cane or webed seat?

I am replaceing the seat on my wildfire. have a cane but am looking at a contured web seat. which one holds up better? not just long term. and does the webing stay supportive when wet?

Nylon webbing stretches a little
when wet. Enough to notice on the short lengths used on a canoe seat? Debatable. Polypropylene won’t. Both stay wet longer than cane will, once soaked.

Go web, in my opinion it’s much more comfortable and way more durable that cane. Cane has tradition going for it, and that’s about all going for it.


– Last Updated: Apr-18-10 5:02 PM EST –

Generally speaking, I think it just a matter of personal preference. I don't think the benefits/shortcomings of either, no matter what they supposedly are, out weigh the benefits/shortcomings of the other.

As for durability; my 1966 Chestnut Pal's cane seats were still flexible & unbroken when I found it 34 years after it was purchased.

All 9 of my Blackhawk canoes have cane seats which are in nice condition; all of them are a minimum of 15 years old. I see no reason why any of those cane seats will need replacing anytime soon.

I prefer cane; the main reason is because I think it is more visually pleasing.

Ed's has a very nice selection of seats.


I have had webbed seats give out
but it was the fault of the structure and not the web. Personally I hate them. Poly web wont stretch but boy does it stay wet forever.

I love cane and have had cane seats last many many years. Eventually they do get old and brittle, but 16 years is a good run. They are not hard to replace either though if you want to hand cane your own replacement, that is a project!

I vote for webbing
All my caned seats molded and rotted in a few years and I replaced them with webbing that lasted more than 10 years. Both are similarly comfortable.

I like both, and also . . .
Novacraft uses an inter-laced cord seat - something similar to bootlace or thin accessory cord in a crisscrossy pattern. It too is comfortable.

I like Ed’s Cane Bucket seat.
Not because it’s cane, but because it’s the most comfortable seat I’ve used.

I’ll leave the benefits/deficits of cane vs web to the others that have an opinion.

Once wet, cane dries very quickly, nylon webbing stays wet for a very long time. Depends on how much you like a wet butt.

Bill H.

plastic vs natural cane?
The book “Building a Strip Canoe” (on page 72) recommends caning with plastic cane instead of natural. Assumming that one is willing to do their own caning, does anyone have any pros/cons to offer in using plastic instead of natural?

cane vs woven webbing
I find cane seats a bit more comfortable but not decisively so. I think cane is a bit more esthetic.

I have found that cane seats last a good long time, but not as long as seats with woven tubular nylon webbing.

I often take seat frames from cane seats on which the cane has given out and make them into woven, webbed seats using 1 1/2" or 2" wide tubular nylon webbing. If the frames are symmetrical, you can turn the frames upside down to hide the rout used to bed the cane, and use stainless steel wood screws and washers to anchor the webbing strips on the inside portion of the frame underneath the strips.

What kind of webbing did MR use?
My Malecite has cane seats on the ends and a webbing seat in the center. It’s the nicest webbing I’ve ever seen. It’s wide, thin and tight as a drum. It dries very quickly.

Anybody know what it was?

Same on my Ed’s contour.
Very thin and stays nice 'n taut. I think they’ll sell you some if you call.

Yea, that looks like the stuff

I’ll keep that in mind when I need new seats. But I don’t think I could get it as tight as Ed probably does. I’ll probably just spring for the seats.

Both have their good/bad points
So it’s a matter of preference - or whatever is on the boat you find a good deal on. Nothing is prettier than the boot-lace webbing used by Merrimack and Navarro on their seats though, IMO. And nothing is more practical than the cord webbing system that Nova Craft uses (and it ain’t bad lookin’ either). Either of those can be done in a typical home shop. And there’s other ways to use poly cord for webbing which will give you a nearly indestructible, dry, and comfortable seat - but I promised not to tell…

funny no one mentioned babiche
seats now that we have wandered off.

Halfway down this page…made of caribou

whole bunch of other interesting stuff on that page.

Touched a raw nerve with me.

– Last Updated: Apr-19-10 3:20 PM EST –

I have been dabbbling with seats for a couple of years now, and have the perspective of a "big guy" in all of my opinions.

I have used caned seats in my old MR Explorer. Worked well enough, but the typical sharp edge on the inside of the seat frame was uncomfortable (Eds and Essex - you paying attention?).

For an oversized (basically double-length) "hammock" seat I used 3/32" polyester cord and "half-caned" the frame, that is I did not lace the diagonals. Still took me an average of 6 hours over the course of two prototypes to do the lacing. Learn as you go!

I am now testing a frame from Eds that has turned out to be extremely comfy. I had them make a wide seat with curved members and 16" C-to-C mounting to which I added 1" polyester (not polypro) web tensioned with 3/32" poly cord. Rather than try to get the seat drum tight I left slack, or droop in the web. It forms a bucket and is very comfortable with no additional padding. I have not gotten the web wet, but it will take a while to dry.

I can understand why Eds and Essex stretch their web tightly - the nylon absorbs moisture and stretches. Polyester web does not stretch as much as nylon, but costs about twice as much per foot.

If I get motivated this summer I will lace the frame fully with 1/16" nylon. I am thinking that sag is a good thing for flatwater touring.


Looks like Merrimack…
…only with more traditional material. Beautiful! But I don’t understand why one would resort to doweled joints on such a nice seat. That wouldn’t stop me from buying one if I couldn’t make my own though!

Good supply source - thanks for the link!

I like Polypro Webbing
I think it holds up better.

Gotta laugh about the folks complaining of wet seats.

Never noticed much difference between my web and cane seats that way.

But then when I go boating things get wet pretty quickly.

the joints of Ed’s seats are doweled, at least the contoured ones in ash. About 5/16" if my eye is good, two per joint. I had assumed that they were mortised, but I dissected one and was surprised.