Kayak seat comfort

I recently spent a few hours paddling a friends kayak. I don’t recall the make or model. I could probably get the info, if needed. It is 17’ touring yak w/ rudder.

After about 30min, I notice my legs feeling numb. I ended up alternating my legs inside on the foot brace, to pulling my knees up for as long as I could stand that. He has experienced the same thing.

My first thought is that the seat bottom is too close to the back of the cockpit. Making it impossible to adjust the back rest properly.

Has anyone had to deal with this? What was the fix?


Move the seat bottom forward?
Seems like you answer your own question.

Lots of possibilities…
The front lip of the seat is at a bad angle for you, and him, and needs to be lowered. I literally cut foam out from under my seat in one of my boats - problem solved.

The boat has a rudder - it may be that you were contorting trying to deal with the squishy foot pedals. That has been a problem for me and is the reason that my first boat, which was ruddered, left the dealer’s lot with the SmartTrac system installed.

You are leaning back and locking your lower back and seat area into a position rather than sitting upright and rotating fully to paddle. Very easy to happen if neither of you has ever had some work on the forward stroke.

The seat is just plain harder than your posterior can take, and needs some minicell glued in or a foam pad like Sweet Cheeks.

Just off the top of my head… but usually paddling form is the first stop to fix this kind of thing.

Sounds Like Pressure Points…
could be affecting a blood vessel or nerve. A high front seat lip can do that, or too hard a ‘sit spot’…

I paddle a 17’ S&G VOLKSKAYAK. I can stay in the boat for hours without discomfort, and then it’s only stiffness caused by being in a relatively restricted position. The key to VK seating is that there are no ‘hard’ spots or sharp lips to form pressure points.

Here’s a link to the VK’s usual seating arrangement, which VKers have found very comfortable and effective.


On one day paddle, when I’d forgotten the Thermarest that forms the ‘seat’, I used an old Mustang PFD as a cushion - legs numbed out within 20 minutes.

And as others have said, good stroke technique depends on body position, and poor position can cause a lot of aches and pains. The thread below headed “Kayak with High seatback?” has some good info.

This is interesting to read
I am a new kayak paddler. I have paddled other craft all my adult life. When I bought my kayak last year I had some numbness issues but they quickly disappeared and I have zero problems of that sort now. I paddle a WS Zephyr with the standard WS seat system. I do not have great core strength. I think my posture is decent though. I find that my kayak has substantial seat adjustment possibilities and with a little experimentation I have a very comfortable set up now.

Wilderness System Seats…

– Last Updated: Mar-20-12 10:50 AM EST –

...are good, IMHO. My wife's Cape Horn 15 has the Phase Three seat, and while it is hard, it's good for hours in the boat without discomfort. We did replace the high seatback with a carved, much lower backrest to help with re-entries.

There is an article in the Winter 2010 issue of California Kayaker Magazine that talks about how to make a eat more comfortable - and has specific suggestions for this. Can be read online for free from http://calkayakermag.com/magazine.html (you don’t even have to provide an email address or anything). Starts on page 12.

You can also order back copies of the printed version for $4 each (if you are in the US or Canada - slightly higher elsewhere).

Keep in mind something the article mentions - the more flexible you are (especially hamstrings), the less this is an issue. Increasing your flexibility actually may make it so you don’t need to modify the seat.

Thanks. A lot of good info for me to experiment with.

I’ll have to find a seat that offers comfort without the need for good posture. I like being able to let my feet skim through the water while I’m lazily paddling down river.

Consider different boat
If you stay in just one leaning back position in a sea kayak, or most transitional SINK’s, it is pretty much guaranteed to put constant pressure on a spot in your lower posterior thru which nerves go to your legs. That’s why good posture means rotation, which take away the problem of constantly loading the same spot.

You can pad things to make the seat softer and that may extend the time before the numbness comes on, but ultimately your body will have the same response.

I am thinking that if you want to paddle a boat more in a barcalounger style, you shopld consider a boat that is better suited to that purpose than squeezing that demand into a sea kayak. Some fishing SOT’s make that easier, especially the ones where it is tough to call whether it is a canoe or a kayak.

tight hamstrings and glutes? NM

Another suggestion. Besides the seat…
Be sure you are sitting fully upright and not in a slouched position.

When I find myself slouching, it doesn’t take long for my legs to start getting numb.

I have seen many paddlers leaning way back as though sitting in a recliner. That doesn’t do a thing for the old tailbone and surrounding nerve endings.

multiple answers
Your intuitions about what a comfortable sitting position is are almost certainly wrong. Here is what you want to accomplish. First, you need to sit up straight with a slight forward lean. That will not feel comfortable to start with but in the long run is the only way to avoid pain. A kayak is not a beach chair. Second you need to eliminate constant pressure points. This means you need to alternate which foot is pushing on the peddle. And you need to eliminate pressure points on the sciatic nerve. And you need to eliminate tension in your legs from holding them in position for a long time. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this and you may have to experiment.

same experience here also rpg

– Last Updated: Mar-20-12 11:20 PM EST –

When I first got a kayak with the infamous composite 'bucket' seat, my legs went numb. It went away with regular use, quicker then it took me to do anything about it. Now I find it comfortable.

stretching is also good
In a stable spot try really your legs up, even if you pop your legs outside the boat. And a pool doodle under your thighs can help

experiment with
position of foot pegs also… I used to get some lower leg numbness paddling my 12’ kayak until I learned that I had the foot pegs a couple notches too far back.

Yes, in that article
It recommends several aids to raising and supporting your knees, thighs and calves.

I use the blown up double sided paddle float idea to relieve my numbing issue. Works like a charm.

Raise those thighs!!!