Bell vs.Mad River canoe kneeling pad

Anyone out there have a preference? I’ve read some reviews, and am leaning toward the Bell. Not the Tpad, just the regular rectangular one. One of the reviews said the Mad River was hard on bare knees. I paddle flatwater/class I mostly, solo Wenonah Vagabond.

Definitely the Bell
Cushy comfort, I have the Bell T-pad and love it…your friend is right about the Mad River kneeling pad is hard on knees. They put a rough texture on it presumably to help it stick to the bottom of the canoe, but man is it hard on bare knees.

Cheaper to buy a yoga mat at WallyWorld.

I agree …
Definitely the Bell.

I have both of Bell’s pads, but I much prefer the large,t-pad. I think it is a good, long term investment. Not rough on your knees & I have not had any problem with it wandering around. Have had mine for several years & it is holding up well. I kneel probably 75% of the time.


Haven’t tried the Bell. I use the
Voyageur which, I believe, is the one sold by MRC. Haven’t had an issue with knee irritation.

Probably the first consideration is whether you want a pad that allows moving over a large range, or if your knees stay mostly in one place. For our MRC Synergy, with its triple saddle, I can slide the Voyageur pad through one of the arches in the base of the saddle, and the pad will stay there even if the boat flips. I had once glued in pads, but when we go from tandem to solo to tandem again, glued-in pads interfere with the feet of the tandem bowperson. So the Voyageur pad has turned out to be a great solution, at least for the center seat and solo use. I’m sure if I were paddling a freestyle canoe, I would be using a huge pad from Bell or someone else.

ccs knee pads
You should check out the pads available from Dan Cooke at They’re thicker and cushier than the Bells and stay in place better too.

Knee Pads
Sue Audette, the Bag Lady, is reprising the original Grade VI pads in the latest, trapezoidal shape.


Cooke vs Bell

Cooke 36" X 31" X 5/8" $70.00

Bell 36" X 31" X 4/8" $60.00

Why not ask Bell
Who they’re buying their knee pads from and you’ll soon understand why they are similar.

Comments about slipping pads
Early last year I was trying to come up with a way to keep my kneeling pad from slipping once the bottom of the boat got wet. A number of people said they used pads made from a very stiff material, and sized to extend from one gunwale to the other. That makes good sense, but I can’t remember any brand names. I think it was a pad style that’s available from one of the smaller high-end canoe companies, but I’m not sure.

What I ended up doing to solve the problem was to put a few industrial traction strips on the floor. I “broke them in” before installing them in the boat to get rid of most of the really sharp abrasives, so the kneeling pad wouldn’t get too badly eroded by contact with the strips. It works well, but I can already see that this will shorten the lifespan of the pad (I use a Bell T pad in that boat).

The Bag Lady

– Last Updated: Feb-29-08 4:44 PM EST –

will be making the pads that go from gunwale to gunwale. They are stiff.
They are a remake of the old Grade VI pads.
Other than that most FS people have made their own pads that go from gunwale to gunwale themselves using minicell covered with something, usually neoprene. A DIY project. These lock in under the gunwales and dont slip..the downside is that you have to make a separate one for each boat you have as they are a custom fit.

Home Depot sells workshop flooring that some use and others use Toys R Us alphabet pads. You cannot look like too serious a canoeist when your pad says "a, b, c"

Other than that there is no brand name. Its Bell, Grade VI (Bag Lady), or CCS.

FS canoeists flock and get excited about the new perfect pad..

Remember the Moose Pads? They were open cell foam. About one pound dry and 50 wet.

Extra weight?
A Bell T-pad weighs 1 pound 10 ounces dry and 2 pounds 7 ounces wet. A 40% increase in weight, and the pad is usually wet in the bottom of the canoe.

Two minicell knee pads 1/2" x 8" x 12" weigh 3 ounces dry and 3.2 ounces wet. A 10% gain

An el cheapo Wallyworld yoga mat 1/4"x20"x72" weighs 9 ounces dry and 15 ounces wet. A 40% gain.

I velcro the knee pads to the boat so I can take them out to replace them or clean them or reposition them.

At every portage the T pad or yoga mat requires shaking out and rinsing sand off, then rolling and tying to pack, then untying and reinstalling in the canoe. When they are wet in the canoe they tend to slide around and bunch up at your feet.

I vote for velcroed knee pads unless you need the T pad or yoga mat in camp for a sitting cusion or tent entry . If you are practicing Freestyle for long hours kneeling and moving around in the boat then the T pads are far more comfortable.

Kneeling Pads
I’m sure this discussion will be continued at LaLou (only about 5 weeks away). I know several of those attending will be using both Bell and Cooke pads. Maybe one of the new “Grade VI” pads from Sue Audet will be available to compare. If you haven’t already registered check it out at

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

I made my own
large rectangle 3/4" thick nylon top. I ordered 1/2 closed cell no nylon side and 1/4" nylon top and glued them together… very cushy…

It was cheaper than pre-made pads… I didn’t think 1/2" would be thick enough.

Carpet Pad
If you want to go cheap - I bought closed cell foam carpet underlayment at Home Depot. It’s 1/2" thick and 3 ft. wide, cut from the roll any length you want. A whole lot less money than the commercial pads. It works for me and when I discovered that I had left it behind at the lake last year I didn’t cry too much, It only cost five bucks. Just my 2 cents worth.

knee pads
I make my own and using lessons from my PT relative put into the pad check points to help the knee from injury and stability to aid in not damaging the knee and associated joints. Knee replacement now days is easy but the rehab is hell to recover. Thus endith the Yorke reading for this day.