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i have limited knowledge but they are parachute like things u throw in the water to either slow your drift down or make the current drift your kayak instead of the wind. particularly useful if the wind is blowing your yak one way and the current wants u to go another way....i think maybe someone can explain it better than me. good question
 

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A drift chute, also known as a drift sock or sea anchor is a parachute for a vessel that is deployed in the water. It works like a parachute in air in that it slows you down. I use one a lot more than I would an anchor. Whenever the wind is blowing it will decrease your drift speed up to 2/3rds. Very handy when you can't anchor or don't want to and much safer in many areas. They won't work without wind however. In current they are carried along just like you. I never leave without one in the hatch, just in case.
As to size we use small boat ones. Usually they're 17-18". These sizes work well and store easily.
 
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