How to setup your quick release belt
Updated: Jan 31, 2021
"How long should the tail be coming out of the quick release buckle when I’m wearing my belt?"
Over the last few years Loel Collins and Chris Onions did a lot of research into how quick release harnesses release safely on white water buoyancy aids and I feel that some parts of this research are relevant to paddle boarders wearing quick release belts. One of the areas they investigated was how long the tail that comes out of the quick release buckle should be. Their recommendation is that it should be a short as possible (3cm of tail) for a clean and effective release. The reason is that if it were any longer, the webbing could get twists or folds in any turbulence or flow in the water and jam itself going through the buckle, meaning it may not release. It was also found that people tended to tuck the long tail away, meaning it increased the friction and reduced how quickly the webbing would release through the buckle.
What can be done:
The best way to cut down the tail if it's too long on your quick release belt is to use a hot knife. This gives a clean cut and stops the end from fraying. To do this, put on your SUP belt as tight as you would wear it over paddling gear and then mark where the belt manufacturer recommends cutting down to. Palm Equipment recommend for their products a minimum of 3cm and a maximum of 15cm of tail length from where the tail exists the buckle when closed (see image below). Once you have marked where to cut, take the belt off and either use a hot knife if you have access to one (most outdoor shops and watersports shops have these and won't mind cutting down the webbing for you) or use some sharp scissors to make a clean 90 degree cut. If you have used scissors you will need to melt the end of the tape to seal it from fraying, in the past I have used a lighter to gently heat and melt the end shut. (WARNING - When using a hot knife or melting a frayed edge be careful as the webbing will get hot and sticky once heated so try not to touch it until its fully cold down and do this outside).
A better solution:
In the summer, paddlers wear fewer layers than when they paddle in the winter. This means that when wearing a white water buoyancy aid in summer, the tail coming out of quick release safety harness is longer than in winter. This is something that white water paddlers have been dealing with for years. Palm have worked with Loel Collins in their latest white water buoyancy aid design to get rid of this problem by making their safety harness adjustable in length. This results in no longer having to cut down the tail length.
With SUP becoming more mainstream and a year-round activity, the same problem will occur with quick release belts; when you make the tail short for wearing the safety belt in summer clothing, come winter it might not be long enough to fit around our winter clothing. Additionally, when coaching, if we were to give belts out for group sessions, we need them to be adjustable to fit the range of sizes. The only belt I can currently find with an adjustable system is the Whetman Equipment belt, however, I feel the other manufacturers producing SUP quick release belts need to look into this system. It's also important for these manufacturers to educate people on the need to shorten the tail on their belt for a safe and clean release.
If you have any questions on this please don't hesitate to get in contact with myself or discuss this issue with other professional SUP coaches local to you.
Words by: Joshua Telling