I have just bought a Wilderness Tarpon 120 and have had it out several times now. Will be using it not only for lakes but for local rivers also. How important is it to have leg straps for a sit on top? For those that have them can you add your experiences using them. Pros? Cons?
Leg straps significantly improve your control of the watercraft, particularly when heeling.
do you need them?
maybe not, if you are fishing on calm water and like to go back and forth to favorite spots. Out here in the Midwest I rarely see SOTs with thigh straps.
they sure are fun for better boat control tho, and people who surf or do ww in their SOTs need (& like) them a lot.
I put them on mine & it's even more responsive esp. for bow rudders and edging. People can roll their SOTs using thigh straps.
edit: OP, you asked if there are any CONS. Well, other than that they interfere w. your tan lines I'd say no :D
Seriously you come out of them easily if you want to, and, if they are fitted properly and of a good quality padded material, pretty comfortable. I have some made by Epic, and there are other good ones out there.
Yes. Then you can control your boat
much better.I have been in some fun stuff that would disconnect you from a SOT in seconds without thigh straps.
Try them, adjust them carefully, and
you won’t want to be without them. Essential in whitewater and rough open water, and very beneficial in general.
I use them
They’re great. I really like the feeling of being really connected to the boat, even in flatwater. I think that every SOT should come with them!
The only con that I can of is that they can interfere with aggressive paddling where you’re pumping your legs.
Always Useful, Sometimes Essential
I surf a Kaos and it wouldn’t even be worth my time to be out there without thigh straps. Great control and feel for the boat paddling out and vital for me to cut and maneuver on the wave.
For flat water paddling, it definitely gives you more feel and control of the boat, but it comes down to personal preference. Do you need them on flat water? Probably not, but you may find you’re more comfortable with them.
I went without them for a while, but found that any Class II water is really more fun with them, and Class III is impossible without them. I first bought mine for ocean surfing, and they are great. On calm water I don’t use them.
It’s a small investment that can really improve your experience and the versatility of your boat.
I really want to feel connected to the kayak so the straps will be my next purchase.
Check With Tom
Check with Tom at topkayaker.com. He can hook you up with the thigh straps, and lots of good SOT specific advise there.
I use fo SOT surfing.
Some SOTs are inherently less stable, and need them. I have them in the Shearwater, which is 18’ long and has a 20" beam at the design waterline.
to get out of the straps in a capsize
just stick your legs out straight. But can you always do that? My recollection of SOT's is that your feet brace in footholds molded into each side. In that case I think it would be easy to straighten - just move your feet toward the middle and straighten. Wondering though, if you are at the long end of the foot braces -- is there still room to straighten the legs?
I have a single whitewater inflatable kayak (that's a type of SOT I suppose). I use thigh straps all the time. I do not have any kind of foot braces. I also have a tandem IK that I just put straps in the other day. When driving it solo, I use the inflatable thwart seat as a foot brace. With that and the straps, I realized I was in so good that it might be hard to get out in a capsize. I couldn't straighten my legs because of the full width thwart. (Maybe if I slid my butt forward, i could straighten my legs over the top of the thwart?) It did seem like I might have to use a hand (the one not holding onto the paddle) to grab the strap and get each leg out.
I didn't capsize to find out! Anyone else use thigh straps with a thwart seat as foot brace? Thoughts?
Tougher To Keep 'em On…
in most cases. It's not hard to lift one's foot from the footwell and straighten out even with the thigh straps on. I find, mostly, the thigh straps tend to slide off if one is not consciously wedging against them. This can get tiring on the leg muscles (I actually use another connect strap with a fastex buckle release to connect and pull together the two thigh straps and keep them over the legs -- NOT recommended for beginners and/or those can't keep mentally calm hanging upside down because you CAN'T untangle unless you release the connecting strap.) Having tired legs works against being "relaxed" but in control which is what one should be in rougher conditions that most warrant the use of thigh straps.
I have tried about four different brands of thigh straps. The best in terms of staying over the thighs, without extra fuss and add-ons, is the "Surf to Summit" brand. Very comfortable and pretty much stays over the thighs on its own.
I am referring to these thigh straps:
I also have the higher end (bungee corded) Surf to Summit straps. Tho’ more expensive, these actually don’t work as well as the one I linked up above.
Ditto: Contact topkayaker.net
They sell all kinds of SOT accessories, and the website is packed with info.
I had thigh straps on the Prijon Twister and they were more likely to slip off than stay on. My boat's strap attachment points were not located well for someone my size. YMMV. But don't worry about being trapped--just relax your legs and the straps fall right off them.
BTW, my solution to the straps tending to fall off thighs was also to use another strap. I took a belt-length piece of nylon webbing, added a Fastex buckle, and looped it that so that it held the thigh straps closer together over my legs. Paddle the boat first without this, because you might not need it. And if you do capsize, just undo the Fastex buckle and the rest will take care of itself.
The thigh straps will allow you to edge the SOT a bit, but (in my experience) still not as much as you can with a SINK.
I have these…
that you linked. They do stay on well, and I’ve had no problems with slipping out of them when capsized.
It is very important not too panic when hanging upside down in them. For me, the worst part about being upside down in a river is the thought that at any moment my face is gonna kiss a rock. The rest of it is a piece of cake.
that you don’t really need them until you are either running Class II whitewater or using the boat in moderate surf. If you want to do a lot of that, you may eventually get another boat anyway.
I have straps on my 10’ Torrent and I can roll up using the straps, and that is faster than bailing and climbing back on. But you aren’t likely to learn to roll in such a big stable boat.
I don’t use straps on the 14’ SOT, even when I run mild whitewater.
I’ve never seen anyone have trouble releasing themselves from the thigh straps.