How can I modify my seat so I can have a drier butt?

I’m looking for ideas on seat modifications for a drier butt!

Notice I said “drier” butt. Getting wet in my kayak is a given but sitting for hours in a puddle in a plastic molded seat isn’t fun. I’m new to kayaking and am looking to make my third summer paddling a much less swampy one. I rarely do lakes and a typical day out for me is a 3-5 hour paddle in a fast moving creek or river with up to Class II rapids. Yes, I’m looking into a spray skirt or splash miniskirt, but I’m out in warm to hot weather so adequate drainage is a higher priority than splash protection.

I have an Elie Sound 100XE with the proprietary Ergoflex seating system Sure, the padding is nice, but it doesn’t allow for my butt to dry when I sweat or take on water in rapids or get back in from swimming.

I’ve paddled my husband’s Liquidlogic Marvel 12 with it’s proprietary Air-Lite seat and I love it! It’s like a lawn chair seat and air actually circulates below it to prevent the dreaded swamp ass that I get in my Elie.

I just returned from Canoecopia, a canoe and kayak trade show in Madison, Wisconsin, and sat in a bunch of other boats. What I learned is there’s no other 'yak I love more than my Elie (when looking at all the options from bungees to storage to cup holders, etc.) So, I’m thinking of drilling multiple drain holes in the molded seat and putting some other type of cushion on top. What I’d love to do is just replace the Elie seat with the Liquidlogic Air-Lite seat, but that won’t happen without a ton of mods. I figure I’m not the first to have this problem so I want to know what everyone else has done to help with this. Any suggestions are welcome!

I think sitting as low in the kayak as you can is a good idea as it makes the boat more stable. For tthat reason I wouldn’t want a lot of space under my seat.

What might be a good idea for you is a “splash deck”, an abbreviated spray skirt which will protect at least some of that large, rec boat cockpit.

Here’s a Seals one but unfortunately I don’t know of any company making one specifically for your particular kayak.

Maybe another option would be to wear lightweight neoprene “hydroskin” wetsuit shorts?

Thanks! Have you used one of these spray skirts yourself? Some of the reviews I read say that any weight will collapse the skirt and dump water on your lap. My guess is they installed it wrong or it was the wrong fit for their boat…

I think it depends on how much water you expect to get coming over the boat.

A tight fitting thicker neoprene spray skirt on a (much) smaller touring cockpit keeps out pretty much everything but of course they are hot on a warm day. I guess it’s all a compromise.

A splash deck isn’t designed to keep breaking waves out of your boat!

That’s exactly what I needed to know about the splash deck. Ads made it sounds like it would be good for breaking waves. Seal makes the Sneak spray skirt which is nylon with a zipper. I think that’s the way I’m going to go so I can leave it open when on calm waters and zip it up when I see rapids ahead. Thanks a bunch!

I have a Harmony half skirt – I only use it to keep sun off my thighs in hot weather and because the pockets in it are handy. They do NOT keep water out of the cockpit at all. Even on calm rivers and ponds you will get splash and paddle drip dribbling onto your lap . A full spray skirt is the only way to keep water out of the cockpit, but in warmer weather your butt is going to sweat anyway so damp butt is pretty inevitable.

The Elie Sound has a huge cockpit, so implosion (collapsing due to water collecting on the large surface) could be an issue.

Drilling holes in the seat likely won’t keep your butt from sweating or being damp on the surface between the holes.

I would second investing in a pair of hydroskin neoprene shorts. I really like mine – the brushed interior keeps me comfortable even on all-day paddles. I wear the full length tights in cooler waters and weather and have a pair of the knee length shorts for Summer, that I wear “commando”. I also have NRS Goretex pants with neoprene ankles and waistband that I wear over a Speedo tank suit. Those work pretty well too at keeping my butt dry.

Dry suit… just kidding

Spray skirts that have zippers in the deck leak. I’ve gotten rid of all of mine that had zippers for that reason.

A big problem with your boat is that the cockpit is so vast – any sprayskirt on it is going to have water pool on it and you will have to constantly lift a knee to empty the pool over the coaming. I often have to do that with mine and the cockpits in my boats are all 19" x 32" or smaller, nearly half the area of yours. The only skirts large enough for your 23" x 48" coaming are going to be nylon, not neoprene, so they won’t be as taut as a randed neoprene skirt like WW paddlers use. If you were in rapids requiring constant paddling attention you could get enough buildup that the weight of water on the skirt deck that it would actually collapse into the cockpit and dump all that water in your lap. Been there, done that. This is one of several reasons why recreational style kayaks with oversized cockpits are not supposed to be used in whitewater.

As I think has already been mentioned, you don’t want to put a cushion or padding on top of your seat. Even raising your center of gravity less than an inch can change the kayak’s stability dramatically.

Drip rings will help but IMO the only true way is a full skirt. If you go the route be sure to practice being upside down and removing it.

If your seat is actually collecting puddles under your butt, by all means drill some holes. You probably only need two, one on each side in the lowest parts of the seat, and they need not be big (one-quarter inch?). “Lots of holes” will drain quicker, but my guess is that they won’t reduce the initial accumulation from a splash-over over, so there’s probably little to be gained with more holes than the minimum. As to the comments about not using padding, I think you would find that even sitting on one of those synthetic camping towels, folded over to make two, three or four layers, would help a lot. That won’t raise you off the seat enough for you to notice but would provide a more-comfy, more-dry feeling. Even when wet, such a pad will feel more dry than the bare seat. Make sure all clothing in your “sit zone” is synthetic, quick-dry material too.

For what it’s worth, even with a webbed or cane seat in my rowboats, sitting on a folded towel makes a world of difference (rocking back and forth on the seat when rowing means sitting on a thin fabric layer just feels better). In dry weather I use a worn-out cotton towel (I don’t have to worry about drips or splash-over). In rainy weather I use a synthetic camp towel. It definitely makes a difference either way.

Fantastic ideas and suggestions all! Your experience speaks volumes. Paatit, I’ve been considering a dry suit because we’ve had so many beautiful days to paddle but they’ve all been mid 30 degrees! In the meantime I’ll be looking into the hydroskin neoprene shorts. I ordered the zippered spray skirt before I read your comment, willowleaf. I’ll give it a try but will keep in mind what you said. I’ll be drilling holes and looking into a different seat. Guideboatguy, can you recommend any seat manufacturers? Thanks everyone!

@Jen S said:
Guideboatguy, can you recommend any seat manufacturers?

Sorry, that’s not something I know anything about. Canoer/rowboater here.

@Jen S said:
…I’ve been considering a dry suit because we’ve had so many beautiful days to paddle but they’ve all been mid 30 degrees! In the meantime I’ll be looking into the hydroskin neoprene shorts…

Check out what NRS has. My wife loves her hydroskin capris…

Also their splash pants might be a solution on all but the warmest days…

It’s great when the OP gets in the conversation.

dropping the speed down (backpaddling), paddling the dry lines through the rapid will help keep some water out of your boat in the rapids, drip rings on the paddle may help on the flats, In general, your boat design looks “wet” to me. Meaning that in sizeable ww it would be prone to swamping out. So even in class II it may be a bit of a wet ride and draining the boat could be your best option .

tdaniel - thanks for the tip about backpaddling. I’m so new to this sport, been learning as I go.

Just received this the other day. Can’t wait to try it out!

We’ll be interested in your results from this trial. e.g.
does it work?
did you need to modify its shape to fit the existing kayak seat?

I will most definitely post after I’ve tried this out on a full day paddle. I can’t wait to get back in the water! My route home from work parallels my favorite creek to paddle and I look at it longingly every day. It beckons, but it’s 30 degrees out! I’m new to kayaking and haven’t tried any cold weather forays yet. My current project is that I’m building a kayak trailer from my own design. Today I plan to pull out the 'yaks and see how they fit. I’ll trial the new cushion in my yard while I’m at it and report back.

Good luck with it. The specs say it is 1.2 inches high which is going to change your center of gravity. Be prepared for your boat to handle a little differently. I’m a bit skeptical this will keep your butt any dryer but hope it works for you Let us know.

And don’t go out until the water is warm enough for safe immersion in the best clothing that you have. Your risk of a capsize increases when you’ve modified your balance point in a familiar boat.