DIY foot brace for tandem canoe


I am hoping some of the experienced folks here can help me with ideas / share pictures of homemade footbraces. I would like to install this in a Wenonah Adirondak kevlar tandem that I am borrowing. As such, I am not looking for a permanent mount. This is for the stern paddler.

Has anyone come up with a good design that clamps or ties (straps?) on the the thwart in front of the stern paddler / and or the suspended webbed seat?

My other thought would be to glue or marine velcro in some foam foot blocks, but I suspect a bar might give better flexibility in positioning and more to push against. Any ideas and especially pictures woudl be most welcome.

I could describe a nice permanent
one, since I have made a bunch of them, but for a quick down and dirty removable one it is simple.

Get a piece of rope and a short length of 1" diameter aluminum tubing, (as wide as you want the brace to be)

Tie one end of the rope to one side of the seat.

Then feed the other end through the aluminum tube. Then take that end of the rope and after you decide how far in front you want the foot brace/tube, tie it to the other side of the seat. Leave enough rope so you can adjust as necessary.

When not in use it will just lie down.

If you can’t find any aluminum tubing, grab an old beach chair and salvage a piece from it.

Jack L

Jack’s solution is elegant
Another thing you can do if you don’t have tubing is to use a piece of wood. It could just be a 2x4, which sitting across the bottom, up the chines a little, will be high enough to get about half your foot onto, and that may be enough (most casual rowers use a foot brace that contacts the heels only, and rowers push a whole lot harder on the foot brace than paddlers).

You could rig up one of light plywood, with a slender cross beam for strength, and an angled base plate so that it sits upright at an angle for more foot contact (this is a variation on another popular type of rowing brace).

For either of these styles, you’ll need two ropes - one for each side - fastened to the seat as described by Jack.

vertical movement?

Thanks - this does seem simple. I might even adapt the rope to include a ratchet hanger to allow for quick length adjustment or cinching during portage.

I imagine that a setup such as this will allow for a great deal of vertical travel of the brace. Would you expect this would be annoying or less effective versus a fixed solution?


Can modify the idea

– Last Updated: Aug-01-14 12:32 PM EST –

The direction of your foot pressure will have a bit of a downward component to it, so the brace can only get forced downward, not upward. I know for a fact that a brace that drops to the floor when not in use, that must be lifted to the right height before applying the feet, would be totally unacceptable for me, but Jack obviously is pretty happy with how that works for him (I wouldn't like how the brace drops to a useless position anytime you don't apply forward pressure). A slightly bigger (taller) brace that sits right on the floor (like either of the ones I described) will eliminate the need for positioning the thing at the right height each time you place your feet, and I can tell you from a lifetime of rowing experience in various aluminum boats that applying outward and slightly-downward foot pressure to a brace that's sitting right ON the floor works perfectly.

As to the adjustments, I'd suggest learning to tie a taught-line hitch. It's very easy to tie, it's immediately adjustable (much faster and easier than a ratchet), it won't slip, and there will be one less metal mechanical device to fuss with and have banging around inside the hull.

Oh, by the way, depending on various other boat attributes, it may be easier to secure the brace against forward motion with something that's in compression, rather than tension. This could be a pair of dowels angling forward and upward, where they'd attach to a thwart, or a single forward-running brace going up into the bow. This would mean more weight, bulk, and stuff to carry on a portage, but it would be a bit less floppy to push against with your feet.

Naturally it won’t be nearly as good
as a fixed/adjustable one, but you were asking for a quick temporary fix.

We recently participated in the USCA Aluminum Nationals, and there were a lot of borrowed and rented aluminum canoes, and some of them were outfitted in this manner.

In another instance, I used one in a canoe that didn’t have a foot brace before I had a chance to install a permanent one.

You just won’t be able to brace as well as with a fixed one, especially if you want to make a sharp turn and want to lean.

Jack L