
Early this year, I started experimenting with arborist throw line lengths. I wanted to sort out what the shortest useful length would be for field radio. The idea was to make the throw line so compact I could use it without a bag, or stick it in the pocket of one of my Tom Bihn HLT2 field kits (this one for the MTR-3B was my first).
I wanted the length to be short enough that each time I use it, I could deploy the entire length of line and it wouldn’t take too long to reel it back in.
Here are the components:
I found that 25 meters or 82 feet–which is conveniently half of the 50M Marlow throw line reel–is ideal.
It’s short, yet long enough to deploy 95% of my field antennas in almost any situation.
So far, I’ve never found it “too short” for field work. I would find 25 meter restrictive if I’m installing a permanent antenna at home and want to launch the line as high as possible (say, with an arborist sling shot). In the field? Never an issue.
Suggestions for throw line lengths
I believe that if you’re planning to only have one throw line kit, go ahead and pack a full 150 feet of 1/8″ Weaver poly line or 50 meters of 2mm Marlow throw line. It’s more than you’ll ever need, but it also gives you room to cut off the end of the line when it eventually shows a bit of wear.
If you plan to use your throw line kit for SOTA, I would suggest buying a 50 meter reel of 2mm Marlow throw line and two Weaver throw weights to make two 25 meter throw line kits. Although I only typically carry one line, if you carry both it could come in handy on a summit or at a park when you want to launch a fully horizontal doublet, dipole or even a delta loop antenna.
Suggestion for throw weights
Over the years, I’ve discovered that 16oz weights are a wee bit too heavy for my liking. I initially bought the 16oz weight with the understanding that it would give my throw lines some gravity assist when descending through the tree branches after a throw. I thought this might help keep the line from getting caught in a tree.
It was an unfounded fear, though, because not even my lightest throw line weights have ever had an issue pulling the line through tree branches even after hundreds of deployments. I also don’t feel like I get as much height when I’m using the 16oz weight as I do with the lighter weights.
If you can’t decide on a throw line weight, you can’t go wrong with a 12 or 10 oz weight. They still have quite a bit of heft, yet are light enough that you can control them easily when throwing and retrieving.
If you’re backpacking, go for the lightest of this bunch: the 8oz weight. I’ve noticed that it’s nearly impossible to find a throw line weight less than 8oz and I assume this is because 8oz is truly the lightest workable weight. It’s super easy to throw and control, yet is heavy enough to pull a 2mm line though the trees (note I haven’t used it yet with the thicker 1/8″ yellow poly line).
It might require a few quick pulls of the cord when you deploy this in a tree with really rough bark or thick foliage. The quick pulls help it to glide back down to the ground. Most of the time, though, it works for me on the first go. That said, the heavier weights have enough inertia and build enough momentum that they rarely need an assist at all.
In short: go for a 12oz weight if uncertain, and go for an 8oz weight if you want to keep your gear as light as possible.
Throw weight folding cube versus compact throw bags
If you’re planning to do field activations close to your vehicle or on short enough hikes that you don’t mind carrying this bulkier package, go straight for the folding throw line cube I describe above.
It is the quickest to deploy and pack up.
If you want to keep your throw line kit in your backpack at all times (I highly suggest this for avid activators that are fully portable), then build a kit similar to my Compact or Mini Throw Line Kit as described above.
For more on throw line kits…
Check out this previous post where I discuss the virtues of the arborist throw line and dispel a few fears.
Also check out my first post about the larger Weaver throw line kit, and this one where I describe packing compact throw line bags.
Keep in mind these are all my personal preferences when it comes to throw line kits. Please feel free to comment with your experience and advice!
Thank you for reading this article! I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.