canoe seats

I am looking at replacing the seats on my Mad River Explorer 16 and have a few questions.

  1. Do I just measure the bolt centers and the gunwale width then order a seat that I can cut and drill to fit?

  2. Do the manufacturers generally use aluminum fasteners (my gunwales are aluminum covered in vinyl)?

  3. An archived post mentioned seats made by Nova Craft but I can’t figure out where to order them from. Any suggestions?

  4. Where can I buy a cane kit if I decide to re-cane the existing seats?

  5. How do I care for cane seats and wear do I purchase the care products?

    That is all the questions I have for now and I appreciate any input. Thanks

order seats
from…the contoured ones are really nice. Size is pretty standard and I’m sure they’ll fit your MRE. Hardware is usually stainless steel, but you should be able to use your existing stuff. Ask about seats at Ed’s…usually varnished or unfinished. You can varnish, but I prefer Watco oil. It needs to be oiled once or twice a year, but doesn’t peel off like varnish…it’s really a personal choice.

Nova Craft may not fit
Their front-to-rear dimension is greater than th eindustry standard.


Some points
Many people say it’s good to varnish the top side of cane webbing, but not both sides (though I varnished both sides of all my cane seats before I heard this advice, and so far they are doing okay). Supposedly if you varnish both sides, you don’t succeed in preventing water from soaking in, and now the material dries more slowly than it could before. I suppose varnishing one side makes the material wear a little longer while still having plenty of exposed drying area.

You can search on-line for cane webbing suppliers. You can get fake cane webbing now too, which looks almost real, and is longer-lasting than the real stuff (it also doesn’t sag when it gets wet). If you have a furniture store near you, they can tell you where to get webbing, and they might even be able to install it for you (furniture places that deal with those old-fashioned kitchen chairs with cane webbing will know what to do).

You might consider a seat filled with nylon webbing instead of cane. It’s pretty comfortable, a lot tougher than cane, and is unaffected by water. I trimmed a web-filled canoe seat to fit the center position in my guide-boat, and use that seat 95 percent of the time instead of the original cane seat, mainly because it’s just about indestructable.

You can buy seats in a number of styles from any paddleshop, but lots of people here like Eds (already mentioned in an earlier reply). I’m lucky enough to have a good paddle shop in town, and have replaced a number of canoe seats with what that shop has in stock. I can vouch for the much greater comfort of a contoured seat as compared to the usual flat seat (nothing else about the two styles are different other than that slight curvature of the seat frame).

Make sure your replacement seat has the same front-to-back dimension as the original so you can re-use your existing bolt holes in the gunwales or mounting plate (if your boat has one). Sometimes you can get different seat widths in the right-to-left dimension too, but either kind will fit any boat. You ALWAYS have to trim and drill the outer ends of the frame to make the seat fit your boat.

Choosing your new seat, and trimming and drilling the ends is the same process whether your seat is mounted on hangers from the gunwales, or on an angled metal plate below the gunwales.

another site you should look at is They have great deals on seats…I got a 40" wide center seat, web, for only $28 and the mounting hardware for only $10. Quality is excellent.

Thanks for the tips. I was eyeing those curved seats from Eds. I read about some wax in an archived post that you put on the cane to help preserve it, does anyone know what this stuff is and should I get some?

Want my MRE seats?
Cane seats look great, but I think I prefer the webbed. Furthermore, I want to remove the seats from my MRE and install a single seat. MRE to MRE…I’m thinking these will fit perfectly. Drop an email if you are interested.


I have made a couple of cane canoe
seats. From scratch. To fit my canoes. Used plastic cane from H R Perkins. Google them for the full name and ordering info. It does not sag when wet, get moldy or rot. It does require lots of labor however. It is fun to learn how to lace cane, but it’s like knitting, you can watch tv while you work, after you figure it out. Oh yea, it really does look like real cane.

plastic cane
I don’t know if I’m up to that but are there any manufacturers who use the plastic cane?

eds canoe
Have you tried the cane backrests from eds? How do they compare to the padded bleacher seats?

seat source
check this source before you order

I also ordered replacement seats from

they have seats that i guess they were not happy with the staining or color and they sell them cheap. i bought two for the price of one. they fit great. in addition, i bought the mounting hardware from them i ended up not needing it and i sent it back to them and they refunded my money. great customer service. at least with my experience with them. i had found them on ebay. rick

2nd Bear Creek
Just bought a pair of contoured seats and put them our Northwind. It was about $40 with shipping. Look to be good quality seats. I might add, when you’re replacing seats, go ahead and put new bolts through the see drops. WW

thanks for the offer
but I think I’m going to get a set of the contoured seats.