Cane Seats

I just purchased a used canoe with cane seats that appeared to be in excellent condition. When I took it out for the first time, the cane seat completely tore out on two sides while I was sitting in it. Is this a common issue with cane seats? Is there some sort of conditioner that needs to be applied to these seats to prevent this? Old Town sells a repair kit for this but I am now skeptical about using cane and am considering repairing with nylon webbing instead. Any Suggestions here?


Cane seats in my Mohawk lasted
15 years and were still in decent shape until my son, his buddy and a 12 pack of beer came along. They hold up, but the webbing is better, a bit more comfy too. I replaced the cane with a rope weave. Cheap and it should hold up.

Cane vs. Webbing
Although the webbing is stronger, I prefer cane for it’s breathablity and quick dry. The replacing is not very difficult, and I think it looks better and is more comfortable. To each his own I guess.

Good Luck,


other brands with slightly diff. webbing

– Last Updated: Apr-16-07 1:13 PM EST –

Just get a new one to replace. Bell's cane seats are strong, have a little give to them..and are made to possess a little tilt forward...of course, will probably require another/additional wood & long-enough bolt to secure, if "dropped" from gunwales, but is a great seat. Something to maybe think about.

Webbing seats do not use Nylon.
They use polypropelene which does not stretch when wet, and which dries quicker than Nylon.

check out… for seat options

cane is breathable
Cane is a natural material. If the underside is varnished that is a no no that can lead to dry rot.

I am hard on my boat. A cane seat lasts about 6 years-360 uses in a wilderness tripping scenario

Its a grass, it does eventually split.

I find it far more comfortable than webbing; I have always gotten sciatica from webbing seats.

It is cheap and easy to fix the cane. You can buy a replacement cane kit from Old Town.

cut out the broken cane
Weave in a new seat with dacron cord. It will last longer and is an inexpensive repair.

Cane seat replacement
Check out the seats from Nova Craft Canoes…they use an open “boot lace” weave (perhaps similar to what Frank NC recommends) that works really well and will last far longer than cane. I think they are WAY more comfortable than either cane or webbing (I have them on a Bob Special); however, every butt is different!

replacement seat
Let’s cut to the chase scene. You can get replacement seats from Ed’s Canoe Parts and Essex Industries; both online. Be sure to know the spacing on the machine screws, C to C on the lateral bars of your existing seats before you order.

Web gets and stays wet. Bootlace and nylon cord pinch bare flesh, Cane, accent on pressed cane, needs more than annual Poly U or replacement every five to ten years. Take your pick.

Cane Seat Care
The enemy of cane is long-term moisture and sunlight. On my solo boat I wax the cane seat heavily after every use. Can’t say for sure that’s the secret, but my seat looks new after 8 years, except for becoming slightly dished to fit my tush better. The wax keeps the cane from becoming brittle and splitting and it sheds water like a duck’s back. I’m sure hanging my canoe upside down from the ceiling of my garage when I’m not using it helps too.