Canoe kneeling pad advice

Can I use the knee pads for the floor workers? Pros and cons? What do you use?

Canoe kneeling pad advice
For freestyle I like a large thick pad that covers the bottom and sides of the canoe from about 2 1/2 - 3 feet in front of the seat, back to where my toes rest and most of the way to the gunnels. This allows me to move about freely.

The best inexpensive pads are the foam interlocking squares, commonly known as “Toys R Us” pads. They can be cut easily with a utility knife to fit the boat. If cut to wedge snugly beneath the gunnels, they stay in place pretty well. Their downside is that they squeak when you move about on them, especially if the surface becomes damp. The squeaking can be eliminated by wearing long pants and socks.

Bell also makes several sizes of pads. Their large freestyle pad is rarely advertised, however last I knew it coould be ordered either through a dealer or direct.

Recentlt Cooke Custom Sewing began offering pads and from what I hear, they may be the best on the market. They are thick, have a comfortable cloth surface and a non skid back. Order from

I’ve tried most of the available strap on type knee pads and found that when wet, they slip against the boat. I’ve tried them in composite boats, wood/canvas and Royalex. I’ve come close to hurting myself or dumping the boat several times while experimenting with them.

Finally, If the purpose is simply to have a comfortable, stable kneeling base while staying in the traditional 3 point position, the thick contoured foam knee pads offered by Voyager and others are excellant. They are comfortable and keep your knees spread in the proper position. I use them commonly in boats that I paddle on creeks and rivers as well as in my whitewater boats.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Is this the Bell Canoe pad?

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that you described? Will it stay dry?

I use one of the Voyageur pads, roughly
40" wide and 8" wide. It has a tacky surface that grips the hull and my knees. I pass this pad through the arch in the triple saddle of my WW boat. Gluing permanent pads didn’t work because when the boat is used tandem, the pads interfere with my wife’s feet. These Voyageur pads are still fairly widely available.

We use two such pads when paddling our 17’ lake boat.

Bag Lady pads
Sue Audette is gearing up to produce a kneeling pad.

not sure where you could buy it…
…but years ago I fished some gym floor padding out of the high school’s dumpster…the stuff they use for wrestling & gymnastics. Grips smooth (even wet) surfaces on the bottom, the ideal texture on the top & not affected by moisture.

Kneeling Pad
The pad shown on the link provided by Swordfish is made of the same material as the freestyle pad however the freestyle pad is much larger, (approximately 3’x4’). The Bell pad stays in place reasonably well but will slide a bit if there is alot of water in the boat. I installed a couple of gromets in the pad and tie it to the seat drops. That seems to help.

If Sue Audet (Bag Lady) is gearing up to produce a pad I’d wait and see what it looks like before buying something.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

For tripping we use light-weight yoga pads cut to size as needed. They are similar to if not identical to cheap foam sleeping pads. They are not very deluxe, but they’re cheap and easy to carry in a canoe on the portage trail – each weighs just a few ounces.

Many Freestylers use the Toys R Us type click together floor pads Marc described. Kim Gass explained to me some time back they work well because they don’t make distracting squeaking sounds during FS interpretive performances.

A friend has a Grade VI covered kneeling pad. It’s very deluxe, but very heavy and not as comfy as the Bell pads.

We’ve used the Bell T-pads and their discontinued “Kneeling Bed” (really big) pads designed for Freestyle. I’m still using mine and enjoying it. My wife and daughter have trashed their Bells by now…

I replaced “my ladys’” Bell pads with the new Cooke pads. They are similar in length and width to the T-pads and the Kneeling Bed, but noticeably thicker, more comfy and yes, heavier. Still not as heavy as the Grade VI, but pretty darn hefty.

If weight is not an issue nothing I’ve seen comes close to the Cooke pads for sheer comfort (Bells are second best). If “squeakless” is your goal the Toys R Us puzzle pads are cool – and fairly cheap. If lightness AND low cost is the deciding factor the foam yoga/sleeping pad is a good choice.

Any or all of the above pads beat strap-on knee pads hands down – strap-on knee pads are the absolute pits IMHO. I have to wear them sometimes for work – I can’t imagine wearing them for canoeing unless nothing else was available. My 2 centz – worth every penny. RK

Arkay they HD pads are prone to

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squeak if you are bare skinned against the pad. Wearing lycra leotards takes the sqeak away.

Some FS ers swear by the HD pads because they can be broken down and flown with easily in a gym bag.

Dan Cookes pad is fairly slip resistant and comfortable in a ribbed boat. Bells pads are too thin and wear through quickly.

Quite frankly I felt that the Grade VI pad was terrible. The outer fabric buckled and bunched.

But I surgicized it and did a foamectomy for outfitting my tripping boat. I love whatever was used in the innards. After 12 years and at least three weeks of tripping each year, its got very little wear. The innards are permanently glued in my tripping boat, as I am not going to portage a pad.

For tandem FreeStyle I like the really big play foam pads from Toys R Us. I dont know if they still carry the 3 by 3 foot size. We cut them to fit the tandem rail to rail. We like that we do not slide at all. Because tandem maneuvers are more radical I seek less leg sliding. I dont want to get ejected every stern post.

I made a pad 10 years ago with thick (think its 3/4 inch minicell) topped with NRS neoprene fabric (nylon jersey covered) and bottomed with WalMart carpet grip. It goes wall to wall. It does not flop (the Bell pads are prone to that)

Its the best pad I have come across. Even though its DIY it is not cheap. The only issue it has is that overnight while the canoe was on a piece of grass a mouse gnawed a hole in the pad for a bed.

I made another one with 1/2 inch minicell..Ok but not as comfy. Doesnt lock in quite as well.

Please, no shots of you in your leotard.

Too late
Now how do I look?

Can’t find Voyageur pad anywhere. Any clue, please?

What Not to Wear
White makes your legs look fat.

Try black next time