Kayak Cockpit Outfitting Tricks

I plan to outfit the cockpit on my Prijon Calabria this winter. I have bought the minicel kit, and plan to add the seat pad, the thigh pads, hip pads. Should improve my edging and turns, as well as give mea comfy ride. I plan on using Dap Weldwood adhesive on p-netter’s suggestion (unless someone has other idea). I hope to make a recess for my bilge pump betwen hull and hip pads.

Does anyone have any “pearls” of advice for outfitting kayaks. I know this has been on here before, and I am not asking for a step-by-step how-to; just if there are any ideas, caveats, extra places for padding, tips, tricks to cockpit outfitting, please advise. Thanks. Paddle hard.

When Minicell Outfitting…

– Last Updated: Dec-15-05 6:01 AM EST –

latex gloves, vacuum cleaner and a Stanley Sureform are your friends. I am sure you have a vacuum cleaner and latex gloves. Wouldn't want your bedside manner compromised by sticky icky stuff stuck all over your fingers... The sureform most used in outfitting:


When outfitting hip and thigh areas, the goal (for me) is be able sit in a comfortable position and have the minicell pads almost or just touching my hips and thighs/knees. The idea of this is that when I want to lean/edge a boat, I want my hip and thigh to almost immediately touch the pads and transfer the movement to the boat. Without pads and a loose cockpit, I waste alot of energy making lean/edge corrections because my hips may have scoot across the seat an inch or more to make contact and I may have to drive my knee up an inch to make contact with the braces and then another inch to effect the edge/lean. When done over and over again in conditions, this can become tiring and I can sometimes feel the strain on my muscles (leading to cramping). Also,when I want to immediately brace for some reason, I want to happen almost immediately and not a split second later (too late!) The contact with the boat through the pads help with a seamless thought to action from mind to body to boat.

White water and surf folks will want snugger outfitting where the hips and thighs/knees are fully enveloped and in constant contact since alot of bracing and rolling are part of those venues. However, for a touring kayak, you don't need that kind of snugness. In fact, you may find it becoming uncomfortable over a long haul paddle. You want a bit wiggle room, so you can move/shift around to stretch something or just relieve the pressure a bit on a given body part.

Unless you're a big guy with your Prijon, my suspicion is that the pre made thigh brace padding that you bought will not be enough to make a good fit. Those Prijon cockpits are pretty cavernous for medium to small paddlers. You'll likely need another 1/4 pad or two. On the off chance, the minicell pads are too tight after installation. Stanley Sureform comes to the rescue.


Take a look at this

Wonderful link & advice
Mintjulip: Thanks for the nice link. I have seen it prior, and the top left click Custom outfitting is indeed superb. I will print it out when I do the deed.

sing: yours is the overall best descripton of the hows and whys of outfitting, plus a couple of neat tips, that I have ever read.

I’ve read several write ups on the how and why of making the changes you are talking about. Here is yet another link which I found informative. I have also ordered a kit and plan to make some mods after the first of the year. One of the things I found in this write up is the differant grades of minicell. Anyway, I am kind of blending several recommendations together.


Happy Paddling,


Padding out a boat…
I am currently doing the same. I built a Hybrid Night Heron ( designed by Nick Schade)…and have padded out the front bulkhead as opposed to using foot pegs.

I just carved out a seat with lumbar support from minicell. I used a hand drill with a small wire attachment typically used to remove rust from metal surfaces. Of course one needs to be very careful as the minicell cannot be replaced once it is shaved off.

Like Sing suggests I then used a sureform…works beautifully. 80 grit sandpaper will help you to finish off the minicell leaving you with a relatively smooth finish.

You might want to check out www.kayakforum.com and do a search on that site. I would also highly recommend Brian Nystrom’s site as he has great pics regarding padding out a cockpit…along with many other kayak-related issues.


Interestingly, when I first started my seat I found myself getting frustrated until I got into the ‘swing of it’…then really enjoyed carving out the padding that truly makes the boat ‘yours’.



As a whitewater boater, I love proper outfitting. My feeling is that if I can wiggle in the kayak, I need more foam! For my whitewater boats, I have minicell thigh braces, hip pads, knee braces, bulkheads, etc. For my sea kayaks, the primary thing I do is replace the backband with an IR Reggie backband and add some foam on the thigh braces. On one boat I also put a foam bulkhead for my feet. Like most of the people here, I use mostly a surform, minicell, DAP Weldwood Contact Cement GEL, and some duct tape or neoprene if needed. I’ll never reach Brian Nystrom’s level of outfitting though. Actually in regards to sea kayaks, my philosophy regarding outfitting seems to be changing. Although I still replace the backbands, since I do primarily Greenland style kayaking, I forgo any further outfitting and rather simply use a big foam masik over my thighs. It’s simple and remarkably effective.

“Greenland style kayaking, I forgo any further outfitting and rather simply use a big foam masik over my thighs. It’s simple and remarkably effective.”

Works better with a narrow kayak, where you want to sit with legs out front, prefereably resting on a bulkhead, as opposed to foot pegs.

Also, better have a good roll too, if the foam masik is fitted tight. I hear tell of a massive hold down on a big wave by someone (very competent greenland roller) where wet exit proved near impossible and pretty hairy.


It doesn’t have to be “tight” to work
I fit my boats so that I can slip a hand between my thigh and the masik. That allows me some room to move around, make entry and exiting easier, and I have instant control when I need it. Unless I’m paddling hard and/or in rough water, I find that most of the time I can control the boat by pushing down with one hip or the other, rather than pulling up into the masik.

I used kayakfit.com’s instructions
And here are some pics . . .

This was my first outfitting - and I love it!

www.thistleback.net/images/hip pad.jpg

www.thistleback.net/images/thigh hook.jpg

www.thistleback.net/images/seat pad.jpg

www.thistleback.net/images/cockpit overview.jpg

To see all at once, www.thistleback.net/kayaking.html

I didn’t bother covering my pads with any fabric or neoprene. I like the foam finish - when sandpapered, it feels and looks like suede.


I dig the pics. That is exactly what I am going for in the cockpit outfitting, and also I just bought similar bars for my 2004 GMC Sierra, so gives me some ideas about the minicell to use for padding those. Thanks. Thanks for all the tips. Keep 'em coming.

Truck Rack
My setup for the T-Rac works very well, but I wear out the upright posts (pool noodles) every year. I’d like to custom cut some foam that will fit right over the T-Rac bars and shape it custom for my hull. Might be able to come up with a better method to attach them too. But the sleeping bag straps in the slot work well for the time being. And when my boat is cinched down, it ain’t goin’ nowhere!


t-back, how about…
what i was going to try and do… I use the crank down ratchet cords (I know, if overtightened they will be too much pressure, but they sure give a nice tight hold)… you know, the camlock types. I was planning to put my kayak hull down on minicell, like you have, and have no uprights at all. How do I keep it from side shifts? I was going to go from the truck bed metal loops, over the deck, (here is te key), around the cross bar, back up and over the kayak again, and them back down to the truck metal bed loop. The kayak will pull to the one upright I have on the outer ened of my cross peice, so likely I will have to pad that one, but this method would accomodate any width or kayak (i have four, need to stay flexible). Anyhow, it is a thought. I just got my t=rack at season’s end so have not tried this yet. But I sure like your pics. Very splendid.

PS Another idea maybe; can you sling a strap betwen the two uprights you have, sort of like a hammock that would accomodate your hull, and thus not rub on the pads on the uprights>

I can’t think of a good way to suspend anything from the top of the uprights - there is no loop or hook or anything at the top to attach to.

I don’t really rely on the uprights, except to sandwich the foam tightly, and of course the loops.

I wonder how you would do if you just put the uprights on one side, then padded the entire length of the bars. You’d only have to pad the one side, as you suggested. Then you run your strap like this: Starting with the buckle hanging just below the deck seam on the outside, up over the deck, down and around the crossbar on the other side, back up over the deck, down through the loop on the upright, and up into the buckle.

Using the one upright would eliminate any side-to-side shifting. If you have the bar padded with some kind of foam, however, I don’t think you’d get any sliding anyway.

I don’t use the ratcheting tiedowns, just standard NRS straps with the metal buckle, but they work wonderfully well. I have a Carbonlite boat, and I can tighten down the straps pretty snug without deforming the hull. I can rock the whole truck with the kayak when strapped down. It never budges.

I’ll try and post a picture of my boat strapped on so you can see how I run the buckles. I have to check and see if my hubby left the camera home.


Paula, very helpful.
Your ideas are good.

If you have the bar padded with some kind of foam, however, I don’t think you’d get any sliding anyway. When you say this, I am curious, is the minicell cradle only held on by the strap over the top of it, as in your pics, or is it somehow else held onto the rack? Mine is a cylindrical aka tubular, rack, and does not have teh flat top like yours… something telle me I will be drilling some holes and placing some sort of apparatus on there to holed the yaks. I hate to go any higher as it will not fity in my garage if I put anything on there that sticks up above the current rack 9ie the current rack on rthe truck just barely fits into my garage).

My foam block
was the kind that is made to fit over wide bars, so it was slotted on the bottom, although the slot isn’t as wide as my rack. It is slipped over the bar, sandwiched in by the uprights, and held down by the straps over the top. If I push really hard against it, I can push it over, but it never has come off. . .