Kneeling in canoe with Wenonah seat

I have an Argosy with the multiposition webbed seat. When sitting I like to have it the “kneeling” position where the seat is slightly slanted forward. The rear edge is in the top of the 3 available slots and the front is in the top (lower than rear) of 2 front slots. This allows me to switch to kneeling without have to try to adjust the seat.

However I have a problem. If after keeling I try to sit back on the webbing (just like I was when sitting with feet forward) I put lots of pressure on my ankles and can only stay in that position briefly. I am almost sitting on my heels in that position. If I raise up just a bit and sit with just the back of my leg touching the seat’s front edge (none of my butt on the webbing) I am perfectly comfortable and can stay in that kneeling position quite a while.

I would just use the more comfortable position, but I am definitely more stable if I lower the butt all the way down onto the webbing. Kneeling in the comfortable position is only just a little more stable than sitting.

Should I be kneeling with my butt on the webbing?

If so can anyone suggest what I might need to do with my foot position to take pressure off the ankles? Should my toes be bassically pointed straight down or should the ankle be extended so that the toes are point more back to the stern?


It sounds to me like the seat isn’t …

– Last Updated: Aug-03-08 4:03 AM EST –

...positioned properly, but I may be misinterpreting what you wrote.

I would guess that the seat needs to be higher and/or be provided with a bit more slope. Here's what makes me think that. The seat in my Bell Merlin II is the lowest canoe seat I have. I've moved it so it's nearly as high at the back edge as it can go in such a low-profile boat (I could raise it another half inch if the rear seat bar bolted directly to the bottom of the gunwale, with no hanger at all), but still, if I plant the balls of my feet solidly against the hull, my heels are right against the bottom of the seat, and even in that position I can still get my butt against the webbing. There's no need for me to only put my legs against the front edge of the seat with my butt a little higher, though I do "mostly" have my lower butt/upper thighs against the seat edge more than the webbing. Assuming you are *capable* of kneeling with your butt against your heels (I'm not suggesting this is comfortable long-term when in a canoe) and your knees don't "bind up" to prevent you from doing that, it sounds like the seat needs a slightly steeper slope.

If there's room to place the seat higher, that will help too. When kneeling in my Merlin II, I find that it really helps my comfort to extend my ankles so my toes point toward the rear of the boat. That's more comfortable in any boat, but particularly in one where the seat height is limited. In my canoes which have a higher seating position, I actually like to flex my ankles and place the balls of my feet firmly against the hull, especially for harder paddling or maneuvers, but for comfort, it's nice to point my toes toward the rear. With heavy boots, extending the ankles so the toes point back isn't always possible, but with most paddling boots, it works fine. If you are barefoot, get a second kneeling pad to place under your feet whenever using that toes-pointed-back position, or get a bigger kneeling pad that extends beneath the seat.

Know just what you are talking about
I have a Yellowstone Solo which is very similar to your Argosy. I’ve paddled a buddy’s Argosy with the adjustable seat, so I know just what you are talking about.

The seat in my Yellowstone is in a similar position to yours - high in the boat with a slight pitch down in the front. I kneel with my butt resting on the front edge of the seat, knees wide in the boat, toes pointing straight back - weight is spread evenly between the knees and butt. I’ll sometimes side back and rest my butt on the seat just to change positions, but I find it less stable since it shifts my weight from my kneels back to my butt. Without toe blocks, I don’t think there is any reason to point your toes down, unless it is to change position and give your ankles a break.

Took a while for my body to get used to kneeling – especially my ankles. Now that the muscles are stretched out a bit, its easier, but I still change positions often to give my body a break. To me, that’s the big advantage of a canoe.

ankle blocks!..
Pick up some foam for ankle/shin blocks…will help a lot…but not always useful in making space between seat edge…knees…and lower leg. That’s why I usually use an modded ww_pedestal to sit on while paddling…and use the webbed seat as simply a resting place.


My solution…

– Last Updated: Aug-03-08 12:03 PM EST –

I own & paddle an Argosy.
I have my seat set in the same position you do when using that particular canoe.
I spend at least 85% of my time in the kneeling position.

My solution: Make a $100.00 investment in your future paddling comfort. Buy a Cooke Custom Sewing Kneeling T pad, and a padded seat pad from them. Check them out on their web site.

If you have other canoes, they will work in those just as well as they will in the Argosy. If you take care of them, they will last for years & years. If they last for 10 years, you will have invested 10 bucks per year to improve your comfort while paddling.

How much would you pay for one or two meals when you eat out?
How many gallons of gas will 10 bucks buy you?


I am with GBG
try kneeling with your toes pointed and the flat of the top of your foot on the bottom of the hull.

Try and see if it works(wear socks) for your anatomy.

FreeStylers spend all their time on the water kneeling and need to move around. Some use sitting on heels and some use toes pointed. I am better at moving around and switching positions with toes pointed.

No police here.

I bought the Cooke
kneeling pad (not the T mat). It actually made things worse for my ankles but was so much more comfortable for my knees. Raising the knee seems to put more pressure on the ankle especially when pointing the toes to the stern and putting the instep on the hull.

I have played around with foam on the seat and it does help. However I was kind of resisting that approach for the same reason I was resisting just kneeling up straighter. It raises my center of gravity and makes the canoe less stable.

Maybe I should give up this fixation on stability and just go with what is comfortable.


That is the position
that is the most uncomfortable for me. The pressure on the instep causes lots of pain on the front of ankle. Maybe I just do not have enough flexibility in the ankle for that postion.

Despite the pain the “toe rear-ward” position seems the most natural for me. I just wish I could stay in it for more than 2-3 minutes at a time. Nothing like a severe cramp about 3/4 of the way through a rapid.


How do you position the blocks
I have played around with putting some foam under my feet. The only place it seems to work is around my shins From the limited pictures I have seen I am not sure how the ankle blocks would be placed. They look like they would just put more pressure on the instep causeing even more pain in the ankle.

Padding out under the shin helps the pain. However at the height padding I need it really seems to be an entrapment hazard. I have very little clearance between the bottom of the seat now (have to turn foot sideways to get it under) so it kind of scares me to narrow that clearance by another 1 to 2 inches.

How does your foot fit on those ankle blocks? I assume the thin end goes to the rear and the thick curved part fits right at the point where your foot joins the leg. Is that correct?

Although I am not a flexible person
(wink wink), somehow with time I was able to get my ankles loose enough that the tops of my feet rest on the bottom of the boat. The knees have been more of a problem, and for some of my c-1s, I have to practice a low kneel while watching TV.

Another thing to check is whether, by moving your knee position inward a bit, and also allowing your inverted toes to slant inward rather than straight back, you can feel more comfortable. Some boats’ arched bottoms actually raise your knees when they are spread. Some kneeling pedestals force the lower legs to point straight back, when for some people they might rather slant inward. Foam pedestals can be cut out to allow this. And while a wide knee spread may increase control in whitewater, it may be inconsistent with acceptable comfort.