Back band for pack canoe

I recently purchased a Hemlock Nessmuk and am in the process of fine-tuning the seating. The foam pad is indeed spartan, but I’m not happy with the Crazy Creek canoe chair either. It’s just too hard. I’m thinking of using a better pad for the seat along with a back band a la Placid Boatworks. Unfortunately, for some reason or other, the photos of the cockpit outfitting on the Placid website do not load for me. So…I would dearly love if those of you who own pack canoes with back bands would be willing to come to my assistance! Any idea what would be the best for my application? And what would be the best way to install it?

Thanks in advance for your help!


Pack Canoes and outfitting

– Last Updated: Oct-03-07 8:54 PM EST –

Some pack canoes are small, relatively fragile and minimally outfitted to improve carry weight.

Others are larger, to improve seaworthyness, more rugged to improve range of use and outfitted accordingly to improve paddler comfort and control.

You wish to convert one of the former to one of the latter by adding features from Placid's SpitFire? It might take more...oh, never mind.

We use a Surf to Summit backband, attaching it to the rails with 10-24 SS machine screws and Nexus strap grommets. Please note you'll need to move the rear thwart a couple inches aft to allow the pad to function. This is easy, as the thwart gets shorter as it moves towards a narrow end.

Our three carbon seats are infusion molded to fit our boat bottom shapes, so won't likely fit yours. A wood framed, cane seat can be glued to the hull bottom on two angled risers. Our seats have 12, 8 and 4 degree back angles - in ascending order of aggressiveness. Take your pick.

Please note the risers must be of something inert as wood will rot, and should be attached with Plexus or a good epoxy. Small units of Plexus can be had from Jamestown Dist; ~ $15.

We machine screw our wood seats to SS insert embedded in the risers so the seat can be removed for re-caning and re finishing.

Whatever else you do, get Keepers or other footbraces - they'll improve everything but your love life when sitting with a double paddle.

Charlie - Placid boatworks.

I looked at Hemlock. I’m glad I bought
from PBW.

Charlie do you
retrofit boats or might others be able to contact you for further assistance?

Refit and Advice
We’ve refitted Dagger Tupelos, several Bells, a couple old Curtis hulls, a few Wenonah’, a Grasse River and many pack canoes with names starting with capital h.

Seats, backbands, moved/new thwarts, footpegs, sometimes rails and decks. But, we will not put our dymondwood decks on other manufacturers hulls.

Advice is cheaper, but static is about the same level as above.


Thanks, Charlie. Your willingness to come on this forum and help, even someone who doesn’t own one of your boats, is admirable. I hadn’t planned to go as far as to mount a cane seat or install footbraces (although we do have a spare pair rattling around the garage), as I do want to keep the weight down. That’s why I bought what I bought. If adding a backband requires the modifications you mentioned, I’ll probably just go through our collection of folding foam camp chairs until I find one that suits.

Thanks again.

How far are you willing to go?
I have what I believe to be the Uber-Seat.

I started with a Piragis “Comfort Seat” for a bench seat. The seat did offer good lower back support, which is half the equation for me, but it had a 1" thick seat pad, which I found to raise my butt too high for good balance. I removed it by carefully cutting a circle in the BOTTOM of the seat envelope (about 6" dia) and replacing the thick foam with 1/2" sleeping pad foam.

Not too bad, but not super cushy.

Then something Mike McCrea said sparked an idea: I had a Thermarest trail seat, and it was the exact dimension of the seat envelope. Out came the foam, in went the Thermarest (with an access port cut for the valve) and I have had a happy butt ever since.

When in doubt, rely on an air cushion.


PS: REI has a cheaper version of the seat pad.

Fluid Glide
The issue with an air cushion is the boat-paddler weld.

We need a solid connection to control our hull. Much of that comes from footpegs, some from adjustable backband and some from the seat itself.

Ideal seats have some back riser to keep us from pushing backwards off the thing when we force load the footpegs, and offer side support when the hull rolls/heels.

An air cushion provides none of these functions. It’s kinda like the old Buick fluid-drive transmission. Most of us have more than enough of that already built in.


Thanks, Jim
The thermarest pad idea sounds good for my purposes. I may explore that route before I do something permanent to the boat.

Back band on solo canoe?
Does anyone ever use a backband on a solo canoe? Is the installation similar to pack canoe or would a seat with back be the solution?

My application is in a Bell Magic
Shoot me an e-mail and I can send you a picture.


Added bonus
My canoe chair/backband setup comes out of the boat and mounts on a stool to form a campfire chair. It will debut at Raystown.


Now you’ve got me curious
I have emailed you so you can send a pic!