Hull support for foam seat?

I might have asked this before … Would you reinforce the hull of a kevlar/carbon touring kayak in order to use a gel pad or a foam seat directly on the hull?

I’m about to get a tractor seat from CLC like this one or a “bumfortable” seat (but that’s $100+, so I’m hesitant) for my Rapier 18. Until I find one I like enough to glue on, I’d be tempted to just paddle it with a gel pad that I normally put on top of the seat in my other boat…

Would my boney (?) bottom and 190lb hurt the hull with just the thin Yakpad gel pad?


I’d ask the manufacturer
I’m not familiar with that specific boat but my gut sense is that the seat area should take two sit bones through a gel pad. Pretty sure CLCs “happy bottom” was original for a plastic valley boat, I recall seeing one in a plastic frame in a plastic hull. Ironically the HB seat won’t fit in any CLC kayak when the hip plates are installed as instructed. It’s formed flat and may take a narrow form if it’s in the bottom of a narrow curved hull.

Happy bottom

– Last Updated: May-07-09 12:21 PM EST –

Not sure if I read your note right, but are you saying it may not be too comfy in a curved hull? What did you mean "not fit" some of their own boats with the hip pads installed as per the instructions?

The Rapier is somewhat round though not totally so at the seat area... I was contemplating stuffing some foam shims under the middle of the seat to make it flat and also a little higher than it would otherwise be so that i get a better paddling position (though less stable).

I'll probably get a chance to try the seat in the kayak this weekend as I plan to go to Okume Fest on the Bay, so I'll know pretty soon if it fits OK or not.

Reconfiguring the original seat that is a bit too narrow for me but otherwise OK is also an option - it is already cracked, so I might slice it and trim it here and there to make a slightly wider seat out of it that still fits the hull contour and mounting points, but that would have to wait a few weeks and is unclear if it would work to my butt's satisfaction once done...

Carving out my own foam seat might also be an option but it would cost about the same as the happy bottom so I'll check that one first.

I've had the Necky touring pad/seat but had mixed feelings about it. Comfy to sit in but in the boat I had it at the time, the front of it was too high and rubbed too much the underside of my upper legs after some time as I pumped with them and rotated. I suppose it can be trimmed to fit and the boat I have now has a higher deck so may be my legs won't be going so low down and rub less...

important to know
Yes, you should ask the dealer manufacturer. The hull under the seat area is often made VERY thin, with the thought that weight can be saved on the bottom hull due to the boat being held floating in the water. Many boats have the most strength only where there are tight radius curves, like on the side bottom and top of the chines. Even the deck is made thicker on some boats than the under the seat area.

Some companies say to not place all weight on the bottom hull, and also utilize the seat seat hanger and bolted in process to strengthen the entire kayak. So yes do check. Many boats are just fine this way so don’t want to overly alarm you, just check that is all.

I added concentric layers of Kevlar
in the seat area of an old Noah whitewater kayak, because I needed to replace the hanging seat with a thin foam seat. The bottom layup was thin, flexible, and in my judgement needed to be stiffer. I doubt I added more than a pound to the weight of the boat. It also made the cockpit zone less likely to collapse if the boat were pinned.

HB seat
the HB seat has “wings” or hip braces that are specific to a particular kind of molded seat frame in a production plastic kayak. I remember trying one in a WR180 (without hip plates) and it kind of bent the seat a bit narrow. I have average narrow sit bones so it wasn’t a problem but it really wasn’t an improvement over a carved seat. It’s molded flat so what happens in the kayak varies according to the shape of the bottom panels.

On all the original CLC kayak designs the cockpits are 17" wide with about another 1/2" for the inset wooden hip braces. Those hip plates are trapezoidal pieces that taper narrow to the underside of the deck. If you look at the HB seat it’s anything but narrow, they’re pretty wide and have some thickness. If you put the complete seat in a kayak with 17 1/2" wide hip plates it’s so crammed that between the foam hip braces it can only fit someone with about 28" or smaller hips. Which is fine if you’re that small but most folks in kayaks that can carry 250lbs are bigger than that. So the “wings” get cut off and you waste a lot of minicell,or the wood hip plates aren’t installed allowing the attached ‘wings’ to flare out which is pretty much an admission the kayak isn’t going into waves or rolled in the 22" and wider kayaks since they will no longer provide much side to side bracing. Also if the wood hip plates aren’t installed you don’t have a good anchor for the back band.

The HB seat is a good sales item because most folks are still figuring out what’s comfortable and the stock “donut” seats made out of two 1" pieces of CNC cut minicell aren’t for a lot of people. Most folks need support around their ass just like an old whitewater seat or what you’d see in a wenona canoe tractor seat and the HB seat really doesn’t do that. The HB seat has a better profit than a 2’x2’x3" block of minicell and it looks like a complete seat so a lot of them are sold, whereas a block of minicell requires instructions,which they don’t have. ergo,HB seats sell.

The HB seat might be just what you like,or not. If you’re paddling a rapier I’d guess there’s a fair amount of sit boat twisting going on,what’s wrong with the stock seat?