I am considering this route for my new kayak. I plan to order a custom bulkhead with about 4 inches of extra room. Getting the bulkhead largely to increase hatch volume and don’t want it too short for resale potential (short legs)

This does allow me to go the foam bulkhead route which everyone seems to love.

I have a few questions:

  1. First, with pegs I generally have them adjusted to where they make contact with my feet with a little pressure when my legs are straight. When my feet are on the pegs when paddling it is just the balls of my feet that make contact and that therefore are pushing.

  2. How about with foam? In this instance your entire foot can make contact with the bulkhead. Do you still have it placed such that you are pushing with just the balls of your feet when paddling? Or do you paddle rather flat footed?

  3. Do you use the entire bulkhead to press off of at various times, or do you generally keep your feet to the outside where your foot pegs would be?

  4. Do you provide some sort of a cutout or gap in the middle such that you can stretch out your legs when you want to?

  5. What do you use to seal the holes in your hull from the foot peg rails?

    My tentative plan would be to order the boat with 4 inches of extra room at the bulkhead and use two 4 inch thick foam blocks placed on the outside of the bulkhead with a large gap in the middle. This would provide two platforms for my feet placed to allow me to keep my knees at the right angle and be able to engage the thigh braces and then have room in the middle to stretch my legs for a rest.

    Of course, if you feel that the middle of the bulkhead provides a usefull location for bracing when paddling then I may re-think this.

    thanks for your help


I am in the vast minority
I do not like foam bulkheads. I barely put up with footpegs. I also don’t like knee tubes and backbands but that is another story altogether.

foam bulkheads may provide better comfort for touring but I like to squirm around a bit and especialy with rolling, I sometimes scoot into the boat in between the pegs. With footpegs at least you can get around them and I appreciate the fact that I can bring them forward or back incrementally when I do use them. If for fitness and touring paddling, i like to pump my legs using the footpegs and driving the boat with my feet. (I learned that from Flatpick and it really works!)I can’t see how that would be possible with the foam bulkheads but I am sure someone here will tell me how wrong I am.

Most of the boats I have, after leaving enough foam for my feet, wouldn’t have enough room to scoot in between, and when you can do that, you are severely restricitng the movement due to the confined space. I see no advantage to that at all and actually see some risk issues as well as limited movement and control.

Just an opinion.


For me
I installed the bulkhead about 5 inches further forward than my feet. Then I built up the left and right sides with more foam to make foot rests.

I angled the foot rests, so that the tops are further away from me than the bottoms, but not so much that my entire foot is pressing on the rests during an active paddle stroke. If I slouch down a bit to rest, then I am flat-footed on the rests.

This leaves a 5-inch deep well in the middle that I can use to stretch out into.

1-3 yes

– Last Updated: Dec-21-07 9:17 AM EST –

The easiest way to fill the holes but be able to reinstall rail for resale is nylon screws and cap bolts with nylon or neoprene washers. These are often white and less distracting than stainless steel.

If you are ordering a new boat from Valley with custom placed bulkhead, these days, it comes with foam pad and without the rails and foot pegs. When I ordered my first Valley boat from MIKCo, Valley would include the rails and pegs but not a foam pad. Tom gave me the option of installing the rails or not and cut the foam for the bulkhead.

I am an enormous fan of bracing off of foam on the bulkhead. With my feet flat against the foam my legs are straight on the floor of the boat. When in the thigh braces the balls of my feet are against the foam.

As far as for a Nordkapp LV and resale - one friend who is 6'4" was bracing against the stock bulkhead of my Nordlow when he paddled it. Where the bulkhead is to be placed (I'm 6' and allowing for Valley's standard 2" foam) in my new 'kapp LV is 1 inch in from standard.

depends on kayak Matt
I’ve used a foam block for bulkhead in several different boats and the best route was being lucky enough to find a bulkhead from a warranty on a WS that was too wide and tall for my boat. Perfect! That allowed me to shave it down until I could let my installed foot pegs out ALL the way-rest the block against them for side support. I left a notch at the top for water to drain out of when the boat is upside down since I knew with my “double bulkhead” set up I’d get some water between the two. The foam block needed coaxing with a rubber mallet to fit the taper of the hull and deck and I made sure I tapped the top in about two inches further than the bottom giving it the angled effect for better ergonomics. I was careful not to stress the deck or hull by trying to hammer the block in place since I figured that could screw up the welded bulkhead in front if I went too nuts. But the foam is FIRMLY in place with no glue!

The comfort is fantastic but it will only work if your footbrace tracks are longer than the length you need. Unlike my other boats-the “jamming method” required no glue and I can adjust the block if I have to and remove the whole shebang if I want to sell the kayak.

I added two strips of foam under the heels while I was at it and even though I never paddle barefoot it still made a difference in comfort. Several years prior I installed bulkhead foam footbraces in a glass boat using Devcon Plumbers Goop after first putting a bead of epoxy around the entire hull deck in a circle. It held-never leaked but flexed a lot doing rolls where I tend to use my legs more than I should. So I prefer leaving the footbraces in and using them as supports. Awesome.

I’m one of those old guys with repaired knees and on achilles and footbraces simply kill me. Can’t say enough how great having my feet where they want to be versus have to be has meant to my overall comfort. Lower back doesn’t get tight anymore either!

number 1
1. buy kayak. 4" is fine

2. stick in some foam

3. paddle kayak

4. adjust as necessary.

scheesch… you’re over thinking it (as usual)


Yeah - way too complicated

– Last Updated: Dec-21-07 5:05 PM EST –

There are a many ways to set up the foam in front of the bulkhead, and what is best will depend on how you like to paddle and what works for you to stretch out. Get the boat with the basic foam block, paddle it and figure out how you want to tweak it. That's a whole lot more valuable than spinning wheels on pnet.

As to the wet-reentry concern raised by Paul - he is correct that doing this rather than footpegs means that you can't just shoot deeply into the boat forward between the pegs then pull back to the seat. But I have managed wet re-entry and roll in an Explorer LV with foam bulkhead block, low deck and an extra small cockpit wearing drysuit and two layers. It admittedly requires a little more attention and planning. In the Vela, with a higher deck, it's a piece of cake comparatively even with bulkhead blocks. I suspect at your size that the higher deck of Nordlow will act like on my Vela and give you the needed wiggle room.

hi matt

– Last Updated: Dec-21-07 1:32 PM EST –

we met at the RWS - black explorer here.

i've got a custom BH and then foamed that out...i still only use the edges really but the nice thing is that if i need to stretch out, i can move my feet about and still have contact with the BH. i have found that by distributing the contact from just the peg to the foam, that i am more comfy.

additionally, i've got a circular hole in the center top of the foam, that's just a bit bigger than the diameter of the pump...then forward of that (farther away from BH...closer to where you sit), a piece of foam that is cut into the shape of an eye sort of with the hole in the center and then long flaps to either side...this piece is about 3 inches wide front to back and that's glued in under the deck...between that and the the receiver piece in the foam on the bulkhead, the pump is secure and handy.

the seat's gone...piece of foam...cut and shaved to my's a little longer that a stock seat and gives a bit more support....there's no backrest...just a 3 inch wide butt stop that runs up the day hatch BH and then stops shy of the coaming.

personally, i'm a big fan of minicell.

as for fixin' the holes where the rails and gelcoat and call it a day.

No pegs in my Kapp
I use 2 foam paddle floats against the bulkhead as my footrest. I can put my feet over the top of them to stretch.

Hi Matt
As others have said, your plan sounds fine, and is what I do myself: bit of a gap (say, 2 of 4") in middle, angle sides, remove rails and replace screws with plastic caps + washers as spacers. I like the foam bulkhead for reentry and roll because you don’t have to go searching for pegs–the foam is super easy to locate. The one thing I’d add to what’s been said is that with a new custom kayak you will have the opportunity to add a Henderson foot pump. For the kind of paddling you do, this is a very handy tool to have as you can easily and regularly pump out the water than inevitably gets in when surfing and rolling. With respect to the foam bulkhead, you just space the foam around the center piece of the pump. If you are thinking along these lines, let Valley do the install. You can do it post hoc (I put up instructions a while back) but it is a real PITA, especially in a low volume boat.

that’s good advice steve
(met you at the last GLSKS, BTW)

That’s how I padded out both of my boats; trial and adjustment. Foam is pretty cheap, and making it your own is fun.

Here be de way ah’ did it…
on me Pygmy Arctic Tern


Has no impact on pumping legs

– Last Updated: Dec-21-07 12:56 PM EST –

You must have tried some REALLY soft foam or something.

A full surface instead of small pegs can actually improve this leg action by letting you keep your legs more together vs splayed out like a frog, and giving a better foot surface.

I didn't realize the limits/issues with pegs until I got rid of them. Happy enough before, much happier after.

I find no impact on re-entry - it actually reduces issues - and I'd consider overall safety to be improved, not reduced.

Getting it setup right is key. There are a lot of ways to do it, some simple, some complicated. I would recommend trying simple first, as it will likely render more complicated solutions unnecessary.

I have no center cutout (that’s some of the best real estate!) and like about a 15 degree tilt to the surface (keeps foot more neutral when knee’s slightly bent). I too have the distance set so “my feet flat against the foam my legs are straight on the floor of the boat. When in the thigh braces the balls of my feet are against the foam” - as wilsoj2 said.

I can fully straighten and stretch my legs if I want to (so no need for a cutout),a nd have whole foot contact, as well as being on the balls of my feet - and have feet anywhere on the surface either way. When just casually cruising around my feet tend to migrate to a peg-like position - but that is more about old bad habits and laziness. I keep my legs more centered (raised or flat) when I think about it, pick up the pace, etc - as doing so has benefits.

I use 1/2" thick exercise mat on top of the thicker minicell layers as the contact surface (and use extra layers of this to fine tune fit). The puzzle edged 2’x 2’ square stuff. All are not the same though, some are too soft/spongy, some are too heavy/rubbery. Look for very light weight stuff that’s dense. It’s cheap, tough, and easy to work with. I figured it would be good to have a sacrificial outer layer to take the abuse - but I’m still suing same piece after 4-5 years. I you only need a few inch depth you could use layers of this to do the whole thing.

A pic:


– Last Updated: Dec-21-07 1:26 PM EST –

were at the last GLSKS? did we meet?

Best Wishes

I ordered my Nordkapp…

– Last Updated: Dec-21-07 1:58 PM EST –

...without the rails, so there were no holes to fill to begin with. You can do the same.

Edit: I've just got the standard 3" thickness of minicell cut out to the boats cross section and to fit around the pump and then some angled 'wedges' glued onto the one piece 3" thick minicell for a more comfortable angle for my feet. You've seen this before:

FYI please …

– Last Updated: Dec-21-07 3:57 PM EST –

I have foot plate kit that allows one to unwind your hips, knees, ankles as above and lets your feet be where they evoloved to be. It is much more soild than foam to pump and brace off of.

The kit takes all of 15 minutes to install. No cutting foam, glue, or modification to the boat. Full fore / aft adjustment range of the stock foot braces is retained. Foot plate angle is also adjustable and entire kit could be pulled without leaving a mess if you wanted to put it in another boat.

EDIT .... Similar to the Westside kits ( without the pedals ) but no pic on site as I do them custom per boat. Cost is 75.00.

Is this what you mean?
Tell us more about it please. Not designed for a footpump,obviously.

Are these meant for ruddered boats only? (“These systems allow one to tune the rudder action …”) I’m sure not, just trying to clarify.

My Quick Foam Installation. pics
My LV has the stock BH and I wanted to try the foam.

Moved the pegs full forward and 4" foam was too close so cut out 1" recesses and just right now.

It takes 10 sec to remove… Feels great.

that looks sweet. Especially the part where you can raise it.

will be e-mailing you about this for a particular boat I have in mind.