Canoe back rest options

-- Last Updated: Jul-29-08 1:01 AM EST --

What type do you prefer:
Rigid like this:

Cloth/flexible, like this:

I had a chance to try the cloth type last week on DuluthMoose's Voyager. Felt nice.

There doesn't appear to be much in the product reviews.

How about just a padded back band …
… with adjustable straps clipped to the gunnels . You can let it drop out beind you when not wanted or unclip and stow it . It’s light and you can put it against your back where ever you like for support . You could even make your own with a bit of imagination , to the size you want (deeper or narrower) …

CVCA is another option

– Last Updated: Jul-29-08 8:49 AM EST –

Scroll down to the middle of the page - the big chair is for paddlers with special needs.

I have used the Wenonah-style canoe chair (also made by Crazy Creek) and found it to be pretty comfy. I have never used the ridgid style, but it looks un-comfy to me.


If you are handy, you could always DIY. Somewhere in this album of mine are pics of a backrest I fabricated.

i don’t like back rests
i don’t think most people need one with a proper seat.

i had one on my canoe for years, and always had back problems. took it off and sat upright and my back has actually gotten stronger.

i think a back band also keeps you from fully engaging some core muscles, muscles that are critical to a powerful, efficient stroke.

just my 2 cents.

I’ve tried both
I find that for most trips, I’d prefer not to use any backrest. But they are nice on those longer trips where you’re just plugging away for hours on end.

Of the two, I definitely prefer the cloth. More comfortable, easier to reach around the back of to get gear. Also, most of the available cloth or padded seats will double well as a camp chair, where the rigid seat is only a seatback that attaches to the canoe seat.


When I was a youngin’
I didn’t need a backrest either.

Now at 58, with three discs that aren’t what they were long ago I appreciate a good support. In fact, comfort has become an almost all-consuming passion.

So far this season my high point was when CWDH declared my Magic seat system to be the most comfortable he had ever encountered.

But he may have been imbibing, so his evaluation might have been skewed.


Since It’s My Backrest Being Hashed Over
Jack, the backrest on my Voyager was a cheap Insul-Seat, a Crazy Creek copy with 2 web straps and buckles at the bottom to secure it to canoe seats. I got it at Gander Mt for about $15, but its been a few years. There are very few backrests that will work with Wenonah’s sliding seat system for their solo canoes. This one does so I use it in my solo canoes as well as the tandems. I use it when I know I’ll be out for more than a few hours, when I’m fishing, or when I’m traveling at something less that top speed. I don’t use the backrest if I’m out for a short time or on a vigorous exercise paddle. This one easily goes on and off the canoe seat and is handy as a chair in camp. It can be warm sitting in it on a hot day. On the other hand it can feel warm and cozy on cool weather paddles, or when the wind is chilly. Lightness is important to me as the backrest stays in the canoe for portaging. I did add snaps to the web carrying handles for that purpose to hold the backrest in a closed position when the canoe is over my head. That way the seat doesn’t block my view of the trail (if its in the bow), or bounce off my head with each step (if its on a solo seat), or catch on brush (if its in the stern).

Thanks all
A lot of good comments, and of course more information to process and influence the decision. The more you know the harder it gets. I’m leaning to the cloth, or a back band at this point. I understand how they can be a bit toasty on a warm day. I cut down a full width Bell knee pad to use as a seat pads, and they warm your bottom a bit.

How do you attach to the Wenonah seat?
Are the straps close enough together to stay in place on the Wenonah floor mount seat, or do you criss-cross the straps underneath the seat?

I’ve tried buckling my crazy creek style canoe seat onto the Voyager seat by crossing the straps underneath which has sort of worked but the seat does not stay in place as well as I would like.

I’ve been using a folding wood/cane
seat back for years like the one in this picture of our long lost friend Doc. It’s nice but will be replaced with an Ed’s style bucket seat that I will make out of walnut

The last backrest I made is rigid and attached permanently to the seat with aluminum “L” brackets. It’s low, even with the top of the gunwales so you can still turn the boat over and it wont hit anything. It gives great lower back support and allows the front of the seat to be higher than the back so kneeling is easy. For me it is a painless seat.

very nice and simple idea
That’s what I am looking for, just something to give a bit of support when needed but out of the way for paddling and transporting boat. You should market that seat! How about selling one to me?

NT’s seatback

A very simple and classy looking solution. Looks quite comfortable too. Nice work.


I have a backrests or band in both
solo canoes and use neither when paddling. I use them for breaks, leaning back and relaxing. I am more comfortable paddling without them.

sliding back
I agree with you but have found that when sit and switch paddling, I tend to power off foot brace and end up sliding back on my bench seat. Since I do like to kneel to change positions (don’t need a backrest for that)don’t want to put a bucket seat in my canoe.

NT’s solution of using a low back band to stop the slide back and support at hip bones would be perfect for me. Plus, it’s very pretty.

Here are some pictures
You’ll have to scroll up to read my comments underneath these two pictures.

Thank you for the pictures!
Next time I’m out in my Voyager I’ll see if that works with the seat I have - it certainly looks like a better system than the criss-cross I tried.

One caution on seat backs
There are some fine answers in these responses (and I agree that N.T.‘s elegant little cherry backrest is a very viable product, one I’d love to see at Canoecopia.) However, remember that a backrest can be a real can o’ worms when you try to lean back and sneak under a downfall. I’ve always liked the side buckles on the Crazy Creek-style chairs for just this reason; they are easy to pop open at the last minute, dropping the seat back out of the way as you lean back. Out on a big open lake this isn’t an issue, but on lots of little rivers it is something to have thought of beforehand. Paddle on!

new seat for my kayak
I have a sundance 120 kayak that i use for fishing. The seat that came with it had very little back support so I replaced it with with one of those old (1960’s or 70’s) moulded plastic sets - the ones that had a one piece bucket seat with stainless steel legs that are bolted or screwed to the bottom. Anyway I removed the legs and attached it to the bracket that held the original seat. Its quite comfortable for leisurely paddling and fishing. (I also attached a gel pad to the seat bottom. There are any number of ways to jerry rig a seat that you will find comfortable.

well, I bought this

– Last Updated: Aug-01-08 1:29 AM EST –

Pacific Outdoor equipment
Canoe Seat Narrow / Short Back $22.00 (Insul Seat)

The store had a hard back type that clamps to the seat on a demo seat. It didn't feel right. I know it's not the same as being in a boat, but...

Just have to get time to use it now.

Regarding the Sit-Backer seats
that is teh hard-style that has an aluminum frame, I have heard more negative comments than poitive. The seat you bought will serve perfectly well.