Options for raising the seat in a kayak to make it more accessible

My wife likes to kayak, but she has trouble getting in and out of a kayak. So we’re thinking of getting a sit on top kayak and then modifying it to raise the seat. There seem to be lots of YouTube tutorials on how to do this. Has anyone actually done this? How much does it affect the stability? This would be for lakes, ponds and quiet water.

We’d also like to add a standup bar – again, to help her in and out of the boat. Has anyone seen a homemade solution for that?

Just as an aside – we’re looking to do this as affordably as possible and keep the final product relatively light, so the Hobie 14 fishing kayak is not at option at $5K.

Several manufacturers have offered raised seats on SOTs for years. Native Watercraft was an early adopter of this, and I believe Eddyline and Jackson have offerings. You might take a look at the factory models to help you make a decision.

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They sell stadium seats for kayaks. Wide kayak flat water should be ok. Stability will be affected.

Lots of guys around here add a riser and then a Wal-Mart stadium seat to their SOTs. They do lose stability and almost all then add DIY removable pontoons/outriggers made from PVC pipe and crab floats you can buy on Amazon. There are dozens of DIY videos on line of all kinds of ideas on the subject.

I put one of the Wal-Mart stadium seat backs on my canoe that I changed from a tandem to a solo. I took a 4” grinder and cut all the clamp stuff off the bottom and then held it down with a couple pipe clamps. It is very comfortable I paddled 16 miles yesterday seated in it.

I raise the seat in just about every craft I’m in to maximize its responsiveness. The higher the seat, the more it responds to even subtle movements . Be prepared for that

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Look at fishing kayaks.

Raising the seat, raises your center of gravity. One of the first things some people do in canoes is lower the seats.

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The best way to get into a SOT is to walk it out into knee-deep water, turn around so it’s behind you, and hold onto the gunnel and sit down on it. You can then swing your legs into place. Reverse the procedure to exit.


Toss a couple boat PFD cushions on the seat and try out different heights and see where she gets comfortable and see if it is too tipsy.


Thanks all for the suggestions and ideas. I’m looking for some kind of SOT on Craigslist that can be modified with a higher seat and maybe a homemade stand up bar.

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One other thing that might help your wife is some gentle core exercises. Many of the exercises are super easy and if you do them regularly (like 10-15 minutes/day 5 days/week) it could well make it easier for her to get up. Lots of good info online and on YouTube.


The Crescent Lite-Tackle has a 4" seat riser that can be added or removed according to your needs. It is a $ 50.00 accessory that fits in the standard seat mount and lets you mount your seat on top of it.



Core exercises? I’m still trying to get her to put her feet in the water while getting in the boat. But on a more serious note, that’s good advice – I might start those so I’ll have enough strength to get her in and out.


Kayaking is not for everyone.

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Boat cushions will absorb the body movements probably not giving you real results or feel.

I wasn’t suggesting it as a final solution only a way to find out if some extra helped and to determine if that extra height made the boat to hard for her to control. Sounds like he has moved on to a different plan of buying a different type of boat now.

One of the reasons I like my canoe so well is that it allows for a higher seat position than a kayak and still holds its stability.

It is easier to get in (on) a SOT kayak. But remember that it is like getting on a bicycle - the boat does not maintain your balance for you! Forget this for a moment and you’ll get wet!

And of course a raised seat raises the center of gravity.

I have a Native Watercraft Ultimate 14.5 and I love the seats. My paddling partners swear by their sit-inside Pungo 14’s. One likes his Pescator 12 for a nice SOT.
TIP: Yoga exercise will keep you flexible.

OP, raising the seat height will actually make the craft more tippy.

Think of it like a triangle, your head is the top point and the gunnels are the bottom (probably lower but easier to visualize) the higher your head the more acute the triangle becomes and decreases stability.

I have the Lifetime Teton from Dicks Sporting Goods. It is so easy to get in and off of. I personally put it in enough water where I just sit back onto it. I have had both knees replaced and I also have a messed up back and shoulder. This kayak is excellent and everyone that has used it/ tried it out agree. Having a sit on top with a supportive seat is the best kayak. If she is ok with getting her legs and feet wet, it is definitely easier to get in and out by sitting on the side with feet on the bottom like you would be in a regular chair and then standing up. Our friends have a kayak dock that has the assist bar on it and I find it easier to just slide off onto it and then stand up instead of trying to pull myself up with the bar. Hope this helps.

One just have to overcome the fear of wet feet. The paddle makes them wet anyway.

Most my launches are from boat launches that have a pier, and the boat trailer ramp. I first used the pier, and it was a pain to tie the boat, and climb in and out to varying boat heights. Now I just use the ramp and walk a foot into the water and easily get in and out. Who cares about wet feet in water sport, they get wet anyway.

Some boat launch places are only like a beach (no pier), so I have to use that method anyway.