Replacing back Rest

I have a cheap recreational kayak that has a padded backband that really isn’t that comfortable. I was thinking of getting a highback, SOT seat and put it in. It looks like all I’d have to do is install a couple attatchments to hook the straps to. Has anyone else done this?

Sounds plausible. I’m going the other
direction, removing a high back seat from a Necky touring kayak and putting in a backband.

Bad idea
The backrest in a kayak is meant to support your hips, not your back. If you’re leaning back enough that you need support, your technique needs work. High seat backs interfere with torso rotation, which is important for an efficient stroke.

Bad Idea
The problem is that my kayak just has a short back band and it hits the lower 1" or 2" of the life vest and not my lower back. I’d like something a bit higher for some extra support.

As I said above…
…you don’t want it to hit your lower back OR your PFD. If anything, you’re describing a backrest that’s already too high, as it’s overlapping the bottom of your PFD. A kayak back band should not be any higher than your pelvic crests.

Haven’t done it…
But, should be possible.

Technically, Brian/Bnystrom is correct - with “proper” paddling posture and technique, you shouldn’t be leaning back anyway. For me, I tend to sit proud, even leaned a bit forward.

That said, you said you’re paddling a recreational boat + are most likely doing simple leisure paddles. There’s no reason you can’t drop almost any seat into it - so long as it fits and you’re not uncomfortable drilling some holes.

Let’s make room for ndividual variation
Especially when it comes to seats, I think there needs to be room for individual needs and preferences. If someone says, “I’m not comfortable with a backband,” there’s no reason not to accept that person’s preference, no matter what the reason may be. There are thousands of people in that category, and some well-made sea kayaks that have a seat back rather than a backband.

Same goes for the height of the back. People have different anatomies, medical problems, comfort levels, back strength, etc. An adjustable seat back allows for those differences.

Ditto for paddling styles. Not everyone wants or needs to constantly be in an aggressive, upright, forward attack position. If people prefer a more relaxed style, let 'em do it.

Great variety of needs and preferences = variety of seats and seatbacks.

To the OP, I suggest the Old Town/Necky ACS seat. I just bought one for $100. Have not installed or used it yet, but it should work very well in a recreational kayak.

…but IME, the majority of people who ask this question are beginners who don’t know how to paddle properly or understand what they actually need in a kayak. It has nothing to do with paddling aggressively, it’s about outfitting the boat in a manner that promotes good paddling form or at least doesn’t inhibit it.

If someone has a physical condition or limitation that requires something different, so be it. Paddling is better than not paddling, so do whatever it takes.

Recreational kayaking
OP says he has a “cheap recreational kayak.” These days virtually all such kayaks have a seat back, not a backband.

The human skeleton was not really made for sitting. People seem to need lumbar support when sitting in a car seat, office chair, etc. Some people find a seat back provides better lumbar support. Also, many kayakers like to be able to sit back comfortably and relax or rest occasionally. Perhaps they find a seat back more conducive to that need.

Instead of arguing about which is better, a backband or a seat back, it would be wiser just to trust that some people do know what they need for their comfort and efficiency and that they make different choices. Some people don’t give a damn about proper form. Other people find they can have full range of movement and proper form with a seat back.

I’m guessing that there are far more recreational kayakers in the U.S. than sea kayakers, so what’s the point of imposing a rigid sea kayaking standard on everyone?

SOT seat
To answer your original question, yes I’ve used an SOT seat in a sit-in kayak. I used closed-cell foam about 2" thick to build up a base under it—you don’t really want to sit directly on the bottom of the kayak.

The front edge of the seat should be a little higher than the rear, so put an extra layer of foam at the front.

Low-tech way to secure the seat: double sided tape on the bottom. Shove the seat as far back as it will go and cinch up the straps. The rear coaming will provide some support for the back.

You may find the flat SOT seat a bit hard. You could add some other type of cushion, like Yak pads.

Strange as it may sound, it’s possible to use a seat that’s not actually secured. It’s not really going to go anywhere with you sitting on it, for recreational use.

Note that an SOT seat has no shape and doesn’t provide any lumbar support. But it will work.

Bomber Gear back band

– Last Updated: May-29-10 10:49 PM EST –

Replaced the backband on my Dagger Crossover with
a Bomber Gear back band the very first week I owned it.

If you paddle a river or an all sports lake with wake
you'll want to "snap" that skirt tight on the coming
and a high back rest will interfere.

Floating vs paddling
Both can be recreational activities, but seating that encourages leaning back/impedes decent technique won’t make things much fun over time unless maybe if you primarily drift/fish/drink.

On the other hand it is possible to have a decent seat back setup and a crappy back band too. Not an either or with gear types as much as a bio-mechanic/physical arrangement thing.

A lot of stuff that markets well/feels good for short demos is the worst for much else.

As for not being made to sit, all great apes - including man - have sit bones and padding in that area. Siting isn’t the issue. How you sit (and what you do when sitting) is.

"Decent seatback setup"
Exactly right. It’s totally possible to set the seat back at a height that will allow full torso rotation and arm movement, and to set the angle of the back to support a dynamic position. Not talking about a barcolounger here.

So-called “sit bones” can be a problem. The fact that they are called “sit bones” doesn’t mean nature designed them for sitting, especially for long periods.

Look at this image and see whether that looks like a well-designed collection of bones for sitting. Perhaps better for squatting.

Long-distance bikers know that our natural padding is insufficient for sitting and that sit bones are a pain in the butt.

Some have more padding than others.
Road bike saddles are wholly unnatural and go where there basically is no paddling at all. Something you build up tolerance to rather than being really compatible with human anatomy (seems the better/longer the rider - the smaller and harder the saddle). On a bike the legs are taking a lot of the load too, and seat is largely for control (and is minimal for peddling efficiency) and intended to only offer some support. Very different than a kayak (though rotating on a smooth seatpan can spread/shift the load nicely and prevent many common issues), and way outside this discussion.

There are many “tricks” to comfortable and efficient kayak seating. None secret or difficult to setup - and pretty much all discussed regularly here - but few really incorporate much of the info. Most still want off the rack barcoloungers!

My top considerations - when possible:

Sacral/hip support

Ability to rotate

Heels lower than butt

Not limiting foot position to small pegs

Not forcing frog leg position.

I have to disagree about road saddles

– Last Updated: Jun-01-10 7:35 AM EST –

While they definitely are designed to support one "where there isn't any padding", there are good reasons for that:

One, they support your bones, specifically your pelvis, which makes more sense than trying to support soft tissue, since your skeleton is designed to support your weight.

Two, in the areas where there is significant "padding", that padding is muscle (at least underneath the skin and fat) and you don't want to be sitting on the muscles you're pedaling with. Moreover, any saddle large enough to support soft tissue is going to inhibit the pedaling motion.

Yes, it takes some time to get used to a road saddle, but once past that "break in" period, they're quite comfortable and very efficient. Commercial road saddles follow essentially the same form with minor variations because it's the most effective and efficient shape. Myriad attempts at alternate designs have been tried and they've failed.

The human body may not have been well designed for sitting and it definitely was not designed for pedaling or paddling. We have to adapt our machines to fit our bodies as best we can.

I agree with your assessment of kayak seating with one exception; it's pretty much impossible to have your heels significantly lower than your butt in a kayak, particularly if you use a low-profile seat. At best, the difference may be an inch or so and it's typically less. I haven't found it to make any difference in comfort.

One other issue with kayak seating is leg position. The typical knees-up position concentrates one's weight on a very small area. Paddling with legs straight allows the hamstrings and gluteal muscles to support a fair amount of body weight, spreading the pressure over a much larger area. I suspect that this is one reason that the Inuit developed a straight-legged technique and the equipment to match it. Traditionally, they also sat that way on the ground, rather than in chairs.

You sure about your bike seat facts?
As a former long-distance cyclist (up to 2000 miles a year), I can tell you that traditional bike seats are murder. Reason: the human body is not designed to spend 8 hours supported by those pointy so-called sit bones. I never built up tolerance for bike seats, even when the rest of my body could go 100 miles in a day.

This is going off topic, but on a road bike a weight distribution of 60% saddle and 40% handlebar is considered the norm. The legs don’t enter into the equation. The seat is not for “control,” it’s holding up a lot of pounds.

seats on kayaks vs. bikes
The seat on a kayak is not in any way going to have design similarities with a bike seat! Position is completely different, weight distribution is completely different just to start. That being said…as a licensed bicycle road racer for years who puts in 1200-1500 miles a month…if a bicycle seat isn’t comfortable it is:

1- usually too wide

2- too much padding

3- seat height and position and angle is incorrect

IN a kayak you have limited adjustability so you have to experiment for what is comfortable for YOU…not others. I like a slightly elevated seat front and if a back is used it should be very low and NOT allowing you to sit back like a easy chair. Best paddling efficiency is when your back is straight or even slightly leaned forward (about 5 degrees for me). But don’t use that seat back to force you to sit “correctly” if you use it as a crutch you will start stooping, leaning back and have poor hip rotation.