Leg positioning under deck

Not quite sure how else to ask the question but wondering if Im creating tension on my hamstrings by having to much bend in my legs outward or upward.

As a comparison for my own peace of mind…how straight out or how spread apart from straight out are your legs under deck and what kind of distance say from the backside of the knee to the floor of the cockpit. Is there a rule of thumb for this adjustment or “if it feels good do it”


personal preference
the sitting position/ posture you assume while paddling is an ‘adjust till you like it’ kind of process.

the angles and distances ‘I’ prefer can’t be measured and used in comparison to what ‘you’ would use.

I comfortably paddle boats with very flat decks (Greenland SOF) to my roomy, expedition equipt Tempest 180. The posture the boat requires me to assume to paddle it effeciently is something I have either adjusted to my liking or learned to live with.

Back in the ol’ days of early squirt boating (mid '80’s) we used to sit in our boats in the living room watching TV. This allowed our legs and feet time to stretch and get used to a ‘if it don’t HURT, it don’t SQUIRT’ attitude.


Not as flexible as we used to be?
I have a problem with sitting in what I consider the “normal” position in my boat… my feet fall asleep! I have to stick my feet straight out in front of me periodically, (like every few minutes) or stick one knee at a time out the top of the cockpit with the foot resting flat on the floor. Makes it hard to use the rudder!

Advanced numbness
my numbness has advanced from numbing and ache to legs quivering with pain. Thats in one of my boats, the other not to bad but the raising the knee out of the cockpit certainly helps 10 fold to straitening out. I will overcome SOMEHOW.


All over the place…
…with touring boat. Knees splayed apart, held together, up closer to deck, down closer to hull, etc.

Without pegs I have more options now. Boat is comfortable in all these positions. Being able to change around a bit and not having feet locked into that tiny spot of peg surface has been a revelation in comfort.

My most common default position is (and was with pegs too) a bit bow legged with thighs almost on or loosely against braces (ready - not actively engaged). Feet either flat on foam or heel back and ball of foot on foam (like on pegs) with feet angled out to the sides a bit (old peg habits die hard). I’d guess distance from underside knee to hull is a fist width or so - but varies from a bit more to near zero sometimes.

What we do doesn’t really help you though. Different bodies, different boats…

I used to have to work more in my 700. Had something similar I thing to the quivering you describe and fatigue and some pain. Legs got very tired from working against the deck for balance (the mid sit-up feeling some have described). I was coming from an SOT and had no muscles there - and also no balance. For a while and was not pleasant (or maybe just a different masochistic sort of fun?).

Time/distance/outfitting have made paddling it a completely different experience. 15+ miles, no breaks, get out better than I got in. If I had your boat, with no braces, the seat it came with, and sliding pedals - I’d probably feel less than cozy too. Ask Hastings about the difference the thigh braces make.

Want a real treat? Get on a surf ski. Knees up and together (hard with my gut) and new sets of muscles to deal with! At least they have fixed footbracing.

Gut and muscle
Got plenty of one, short on the other.


I can relate
OK bowlegged in the yak - realy interferes on the ski

If It Feels Good…

Personal preference and boat design
Both of these affect your leg position, but you’re not necessarily stuck with whatever you have. A large boat can be padded on the underside of the deck and at the gunwales to provide a tigher fit around the knees and thighs if necessary. Deeper thigh braces can be installed in most keyhole cockpits.

Most boats in the US market tend to be too big for most paddlers. If you think a lower volume boat may suit you better, there are such models available, but you have to seek them out.

Its a deteriortion thing
I use to be comfy, then got sometimes uncomfy and then uncomfy after a while, now uncomfy after a few minutes. I fit pretty snug as it is, 240 lbs and plenty of thigh in a 21 wide QCC but hoping some butt and thigh padding could change things.


Paddlefloats fit…
… really well under your knees.

If leg and back pain are a problem, try this: inflate your paddlefloat and stick it under your knees when you are sitting in your kayak. You will probably only have it partially inflated, but what that will do is it will support the backs of your legs, which takes a lot of stress off of your back.

Another side benefit is that, should you capsize and have to do a self-rescue, your paddle float is already halfway inflated.

…you don’t lose the float when it comes out with you when you exit. In a light breeze that suckers gone!

Tether it - and you risk entanglement on exit.

Being picky I realize.

I had one if the inflatable kayak thigh cushions - but sold it. Yes, it works (and nicer fit than float, and self inflation was nice) - but I found it a pain to have it in the cockpit. Restrictive. Treated/relieved symptoms - not cause (posture/fitness/outfitting). Better outfitting and some more time in the boat has made comfort better than the cushion ever did.

Sitting upright and rotating - takes most all stress off - and keeps what’s left spread out and not focused in any one area. Related to this, I find stop and go paddling makes for more issues that steady cruising.

I use
A 6" X 5" by 36" lg piece of foam rubber under my knees. The Foam serves as padding to support the legs and keep me from pressing on the pegs too hard and numbing the legs and feet. Not tethered or anchored to the floor of the yak in any manner for the exit safety reasons already steted. Was going to cover it with something until I realized the happy secondary benefit it provides…I don’t have to carry a bailing sponge or pump! The pad sucks up water like…well, a SPONGE! Just wring it out when you stop for lunch or a stretch…works great.