I’ve had two hard-body kayaks over the years and suffered the same back pain with both after about 15 minutes. I’m in relatively good health but attribute my problem to lack of strong abdominal muscles. In brief, Almost immediately, I find myself leaning back too far in order to gain some relief. But that’s no way to paddle and I try to make adjustments–so far to no avail.
Background: I’ve paddled canoes and kayaks more than 40 years–mostly on rivers (Class 1-4). I’ve always been more comfortable in a solo canoe where I can vary my position from seated to kneeling (with virtually no knee pain) while using either a single- or double-bladed paddle. My first kayak was a Prijon T-Slalom which I took down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in 1991 as well as the main Salmon, the Green, the Upper Arkansas, the Mulberry, the Buffalo and other rivers. My second is a Jackson Journey 13.5 with an adjustable back band/back rest, inflatable Happy Seat and adjustable foot pegs. So far, nothing I do seems to alleviate my discomfort in the Jackson…
Btw, I’m 5’9", 175 lbs, exercise nearly every day and, at 73, am still healthy enough to pedal my road bike across Kansas and sail my Sunfish by myself. I am rarely in any back pain and when I am, it quickly disappears with stretching.
Recently I acquired two 10’ inflatable white water kayaks. With each, I experienced the same back pain and backwards slouching. I solved those problems by removing the flimsy stock seats and substituting 12" cylindrical back rests (sold by Aire) that I inflate as needed to prevent back discomfort and keep me from slouching backwards. I sit fairly upright in both.
With my IK experience, I now have a clue as to how I might proceed to alleviate my back discomfort in my Jackson Journey kayak, but aside from ripping out the stock seat I see no way to insert another cylindrical back rest. Heeding advice from Paulo Ouellet (comfortpaddling.net), I am pretty sure I don’t want to limit my ability to rotate my hips & torso. In short, I am at a loss for better ideas to solve my problem.
So what do others who’ve experienced this problem have to say? I’d be grateful to hear from you.