Backband and seat comfort

I bought a QCC400 this summer and tried out the backband/seat that comes with the boat but found it very uncomfortable. They sent me a PD backband and I have made a foam pad out of my old Ridgerest camping mattress to pad the seat but it’s not comfortable yet.

Yesterday was my first test with the backband and since I have never had a backband in any of my previous kayaks, I wanted to know if there is something I am doing wrong.

I first placed the backband on the small of my back and while paddling it tends to slip down towards my hip area. I tried numerous ways of adjusting this angle to keep it from sliding down.

After about an hour of paddling I had lot’s of lower back pain and I do not paddle leaning on the backband but felt little support. I then moved it down towards my hips and felt better. Unfortunately I have two herniated disks in my lower back and while I try to keep my posture straight and not lean into a seat back, I do need support. Is there a better backband to buy, maybe a higher one like the touring type instead of what I think this is a whitewater band. Or maybe I don’t understand the correct placement of the band in relation to the body.

You could try one of these.

I have one in my Caribou and it feels wonderful. It has an adjustable lumbar plunger, I don’t use the adjustment as it feels great the way it is, but in your case it might be worth a try.

In my Nordkapp
I have a 4" wide band of plastic sheeting covered with a sheet of neoprene over minicell. Works better than the commercial backbands in my other boats.

To hold up the backband
I had a similar problem in my LV - the backband tended to float down, but more importantly could get flipped over when trying to re-enter. The problem is a common one in backbands that are anchored at a single point on each of the back of the band itself and the bulkhead behind the seat.

I ran lines of bungie cord thru two points of the backband (one loop on each side where the strap runs) and the single hook in back on the bulkhead. If you tighten up the bungies enough, the backband will stay up and won’t flip on re-entry.

It’s probably not quite as solid as the vertical supports mentioned above, but it is a reasonably close alternative if you aren’t sure whether you could easily install that system.

this summer
I paddled the San Juans with an outfitter and we were in Seaward Passat Doubles. They also had this rigid plastic band with a cover. Is that what you are talking about? Who sells these?

It’s supposed to support your hips…

– Last Updated: Aug-22-05 11:07 AM EST –

...not your back. The reason is simple. If you're paddling with proper torso rotation, a high back band will interfere and chafe. If you're new to paddling, some minor back soreness is normal until you get used to paddling. Another common cause of back soreness is setting your foot pegs too close. If you do that, it forces you against the back band, which leads to soreness from the constant pressure.

A kayak seat is not a chair; you have to sit upright and there should be little or no pressure on the back band when you're paddling forward. If you're leaning back, you're not sitting correctly. Basically, the backband is there only to help lock you into the boat when you need firm control over it. Otherwise, you should barely feel it.

Perhaps you could use an elastic back support for your disk problem? That may give you the support you need without compromising the function of the backband.

QCC seat
Tore mine out after a month. Too much os a sling.

I sit on the bare seat pan - no cushion at all (well, no artificial cushion anyway), and have and IR Reggie backband - as low as I can get it.

Your cockpit is deeper and your paddling is no doubt different than mine - so other option may suit you more - but I find this basic setup has been very comfortable (over 2 years now).

I purchased the plastic
at a local plastics fabricator for $1.00and covered it myself.


– Last Updated: Aug-22-05 11:19 AM EST –

seat pan is comfortable but on the 400 I feel I need to have a bit more height added. The IR reggie looks similar to what Phil sent do you use the touring model or whitewater model? So how low do you have the backband at?

My posture is straight and I do not lean on backband but feel I need some support for my back as with the herniated disks I have it feels unstable not to have something back there. I tried moving the footpegs because I also try to pump with legs and find a straighter leg better than the lotus position.

Brynstrom: I went to your outfitting page and saw how you rigged the backband touching the seat pad. You also have one center tie point instead of the two I have by the coaming.

Many variations
I have tried a bunch of variations in my QCC500, and I think I have found what works best for me. I installed a NSI Touring backband, and fabricated a seat pad out of cordure nylon and an REI sleeping pad. I like the ratchet adjustment (also found on some IR models). My greatest discovery was a Sealine inflatable thigh cushion - it actually helps my weak back by providing better seat support.

Caveats: Sometimes I get to playing with the ratchets, and have actually moved my butt too far foreward on the seat pan. Not comfy. I also tried a Sealing inflatable seat cushion and did NOT like it. Too rolly-polly, even at minimum pressure. I have also found that webbing adjusters (for band vertical location) work better for me than shock cords.

Keep trying various solutions until you hit a winner.


WW model

– Last Updated: Aug-22-05 1:21 PM EST –

Reggie 2.0 is a "WW" model - about the same size as NSI's "Mini WW" band.

I keep it kept pretty darn low - low as it will go. Band is narrow and bottom of it is pretty much same height as rear of seat pan. I've hooked the extra straps it has to the back of the seatpan to keep it there.

As Brian said - this is not furniture to lean back into - though most all casual/rec paddlers do. Big padded SOT/Rec sling seats are the worst for this. May be nice if you're kicking back fishing or just lounging - but not good for actually paddling and will cause the very back issues people buy them to relieve.

Also sounds to me like your problem isn't that you need a higher seat - but you need lower decks! I'd feel insecure in a kayak that deep and wide off of flat water.

Everyone has been very helpful and I now understand I have to find a way to keep the backband very close to seat lip. The backband sent to me was a PD and it does not have the ratchet system your does Grey yak. I don’t know if I need this or not. Hopefully, just trying to have another pad eye at back of seat may help to secure the band and prevent it from riding up and down.

As to the 400, it is not as bad as you think. With a 1/2" pad on the seat I have full contact with the underside of the hull. Only once this summer I found a real windy day at 25 knots and did try it out on Biscayne Bay. It did real well in chop and some very confused chop in the deeper channels. Hardly weathercocked in beam winds and responded well without the rudder for turns. I was pretty surprised how maneuverable this boat is. But, I need to try it out in more “bad stuff” although my paddling will be mostly the wilderness waterway and estuary areas so I think for that kind of paddling it’s more than sufficient.

The 400 will handle
rough stuff quite nicely and yields a dry ride.

I recently had one out in a nasty thunderstorm, 35mph wind, hail, and a 2’ chop (mountain lake). Shortest route off the water was a 1/2 mile sprint beam to the wind and chop. It was a great ride and the boat did fine. Edges easily and stable on the crests.

Quite honestly, the 400 impressed the hell out of me… and I like lower volume skinny boats.

John Winters claims he designed this boat to be a great all around kayak for a variety of people and I think he succeeded very nicely.

I was testing this boat out to see if it was worthy of paddling on Yellowstone Lake which can become rather dangerous when the storms kick in.

The owner of this particular 400 needs to develop her skills a bit further before next year’s trip, however, the 400 is most definitely up to the challenge.

Pleasant waters to ya.


Some like - some don’t. Not needed but work well for me as the straps are solid and give some support to the band itself. The adjustment isn’t needed once you get it right - but until then it’s very handy.

Mine has both ratchet bands and web straps - and I use the ratchets to attach to the seat posts and the other web straps to hook to the back of the seat (added some plastic hardware to wedge under the seat). Then there are crossed bungees to the padeyes on the coaming. That give me 6 points of attachment/adjustment and a band that pretty much stays put getting in and out but that can also pivot freely doing laybacks.

Posture / hamstrings

– Last Updated: Aug-22-05 4:15 PM EST –

To expand slightly on Brian's response:

First the name of the thing is misleading: It's called a backband but think of it as a butt-stop, designed to keep you from pushing your butt off the back of the seat. In most kayaks the backband is not mounted high enough (nor could it be) to actually support the back itself.

"A kayak is not a chair" but neither to we sit upright as most poeple think of the term. Consider how you would sit if you were on the floor (on a thin pad) with your legs nearly straight out in front of you. Let your feet and legs splay as if your knees were in contact with the sides of the cockpit.

Notice how you have to lean forward slightly to maintain balance. You don't sit on your butt as much as you sit on the backs of your thighs. If you have to pull with your abs to stay in this position then your hamstrings are too tight (such is the case with 99% of new kayakers).

Tight hamstrings cause the hips to rotate backwards relative to the spine, this then forces hyper-extension of the lower back, the most common cause of new paddler's back pain. This is the same pain (and the same cause) that we get from slouching in/on a coach that has a deep seat. The back is not designed to bend that way.

The cure is not a new backband or some trick mounting set-up but rather to lengthen the hamstrings via stretching and/or yoga until you can sit like this in comfort for hours on end. Consider relinquishing the couch to the dog and instead always sit on the floor on a thin pad or cushion. Imagine pushing your belly towards your knees to maintain the normal lumbar curvature. Before long your hamstrings with lengthen and all will be right with the world from the cockpit of your boat.

Once your hamstrings are back to their original specs you'll be able to rest your torso onto mildly tensioned hamstrings and you'll discover true comfort in a kayak.



Well the stretching, yoga
is always part of my routine and totally agree with you about the hamstrings. One thing that I don’t understand is this: I had a Perception Vizcaya for about 8 years and NEVER had back problems in this boat. That is why I never had the courage to sell it and buy something better. We used to do weeklong trips of about 12 - 20 mile days and no backaches. Before that I had a Scupper Pro for about five years and I had back problems in that boat. So if my paddling style has not changed much isn’t it a seat problem? Just a thought since I can’t go over 12 miles without back problems on the 400.

My Q700 seat drove me crazy too
I replaced it with an IR ratcheting backband with the top almost coaming high. I also got a gel seat cushion (don’t remember the brand) about 3/8" thick. Now I can spend two hours in the boat, but the legs and other parts are getting pretty numb.

Good Luck


Fix the legs and such…
…by tryinging that band lower down on your hips and off your back as much as possible - sitting up more - and working the legs more/rotating while paddling. The only time I seem to get back or any other issues down lower is on slow paddles where my lower body is mostly inactive. Getting rid of my foot pegs and going to a full foam bulkhead style surface really helped too - but if you have rudder like most you’re SOL.