Need seat back cushioning advice

-- Last Updated: Oct-19-04 4:05 PM EST --

Hi. I have a super kayak but the seat back needs to be altered in some way. While the existing seat back is very cushiony, it only comes up to the top of the cockpit (and cannot be repositioned any higher)--from the seat to the top of the cockpit (and the top of the existing seat back)is about 10" or a tad over. If I were taller, this would be comfy--at 5'2, when I lean back to relax and drift, the top edge of the cushion digs into my back right under my ribs, which is incredibly uncomfortable. Is there a product out there that I could use as a back rest that would extend that upwards about 2" or so--but that would not be so thick that it would force me too far forward on the seat? Has anyone had this problem? Does it seem like it would work to use a gel-type seat cushion as a backrest? Any advice is greatly appreciated--it's a simple but crucial problem to fix.


The standard reply
Not knowing off hand your age, paddling style, goals etc

I think you what you will hear from others is to actually lower your back rest by replacing it with a back band that supports the lower back and promotes proper spinal alignment. High backrest interfere with cockpit covers, ability to lean back and do certain types of rolls, make self rescue re-entries difficult or impossible and add to further chafing.


i dunno but
i had a similar problem until last week. my boat has a backband, thin foam, pretty narrow maybe 6" wide. great for paddling but not so great for hours in the boat.anyway i had a piece of dense foam about 12" square and maybe 1 1/4" thick- from an old pfd. i took it with me this past weekend and put it in the seat behind me and- well, the difference in comfort was great. we were out fishing and i was able to stay in the boat and be comfortable without paddling, a big change from previous trips when i had to beach and get out of the boat to be comfortable.

So far
Well, what I’ve done so far is take my gel seat pad and prop it up behind the seat (kayak in the driveway, not on water). It seemed like it would keep the edge from digging into my back without coming up too high. Problem is, I really love that cushion and it is shaped to be a seat cushion. So I called the Yakpad people to see what they thought of using their “paddle saddle” as a back rest. Those people are somewhat incredible! The guy said he would send one out and then call me after it gets here to see if it worked. This is without taking my credit card number–very “try this, if it doesn’t work, send it back” as if we were around the corner instead of across the country. He thinks it won’t stay up when I shift forward for any reason, but I think it will, or I can rig it to stay attached to the existing seat back. Anyway, as of now that’s my potential solution. Thanks for the foam idea–if the yakpad doesn’t work, I will need to improvise something like that. I had a feeling I wasn’t the only one with this problem.

Hi Brian–I appreciate the backband idea, I have run across those in my search for a solution to this problem. As for the high back rest, in my case this part of the standard reply doesn’t really apply. I never use a cockpit cover, I don’t do rolls, I don’t do self-rescue re-entries (I paddle on rivers I could walk out of or close enough to the banks of small, placid warm-water inland lakes to get myself to the shore with a few swim strokes). Not sure about the chafing of a higher backed seat–my other kayak has a higher seat back and is very comfortable. I guess I don’t fit the “standard” kayaker profile!


Sit on top kayak Seat
As a thought “surf to Summit” makes sit on top kayak seats and they have one that would probably make its way half to three quarters of the way up most paddlers back. Proper installation on a sit on top would require connecting the straps 2 forward to about the knee and 2 aft behind the seat, the straps pushing and pulling keep it in it place. Web page is or

You might also release the tension on your back rest, this in some case relieves the angle that causes the jabbing but one plastic piece is not one size fits all.

Check it out, maybe its something you can work with.


They make a paddle saddle with a back rest incorporated, either low back or high back. I’m surprised that the salesperson you spoke to didn’t mention it. I just received a Yakpad with low back rest, tried it out today and I am very pleased. It took the edge off lower back issues as well as the “butt bonz” irritation.

Cabelas sells a canoe/kayak seat …

Camo Canoe/Kayak Seats

The lightweight, compact solution to comfortable seating in your canoe or kayak. Straps and quick-release buckles securely attach to most canoe or kayak seats. They are crafted from extremely durable, 600-denier rip-stop polyester with closed-cell foam padding and sturdy carbon fiber stays. The Fastek buckles secure side straps for comfortable use, and they’re also a great stadium seat.


Low Back 12"H x 15-1/4"W x 13"D

High Back 16"H x 15-1/4"W x 13"D.

The high back might work well for you. Bob