Having trouble getting comfortable

I’m having trouble getting comfortable…

I have reluctantly put my carbon kevlar Impex Force 3 up for sale…but I really don’t want to sell it…I really would rather enjoy it like I think I should be able to…it’s just that I’m so uncomfortable in it…so I’m looking for some help!

I am a rather lean and fit male, 5’10” and just under 150lbs. I purchased this boat second hand on a whim without trying it out first. It’s definitely a step up from my old WS Cape Lookout which is a much different kind of boat. The Impex Force 3 has a much lower deck of about 10” but I have twiggy legs with a narrow waist and hips, so I fit in there just fine. But within minutes my hip flexors (top of the thighs) begin seizing up and start severely aching in a way I have not ever experienced before. When I get out of the boat (even after just a few minutes), my low back then begins to ache and can feel vulnerable for a long time afterwards. I don’t really understand why this is, since I can sit straight up on the floor with my legs outstretched for awhile without pain or tension, and I do yoga fairly regularly. Perhaps it is due to tight hamstrings, weak glutes, a weak core, and tight iliopsoas (?), but I’m looking for help beyond the yoga mat as I know what to do in that realm (I think)…

I am wondering if it is due to the factory seat which has a lower angle in the rear and a higher angle underneath my thighs; however I took out the seat and tried sitting without anything under my butt and still felt the pain in my hip flexors. I also got the Redfish seat which was a well made seat expertly designed for this model Impex, but the shape of the seat was similar to the original, with the rear angled further down than the front and it didn’t make any difference for me.
I have an IR backhand which I also struggle with, and experiment with tightening it and other times loosening it but It just doesn’t allow me to feel relaxed and I do not feel upright enough (with or without it). When I am paddling, the pain gets so bad that I feel like I either want to lay waaaay back and give myself a rest like I’m in a recliner, or I want to pull myself up and grip onto the edge of the combing for support (this doesn’t happen with the Cape Lookout or the Valley Gemini ST which I also have).

Granted, this is a tight fit and super snug…my feet are resting on the pegs at the last hole, and there is a subtle bend to the knees with a very small amount of room between my thighs and the super thin thigh pads underneath the deck.

But I want to enjoy this awesome boat, and can’t help but think there is some tweaking that needs to happen but I just don’t know what to do…

Many thanks for any ideas!

The above also describes my situation, but your cure may be different. I have a compromised lower back and my cure is to modify the back band so it extends further up my back and to ensure that it stays firmly vertical. Of course, this inhibits layback rolls.

How do I make the modification for height? I attach flexible, but strong plastic to the back of the back band. I ensure that it sticks up further than the back band up to the desired height. Then I attach minicell foam to that portion of the plastic that extends above the back band to rest firmly against my back. Finally I make sure the modified back band remains vertical - different ways to do this depending on the kayak.

My first thought is that it will probably take quite a bit of time in the saddle for your body to adapt to the new boat. I’ve had some similar issues when switching from one of my boats to another that I haven’t spent that much time in.

The last time anything like that happened, it went away after more time in the seat. I have recently had to take a bit of time off from paddling. I’m pretty sure there will be some kinks to work out when I get back to it. A few years ago I pulled a ham string (not while paddling). It took more than a year for that to quit being a bother.

Perhaps riding a bike would be helpful’; it couldn’t hurt.

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“a very small amount of room between my thighs and the super thin thigh pads underneath the deck.”

If it was me I’d bring the foot pegs back a notch and have my knees definitely touching the pads. (I don’t feel like I’m “one with the boat” without my knees in contact.) An old foam block or pool noodle section under my ankles to lift my heels off the hull and maybe a rolled up towel under my thighs. Keeps me comfortable. Give it a try.

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You may be a little tight in there - for comfort over a longer paddle you should be able to relax your legs inside the cockpit, take the tension off at times and fall away from the thigh braces.

The other thing that I finally found - though this issue showed up in my hamstring not the top of my thighs - was that the damned ergonomic seats with the forward part higher up did not work at all for me. I had one like that where I finally cut away the foam supports so it sat flatter, because my sciatic would start kicking at 90 minutes in no matter what I did. At that point it was a closer match for my anything-but-ergonomic flatter seat in the other day boat. Pain went bye bye, at least the predictable sciatic one.

Apparently my legs and hips like a flatter angle than seat manufacturers trying to be nice to paddlers use.

Consider removing the foot pegs and installing foam against bulkhead. This will give both your feet and legs more positions. You may find that having your knees together for most of the time allows for sufficient balance, more relaxed muscles and better hip/paddle rotation. You can splay knees under thigh supports when needed. A foam back support vs ratchet band might too.


Second the foam for feet, lose the footpegs.

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You have a big advantage to solving this. You have seats in two other kayaks that work for you. It gives you something to compare.

Two configurations that work…one that doesn’t.
figure out what is different and make it change.

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Is the front edge of the seat biting into your thighs? If so, this may seem counter productive but try putting a half inch foam pad (cannibalize a Wally World exercise pad) on the back 3/4 of the seat.

You can also grab some sandpaper and make that redfish seat a different shape, maybe flatten it out.

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When I was living in Cali and sea kayaking regularly, I had the same problem when I sat in my avocet for longer than 30 minutes until I worked with an experienced outfitter who helped me modify the seat.

First, ditto what others have said about ditching the foot pegs and installing foam. It was a total game changer for me!

Another thing to consider, people’s hips and knee joints differ and sometimes no matter how fit or bendy someone is, sitting on a seat where the bottom cushion is too flat or set at an angle that is too high for the person paddling, comfortable paddling for any amount of time won’t be possible. We added a slight foam lift in my seat and the sharp shooting nerve pain I was experiencing vanished because I was no longer compressing any nerves.

These two modifications allowed me to enjoy many pain free years of paddling longer distances in my avocet.

Hope you get the help you need to enjoy your boat!

Another vote for losing the foot pegs. And a good thing about trying that is that if you end up not liking it, easy to put the foot pegs back in, though based on my experience, you won’t want to go back.

You don’t have to remove the foot rests in order to add a minicell foam foot rest. You can use the foot rests to help support the foam. That’s the setup in my three kayaks. If someone taller than I am wants to try a boat, I can quickly pull out the foam so the foot pegs can be moved.

Me too.

I also raised the seat, which worked for a while. But I recently lowered it and went to a high density foam seat.

Post some pictures of seat and deck height. Post some pictures of you legs in it.

Thank you all for these great recommendations. I have considered the foam footrest idea, but am concerned about the structural integrity of the bulkhead, given that it is a rather thin membrane of carbon-kevlar…is it possible that it could pop out or the seam could rupture if I place too much pressure on it with my feet during pumping?

Also, in response to PaddleDog52, I am posting some photos that may or may not be helpful (even after a few minutes of sitting in the boat taking these photos, my hip flexors began to ache and all through dinner my back was hurting)…the last one is of the seat taken out…maybe I just need to ditch that and put a flat piece of minicell on the floor of the cockpit? Oh, and the deck height is 10"…

This is with my legs bent and thighs touching the rests underneath the combing (I can feel the tops of things hurting just looking at the photo):

This is with my legs straight and outstretched (I can fit about a full fist between the tops of my thighs above my knee and the underside of the deck):

This is legs bent and feet on the last notch (my heels hurt a bit as well here):

This is my legs outstretched and not yet touching the bulkhead:

Me sitting in the kayak, feeling like I’m falling backwards, so I’m using my thighs to keep myself upright (and it hurts):

My seat taken out (seems to have a low bucket angle towards the rear and I wonder if it is this angle that’s making me sink back and my thighs are working to counter-oppose that…?):

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since the seat is out…take the seat out of one of your other kayaks and put it in this kayak…then sit in it and see how it feels.

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Looks like your foot pegs are too far forward as your feet/ankles appear hyper-extended. It may just be the photo angle, but that is the only issue I see.

Suggest you bring the foot pegs closer too you and sit up straighter with whichever seat you choose to use = slide your butt back in the seat. Slouching results in an easier opportunity to get off balance and flip/swim.

I see a couple of things looking at these photos. One is that your feet and the underside of the kayak are a much closer fit than mine. Strongly suggest foaming out the bulkhead so that you have more flexibility in your foot position. Also add some thing foam to under where your feet go. Bulkhead is plenty strong.

I also think the supposed ergonomic seat has you tilting back a bit, so that over a longer haul your thighs are going to be taking on a lot of work. Problem with taking it out is that it appears the backband is anchored to the seat pan, so you would not have any anchor points for the bacband if you switched seats.

Filling in the rear portion so the profile is flatter may be your only shot. If that helps you will have enough info to know if you want to cut away support under the front of the seat if that is possible.

I strongly disagree with locking yourself in there too tight. As long as you can reach your anchor points in a pinch you are fine. If you were racing you would need to be in perfect position all the time, but no indication you are doing that.

You say you feel like you have to fight falling backward, so your thighs compensate. Likely your back muscles as well. I would think carefully about how to set things up so that you can relax and not fight falling backward. Then try some prototyping to see if it works. Can be temporary, simple, just shoving some padding here or there. Keep trying things until you find what works. that should lead you to a solution that you can try on the water, then hopefully a final solution.

You can contact Impex and ask them if they think the bulkhead is strong enough. I expect they will say yes.