I will soon be installing a NSI or a IR backband in my sea kayak. For those of you who have installed these (regardless of brand), can you recommend the best method to identify how high or low I should affix the backband? I would like to use the kind with bolts vs. just straps, but I’m not exactly clear on the pros and cons of the two. From earlier posts, it appears the ideal placement of the band should be against my lower back at or just above my hips.
The word “back-band” is a bit of a misnomer. All these do in a sea kayak is keep your legs from pushing your butt off the back of the seat. It’s important to be able to rotate your torso while paddling so anything that toushes the body above the hips is potentialy irritating.
Most of the guys I paddle with just fashion a “butt-stop” out of minicell foam and ditch their back-bands all together. Lately I’ve been puting a rolled RidgeRest (3/4) behind my seat to cushion the coaming during laybacks. I haven’t used a back-band in years. I do have a couple to sell though.
It’s actually a "hip band"
The purpose of a back band is to support your hips and pelvis, not your back. It should sit low in the boat and not protrude above the coaming.
Some people here like the ratchet straps, but I’ve found them to be more trouble than they’re worth. The buckles are prone to rust, corrosion and slipping. The rigid straps hold the back band in the way during re-entries and will eventually crack and fail if they’re flexed too much. I haven’t found any need to adjust the back bands in my touring boats once they’re set the way I like them.
I prefer to mount back bands with web straps on the sides and bungee in the rear to hold it up. That allows the backband to slide downward out of the way during re-entries, without folding over or ending up underneath you.
Below the combing
I like a back band that does not stick above the combing at the back of the cockpit. If it sticks above the combing, I always drag my Butt on it getting in, and have problems. As long as it is no higher than the combing, it works well for me.
I too dislike the ratchet adjusters. I think you are just paying for something that is hardly ever used. Once I get it set, I have never had to adjust them after.
Keep it low, and use the bungie cord to hold it up even with the combing.
Every boat needs a slightly different setup - so can’t say much more than to recommend “low” - and “narrow” (as in WW styles - not touring styles: IR Reggie 2.0, NSI mini WW, etc.). Expect to tweak it a few times after a few longer paddles.
When you forget about it - it’s right.
I have re-adjusted mine a few times - always lower. It’s about as low as I can get it now. Lower and it would be hitting the seat pan - and it’s not a deep pan and has a pretty low back edge.
See if you can rig a way to secure to the back/bottom of seat that acts as a height adjustment (also keeps it from moving much getting in and out). I use the extra web straps on my IR for this.
The foam suggestion is also good. I’ll likely do that in future boats. For now it would kill some great storage space. I have a lot of room between the back of the seat and the rear bulkhead. Even more since I moved my seat 3" forward. Must be a foot back there now. Suppose I could glass it and add dayhatch…
I see you points, but I’ve had have the exact opposite experience.
I have no rust problem and zero slipping. The rigid straps hold the back band OUT of the way during re-entries in my boat and the material is VERY durable (as in zero wear over two years).
Web on the other hand will twist, slip, stretch and wear more over time.
I do tend to leave it alone - but anytime I’ve changed other outfitting it’s nice to be able to fine tune, while seated, with precise increments of adjustment.
Given how different your impressions are I have to wonder whose ratchets you’ve tried - IR and NSI, or something else?
I’m not saying ratchets are the only way to go - just that they can be quite good.
I’ve used some padding on the coaming behind my seat. My Elaho was designed so my spine never hit the coaming when I laid back (the rear coaming is actually lower than the rear deck), however, if I’m really laying back in my Aquanaut, even though the rear is only 7.5", the coaming is slightly higher than the deck and does hit my spine. I’m working with the black rubber (professional) pipe instualtion on the coaming. Just that little bit of cushion makes a difference.
I ditched my IR reggie
and went with a sculpted foam backband. Best move I ever made, it is low and out of the way and very hard to dork over or have any mechanical problems with. I do think the IR reggie is great as a backband, but the foam kind is custom and perfect. I stole the idea from the old foster-rowe kayaks that didn't have a backband.
It is not pretty, it is essentially a big foam square with some neoprene covering the sculpted areas for show. But it is very comfortable.
Diamante rachets – pfui!
The ratchets on my Dimanate backband were a major p.i.t.a… Often just entering the boat, if I sat down slightly on the top of the backband, they would slide looser, and often one of them come off altogether, leaving the band dangling from one side. Also, the top of the seatback would often slide up under the coaming and get stuck there. That also wore down the seatback cover until it was just tatters on top.
Also, the band was mounted on the sides of the seat rather than the gunwhale, so over time the occasion downward stress upon entering or reentering actually cracked the seat itself.
I (with Brian’s help) removed it, extracted and cut the top off the hard plastic, padded it with 1/4" foam, and remounted it with a simple strap and buckle system that can be adjusted, but not instantly. Works great now.
Back to a strap system
I think I may return the NSI rachet backband for a strap system as many of you described above. One issue I encountered is trying to keep the backband in an upright position w/out slumping to a horizontal position. The backband needs a strap or bungie cord affixed to the back of the combing (connected to the backband) to hold it upright, as seen with most backbands. Interestingly, the NSI backband has two long plastic uprights which I believe are used for the purpose of keeping the backband vertical. I can’t use these plastic uprights at all so I would need to devise a strap system similar to most backbands on the market.
I own a Nimbus Telkwa and they use a creature comfort seat in that boat. There is a flange that extends from the combing to the hull which is glassed in as opposed to a part of the combing as seen with many boats where the seat and combing are one unit. I tried to reinforce that glass section, but quickly realized it is very tough to work in the glass behind that vertical flange - just not a lot of room to work. I’ve quit for the moment and reinstalld the creature comfort seat, but I’m open to any suggestions you may have. I may not even have to reinforce that flange, but it doesn’t seem as solid as needed for a typical backband.
As jmden noted, I get grumpy - especially when I work with fiberglass in enclosed places late at night… Thanks for all the feedback.