Modifying deck height for more foot room

My kevlar Perception Shadow 16.5 doesn’t have enough foot room for my size 8.5 feet with any kind of foot wear I’ve tried, so I’m wondering if anyone has modified their deck to allow for more foot room? My feet aren’t even comfortable for non-rudder paddling (95% of my paddling) and it’s pretty much impossible to use the Smart Track rudder controls because of the toes scraping on the underside of the deck.

I assume this would be best left to a professional, so does anyone have suggestions for someone in the midwest that they would recommend for this modification? I’m in central IL.

Perception also made what I perceive as being an unwise choice for the recessed deck rigging points by placing one right in the middle of the foot peg adjustment range so that the foot room is further restricted by nearly an inch where the recessed fitting intrudes into the foot space on the underside of the deck.

I do have the Shadow 16.5’s larger sibling - a kevlar Perception Eclipse 17 Sea Lion, which does have much better foot room, but it’s also a little less quick to maneuver and a little more work for me to keep moving at a cruising pace, so I prefer paddling the Shadow 16.5 sometimes because of it’s quickness and handling. The shadow also weighs 46 lbs vs the Eclipse 17 Sea Lion’s 50 lbs.

I know that someone will suggest getting a better fitting boat and I plan to do that when an Eddyline Fathom LV or similar boat comes available at a tolerable price within a tolerable drive to pick it up, but that may not happen anytime soon. I’m not interested in boats more than 50 lbs - preferably 45 lbs or less.

The Shadow 16.5 works fine for my smaller footed wife, so I’ll be keeping it.

I’m 5’6" and 160 lbs with 30" inseam.

including bare foot?
Sorry, no suggestions on modifying the boat but I’m sure others may want clarification on “any” type of footwear. You may not want bare beet but it’s a good starting point for determining how much bigger you need.

Sounds like
a lot of effort for very little gain. Since you already plan on replacing the kayak with something else anyway, spending time and money seems a waste.

As already noted, you could paddle barefoot or sell the boat to someone that would enjoy as is.

I had a Creeker that I couldn’t fit into with any shoes on and ended up trading for a boat that fits me well. Put an AD on some classifieds and see what turns up.

well sure
It is a composite boat and composite boats can always be modified. In this case I suspect you would have to make cut outs in the deck to accommodate your toes, and 'glass in blisters or bubbles. It would take a professional to refinish the deck to get close to a decent color match.

Would I do this? No way in hell.

You can imagine …
… that with my size 15 feet I have had that same throught many times! I have not yet had a boat that I like enough to put the effort to modify it. But I’ve thought of it. I’ve seen a photo of a low volume greenland kayak with “ears” for where the feet are - basically the feet have their own fox ear-like protrusions and the rest of the boat is slim.

Maybe cut the holes where you need them, then glass-in some goretex fabric socks for a breathable version -:wink: On a more serious note, the easiest way would be to build bubbles for the toes. I would think one can get some sort of pipe of the right diameter, cut it in 2 diagonally along the length, then you get two nicely tapered shapes where you can glass them on top of cutouts in the deck. Sort of like under-deck knee tubes just have them on top of the deck with cutouts under them for your feet… This way you don’t have to raise the entire deck. But raising the deck might not be much more difficult and will give you feedom to move your feet anywhere you want. I think that should not be unreasonably difficult to do for someone with experience fixing composite boats. The deck profile after the raise may look wired from the side, if the repair is not extended forward for cosmetic reasons, but looks aside, less volume where you don’t need it is probably more important than looks…

I’ve had that problem…
with quite a few boats, and paddle barefoot most of the time. Kind of sucks on oyster beds, and risky everywhere.

I purchased a pair of Vibram FiveFingers, and they are working fine in the low volume boat I love the best.

Yeah, they ain’t cheap, but it’s a lot less of a PITA

than modifying your boat, or replacing a boat you love.

Just an option,


Bumps or blisters are what I was

Yanoer … Call anytime to talk story
on mods. INCLUDING cutting your Mid Tour down to Feather so you it will be your new favorite : )

don’t do this!
I come from a pretty intensive fiberglassing background and can’t agree with mdloon enough… This is not a project you want to undertake and it’s not something a reasonable fiberglass shop will do either. The problem is the number of hours required to do this right will cost far more than a decent used kayak. Fiberglassing without a solid surface to support the fiberglass is really difficult. The first step would be to mark and cut out the problem area (easy enough), but it gets pretty hard from there. One possible route:

  1. make a mold of the shape you want to add to your deck (a hump-like well or something like that). Mold making isn’t all that easy and getting this right will take some practice.
  2. make a fiberglass hump directly on the mold, then separate this fiberglass piece from the mold.
  3. fiberglass the hump into place over the holes you cut into the deck (it definitely won’t be pretty).
  4. try sanding/fairing/gelcoating/sanding/fairing/gelcoating until you have a mediocre-looking repair.

    the alternative would be to make a mold inside the boat, fiberglass over it, then remove the mold, but this would be quite a bit harder.

    I assume toe amputation is outta the question so, unfortunately, I’d say find a boat that fits you better and trade.

Ok, it looks like modding the deck for
more foot room is unanimously recommended against. I’ll just paddle the kevlar Eclipse 17 Sea Lion when I want more foot room.

I’ll just paddle the Eclipse 17 Sea
Lion. The kevlar Eclipse 17 Sea Lion fits tight enough, while allowing for good knees together leg pumping and fits my size 9 Chota Quicklace Mukluks no problem, maneuvers sweetly and is quick and efficient enough.

I just won’t try to force my feet into the Shadow 16.5 anymore - that will be my smaller footed wife’s boat. It’s a great boat for smaller paddlers.

Ancient Chinese beauty custom…
Foot binding.

Use Bulkhead Footbrace
I have a 34 inseam, size 14 feet, and I have no problem fitting in standard volume British boats. Just remove the foot pegs and pad out the bulkhead until you get the fit right. Buys an extra inch of toe room and allows variety on foot placement with no glasswork required.

size 8.5 and won’t fit?
what are you wearing on your feet?? 8.5 shoe size is small - was that a typo. Also the foot pegs should be set so you have a slight forward angle on the feet not straight up.

That wouldn’t work - still not enough
room in this boat.

Basic size 7 water shoes on my size
8.5 feet have to be stuffed in with heels together to fit in this boat and then the rudder still can’t be used without scraping the deck.

Whitewater paddlers seem to like the fit, but the larger paddlers that like the fit of this boat paddle either barefoot or with just socks, because anything with any thickness on the toe or heel has to be stuffed in. I don’t go that minimalist on footwear - especially in cold weather. That small amount of foot room seems absurd to me.

I’m surprised
I had to look up the boat and I think that’s a Nigel Foster design from his original Shadow. It says’ “made for the smaller paddler” - I guess they’re not kidding.

Not kidding regarding small foot room.
The cockpit can fit a much larger paddler than the foot room can.

It’s a sweet handling boat for those that can fit their feet in it.

molding blisters

– Last Updated: Oct-03-11 3:49 PM EST –

first, If it was me, I would think about selling the kayak for something else.
If I didn't particularly care what it looked like...had no intentions of ever selling it, I might modify it.
I would build a blister mold out of plaster of paris. I would shop around in 2nd hand stores for a plastic bowl that would be about the right size and shape (remembering that you might/can deform the plastic bowl to a desired shape) and us it for the plaster can mod the cast as necessary. Plaster carves easily with a sureform or wood rasp and sandpaper.
If you need to match the hull curve (depending on where the blister is going) I would fit the plaster blister casting to the deck (which has NOT been cut, yet) and glass it in situ...BEING very careful to apply a release compound to everything. You would now have the blister with a flange that can be fitted to the hull. So far, you have built your mod without doing any damage to the you can still change your mind.
Next, Cut out the hole, glass the blister into the hull. It is not going to be pretty, but by this time, you probably know that.

I Believe
that the real problem is those lace up chota boots that you are wearing…those things are rather bulky as far as kayak foot wear goes. Try a rodeo boot or the rodeo socks or the Sasquatch or something with less bulk . I believe that canoes were what that lace up model was targeted for. (BWCA, etc) there are lots of low volume options…lots easier to change shoes than do major glass work on an otherwise sound kayak…even if you only wear neo socks and call it your summer kayak.

Best Wishes