What Are Strainers On A River

Paddling is a wonderful sport to participate in, but it is not without dangers. If you go river paddling, you might come across strainers on a river. Such dangers shouldn’t be forgotten as they lurk, waiting for the ones who are not.

When there is an obstruction in the water, only little volumes of water may move through at a time, resulting in a river strainer.

Various natural and manufactured barriers, such as tree branches, submerged vehicles, and even fences, can cause the strainer.

It strains the river, removing larger trash, boats, and even humans or animals, leaving only water to flow through the small spaces within the obstruction. This is comparable to when you use a strainer in your kitchen for washing salad or veggies. (Learn What Muscles Does Kayaking Work)

river strainer

In our guide, you can find that when boating on a river, you may encounter strainers, the danger of a strainer, and what you can do to avoid these water hazards.

What Is the Danger of a Strainer?

When boating on a river, you may encounter strainers; what are strainers can often be asked as they are hard to see.

You may become pinned against an object producing an obstruction, and it is this that creates a strainer. Although the small gaps are too small for you to pass through, water can be driven through at force.

This is extremely dangerous since it may cause you to flip your kayak or canoe, causing you to be pinned underwater.

It’s a good idea to scout the river before paddling it to help avoid getting caught in a strainer. This can help you in identifying any potential obstacles ahead of time, allowing you to take precautions to avoid them.

Examples of river strainers:

  • Tires
  • Shopping carts and vehicles or bikes
  • Tree limbs and branches
  • Vines, weeds, and logs
  • Fences and guard rails

It’s also sure to wear suitable safety equipment, such as a well-fitting PFD with knives and a helmet.

When you go out, it’s a good idea to take some friends with you so that if you get trapped in a strainer, someone will help you out. Ropes and throw bags are recommended.


What is a Strainer in Kayaking?

If you ask anyone what are strainers, they often come back with strainers that act as a kitchen strainer for pasta or salad, as it is the most common example.

River strainers are obstructions and hurdles that allow water to flow through but prevent larger things such as a kayaker and their kayak from passing through.

A strainer could be man-made or natural, such as fallen trees, a tree root system, fence posts in the water, which all accumulate debris, and thus a much larger and unavoidable obstacle.

A partially submerged strainer could be showed by bouncing twigs; in addition, bikes and vehicles underwater are called undercut strainers.(Learn How To Transport A Kayak On A Small Car)

Water can pass downstream through these obstructions, although boats and people are held back and pinned against the hard objects sitting in the rivers.

If there are branches, they will act as a sieve, preventing paddlers and their boats from passing downstream.

Remember that if your boat flips and you are pinned underwater, a safety life jacket will be useless, so a dangerous strainer isn’t something to take lightly if you get caught in one.

What is a Sweeper On a River?

Sweepers are occasionally found with a river strainer, making the thing much more difficult. As a result, it’s critical to understand the differences and learn how to spot them on the river, so you don’t get too close.

Sweepers are river hazards made by overhanging barriers, such as a fallen tree or low-hanging branches, as opposed to strainers generated by underwater obstructions, which are hidden.

The most major distinction between the two can be found in this explanation.

Sweepers are simpler to identify, but it doesn’t make them any less of river hazards or any less dangerous.

You might overlook a part of the hazard, such as roots and branches, hidden beneath the surface and forming the strainer.

Strainers might be difficult to recognize; however, if you see twigs bobbing on the water from a fallen tree or other bushes are something to keep your eyes on.

You’re probably approaching a strainer if you see the top of an abandoned automobile as these allow water to pass, yet debris quickly accumulates on them.

If you’re kayaking down a river and come across a strainer, here are some things to keep in mind.

Always wear a lifejacket, swim furiously toward the strainer if you’re in the water and can’t avoid it. (Read Do You Have To Wear A Life Jacket On A Kayak)

As you use your momentum, you need to grab something above the water surface to help stop you from being dragged into the strainer. At this stage, you need to pull yourself out of the water by using a scissor kick with your body and legs to get free of any obstruction.

Using your strength and momentum at precisely the right time is the only way you can pull yourself out of danger. Remember, the more you panic, the quicker fatigue sets in and the harder it is to get free if the rivers are fast-flowing, and thus harder to rescue yourself.

fallen tree

How to Get Out of a Strainer

If you are not yet caught in a strainer or the river current, you can swim away from the strainer to safety to the center of the river.

Part the branches surrounding you from the sweeper and use your energy to swim away from the strainer to safe water or the riverbank if possible.

Scouting your route before you paddle is one of the best things you can do.

You can identify potential strainers from obstacles bobbing around on the water or probable locations they could be ahead of time. It’s possible that you won’t be able to paddle in these areas, yet you could walk your kayak around and back into the water after the strainer obstacle in that instance.

Always wear a life jacket when out on the water, it should go without saying that you should wear a life jacket and is law in most areas. (Read Will A Kayak Fit Inside My Car)

Monitor the weather because this can change instantly and leave you in a dangerous scenario and create a hazard that wasn’t there previously and lead to river white water rescue.

If you live where flash floods are common, then the slow-moving river you started kayaking down could turn much, far more aggressive. Besides this, should winds strengthen, your kayak may overturn, leaving you stranded in the water?

Take a kayaking trip with a friend so you can keep an eye out for each other and lower the risk of hitting such hazards from overhanging trees and submerged objects and obstacles.

What Are Strainers On A River (1)