Foot braces for a flatwater canoe

I have a kevlar Mad River Liberty solo canoe. While I prefer to paddle kneeling, my knees aren’t happy about that these days. The previous owner suggested foot braces as an alternative. My only experience with canoe foot braces has been with kneeling pedestals and those wouldn’t solve my problem. Can anyone explain where non-kneeling braces would go and how they would help? Also, anyone know of someone in SE Michigan (like a dealer) that could do this for me if I opt not to try to do it myself?


When you sit the footbrace will be in front of you, a few inches off of the bottom of the canoe. Your legs will be fairly straight (probably a 20-30 degree bend in your knees) when your feet are in contact with the footbrace. I couldn’t stand to paddle seated without a footbrace.

Foot braces in a Liberty
Well, I’m with you on this! I’ve had a Liberty and have bad knees. I’d recommend that you look into the sliding foot brace that goes in Wenonah solo canoes. It has a variable width, so there should be one that fits your boat with no trouble at all. The newer versions are much easier to adjust back and forth (especially on the fly) than the older ones, so order new rather than seek out a used one from somebody. They are not that pricey, either. Any Wenonah dealer can get you one quickly, or you can just go to on-line. It is a sweet little boat.

Make your own.
You can get the materials at Lowes or look around for some old aluminum tent poles.

You need two pieces of 1"x 1" aluminum angle,(about a foot long for each of them)

Using aluminum rivits, attach one to each side a few inches below and parallel to the gunnels.

Sit in your seat and figure the height you want the cross bar(foot brace) to be and that is the height to mount the angles.

Prior to mounting them drill quarter inch holes about and inch apart for their entire length. If your canoe has a fairly rounded hull drill them closer to the outside edge of the channel rather than in toward the bend. These will be for attaching the foot brace bar and will allow you to adjust it forward or backward as you see fit. Mount each channel so that the mid point of the channel will be about where you think you want the foot brace.

Use two different sizes of aluminum tubing, so that one will slide inside the other, and cut each one so that it is about three quarters of the total width of the canoe where the foot brace is going.

Drill a single bolt hole near the end of each piece of tubing.

Use a stainless bolt and either a wing nut or lock washer and nut to attach the foot brace to the channels.

The use of the two different sizes of tubing allows the foot bace to self adjust as you move it forward or backward.

The economy version would be just a short piece of channel and one piece of aluminum tubing permanently mounted, but you would not have the capability of changing the foot brace.

It’s a fun project, and I already have used the left over materials for several other canoes.



foot brace in an Indy
Cut 2, 5" lengths of aluminum angle. Rivet them to two pieces of flat fiberglass just larger than the angle by say a 1/2". I used some scrap pieces of a corvette but you can use any scrap fiberglass from any car. Drill a few holes in the alum angle so you can adjust the footbrace. Epoxy to each side of the hull at the appropriate distance.

I’d rig up the side brackets to the footbrace to help assure you have everything square. Just take a lot of measurements from the gunnels, thwart and seat to aid in positioning. Mark where the side brackets will go and use masking tape to surround the area where you will apply the epoxy.

Assume you have a fixed cane seat?

You will not be playing much with the footbrace adjustment once you figure where to put it. And then you have a few inches to play with if you choose. Unless you constantly paddle with a lot of gear and camp or are a serious racer the footbrace distance will be pretty much constant.

You can use the wingnuts that come with the footbrace of drill out the holes a bit larger and use a pin and clevis. I have had the wing nuts back off twice while in transport.

I prefer the old style wennonah footbrace to the newer style. Cheaper, simpler and lighter and does the job. If you get the older style make sure you emphasize the style you want.

As I recall the wenonah tubes are cut differently for wide beamed or narrower boats so be sure to mention the beam width you need the brace for.