long term surfski comfort and fit

I am in the process of re-thinking my fleet into some more specific, purpose built craft.

Looking at Epic V6 touring, I have never been in one long term, I have paddled a Stellar 14s and a few Nelo skis, but never for over an hour and always in warm water conditions (no wet or dry suit). Since there is no padding adjustment for hips and no thigh pads does adding a wet suit or dry suit change the comfort or fit of the seat and footboard settings?

In regard to the lack of a back band, does this become an issue? All of my boats have been switched to IR backbands that offer really good lumbar support, and still allow you to lay back on the deck for a little rest period. (I can almost nap in my Zephyr).

I am 5’11" 190lbs 32" waist. My best fitting boat is a Valley Avocet for a fit comparison.

Who fits who?
From what I’ve learned from a less forgiving Fenn Mako 6 is that without the cockpit contact points, you adapt to the boat not vice versa. In short, you become a stronger paddler with more refined forward stroke technique.

I think adding a the ski to your fleet will keep you entertained, challenged and at the end of the day surprisingly tired at the end of the paddle.

While I’ve heard plenty of positiveness about the V6, I’ll leave the particulars of performance to others here that have more seat time.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY




If it fits for an hour
I think it would fit for many hours. I have a V7 that is similar to the V6 in shape and I do not miss having a back band because the seat tilts your pelvis slightly forward. My V7 is the most comfortable kayak I’ve had and we still own over a dozen boats.

For some of us in the past have worn 3 mil thick neoprene shorts and felt that it shrunk the cockpit somewhat back in the fixed footwell days. But Epic does sell side pads that you can stick on the sides of the cockpit to firm things up a bit, so check with their dealers.

Unless you’re disabled or have very special needs, backbands are incongruous to surfskis and are basically a crutch that interferes with the very muscles that you want to recruit and rely on for propulsion.

thin padding
Lots of ski paddlers put a thin 1/4-1/2" pad under their butt but you still want to be slide around and rotate.

If the cockpit is too wide and you are sliding around too much you will probably want some thin hip pads.

As far as lack of lumbar support, you will definitely tire out quickly to begin with but as you get in better shape it shouldn’t be an issue. It takes some focus to sit properly on your sit bones and not roll back onto your coccyx.

Epic and Ocean Paddles sports sell surfski butt pads.

NRS 0.5 hydroskin shorts work well unless it’s blazing hot.

I describe my Stellar 18S as



but comfortable does not make the list. To be fair, my big body barely fits in the cockpit.

String have you tried the Epic V7
or V8. I wonder how those would fit you compared to the Stellar. This winter I’ve been paddling a Wilderness Systems Freedom which is a precursor to the Tarpon because the V7 is a bit too tippy for cold cold water.

More so than backband …

– Last Updated: Jan-27-16 6:16 PM EST –

I find it is more important to have the "correct" set bucket shape and size than to have a backband (which I don't in my skis). By correct I mean not too restrictive or too wide, and more than anything else - one that does not make me slouch. You need to paddle for at least an hour to figure comfort. A short test paddle usually won't be enough. Oh, and what's comfortable for one person might not be for another, so you got to try for yourself...

Even from the same brand, the seat shapes are very different from ski model to model and also from year to year sometimes. Yes, padding and cushions can address some comfort issues, but for casual paddling I would rather change the boat if I can find the "perfect seat" than to live with the perfect boat with a poor seat.

The lack of backband is not and issue for a few hours. Not sure for longer though. I can layback on the Epic skis (V10, V10 Sport) quite comfortably, because they have a nicely sloped back rear of the seat. It's a very comfortable position and on flat water is stable enough to relax for a short time. Can't say the same for the Think skis I've been in, which have a more abrupt and higher transition for the rear of the seat bucket to the rear deck.

back band
Problem with a ski is there really is no proper place to mount a back band, it would have to be mounted too low for it to work. A back bands, I’ve given up on them for better posture, mount should be even with the back or slightly above, neither of which is possible on a ski. I tried several on demos on smaller skis, are kinda like stadium seats, not really worth much of anything.

Bill H.

you should try an Epic
I don’t fit in a stellar.

but I fit in all the new Epics.

I’m 6’7 and 225