kneeling pads

What kind of kneepads do folks use with their canoes? Is it better to have a foam pad affixed to the boat, or something like Yakpads knee pads?

Haven’t seen to many choices out there. What about homemade ideas?

Sleep/Camping Pad

– Last Updated: May-13-07 8:44 PM EST –

I'm no expert, just telling you what I use. I went to Walmart and bought one of the foam camping pads that you place under your sleeping bag, it is blue, approx. 1/2" thick and cost about $7. Stretched out on the bottom of my canoe it goes under the seat and extends out about 5 feet. A good pad for your knees and also a sound barrier if you do any fishing. In case you drop something. Fits nicely in the bottom of my Vagabond with no trimming needed.

You can also check out the very large
pads offered by They were made by Bell… Don’t know if the “new” Bell still offers them.

We have been using Voyageur pads, about 8" wide and a yard long, with a sticky cover fabric that keeps them in place. They work well in our tandems. For solo boats I still prefer to glue in knee cups.

I never had a satisfactory experience with the kind of pads you wear. They constrict too much behind the knee and are prone to breaking. The other day we were hiking on the upper Amicalola and saw two broken knee pads some turkey left on a big rock outcrop projecting into the river.

I am a Freestyler
ergo have some experience with pads. The strap on ones tend to make your legs numb.

The Bell pad on the site now is ok if you are going to be in one place. It slides around on plastic boats. They used to have a T pad and a big full pad and now I see only one mingy offering.

I have had the best luck with homemade minicell pads with a neoprene covering and Walmart carpet gripper (that foamy net stuff) on the bottom.

Its expensive but I have gotten ten years out of mine and I use it nearly every day.

Like others I have run it from rail to rail. That way it doesnt slip.

Now I do extended trips too and in no way is this pad coming with me as portaging is part of my 60 days in the bush every year. I just went to WM and bougt the Coleman sleeping pad for seven bucks and glued a strip across my canoe. It doesnt go rail to rail as weight is important.

I have to admit its not as cushy as the neoprene but you could do two thicknesses for the seven bucks.

I made my own
I wanted something a bit thicker. I am a big guy so the 1/2 pad’s didn’t do much for me.

I ordered 1/2" and 1/4" neoprene. the 1/4" has nylon on one side. Glueing them together gave me a nice 3/4" kneeling pad. It works quite well.

a vote against Megamart padz
Just my experience, those versatile cheap foam camping pads from WalMart et al. don’t last long as knee pads in a canoe.

The foam tends to compress and break down much more quickly than mini-cell; and I found them to be rather slick when they got wet.

The camping pads are cheap, so as long as you’re not gluing them down it may not be a problem; but why create all that waste over time? Self adhesive minicell kneepads weren’t a real budget breaker for me last time I checked their price.

Just my 2c, but I much prefer glued-in knee pads. One less thing to forget to pack, or have slide around in the event of an upset.

Good luck finding what works best for you.

Lowes sells minicell gardening pad
But the colors can be rather, um … minty.

Currently, I wear 'em
At present, I am using knee pads available at Lowes or Home Depot. They are a gray rubber-like material on the outside and have a foam, neoprene lining on the inside. Two rubberish straps hold them in place, more or less. I think they are less than $20.

In the past I have used u-shaped mini-cell pads sold at paddling outlets. For my whitewater boat, I just bought some flat mine-cell pads at the Blue Mountain Outfitters “flea market” sale a few weeks back. They are about 14" square, have the peel-off, self-adhesive backing and are about 3/4 inch thick. I’ll cut them down and put them in the Encore, after which point, I won’t need to wear pads in that boat.

Wearing the knee pads has worked well and has some advantages. The pads go with you when you change boats. And if you go for out-of boat excursions, the pads also go with you and offer a bit of rock bashing protection. They can also come off and get lost, which is not an advantage. And, you can use them for all sorts of other things–real handy when it is time to stain the deck. But even in camp, if you are roughing it and need to cook on the ground, the pads are a luxury.

For portages, I think I’d prefer glued in pads. One less thing to worry about, carry, or loose.

BMO had several versions of shaped, glue-in, knee-pads that are contoured for comfort and to keep you in one place. So I know the pads are out there. If you look on NOC’s site, I bet you will see some. Look up the Marysville Blue Mountain Outfitters (not the one in NY), and I don’t know if they have the knee pads on their site, but they are knowledgeable and nice folks and would, I expect, talk to you about the pads.

~~Chip Walsh, Gambrills, MD

It’s interesting how many different takes there are on this subject.

What I use: Personally I like a full width mini-cell foam pad for messing around with FreeStyle and day-trippin’ down streams – which are pretty much one and the same for me. I use a portion of a light-weight yoga mat while doing extended tripping to save weight.

What I don’t use: Though I use strap-on knee-pads for work sometimes (when I’m kneeling on hard surfaces) I find the behind-the-knee straps very uncomfortable. I don’t like to use them for paddling. Old school glued-in knee pads don’t work for me since I move my knees all over the place doing FS. I also don’t do serious WW so glued-in knee cups are not for me. I’ve said this before and been “pooh-whoed” for saying so… but that’s okay, nobody has to agree… In my opinion glued-in knee pads seriously degrade the re-sale value of a canoe.

Anyway, that’s what works for me and what doesn’t.

The BagLady will be making a redesign of the Grade VI KneeBed by mid June. Tuffgrip on the bottom, nylon cover wetsuit neoprene on the top with a half inch of foam in between - Tapered, not T’s, but big enough for knees and feet.

good news
That’s good news. I’ve used several different pads and the Grade VI is hands down my favorite.