Freestyle canoe symposiums & non-kneeler

excellent point
Until recently I never realized how little weight I actually carry on my knees while canoeing. Lately I’ve developed a bit of an issue in my right knee that makes it painful to kneel … except in a canoe! I have no pain whatsoever in a canoe. But “true” kneeling, independent of a canoe seat or saddle, is painful for me.

My wife isn’t sure she’s buying it though …

and a pedestal.

The pedestal or perhaps a saddle of proper height has taken the pressure off the knees for arthritic people. Yes its possible to have a seat and a saddle right in front of it.

I have no cartilage in one knee. I cant do deep knee bends. But for some reason kneeling on a comfy pad rarely causes pain.

We did have one sitting paddler in one class at MFS. Yes you do lose the ability to pitch the bow down, but the same principles in FS canoeing have been used by accomplished kayakers for years.

Recent History
Just returned from the MidWest FS Symposium, a great event!

There were three folks there as students, sitting low in Placid boatworks RapidFires. They all used short, straight, single sticks. Heels were somewhat proscribed but all three got a tremendous hoot out of Christies and Wedges.

How to kneel without weight on knees?
Does someone need a wood shop, endless amounts of closed cell foam and other apparatus, materials and copious amounts of time to muddle around until eventually landing upon a kneeling solution that doesn’t cause them pain?

If minimal weight is on the knees, that would suggest that most of the weight is on the butt and that would suggest that the seat is pretty low, which would suggest that the knees and ankles are bent relatively severely, which might in turn result in knee or ankle pain and difficulty getting the feet under the seat and out from under the seat, unless, of course, using a pedestal seat, rather than a gunwale hung seat.

I’m not trying to be grumpy or difficult here, but I just don’t get enough exposure around here to different kneeling options to identify one that’s comfortable for me.

How does one kneel without putting much weight on one’s knees?

At last weekend’s relatively nearby (200 mile round trip) moving water paddling clinic, I did use my NRS wetshoes and they were more comfortable for kneeling than my Chota Quicklace Mukluks, but kneeling still wasn’t comfortable for long. I also used some soft 1/2" camping pad for the kneeling pad instead of the strap on knee pads and that worked ok also, except for the pad slipping around a little.

Maybe I’ll come up with something relatively comfortable for relatively long periods of time, but it may require attending a large gathering of experienced solo canoe outfitters, such as the MFS, to get a hands on education on which set up works best for me and how to implement it in my boat, but that will have to wait until next year. I rarely see other solo canoe paddlers around here.

Until then, I’ll continue to sit most of the time and kneel a little now and then just to mess around or when conditions require it.

Thanks for all of the suggestions from everyone.

Maybe I’ll be able to make it next year.

How I do it
No,the seat doesn’t need to be real low. The height and angle varies with the length of the paddlers upper legs. I add or subtract/substitute spacers the a gunnel hung seat untill they are comfortable and have a working pair(ft and rear) of dementions. Sometimes this requites longer seat screws. Then some have custom drops made to match or many just leave them be. You can keep the original drops to reinstall if you want to sell the boat. On a boat with a hung seat it’s not rocket science. Some seats are better for rear end unloading than others(I think Swift’s are tops for this problem).Often a factory seats(which must be a compromize) hieght/angle fit is inapproiate for a spicific paddler’s dementions. I have changed every solo boat’s drops I have ever owned.


no actually you have things a little
mixed up.

If anything seats for kneelers tend to be pretty high so 90 percent of your weight is butt borne. You just kind of support your butt on the edge of the seat.

You get control and recovery from tipping from your knees which being relatively unloaded are easy to slide around. You might notice that from You Tube FS people go every which way in the canoe, but it IS possible to work all 4 quadrants from butt on the seat facing more or less forward.

Pants are a plus ( that one grain of sand on your pad can wreak havoc with your knees…can you say facial peel?)

Get some 3/4" or 1" minicell

… and contact cement it in where it belongs, with your knees in the chines. It’s truly luxurious!

If all you’ve tried is some kind of 1/2" camp pad and strap on knee pads, you don’t know how comfy kneeling can be.

If you use 1" minicell, I’d thin it down some where your knees fall.

Christie in a Rapidfire
Very encouraging to here about Rapidfire’s doing freestyle moves. A beginner at it, I have good days and days that make me so frustrated I want to bite my paddle. (I won’t do it- it’s a Dogpaddle). I move up from my Rapidfire’s sliding seat and only apply knee pressure as I attempt to execute a freestyle move, my knees seem to barely feel the pressure. You can sit back down after freestyling and it may help. Take the inside circle class, it’s quick turns and no knee pressure…jesse

Off to Home Crapot
and buy a package of four antifatigue mats. They should cost less than $20 for the package. Put the puzzle pieces together…fit in your boat and ram em under the gunwales then trim.

If they were branded as a paddling item they would be four times as much.

Minicell is minicell.

The puzzle mats are as comfy and soft as minicell you’d buy at a paddle shop? You must have a line on softer puzzle mats than I’ve bought.

waffle side down
I cant tell the difference in minicell softness Except in my ribbed boat. Thats where the CCS mat is handy. Ribs and spaces between ribs hurt.

There are differences in puzzle mats lately though. I saw a slew of mini puzzles at MFS, and they looked thin.

A hint from a horse owner I met…look for stable matting. That probably is expensive but if there is a spare remnant the owner might be willing to part with it for a bargain.

stable matting

I used it under our kids’ swing. Heavy, heavy stuff. And it would be terribly abrasive on your knees. Heavy horses with hooves aren’t gentle.

I havent used it

– Last Updated: Sep-15-10 9:11 AM EST –

but was told about it from a FS instructor former horse owner. Maybe it has a different name. Just like there are different foams.

I was talking about this

that’s different than ours

Horse matting has evolved over the past 8 years

If I had to cover most of the bottom of a boat like in FS, I’d look at puzzle mats for sure, and probably use them.

depends on your goals
If your objective is to be an exhibitor or competitor in FS canoe or just thrill the locals, then yes you should learn to kneel. If your goal is just to turn a less maneuverable hull and you sit, perhaps you should consider having a mat underfoot so that you can kneel when necessary to turn the boat.

The straight tracking hulls are hard to turn and usually need to be railed. A j-lean railed heel is harder while sitting (IMHO) and one needs to kneel for that but you might just limit your kneels to just when turning.

Funny thing is my knees started bothering me until I started back freestyling now I realize they will bother me unless I FS while kneeling on a regular basis. Go figure. Good Luck and have fun whatever you do.


variation of sitting
I was thinking about this last night installing a new/used foam saddle in a ww canoe. I suggest that canoe kneeling is actually a variation of sitting with knees down to provide a tripod effect. It’s stable and keeps the body weight more centered. With the seat at the proper height and angle, there’s not much weight on the knees, just enough to provide control, balance, and increased range of motion. I find having more RoM improves my comfort in the boat for extended periods.

Whereas sitting with legs extended forward (admittedly without footbraces - I don’t have them) seems very unstable to me. The legs forward position shifts a significant amount of (my) body weight away from the paddling station. I can never stay in that position for more than a couple of minutes.

The saddle in the ww canoe takes even more weight/stress off the knees, but it limits range of motion necessary for advanced freestyle. Using a pedestal for FS has been discussed recently (here?) and might be a good option for someone with very angry knees.

Foot brace makes huge difference when

I still haven’t grasped the concept of kneeling on a high seat, but with very little weight on the knees as has been suggested a couple times in this thread. It would seem that the higher the seat is, the more weight would be on the knees, rather than the butt.

knee pads
I use “gardening pads”. I think I got the last set at lowes. They have 2 different kinds one is a pretty stiff mimicell foam, the other is a really cushy closed cell with some kind of rubber coating on it. It seems like it would get slippery when wet, but it doesn’t. I use 3M VHB tape (the really thin version) to hold them in. I think the pads are about 5-6$ each.

I still can’t kneel for hours on end (too many surgeries for that) but they are way more comfortable than the 1/2" minicell pads that NRS sells.

Possible to come to the

– Last Updated: Sep-15-10 6:07 PM EST –

Western PA Solo Canoe Rendezvous?

You will have more than enough help to figure all this out. Possibly more than you want.

Its the first weekend in June.

And virtually free.

Sitting without footbraces results in lots of wasted energy and its hard on your back!