kneeling in canoe?

I’ve ssen plenty of YouTube clips with a person kneeling in the middle of the canoe.

Ya, this gives greater control, but after 10 minutes, my legs hurt and ache.

How do you sit like that all day?

No one
I know that trips kneels. They sit. They’ll kneel running a rapid or in seriously inclement weather while heading for shore. But everyone I know sits… including me :slight_smile:

many factors
determine whether a paddler sits or kneels in a canoe. Some kneel always. These are folks who paddle on a regular basis and have knelt for years. They just simply become used to it. If you did it enough, your legs would get in shape and you could kneel more. I use a Northwoods traveling style, which means I kneel sometime with one knee up and one down, then trade off. Paddlers who use a certain style prefer kneeling. Most recreational paddlers sit, but if one is a student of paddling and practices more advanced styles, kneeling becomes more necessary.

I only kneel to paddle solo in high wind
And chop, it just makes life much better in a canoe in that case. But you don’t have to kneel, though the stable position is great. So put in a low center seat and some foot braces if you solo a lot. Kneeling thwarts or so called yokes help a lot, you kind of half sit against them and kneel combined. Kneeling gets to the backs of my knees since both have had surgery and the doc told me that one of them would at best be 80% of it it once was. The more you kneel though the more you will find that you can kneel. And it helps to pad the floor too, I use extra PFDs to pad mine. But again, you don’t have to. The big change is a low center of gravity mid ship. Solo paddlers like to stay in the stern where it is seemingly comfy ( familiar). Well you fight wind, waves and everything that comes at the boat from back there. Move forward, center that position, huge difference. I actually like to be very slightly forward of center in the Camper I have ( a tandem boat). everything works better from that position in it. I think because that is true center in the boat with it’s slightly larger volume bow than stern. You stick with a boat long enough, you learn it’s ways !

You work up to it

– Last Updated: Aug-04-14 1:38 PM EST –

and wear flexible soled shoes.

Some people kneel while watching TV. Some people kneel while visiting at a party. The less you sit in any circumstance the more comfortable kneeling becomes.

Now I am not one of those. I kneel ten minutes at the start of the season and work up to two hours at a kneeling session. After that I do appreciate a break and might sit a while or get out and walk around. Its rare that there is not a portage for two hours.

Just as in all things paddling requiring water time kneeling for long periods requires time.

And yes I do long distance trips.

PS there is a huge difference from kneeling in the center of the boat with no butt support and kneeling with your butt supported.

kneeling more comfortably

– Last Updated: Aug-03-14 10:04 AM EST –

Most of my canoes are set up to either sit or kneel exclusively, mostly the latter. In the boats set up for kneeling I generally kneel exclusively, regardless of how far I am paddling that day.

Kneeling greatly enhances stability and control of heeling and bracing the canoe. This is not so much due to lowering of the center of gravity as broadening the support tripod for your body. With your knees in the chines and your butt supported either up against a seat edge, on a kneeling thwart, or on a pedestal, you have a very broad base of support and you can easily and quickly shift your body weight to or from either knee, or your rear end. You can also shift weight forward or rearward easily to weight or unweight one end of the boat.

When sitting the tripod of support basically consists of your feet and the sit bones of your rear end and the base of support is much narrower. It is also very difficult to unweight the seat. You might be able to couple yourself to the boat better using a tractor seat, foot brace, and knee bumps on the sides of the canoe, but you will never be as stable as kneeling, and most people find that their ability to rotate their torso is somewhat less sitting than kneeling.

If you want to kneel for more than brief periods of time in a boat primarily set up for sitting, you may need to raise the seat. It also helps to cant the seat a bit so the front of the seat is a bit lower than the back. Raising the seat usually makes kneeling more comfortable, and it provides more heel clearance so that you can extract your feet from underneath the seat more easily. If you plan to kneel a lot, you might install either a foam pedestal or a kneeling thwart.

Some padding for your knees is essential. If you really don't want to modify your boat, you could wear knee pads or use a removable kneeling mat in your boat. Although they don't allow as much mobility, glued in knee cups will anchor your knees better and can be shaped to fit. A bolster on the inboard side of the knee cup or pad will help prevent your knee from sliding inboard out of the chine.

Many people find that a pair of foam ankle blocks reduce the stress on the tendons crossing the front of your ankles. These can also be shaped to fit and placed in the position of greatest comfort.

you need to set the boat up
so that your butt still takes the majority of the load.

Folks that exclusively kneel often use saddles, lower their seat height and edge forward on the seat or install a kneeling thwart to sit on.

Nothin- will trash your knees faster than kneeling in an aluminum canoe with no padding or additional support.

Others have pretty much covered the advantageous of kneeling: a lower center of gravity, but I also suspect the ability paddle closer to the water, off center in the boat is more easily achieved kneeling and makes the boat more responsive.

I think kneeling low term is probably bad for the knees. Mine are pretty trashed- but I can also blame teleskiing and backpacking for that as well.

I know a couple of guys who are long term c1ers- Don B. , and Bernie F. both will tell you the key is to not stop paddling regularly and they both claim their bone structure has actually adapted to the position.

I myself just switched over a few years ago to the dark side and kayak now. I miss the single blade, and the torque you can get being centered over the t grip, but my body can handle it much better and I no longer have to stagger out of my boat with my legs asleep or have them ache for days after paddling.

hey pblanc, good points about the seat
height and canting it forward. Typically, we’d drop the seat heights to increase performance but that could definately decrease comfort and safety. Although seat heights vary a lot from one canoe to another. Being able to extract your feet from under the seat when kneeling is a huge safety issue, and thanks for pointing that out. For many years my mantra was, “how low can you go?” Performance trumping comfort but now I have a hard time even kneeling in a ww openboat. I was making the saddle heights ridiculously high- even higher than the cockpit combing in my c1 which makes it “interesting” to balance and roll.

Well Pilgrim, now yer knows one…
Dats all ah’ do is kneel - ah’s never set. See, ah’s been brought up kneelin’ fer pert-near 50 years now, so much so ah’s be a’mighty uncomfortable settin’ fer more than 15 minutes. Yer git used ta it ‘specially iffin’ yer start out young.

Now after 5-6 hours kneelin’ me ankles do git a’mighty stiff an’ it be a sight ta behold watchin’ dat ol’ buzzard Fat Elmo gittin’ out o’ his’ems canoo.


Bell cane seats had a beveled front
edge, which we find to be more comfortable when kneeling. (Doesn’t cut into the back of your leg.) I have beveled the front edge of several conventional seats in other boats - I just varnish the part which is bare after the reshaping when I get through. (I’m not a perfectionist.) Doing this to webbed seats would be more difficult, of course. For what it’s worth, I’ve found that kneeling is much easier on my back on long trips than sitting.

Take a flip
intentionally in a boat set up for kneeling and pay attention to the movement of your feet.

Chances are they twist in one direction so you really need lots less room than you thought.

Its often easier to get a big foot out from a seat when capsized than to get it under the seat when you are trying to get into the boat.

to elaborate
on a point I mentioned in my previous post: over time, one who paddles regularly and studies canoeing will come to learn the beauty of this activity, when body, blade, and boat act in complete concert. In solo canoeing, this learning curve is harder, but the benefits are worth the effort. Since the topic is kneeling, let’s dwell on that aspect for the moment. Kneeling is a way to control the “boat” in our ersatz ballet of boat, body, and blade. When kneeling, the paddler can easily change the shape of the boat as it relates to the water, by moving a knee forward, back, or shifting one’s weight to one knee or the other. This can greatly enhance the use of the body (bio-mechanics) and blade, increasing efficiency and performance. Additionally it increases the amount of core strength that may be brought into play. It can change the forward stroke by allowing the correction to be more forward. In my personal opinion, kneeling allows more room to use a straight shaft paddle, which eliminates a dedicated grip and power face allowing for more versatility and ease of in-water recovery especially for forward strokes. So, to those who believe kneeling is simply a dogmatic exercise in style, I hope this helps you see the good reasons why some paddlers get themselves in shape to kneel in a canoe.

Talent. Watch the Olympic slalom racers.

It’s called an age thing!
Years ago I had no problem kneeling.

Then after several scopes on one knee from long distance running, about ten or fifteen years ago I knelt in a C-1 for a race, and at the finish they had to pry me out of the boat.

I haven’t knelt since.

Did I tell you it is an age thing?

Jack L

not an age thing
from people I have met who are graduating from kayaks. People of a certain age often think they can’t kneel but with the proper height thwart or seat front and padding do fine.

Your injury may differ… Mine is an open menisectomy of the right knee with removal of all the medial cartilage. 45 years ago.The knee is just fine with kneeling. Not so fine when sitting.

How many canoers do you know?
Most good canoers I know kneel probably 90 percent of the time. I myself kneel 90 percent of the time, with the sitting only being short rest breaks, not an intentional paddling method.

Like Elmo, my biggest weakness when kneeling is my ankles, but that’s very dependent on footwear. River shoes are rather blocky and stiff, holding the toes up off the floor a couple of inches. That’s tough on the ankles, forcing the joint much more firmly into the extended position. Mukluk-style boots are more flexible, letting the instep of my foot lie flat against the floor of the boat, which is perfectly comfortable.

Last year, for the first time ever, I started getting a bit of a twinge in one knee after kneeling for hours at a time, so I imagine there will come a time when kneeling becomes more difficult, but for the time being, I can kneel at age 56 just as well as I could when I was 20.

For me
For me, even in a boat setup for kneeling, it becomes uncomfortable fairly quickly. FWIW, I also dont like sitting with my legs crossed.

I have never tried a pedestal boat, but I can see how that would be more comfortable since much of your weight is on your butt.

Most of my other kneeling experience was in a Bell wildfire with the Bell cane seat which was angled forwards an inch or 2 and had foam padding glued in the boat for your knees. This became uncomfortable to me after ~15 minutes or so. Obviously in WW or rough water, kneeling is king because of the 3 point stance and the control it provides.

For me, Im a sit and switcher for life!

Lot’s of Good Advice
When I read one comment I noted my experience to be the polar opposite; MOST canoe paddlers I know kneel most of the time. I kneel almost 100% of the time and only occasionally move to the seat to rest my ankles for a few minutes. I just feel more a PART of the canoe when kneeling. A good kneeling pad is the most important piece of the puzzle for me.

Maybe I’m lucky
I didn’t start paddling seriously until I was in my late 40s (everything before that was occasional trips in aluminum rental canoes that were not set up for kneeling). I sure didn’t have to start early or train my body to kneel. For me, the whole idea that a human being can’t kneel comfortably was a completely foreign concept to me until I came to P-net and started hearing people talk about it.

There are many types of paddlers
For purposes of discussion, let’s talk about 2 types. The recreational paddlers out for a day trip and picnic are going to sit. They are at a certain level of experience and just out for fun. Then there are those who are more into the technical aspects of the activity. They have learned that hull control using the knees is beneficial and in the long run better for what they want to accomplish. It’s all good. It’s OK to sit if that’s a good fit, and OK to kneel if that’s your deal. with apologies to the true poets out there.