Moving the seat in a kayak

We recently bought my wife a Sterling Ice Kap with one of those minicell foam seats. With the foot rests as aft as they would go the foot rests were still too far away (my wife is 5’-3"). Instead of relocating the foot rest brackets we relocated the seat 1" forward, a pretty easy job with minicell and it solved the problem with no apparent detriment to the trim.

I have a P&H Capella 173 and I’m 6’-3" with long legs. The seat in my kayak is very comfortable but it seems plenty far forward and I’m a tight fit getting my legs under the combing, especially while wearing cold water/weather gear.

The factory seat mounts look like I could re position the seat aft an 1" to give me an inch larger cockpit. Anybody have any comments or experience with what I’m thinking of doing? I guess I could just let out the back band but I think moving it might effect seat comfort.


it depends on the paddler and craft
I generally try to move my seats forward in my kayaks (I am 6’1") but I know what you are trying to achieve.

Moving your wife’s seat made little difference to the trim (I assume she is light) but at 6’3" maybe the weight difference (assumption again) might change the trim. When I move my seat forward I tend to create just a bit more weathercocking in my rockered kayaks but very little difference in a strong extended keel (not round) stern. If you use rudders (Capellas usually don’t) then it doesn’t matter so much, but a leecoking kayak is no fun (skeg won’t help there).

Consider if positioning yourself closer to the rear of the coaming is not going to hinder your layback rolls (something that is important to me).

And yes, you should be gaining a bit of foot room.

Sometimes contact with your thighs (or knees) will change too.

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I’m new to kayaking after paddling a
solo canoe for a couple years. I’m still clumsy getting in and out and just recently learned to self-rescue with the aid of a paddle float and I have to say I would have fewer training bruises if the cockpit was larger.

One reason I started kayaking was to be able to recover from a capsize in big water and I prefer to not fall out so learning to roll is in the plans. Maybe I should leave the seat alone.

Tempest 165
I have moved the seat back a couple inches in two Tempests . More comfortable and better performance is my experience. I have a very tall buddy who has done the same . Go for it.

Depends on where yuor thighs fall

– Last Updated: Jan-12-12 10:29 AM EST –

Your thighs should be close enough under the braces (I am assuming this boat has such) so that they are acting as thigh braces - not kneecap braces - and they provide good support for bracing/rolling. But there should be enough freedom of movement to you can rotate and pedal during the forward stroke.

It is quite possible that winter is not the best time to assess this well because of the extra layers of clothing involved.

That said, without knowing that boat, a lot of hung seats are set up with two possible positions, one more forward and one further back. Another consideration for winter is circulation in your legs and feet - if you see a way to move it back this may be a good time if you are too squeezed in there.

The only issue I have found with doing that is that, in a further rear position in one of my boats, I had to glue in some extra foam to keep the seat from flipping around. It works fine one position back, but it is hung on one bolt rather than two so I had to cement in some foam blocks provide the support below that I had taken away up top.

Try it
Go ahead and try it.

If it’s more comfortable for you and doesn’t introduce bad handling characteristics due to the trim change then you’re good. Otherwise move it back and try playing with the foot pegs instead.

Comfort is a personal thing, so do what’s right for you, not what a bunch of strangers on the internet tell you to do.

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try and see
Moving the seat back and forth will affect the trim.

Since movement of seat in Capellas is not that complicated, it is definitely worth playing around with.

Moving seat forward makes a kayak more likely to weathercock, but it also makes catching waves for surfing a bit easier. Moving seat back will make it leecock, generally undesirable feature.

I like to trim my boats for the paddling - that is they are more or less neutral when doing 2-3kt, your preferences will, probably, vary.

The experimenting part -

don’t move the seat just yet, but loosen the backband as much as you can, or remove it.

Put your kayak beam to gentle wind, see what happens if you just sit in your kayak not doing anything while keeping a neutral posture. Now, scoot forward/backward as much as you can, wait and see. Gentle wind - you don’t really want wind waves to come in and mess up your experimenting.

another option is remove the foot pegs
I have several paddling partners who cut thick minicell foam to pad the bulkhead removed the foot pegs all together. You can either glass over the holes or just put short screws and nuts in them.

Sliding the back band to the rear shouldn’t affect comfort as you don’t really use it if you sit up straight but a tight back band reduces rotation, makes some rolls more difficult and puts pressure on your spine.

Moving the seat will effect the handling
If you move a seat aft it will make the kayak track better and ride over oncoming waves better but possibly bow slap more. It’s a nice way to fine tune a kayaks handling characteristics to meet your needs.

When I first got my fiberglass Tempest I thought “Why am I punching these waves like this?!” Then I realized I hadn’t moved the seat back yet. Much happier with it back a bit.

As someone with long legs…
…I find that boats tend to weathercock more for me than for shorter paddlers. I assume it’s because my longer legs put more weight forward of the seat than for people with shorter legs. While I tend to compensate by loading more gear aft, moving the seat back is probably a better solution.

do that while paddling
I’d say how your boat lies to the wind is less important than whether it weathercocks or leecocks while paddling forward (All boats will lie approximately beam to the waves when not paddled).

What counts is that you can control the bow into the wind when you’re trying to paddle upwind.

Moving his seat aft will not necessarily make the boat leecock. It might make it weather cock slightly less. Tall paddlers with big long legs tend to trim boats bow-heavy so I’d guess that moving the seat back could improve trim for the OP.

Another Tempest 165
I moved back the seat a couple of inches in my Tempest 165, readjusted the thigh braces, and added some extra weight in the forward hatch. Now all is well.

Give it a try. If you don’t like the result, change it a little.