Layback hindered by boat or back survey

How many people with sea kayaks can touch their heads to the back deck? Are you hindered by the boat seatback or by your own back’s lack of flexibility?

I am not asking if you can roll.

I note that I cannot lay back more than about 10 degrees from the vertical in either my QCC700 or my Seda Ikkuma.

Do it all the time as a warm up stretch prior to paddling in my NDK Explorer HV or Dagger Stratos 14.5L. Did it also in a P&H Cetus before I sold it.

PS - Almost never do yoga, however I usually swim a mile 2 or 3 times a week. Having a bit of flexibility and a low back cockpit is vital.

With nothing better to do on this chilly, windy, rainy day, donned my PFD and just tried it with my Prana LV stashed in the back porch.

I can get my head on the back deck, but my butt lifts a bit off the seat and my legs are firm against the thigh braces.

The kayak does have a low and completely flat back deck, with a centered day hatch. Not sure I could do the same in my Fathom LV.

My lower back has compromised flexibility from a snow ski accident in the early 1980s. My amusing roll is an extended paddle roll where I layback as far as I can.

Yes I can easily get my head to rear deck of Valley Q boat as well as have all of spine on it. It has a fairly low coaming and I am flexible for my age. I do have to lift out of the seat slightly with feet against foamed bulkhead. I also use a low and curved foam block rather than seat back band.

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With most sea kayaks worthy of discussion, it will be the coaming that hinders rather than the back band - if hindering there is to be done.

Like others, I’ve been able to lay on the back deck of all boats I’ve owned but it does involve lifting your butt out of the seat with some boats and/or bodies.

Nothing wrong with any roll that gets you upright without injury (or great risk thereof).


A don’t use a backrest or backband for support when I paddle. I use either foam blocks to ease the pressure of the coaming or have the back band adjusted so that it doesn’t really touch my back and only comes into contact when I am hard back on the coaming.

My Progression has a low foam block that I have shaped to allow more give. When I try to lay back on the deck my butt is lifted off the seat and I am firm against the rear coaming, my shoulders can touch but my neck won’t allow my head to touch. My neck has been rode hard and put away wet for far too many decades to bend that way.

Yes as to the coaming. First time I tried it I wasn’t wearing my life vest. The back band didn’t interfere but the coaming against my unprotected back hurt and I quickly gave up.

I look at photos of the Greenland paddlers wearing Tuiliqs fully laid back and wonder if there are life vests under the Tuiliqs and if not, if their coamings are somehow padded.

Or if their pain threshold is higher than mine.

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My short, stiff torso keeps me from it. Highest backed kayak I was ever in was a QCC 600.

It’s not just a ‘trick’, definitely has uses.

Most Greenland boats have low back decks and low coamings on the back of the cockpit. This makes laying back easier. Makes you want to have a good seal on the rear hatch.

If back pain is caused by a lower lumbar bulging disc, then arching the back can provide relief. I find sitting up straight with my shoulders back helps my lower back.

Glad to see FSKA still does that paddle from time to time. We did it back in the late 90s when I lived at the Jax Beaches and was a member.

I can on some. It has always been most comfortable for me in kayaks with greater distance between the seated position and the rear coaming, even if the rear deck isn’t so low. So I think flexibility definitely comes into play there.

My main sea kayak is a little HV. The cockpit hits high on the lower back. I took my seat back out. Either way I could never lay back like Raisins. I’m too top heavy and the vertigo kicks in when sun, dehydration and unusual angles are reached.