Canted seat angle

I am looking for some guidance on canoe seat angles for kneeling. I find most canted seats are installed at too shallow an angle and the front edge tends to dig into the backs of my thighs, or I slide forward and it digs into my buttocks–not a comfortable situation.

It is kind of a hassle to be experimenting and cutting new drops all the time for different angles, so I’m trying to make this as easy as possible.


Angle of respose…

– Last Updated: Jun-13-13 11:21 AM EST –

When someone tells you what the perfect angle is; what they are really telling you is it's the perfect angle "for them". May or may not be perfect for you.

Start with a new set of seat hangers.
Cut 1/2 inch off to start canting the seat.
Reinstall seat, and take boat out & paddle it for a couple of hours.
Not the perfect angle for you?
Repeat the process; cut off another 1/2 inch & repeat the test.
When you find what you feel is the perfect angle "for you"; quit cutting.

You aren't going to find a "perfect" angle!
But if you want to be really compulsive about it; cut off 1/4 inch of the seat hanger at a time.

Be careful; make sure you don't lower any part of the seat too low. You want the seat high enough so that you can get your feet out from under the seat quickly if you capsize. That can be a problem for those with big feet, or those who wear stiff soled shoes. I speak from experience; getting dragged over a rocky shoal with one foot twisted/trapped under a too low canoe seat ain't NO fun at all! That happening at the wrong place & time could ruin the rest of your life.

Hint: Get a seat pad that buckles under the seat, and hangs over the leading edge of the seat. They help a lot.



– Last Updated: Jun-13-13 11:25 AM EST –

I would follow Bob's advice. Personally I find an angle of about 12 degrees off horizontal works best for me, but it also depends somewhat on your femur length and how high the seat is off the hull floor. You might also choose a lesser angle if you plan to sit occasionally.

I would get the longest set of hangers and hardware you can. You are often limited to 6" long bolts if you go with stainless steel machine screws (#10 x 24 tpi or #10 x 32 tpi). If you need longer because of thick gunwales and/or a thick seat frame you might need to go with stainless steel carriage bolts.

Determine how high the front seat frame needs to be to provide heel clearance for your feet while wearing your largest intended foot wear. Cut the front of the hanger so as to place the front seat frame at that height, then cut the rear of the hanger a bit shorter and shorten as necessary. Once you get the angle to suit, if you want the whole seat higher, it is easy to shorten up the front and back of both hangers a bit.

You may be a candidate for a "Conk"
Check out the Conk contoured seats from Hemlock Canoes. Very comfy and light.

From your description, the dropped front edge may be the ticket.

Thank you all
I suspected as much, but I was hoping there was some “magic average” or rule of thumb out there. I have also thought about the wrap-around seat pad, but haven’t tried it yet.

I have tested a friend’s Conk seat in his Kestrel, but he has it angled too high in the front and it doesn’t really feel any better to me.

Unfortunately it does just take
trial and error. I actually got lucky with mine and got it how I wanted it on the first try, but it was truly luck. The front is an inch lower than the back (9.5" and 8.5" as I recall). I also second the inflatable seat pad. My buddy lent me one of his from Wenonah and I was amazed at the difference it made. They don’t look like much, but I’m a believer.

It might be possible to hang the seat
in a way that it would pivot through a small range, and adjust to whichever half of your ass is more prominent on a particular day.

I’m serious.

Of course, one of the first things I did in 1973 was to make an ethafoam pedestal that was comfy for both kneeling and sitting. Foam doesn’t cut the butt the way an ash frame does.

My experience
I have changed the angle and hieght of all my solos-sometime several times. It varies with -upper leg length,knee pad thickness,seat design,and butt shape. It also depends on how much weight you want on your knees in your relaxed position. When I get a boat and discover the seat is not what I want(always),I remove the drops and use temporary multiple spacers front and rear to try hight/angle.I then paddle it for a while and readjust if necessary. I find that me and most people “graduate” to a higher kneeling seat after getting farmiliar with their boat. I always intend to make nice drops after getting things dialed in,but rarly do! I have done this for many other people-it’s not hard. You just need some dowels or such and extra various length screws.


Second the Conk seat
The cheapo standard cane seats from Ed’s or Essex are hamstring torture devices. Get a Conk seat.

Of course, you will still have to cant that. Nothing’s easy. But a lousy cant on a Conk is better than the best cant on an Ed’s.

You can experiment with a whole bunch of washers on the drop bolts instead of constantly cutting a wooden drop. Ed has fine washers.

A little bit more…

– Last Updated: Jun-13-13 3:29 PM EST –

See my Check em out post.

Check em out…
Canoe seat pads from Cooke Custom Sewing.

They make quality gear.

Individual measurements:

Even if you both have the exact same canoe…

Are you feet the same size as your buddies?

If you have different canoes…

Is the depth of your Bell, and his Wenonah the same?

You want it to fit you?

You have to fit it to you.

One size does NOT fit all.


Right! Pedestal Is The Way To Go
And with foam, even better.

In the UK, prospector canoes are
rather popular, and kneeling thwarts are too, because paddlers like to heel their boats to get closer to their paddling side. Taller paddlers like me can reach and heel from a pedestal, but I can see why they do as they do. Some prospector hulls are 35 to 37 inches wide at the center. I’m starting to think about a fore-aft padded plank on which one could kneel, with knee supports so that when shifting from one paddling side to the other, one could lift the knees a bit, shifting the knee on one’s paddling side close to that side, and maybe the other knee somewhat toward the center.

The fore-aft butt support could be widened a bit toward the rear so the paddler could sit with legs extended under the center thwart.

I only just thought of this, so be patient until I can get Spring Creek to market it out of cheap aluminum and molded vinyl.

Inquiring mind wants to know…

– Last Updated: Jun-15-13 12:23 AM EST –

For those of you who seem to be an enthusiastic advocates of outfitting canoes with pedestals, instead of making simple seat adjustments...........
What canoes do you own & paddle that have pedestals mounted in them?

Based on the OP's profile, they are talking about paddling slow rivers, and small lakes, NOT whitewater. Seems obvious that the OP is talking about a recreational canoe, NOT a whitewater canoe. I fail to understand reasoning behind mounting a pedestal in a recreational canoe.


Ditto clydehedlund’s…a pedestal, once
you get the height and dimensions right, I fell in love with. If you go this way it’s nice to glue to a foam-padded mini-floor that can help with additional knee pads and optional ankle blocks…so take your time and go high in your initial measuring, and we’re bigger in the butt than we think as well(duh), so make room.

Cutting down is easy…getting the right curves while allowing your legs to be free and comfortable takes a little planning.



I’ve put pedestals in five canoes, and
three of those were not whitewater boats.

Once you get a pedestal right, it’s very comfortable for flatwater paddling. A pedestal can be set up to allow comfortable paddling when switching to sitting position, also.

But for a small paddler, going solo in a wide tandem, especially one that resists heeling, a kneeling thwart or wide, canted seat may be better.

Bob, in my corner of the universe, there isn’t a well defined boundary between flatwater and whitewater.

My most recent solo
has an 5/8 forwards cant. I normally use a foot brace but like to tuck my legs under the seat occasionally .

I think as you
I like to paddle sometimes in a transverse kneeling position and move around a lot. I do paddle moving water occasionally backwards and find sideways orientation helpful in watching where I go.

Pedestals don’t allow me that freedom.

But each is on their own canoe trip. Nothing is absolutely right.

Maybe it’s just me?
In rec canoes, on flatwater, I kneel on a full sized Bell, or Cooke Custom Sewing kneeling pad. My feet are under the seat, and my seat is always canted down in front. The seat is usually as low as it can go & still offer enought clearance to get my big feet out from under the seat without too much hassle. Can easily move into a sitting position to kneeling & vice versa in a matter of seconds.

Every whitewater solo canoe I’ve owned; Whitesell Piranha, MR Outrage, MR Outrage X, MR Flashback, Mohawk Probe 12, Mohawk Probe 12II, Mohawk XL 13, Perception HD 1, etc. had a pedestal mounted in them.

I always tried those boats on a moving water river, prior to paddling them on whitewater. I always found the pedestal to be a giant PITA to try use like a seat. Secondary stability was always terrible. I alway felt like I was off balance, sitting on top of a giant cork. On whitewater, when I was kneeling on the pedestal, and had on thigh straps; no problem.

I can’t kneel for long on a cut down/short in height pedestal. My legs are way too long. The top of my pedestals are usually just a couple of inches below the height of the bottom of the gunwales. If I try to sit on a pedestal that is that high; the majority of my body weight is as high as, or above the gunwales. Not good for secondary stabillity; never feel loose & relaxed. Stretch my legs out full length; no way.

May have something to do with being 6’4" tall?

Anyway, I never use pedestal in rec canoes.


Patrick Moore Reverie Canoe
Came stock with a pedestal. All I need is a small pond to practice Zen on the water. Yes, when the bay is flat, I’m out there also, and have practiced Capistrano Flips and deep water re-mounts on it out in the surf. The Reverie is basically your general all around flat water recreational canoe for the novice or advanced canoeist wanting to develop or maintain their paddling skills.