Foot brace/bar in canoe, yes or no?

I have some experience paddling canoes, but not a lot. I usually sit (sometimes kneel) while paddling a single blade. I have never used foot braces in a canoe. I have only used foot braces in kayaks.

I want to get a solo canoe, something like a Swift Prospector 14 or similar, mainly for fishing on lakes. This is not for tripping or high performance. And I’m not interested in a pack boat style seat. I have never been comfortable sitting a few inches off the floor.

My question is whether or not to get foot braces (or a bar). Aren’t they mostly for kayaks or pack boats with a low seat? How useful are they if you’re sitting at the higher level of a canoe seat? Is this option worth the extra cost and weight?

Foot braces are very useful for the ‘sit and switch’ style of paddling. Similar to those in a kayak they help lock you into the boat and transfer force to the hull to drive it forward. Based on your use case (fishing) I’d say that you are unlikely to make use of them.

I don’t use foot braces myself as I’ve been a kneeler for most of my life, but I have friewnds who swear by them. They are mostly ‘sit & switchers’ as has been mentioned -or racers or folks who have come to solo canoeing from kayaking. But one trick I’ve seen employed, and which might be useful to someone who, like the OP, is considering installing them but is as yet undecided, is to rig a temporary foot brace set up just for extended trial purposes.
It can be done by making a ‘trapeze’ rig using some 1" or so dowel drilled at both ends with a rope & stopper knot. The ropes are then tied to outer ends of the center thwart and adjusted to suit the particular paddler. I’ve seen this technique used by paddlers who are ordinarily into fishing or camping but who might want to enter a race but not permanently set their boat up for short stroke paddling.
Try it for a while and see if you like it. If you decide to go with a foot brace, it’ll give you a good idea of just where they should be placed for the particular paddler before gluing in permanent attachment points if you so decide.

I wouldn’t paddle without one, but I’m generally using my canoes for exercise or looking to cover some distance. As rival51 pointed out, for fishing they may not be of much use to you. I do feel they give me better control of the boat, but even when I’m just puttering around I like them to rest my feet on. I think that PJC has the right idea for you to try out a temporary one.

Sometimes I will want to travel a distance, point A to point B, as efficiently as possible. Based on the answers above I think I will get foot braces or a foot bar. What do you think, kayak style foot braces or a bar?


Kayak style footpedals make more sense for pack canoes

A useful additon is to cut a hole in a tennis ball and slip one over each the end of the dowel. Fasten the dowel to each side of your seat with two adjustable tie down straps. The tennis balls keep the dowel off the bottom of the boat and better positions the dowel for the ball of your foot to push with room for your heel underneath. I’ve made these for a couple of boats that do not have foot braces, including my guideboat.

Otherwise, as a racer, firm factory made foot braces are essential and are included on most canoes that can be used for racing. As a primary bow paddler, sometimes I have to be creative with making shaped stiff foam blocks, depending on distance needed from the bow bulkhead. Commercial bow shaped foot rests are available, but one size does not necessarily fit all.

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For the type of use you describe, I wouldn’t bother.

I converted a tandem to a solo and it took two tries to get it right in terms of weight balance. My first attempt was keeping it a tandem but moving the bow seat back and the stern seat up. In doing that I had a perfect spot for a foot brace bar and I loved it. Even to sit and fish having another foot position was really nice and it kept me from coming forward on the seat. When I finally decided I still needed to be more centered in the canoe I lost the bow seat and the place for the foot brace bar.

My plan is to add one back in before next spring but I don’t want to drill holes thru the hull that would be the simple way and I don’t trust gluing to the poly hull. I think what I will do is make a light weight triangle frame for both sides attached to the underside of the gunwales and run my aluminum tube attached to that.

For me I don’t kneel that much and find when the bottom gets wet and slippery having the brace bar there is really worth it.

PS The reason I wanted to leave the bow seat was for once in a while having a passenger, but mostly for a place to sit my tackle box and stuff. I also should add that I use a 260cm double blade kayak paddle.

Here is a photo of how I had it before mounted off the seat I built.

I had a solo canoe, a Field & Stream (Old Town) Kay-Noe, and the only notable modification I did to it was to add a footbrace.

When I bought the boat I was already accustomed to footbraces from a previous kayak, and I used a kayak paddle with the Kay-Noe.

The only canoe I have had with a foot brace was a Wenonah. It was okay but I have not missed having one since.

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Always nice to have something to rest your feet against and help “anchor” yourself to your watercraft, no matter what type.

One fairly easy setup:

Foot brace mounts


Canoe footbrace

Other sources available, shop around.

I’ve put these in two canoes and a rowboat.

Well oski solo canoes are usually offered with a choice of seat heights, a higher height for kneeling and a more stable lower height for sitting. It’s hard to recommend what is “best” for someone else but if I ordered a new Swift solo and wanted to both kneel and sit I’d order their seat side pods that give you the option of both seat heights. And a footbrace (bar). Even if you don’t race and need maximum power delivery it’s nice to be able to lock yourself into a stable position in wind and waves.

Where can I find a bow shaped foot rest? It’s for a Clipper Tripper.

Doesn’t sound like you need one, except that moment when you need the extra stability and control. In that case, you could kneel and by spreading your knees across the hull, you both lower your centre of gravity and use your legs to stabilize the boat.

FWIW, I use a foot bar in my Clipper Tripper, which uses tractor-style seats. I broke the bar once and lost about 2/3 of my power.

One place that I know has them is from Jeff Pedersen at his southern NY canoe shop. I’m sure there are others.

If you have questions about size, give Jeff a call. He is very responsive.

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