Knee Pads for Canoe

Took out the disco 164 for the first time this weekend. I loved it! I paddled with two other buddies and we all are new to the sport other than when we were kids. All of us preferred (by a huge margin) to paddle on our knees and use the seat as a brace for our butts. This was very stable and reading other reviews about this boat being tippy, we never felt that was true. As it did heal to one side, the secondary stability corrected it right away.

My question is what knee pads do you recommend? We all felt we needed not only pads for the knees but for our ankles that were flat out behind and underneath the seat. Do I need two pads or one long pad that extends from knee to ankle?

I have seen a few on the internet but want to hear what works for you out there.



cheap solution
The gardening section at Lowes has minicell kneeling pads for gardening. You can install them without cutting for your knees and you can cut some others to build up some ankle support.

Two sided carpet tape will keep them in place for a quite a few trips till you see where you want to place them permanently. After you know where you want them, use the DAP contact cement in the red can.

Good luck and have fun!

bell sells a nice
neoprene topped knee pad set that comes with adhesive for a more permanent install. I first went the cheap route for my other royalex canoe by cutting using a couple of rectangles of camping mat and contact cement. The contact cement holds well but the comfort difference between the Bell pads and the homemade are very noticeable.

Bell pads
ARE very comfy. I have the long/narrow one, and it works well for my occasional kneeling exploits.

Staples sells some very serviceable kneepads, but they are a bit thin. Find them in the mouse pad department.


I pad my knee, not the boat
In the Tripper (a near relative of the disco), I used to have channel shaped pads from a paddling store (Springriver, Rockville, MD) that I cemented to the bottom of the boat. These were mounted near the center of the boat for when I paddled solo. They worked fine, but got in the way when I paddled tandem with the canoe loaded with gear. Eventually they got knoocked out and lost.

My previous ww boat had glued in pads, similar to what I installed in the Tripper.

Now I use pads from the hardware store that I strap onto my knees. Here is a link to the type of pads I’m talking about:

I have been very pleased with how these work on all but the most hot days. When its real hot, my sweat makes the pads slippery on the inside. Still work pretty well, just a little slippery.

My current ww boat came w/o padding, so I use the knee pads in that boat, too.

What I like about padding my knees, not the boat, is the flexibility to use them in any position in the boat, or in any boat you happen to get in. Plus, pretty easy to “install” :slight_smile: Furthermore, they come in real handy on any home improvement or gardening projects that puts you on your knees.

My paddling mentor used strap-on pads that were the boss of all knee pads. He had been a mine inspector at some point in his working life and had these coal-miner knee pads that were very grippy, thick, and well padded. I have never been able to find these to buy.

If you consider the pad-yer-knee approach to pads, make sure you get something that grabs when wet. The pads of cheap foam material or hard vinyl are useless once a little water is in the bottom of the boat.

The first set of pads I used were cloth pads such as are used for volley ball and other sports. They worked pretty well, but they get thin after a while. Now that I think of it, I might try them again if I need another set…don’t really know why I got away from using them.

If you are paddling your disco solo, consider adding a butt-support thwart behind the center thwart. Position it so that your butt is against the support thwart and your knees are under the center thwart. These boats behave better when trimmed toward the center, and you will have more boat control paddling from the center, since you can reach forward and do bow strokes.

~~Chip Walsh, Gambrills, MD

By "miners knee pads"
do you mean the black rubber ones? I used to use them too, but also have not seen them recently - and I don’t paddle heavy WW anymore so I don’t need 'em.

Check out these:


Check out the Bell kneeling pads; especially the large one that will pad your knees & your ankles.

Divide the number of times your knees & ankles feel “a whole lot better” into the initial cost of the pad. The more you use it; the less the initial cost will be of concern to you.


Wow! Bell Pads are BUCKS!!!
$110.00 for one pad, and I need two sets for the tandom just is too much to spend. Got the Canoe brand new for $410.00 w/o tax so that just makes so sence to pay that. If I had an expensive kevlar boat that would be one thing but paying over half of what I got the canoe for I just can’t justify.

I guess I will have to go with something else.


Do a little more Bell research
Look for the T shaped pad; not the pad they advertise for freestylers at $110.00.

The Knee T pad is $60.00.

I’ve had mine for 3 years, and use it on a very regular basis. It shows no sign of wear, and works just as good as new. If I use it for another 3 years, my cost is an average of $10.00 per year. What does 4 gallons of gas cost where you live?


Yes, black, but not those
Roger’s where flat faced, which probably put more area in contact with the boat and improved the grip on the hull.


The ones in Brigade Quartermasters
aren’t the ones I was thinking about - they just looked bombproof.

I believe we are thinking about the same pads - sort of a diamond pattern on the flat faces? Somebody has to still sell them…My quest begins.


no, not those
The ones I bought were $10 and came with a tube of vinabond:

You discovered what we had been trying to tell you:

The Disco 164 is a rock-solid great boat IF you

lower the center of gravity, which you did by


Just wait until you have the wife and kids aboard

sitting on the seats and moving around – they’ll be

a whole lot of uncomfortable twitching going on

that you’ll be counteracting the entire paddle

which will pretty much take most of the fun out

of your trip.

It’s not too late to lower the seats …

Right again
grippy pattern on the contact surface–sounds like the same ones.

Roger apparently got them from a mining supply source.


I have not been able to find those old rubber pads. I believe they were made by MSA.

But here is a similar item, which looks to be an improvement on the originals. We used to cross the straps (so they did not constrict blood flow in our wool trouser-encased legs!) but these appear to be hinged.

And they are available in flame-retardant material too!


Flame retarding–Gotta Have That!!
That would come in real handy. I recently got a ZRE bent shaft and when I paddle with it the boat moves so fast the hull starts to heat up from the friction. Yah, knee burns are getting to be a real problem. You too?

Good work finding those pads! I’d have to see them, though. The “hard surface” in the description makes me wonder if they’d have any grab to them on wet vinyl or varnished wood on the bottom of the boat.

I’ll have to try to get in touch with another of Roger’s protoges who was always along on our trips (Phil Patton, anybody know him?). He bought the same kind of boat as Roger and had the same knee pads. Maybe he knows the source.

I’ll be backpacking and paddling in Washington for the next week, so that’s something that might have to wait a week. I expect I’ll eventually run into Phil on the water somewhere, but maybe I can speed that up if I get off the computer and pick up the phone! Maybe can look him up in the MCC directory. Sometimes that old technology works well.


Knee Pads
I’ve used knee pads for 20+ years for solo and tandem canoeing. I buy the “carpet layer” knee pads that are available at hardware stores or the Home Depot type stores for under $10. Get ones that have the two velcro straps and are soft plastic (rubber) so they won’t slip.

I did rvwen, good idea!
It came with cheap wooden dowels and chincy thin SS bolts for the stained cane seats. (Not the molded plastic seats that sit higher) I was able to find some 1/4 inch SS bolts (Thanks to help from people like you here) on the internet and fabricated some 1"X1" drops along with a flat truss under the gunwale for added strength & stability. Lacquered all of the wood and have a superior design to the original suggested set-up.

Thanks everybody, I would have done it like the instructions told me to and would have had a heck of a time paddling.

Appreciate the help!


Flexible location & slipping when wet
The problem of pads slipping when wet does not occur with the mat padding sold by Bell, especially if you get the large-size mat. Either type of Bell floor pad allows you to place your knees anywhere you want without adjusting anything, as well. I used the strap-on knee pads for a whole year, but now I greatly prefer using a floor mat. Every type of strap-on knee pad I’ve used has been just a little wobbly. They are great for plain old padding, which is what they are made for, but they are not so good at providing lateral stability. There’s no wobbly feeling with a good floor mat.

OK, found something…
that should work well. I went to the Rip Curl (Surfing) factory outlet in San Clemente, CA and found a neoprene floormat about 3mm thick. It is about 2’x3’ and like a wetsuit, is smooth on 1 side and ridgid/rough on the other. 2 mats were 15 bucks but were 30% off, about 12 bucks with tax. They should stay in place and provide enough padding and the size will work for my knees and ankles.

I’ll let you know how they work after I give them a shot.