cane or nylon web? help!

i am renovating a '78 mad river malecite. it needs new seats. i have an order form from ed’s almost complete and i’m struggling with the cane vs nylon web seat issue. i like the looks of cane but they rot, thats why i’m getting new seats. how long can i expect cane seats to last? outdoors, upside down? no indoor storage available. what are your thoughts?

I have webbing and prefer it, except
that with cane, one can easily refinish the seat frame. With webbing, one has to take the webbing off, refinish, and then restore the webbing.

Cane rots?
I believe it dries out.

I dont find webbed seats comfortable especially if they are not contoured. The front edge tends to give both me and husband leg pain. It doesnt seem like the webbed seat on Eds site is contoured…that does not mean its not offered…perhaps a phone call.

I have a thirteen year old cane seat that just went through. I have cane seats in most of my other boats…seventeen. When one does eventually die its pretty easy to replace the cane. No weaving!

Outdoors or indoors it should not matter unless you are storing where the seat comes directly in contact with the ground.

I would consider comfort levels first.

The only reservation I would have about cane is if you are going to stand on your seat frequently. Thats not a joke…if you are camping on chickees I would probably go with a contour webbed seat.

Web lasts longer, but
When rained on it wets more and stays wet longer.

Nylon can absorb water unlike most other plastics.

Ah’s like cane me’self
Most o’ me canoos gots cane seats but ah’s a kneeler so de cane dun’t git too much stress on it. Only had one seat blow through on 45+ years of cane seat usage.

Plus on de Malachite - cane does look much classier.


i feel challenged
the more i learn about the malecite, the more challenged i feel to make it what it can be…and i havent even paddled it yet. cane it is, tho i wonder what yall will think when i get done

I vote for cane
I think cane looks nicer and unless stepped (or kneeled) on lasts a long time. Almost every cane seat that I’ve repaired over the years had been abused in some manner. As noted earlier, replacing pre-woven cane is no big deal.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom paddles and cedar strip canoes

vote for cane
I’ve replaced the cane in my malecite about 3 times over 23 years. Easy enough to do yourself or take it to a local caner. I coat it with a thin coat of clear polyurethane.

Can’t argue against synthetics.

Of course squirrels love to munch on wood and cane seats as well as any synthetics that contain salt. Have seen some synthetic wood bridges at the local college study forest that have been shreded. As your local squirrels which they prefer?

Isn’t it…
…a great quandary,

what material to seat under me?

I too, have a Malecite,

and somehow with the webbing

it just doesn’t look right.

But then, damn if an associate,

comin’ aboard starts to make me fret,

with all his pawin’ and his clawin’

makes case for webbin’ plain,

he can’t keep his feet off the seat

when he’s raisin’ cane!

But, I’m staying with the cane in the Malecite, purely for aeshetic reasons. With plush, herculon cover in place when Moby’s aboard. Thinking about getting an Ed’s tractor-style on rails cane to replace the regular cane center seat.

With my other (Uberbot, Explorer) river/poling boats, it’s webbing for me.

Here’s a question. Why not polyester instead of nylon webbing? Wouldn’t that fabric provide less water absorbtion, UV degradation, and stretch?


Restore it to stock as best you can.

– Last Updated: Dec-12-09 10:15 AM EST –

You might even be able to get some vintage graphics and decks from Openboater, if he has any left in his stash.

The old Mad Rivers always illicit admiring second glances at the put-in.

Ed's may have even made the cane seat that was original to your Malecite.

Nylon absorbs more than polyester,
while polypropelene strapping, if you can find it, absorbs none at all. When Nylon gets wet, it relaxes, more than polyester, and much more than polypropelene.

original …
i have a tandem canoe (mohawk) so i’m setting up my malecite as a solo. i got a hint or two about the ‘stock solo seat location’. i must, however, deviate from stock somewhat. i am an addicted sailor. the boat will need a mast step and thwart. and the center seat may be the only one. i sense that it might be best to keep the boat light.

another vote for web
I’ve replaced many cane seats and never a web seat.

Contoured web seat
That’s the most comfortable, most supportive and longest lasting. Not nylon, but polypropylene for the reasons stated.

Cane may not break for a while but it sags. The frames are just cheap cutouts and are uncomfortable. Cane seats should be relegated to the dustbin of wanigans, tumplines, scratchy wool pants and Calvin Coolidge.

Cane done properly is quite comfortable and if properly maintained lasts a really long time. Last year I sold an old canoe of mine that had the orriginal 20 year old cane seats and they looked and preformed like new.

Bill H.

Polyester web vs nylon
I imagine that most manufacturers use nylon based on cost and availability. Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics lists only one type of polyester at a buck a foot, about 2 or 3 times that of polypro and nylon.

I built my latest seat using polypro, but it has not undergone any field testing.

Besides OWF NRS sells polypropylene in various colors.


I prefer cane.

I think it looks better.

I think it is more comfortable.

I don’t think it gets as wet, or stays wet as long as webbing does.

I have quite a few canoe from the mid to late 80s & early 90s. All have the original cane seats.I have only had to replace one cane seat in all the canoes I’ve ever owned, and that’s a bunch. The previous owner was the one who messed it up, not me.

One of the two cane seats in my 1966 Chestnut was still in good condition, but I replaced the caning on both when I had it restored so the caning would match. That caning was nearly 40 years old.

I agree with thtoo; get original graphics on your canoe while you’re restoring it, and if they are not readily available, they are cheap to have made.


I’d kinda like info on rawhide laced
seats. I used to know a dealer, but they were eaten by bears.

If you love working on boats
cane is the most obvious choice. It is just waiting for someone to poke a knee or foot or some other camping object through it. Nothing fills the soul like working on our trusty boats. If nothing else, it will eventually decay and die on its own. Usually when you are on some five day excursion you saved up for and will be your lifetime canoeing expedition achievement. Except for where you had to weave a new seat out of sumac branches, it would have been a really comfortable trip.

If you hate working on boats, nylon is the single lifetime fix that baring a train wreck or accidental trip over Niagra Falls, will last and last and you can step on it, kneel on it, drop your Coleman stove on it and praise yourself for being so wise at such a young age. Work done, just paddle for the rest of your life.