are seat backrests which extend higher than cockpit rim bad?

Hi, I have hired a few kayaks & after thoroughly enjoying myself am looking to buy a sit in.
One model in which I liked the fit, had a tall profile backrest which extends 3 or 4 inches above the cockpit rim. the backrest can be pivoted fwd when placing kayak on your car.
the seat feels great, but I wanted to know if this will make re entering (getting into the cockpit by climbing on the back)
or finding a skirt which can close over it an issue? Also does a tall profile seat affect the ability to perform roll maneuvers?

Yes, a tall seat back can be a hindrance in a sea kayak. That said, you need to look at what sort of boat you’ll be purchasing and what you want to do with it. If it’s a wide recreational boat that you’ll paddle close to shore in warm conditions, few of these issues will matter to you. If you intend on heading out into the open water in rougher conditions, you definitely want a seat back (or back band) that sits below the cockpit coaming, and doesn’t get in the way upon reentry.

What model is the one you favoured? What else have you been in? What sort of paddling do you want to do in the future?

the type of trips would be island hopping (3 - 4 miles distant) on the great lakes, hopefully on calm water, but i have got caught up in 2 - 3m waves once with the hire kayak.
the model i was looking at which has a tall profile seat is the perception expression 15

I see that Perception has a back band option for that kayak. You should take that option if you are looking at increasing your skills - efficient paddle strokes, rescues, and rolling.

Check out the reviews here:

At least one of them has a detailed narrative of having issues with the seat back while attempting reentries.

On the manufacturer’s web site there is mention of a secondary backband option, the “Zone EXP backband”

I did at least see that front and rear bulkheads are part of the construction, so basic flotation is covered. As are the deck lines, and it has a skeg. It’s a wide boat, and near the bottom end of the scale for desired length when efficiently traveling any sort of distance.

My intuition is that you should keep looking, but I’m interested in hearing what some of the others with wider knowledge of boats have to say.

As well as reentry and skirt fitting issues the common wisdom is that a higher seat back acts as a hindrance for torso rotation.

As you get to be a more experienced paddler you’ll learn that the power doesn’t so much come from your arms or shoulders but from the larger muscles of your torso. A lower seat back, or better still a back band, lets you free up your upper body to better allow this rotation. It’s not a huge thing and many, if not most kayaks allow you to adjust the seat back downwards to get it almost as low as the rear deck.

I just checked and if you look here…

…you’ll see that the Perception Zone seat does have this adjustability. If I had my choice I’d probably go with a backband, but to be honest the standard seat looks fine. Just keep it straight to maintain an upright posture, and low.

I’ve got a back band in the QCC that I can raise up to be quite comfy. If I lean forward or get out of the boat, it drops down. It seems to work for me. If I have a spray skirt on I’m probably not lounging anyway.
My favorite day cruiser has a backrest that extends higher than the rear deck. Very comfy. I’m not going to be pushing this one on big water, just enjoying the river. The same spray skirt still fits. But that’s me, my boats and body. Your mileage may vary…

Randall - I have an Expression 15 that came with a high seat back that precluded using a good fitting skirt. I installed a back band which is easy to do via a u-tube tutorial.
I also have a 17 ft Tempest which although is narrower than the Expression I find that with my 80 year old engine the Expression is just as quick as the Tempest - both with a cruising speed of about 4.2mph.

thanks for all the feedback. i see the advantages of the band seat type over the taller profile one.

Q: is it possible to re enter a kayak by sliding up the front, rather than from the rear? i have never seen this done on YouTube before. this would avoid the need of hopping over the seat.

Well, I’m not going to say that reentry from the front is impossible but most kayaks are Swede form (google up Swede form versus fish form kayak hull designs) with the widest part of the hull - which will provide the most buoyancy and stability - just behind the cockpit.

Front decks are usually higher than rear decks. But yes it is possible, not easier but possible.

If the higher back is so you can paddle in the reclined position like a lounge chair you are not in the best position for paddling.

Rolling… a high seat back will inhibit your ability to roll in a leaned-back position. Not good.

This is a great article about choosing a sea kayak.