Please explain to me the benefits (or not) of “foaming out” vs footpegs

I’ve read about people replacing their kayak’s foot peg system with foam, and saying it feels much more comfortable than pressing up against set pegs. In my new kayak my feet fit just fine, but I’ve noticed that after a while my heels get a bit uncomfortable pressing against the bottom of the boat. Admittedly I’ve been paddling barefoot since it’s so warm, but it’s got me wondering about this foam idea, since I’m thinking it’s possible that, even if I wear shoes, over a long paddle it might bother me. Thanks.

Get a good pair of wet shoes. And you might as well buy a Peets dryer while you’re at it.

I have some good shoes, thanks.

My first kayak had typical footrests. I had heel soreness at times, was often resting my legs/feet in the center on long trips, even with waterslippers. With wetsuit booties or actual shoes like Brewers, my heels were fine though. My legs still tended to want to move around a bit.

My current kayak I ordered without footrests, and used minicell foam to make a bulkhead footrest. Love it. To me, the advantages are that you have many positions for your feet, so your legs and feet can move around. A lot. Nothing to find to get your feet in position. Easy to change position and still have good contact. You can find a lot of discussions about this, here is a few to get you started:

There is an article on how to do it, that also includes a bit of why to do it, in an old issue of California Kayaker Magazine. Issue number 5.

Not sure what foaming out means. If it relates to installing a minicell foam footbrace, I’ve carved one for each of my kayaks. Has nothing to do with my heels (I always wear paddling shoes) but does allow me to paddle with my legs closer together versus the standard frog stance. Makes rotation easier. I also like to move my legs around during a long paddle. That’s a comfort thing.

No foot pegs have been removed (they’re glassed in on my CD boat). The foam is supported by the pedals and a center foam block. I can remove it for cleaning, to let someone try the boat, or for adjustments.

A foam bulkhead footplate increases comfort substantially and therefore generally makes it possible to put in a longer day paddling. My sciatica was a real threat to my kayaking, but after I installed the foam bulkhead footplate the problem became totally manageable. I went from fearing that my kayaking career was over to putting in decent mileage day after day without real problems.

The two downsides to the foam footplate: you can’t loan your kayak to a friend (unless you make an adjustable footplate or keep the original footpegs); and you can’t use a rudder.

Both of my boats have footbraces and, living if Florida and having size 14 feet, I always paddle barefooted even in cold weather.
I cut a piece of 5/8 inch thick mini cell foam 12"x8" and put it under he heals to cushion them. I no longer get sore heals paddling barefoot.

Thanks. Just instinctively this sounds more comfortable to me. My kayak has a skeg so the rudder thing isn’t an issue. As for not being able to let other people borrow it, well, that could be a plus… :wink: but seriously my spouse is close enough to my size that I think we both could still use it, so I’m going to give this some serious consideration.

I have several sea kayaks all with adjustable foot pads on tracks but I have paddled whitewater kayaks with foot pads, adjustable bulkheads, and fixed foam bulkheads. There are potential advantages to both.

I have heard a few instances of foot entrapment with foot pegs in whitewater boats, usually when the person was wearing some type of strapped sandals, but I can’t recall any fatal events. A fixed foot rest or bulkhead could limit the type of foot wear you use. For example, if you paddle bare foot in summer and with thick soled river shoes in winter, you might not be able to optimally position you knees for bracing and rolling. On longer trips, I rather like being able to take my feet off the pegs and stretch them out straight now and again.

The minicell “plates” I put in my kayak are not fastened or glued in, just press fit, I used several thinner plates, so I can take one out or put one in as needed to adjust the spacing. And I can take them all out whenever I want to do a thorough cleaning of the cockpit.

The fix for heel pain is easy. Just take an old, half compressed foam block or section of pool noodle and place it under your calves… near your ankles. It lifts your heels off the hull. No more discomfort. Move the foam / noodle around as needed. Pegs stay in place. It’s my understanding that some people get numbness or pain from pressure on the pegs themselves and that’s the where the ‘foaming the bulkhead’ benefits are. (Here’s where we can start an argumentative thread about how much pressure you need to put on the pegs. It’ll be fun!)

I would “foam up” most of my boats. I would leave the tracks in and sometimes if I set the pegs all the way aft they wouldn’t interfere with me and could be used by a shorter person.
My foam was always wedged in and easily removable


My boats are mostly foamed out, as in solid blocks of foam shaped to the inside of the boat. Way, way more comfortable for my feet. Plus less water in the cockpit to empty,in a dump.

What kind of foam do you all use, and is it as simple as just putting it in until it feels good to you? Or is there a specific way to do it?

@Doggy Paddler said:
What kind of foam do you all use, and is it as simple as just putting it in until it feels good to you? Or is there a specific way to do it?

Closed cell foam, which is sold in blocks. You need to make a template of the inside of your kayak where it will be installed, then carve the foam to fit. I used three-inch foam. And did a lot of reading of older posts on carving foam and the best tools to use.

Great, thank you!

Another nice thing about a foam footbrace is you can carve a place in the top to store your bilge pump and keep your deck clean. :slight_smile:

An easy way to cut it close to the shape and size you need is to wrap a soft, semi stiff wire around the outside in the place you will be installing the foam, then slip that off and use that as a template. Electrical wire works well. You can simply tape the ends together so it holds it’s shape and size.

Depending on your bulkhead placement the foam may take up considerable storage space for expeditions. If I removed my foam I could get a small cooler in front of my footpegs.
If you special order or build your boat you may specify the front bulkhead placement to save on the wasted space.