back band or foam block

pro’s and con’s to each? i’ve never used the foam block wedge, but am considering it for a new boat as a minimalist alternative to back band and shock cords. i like the idea of never having to fuss with the band, but wonder if it is as comfortable for all around paddling. also, the flexibility of the back band when paddling and rolling is all i have used. any thoughts are appreciated.

backband vs foam
I’ve found the foam to be a better option for me…

Pros –

It’s always in the exact position for me

provides more support – less “give”

Doesn’t wrap around my hip area, so I feel I get better torso rotation around the edges of the foam.

Very comfortable for full-day paddling

Helps me maintain an upright, dynamic paddling position

Cons –

Less ability to adjust if you have others paddling your boats

Can take some time/sessions to fuss with getting the fit/shape just right

Can’t really make on-water adjustments. What you’ve got is what you’ve got

Can get knocked around if you don’t have it glued in

I tried the block
but found it caused pressure on my lower back when I was in the kayak all day. For shorter trips it was fine. I finally removed it and put in flat foam along the entire back and it’s very comfortable. I really dislike backbands because they always end up in the wrong place for me during reentry of any kind. The only problem with my set up is that it’s hard to drain the kayak completely. Small price to pay for comfort.


Foam back support for Caribou
I’m in the process of shaping a foam block for my Caribou. It’s amatter of tweaking until it fits the lower back just right. I’ve cemented in some neoprene pieces from an old wet suit for lumbar support. When I get it right it should be better than the backband tha came with the boat. John

Yes to foam!
I have outfitted several boats with a foam block and highly prefer this over a back band. In all cases I used a 3 inch wide piece that was custom fitted to boat and back. Tom is correct on all pro/cons. Plus it is neither a permanent nor expensive mod.

I roughed it out in the yard and took a knife and sanding block on the water for a few trips until it took on the best shape.

For what it’s worth, if you have an NDK boat we have pre-cut foam backrests that fit NDK kayaks. Some models require a little shaping, but most of the time they drop right in.

They’re particularly popular with adventure racers paddling the Triton double.

Here’s a link:

I tried
this design but took it out as it interfered with my hips when I rotated to do a balance brace in my Romany. Good idea though.

great input, many thanks.

How wide…
…a chunk of of minicell is that?

It’s five inches wide.


I use a back band and foam
for backrest in different kayaks and for me the backband is much more comfortable. It gives my lower back consistent support all the way across and is very comfortable even after a couple hours in the kayak. The foam backrest works fine but took me some adjusting and trimming to get it to be comfortable. The only reason that I am using a foam backrest is because this kayak is very low volume and the backband wouldn’t work.

foam block
i like the snapdragon 4" backband. more extensive support than a 5" block, but doesn’t shift all over the place like most backbands. like don says though, it’s dependent on the boat and on my two low volume kayaks i use foam. take a look at brian nystrom’s webshots site and also the bbk website for examples of broader backrests in foam.

More pros for foam block
My old boat was fitted with a foam block backrest and it served me well. After figuring out the backband on my new boat, I kinda’ like it, but I may fit mine out with a foam block for the following reasons:

Fitting the block with a set of bungies turns your seatback into a paddle float that you don’t have to worry about getting washed off your deck.

The block also takes up the space behind the backband that traps a lot of water in your cockpit. An inverted bow lift results in nearly all the water being emptied from the cockpit. This does, however, eliminate some storage space for handy items.