Questions about Bell Magic from a Kayake

Bell Seats

– Last Updated: Jul-22-09 8:04 AM EST –

I'm 6'2" and 250 lbs and always get a sore butt from sitting in a Bell seat for more than a half hour. I really believe Ted made the seats in his canoes to fit smaller individuals, or to encourage you to kneel when paddling. So if you sit while paddling, a larger person is not getting the benefit of the "give" in cane or nylon web. Instead they are sitting just on the very hard wood rails of the seat. I built a larger wood frame and nylon web seat for the Bell Magic in our family fleet and that made the boat much more comfortable (for me). Wenonah web seats have more generous dimensions than Bell or go for installing a slider especially if you will be hauling a gear load and tripping with your Magic.

The Bell contour seat also has more butt
area between the side rails of the frame. I intalled a web Bell contour seat in another one of my solo canoes a few years ago and it was much more comfortable than the smallish stock cane seat.

Take Three!
Took the dog out for a long afternoon/evening fishing on a local lake. The canoe did great. Dog got a little antsy (not much room for him to move around up front) but he got along pretty good. First time fishing from it and although the fishing could have been a little better I had no problems actually doing the fishing.

The canoe looks like it’s gonna be a real winner for me. Not as quick with the dog (and 20 lbs. of water for ballast in back) but can still cover ground quickly and easily. Maneuverable enough in tight quarters working around docks. A small sculling paddle would be nice while fishing so I could just reach down with one hand for minor corrections.

Gotta do something about that seat though. I was really getting uncomfortable as the evening wore on. Thanks for the seat suggestions, I’ll be checking into them.


Just ordered one (nm)

Will a Wenonah tractor seat work?
With a Minicell pad I can sit for hours.

Not sure
None around here to look at to compare. Ordered an Ed’s Canoe Cane Bucket seat this afternoon. Will see how that does.


Dog antsy
Have you put anything in to give the dog better footing? A cheap rug with a nonskid back works fine.

One of our dogs is much calmer when she comfortably can see out while lying down. My solo is low enough, but in our tandem she’s happier on a cushion that gives her a couple of inches of boost(and the title “Cleopatra”).

Dogs usually don’t like lying in puddles.

A good run or play session before going out in the boat helps.

Seat and dog
Have had the boat out quite a bit now. Added an Ed’s “Cane Bucket Seat” which was only marginally more comfortable than the stock cane seat from Bell. After an hour my butt started to hurt and after 2 hours I was beyond the point of finding a more comfortable sitting position.

This was with the stock Bell seat drops, which leaves the front of the seat lower than the back. I cut off this extra drop on the front so the seat was level. This made a big difference. Went out for a 2-3 hour paddle and while I don’t know if I’d go quite so far as to call the seat “comfortable” I didn’t have the achy butt problem of before.

Still contemplating seat alternatives. Maybe carving something out of minicell and just setting it on the floor or buying something like a Wenonah sliding bucket seat. Anyone know where to buy one? Didn’t see them listed on Wenonah’s site.

As for the dog. I went rummaging around in my mom’s basement and found those blue snap together mats that they use for children’s play areas. They’re 3/4" thick and two of them laid next to each other fit perfectly in front of forward thwart, where the dog sits. I put one more on top to give a 1 1/2" rise and that was enough that he can lay down and still see over the side, which makes him much more content. The extra traction is nice for when he stands too, less stumbling to create sudden balance issues.

They’re flexible so I just pushed them into place and they conformed to the shape of the hull, so I didn’t even have to fasten them in place. The material they’re made of seems to grip the hull good enough that they didn’t try to slide up even when there wasn’t a dog on them.


The eternal quest for butt comfort!
Some folks can plunk their butts on a stock seat and spend hours in comfortable bliss. Others, including me, have been trying to reach a state of “butt bliss” for years.

I tried pads of various makes and materials and several back supports. None was “just right”. I ended up fabricating a seat frame and lacing it with polyester cordage. A bit extreme I admit, but it was an interesting project.

One easy solution is to use a ThermoRest SPorts seat (may go under a different name) as padding. Some of my friends swear by them. The trick is to let it inflate, then let air out until your sit bones just touch the seat. It is easy to sew up a cover with straps to hold it in place.