Saddle in a Wildfire/Yellowstone?

With the limited foot room of a Wildfire when kneeling, has anyone installed a saddle? Is there a decent removable saddle set up so you could swap between seat and saddle?

Just a little something to think about…

– Last Updated: Mar-31-05 9:52 AM EST –

A YellowStone is just not a radical enough boat to take into water where you actually need a saddle. Just move the seat up a bit and there is plenty of room for your feet. Glue in sone kneeling pads with knee keepers, some ankle pads, and some foot braces. Works very well! I lived out of my raised seat Wildfire (Yellowstone) for two weeks through the rapids of the Spanish Rivet ONT, Canada.

As Bell says (and we must assume David Yost intended): "The Yellowstone is one of our most versatile solo canoes. It is at home on rivers and streams, and handles mild whitewater in stride. Its dry, full design tracks well, maneuvers effortlessly, and provides ample speed for cruising in the calm stretches. The Yellowstone Solo is the perfect solo utility canoe."

I think it is best to leave the versatility in the outfitting of the Yellowstone. Just things a little to suit your comfort and needs. It is easy to either sit or kneel and change from one to the other with the slanted seat. A saddle is hard on the knees and hard to change positions. If you really need a saddle you most certainly need the proper hull to go with it.

Happy Paddl'n!



throw a saddle on ol’ Wildfire?
As Mick mentioned, adjusting the seat up a bit or adjusting the angle, should provide you with more foot-room if you’re feeling cramped.

That being said…I tried a saddle in my Yellowstone and ended up going back to the cane seat, mounted high, and canted forward for kneeling.

At it’s best the Wildfire is a boat of versatility, and the saddle just wasn’t as versatile as the seat. It was clunkier, made the boat harder to portage, took up more room that could be used for gear, and, with fewer seating positions, was considerably less comfortable after a few hours in the boat.

A saddle WOULD maximize the WW potential of the Yellowstone (limited though it is)…and if I was doing WW more it may have been the proper seat. But as Mick said, when it comes right down to it, a saddle would be best mounted in a WW hull.

my 2c…


sliding seat and kneel?
If one has a sliding seat set up, couldn’t you just push the seat out of the way and kneel?

Or are you looking for something to lean your butt up against too?


– Last Updated: Mar-31-05 1:25 PM EST –

I don't currently have a wildfire, my buddy does though and I would consider getting one. I would like something to kneel against. I have supernova that I really like. I would like to get a something like wildfire for my wife to use. But, I would like the option of using it myself as well. My size 13s need room. The big arch in the supernova is ideal for large, big-footed paddlers. As others have said, perhaps the best thing to do is raise the seat (a lot) in a wildfire. I'd have to do something with removable spacers for my wife to lower the center of gravity for her.

Adjustable seat height
You might want to take a look at the new adjustable height seat hangers on the new Wenonah Argosy. They adjust to three positions: low, high, cantered. I am going to try them out on my Mad River Freedom Solo.

If anyone has tried them yet, I would like to hear your opinions.

Saddle vs cane seat
What timing! I just got a Yellowsone Solo a month ago and while the foot room seemed adequate at the dealer (in bare feet), on my first outing on the SF Bay last weekend, with tennis shoes, it seemed VERY cramped for my size 11 shoes and my 6ft 190lb frame. So I’m also looking for an alternative. Several posters in the archive have recommended for raising the seat and against installing a saddle or pedestal. I’ve written to Bell but they’re out of the office this week at trade shows. In such a shallow boat, and at my height, I’m concerned about raising the seat and thus raising the center of gravity.

Based on a week spent paddling with Neil Rucker on the Klamath last year, kneeling with saddles and conventional cane seats, I found the saddles more comfortable and am inclined towards that for my Solo. My best guess is that 60% of my paddling with be on Class I rivers, 30% on Class II, and 10% on flatwater.

Saddles and seats
Raising the seat to around 9" and paddling on your knees with your tail on the edge of the seat should feel as, if not more, stable than sitting on the lower seat. Then when the water is quiet you can still stretch out.

My size 9’s fit under that no problem, you guys with the big dogs will need to try it and see. Paddling barefoot or in a heel-less shoe can make it easier to get them into and out of tight spots. I realy like my muklucs for that.

If you do go with a saddle you might try setting it up with a couple of steps so that you can change your position by sliding back.

Northwater saddle in mine…
works great. The saddle is held in place with daisy chains glued to the hull and straps through the saddle. Easy to adjust for trim or remove and install the seats. The daisy chains don’t interfere at all. I prefer saddles in all my river boats (Wildfire, Guide and Outrage X) as they are more comfortable to me. I kneel 99.9% of the time, regardless of water type though. Also, my Wildfire(RX w/vinyl gunnels) has the old metal seat hangers which are a pain to adjust. If you have them, dump them and get the wooden truss hangers.


That is the set up I had in mind

– Last Updated: Mar-31-05 2:59 PM EST –

I know the wildfire is not really a ww boat. But, having the option to saddle up for mild class II surfing without entrapment risk would be pretty cool.

Thanks for the responses!

Someone shared experience via email
I got the following email from a helpful paddler. I’ll post it so that others can benefit as they see fit.

“One of my boats is a Mad River Guide, similar enough to the Wildfire/Yellowstone for the experience to be comparable. I don’t do – or want to do – a huge amount of whitewater, but the boat is adaptable enough to be able to do some of the fabled whitewater here in western N.C. I’m also large (6’ 6”, 250#, size 12 feet) and trying to stuff my feet beneath the seat doesn’t work well. And I’m long-torsoed, so I want to have the seat as low as possible when sitting and poking around quiet waters, as I do most of the time.

So I adapted the Guide, rather than buying something more perfectly suited to whitewater. My dealer had a Voyager pedestal (sold by Mad River) that has transverse holes fore and aft, like the Northwater saddle ( I used four D-rings, mounted slightly in front of and behind the saddle so that I could adjust the fore-and-aft position of the saddle. The Northwater daisy chain would work even better, I think.

Instead of permanently mounting knee pads I got myself a 1”-thick piece of foam, 12” x 48”, and Velcro’d it into the boat. Two pieces of Velcro on either side, parallel to and just below the gunwales, hold it in very nicely. The 4’ length fits perfectly from between one gunwale, around the inside bottom and up to the other gunwale as a press fit. It can be removed very quickly and all that’s left behind is the Velcro; glue the soft part to the hull and it’s fine.

The seat/pedestal switch isn’t so quick, requiring removing the drops and the seat, then installing the pedestal. Frankly, the Wenonah Argosy setup looks as though it might work pretty well. Wenonah says “This method is not available on wood gunwales” about the adjustable plates, but I wonder if I couldn’t fabricate something similar that would work with wood gunwales.

I’m much happier with a pedestal in my Guide than buying a whitewater boat.”

The Wildfire…Fantastic Canoe
Revolutionary little boat. I have not had mine long enough to rave to much but I can say that

I love it so far and think you could push it pretty hard in mild white water if you set it up with a saddle and some bags. It’s no banana boat but responds very nicely to the paddle making it a favorite freestyle canoe too. I think it’s a perfect canoe for moving water but tends to hit a wall when paddling flat water. I’d say it fits paddlers best who are somewhere around 175 to 230 lbs. Everybody should have one for just goofing off.

I’ll bet the Placid Boatworks comes up with a boat to contend with the Wildfire before long…

Check out the new Rapidfire for 05 at I may have to get me one of those.

Think I beat you to it. :^)

– Last Updated: Mar-31-05 7:39 PM EST –

Been following Placid Boat Works for some time and corresponded directly via e-mail for a few days. Called them today. Got to talk to both Joe Moore and Charlie Wilson. It seems somewhere in those great conversations I did order an expedition lay up RapidFire with a hung carbon seat. 29# 15' rocket sled of a solo canoe!

Happy Paddl'n!



Wow nice can’t wait to see it
looks like a rocket ship.

I have a saddle in my MR Guide, and
have used a saddle in all of my open boats. But then, I’m also a long-time C-boater, so I’m very used to kneeling. Big feet are no big problem. I have size 14+ feet, and I can snake them in and out of my slalom C-1. (See, racing boats, zealot.)

I think people will like kneeling LESS if they can’t get their ankles accustomed to lying flat on the bottom of the boat. Once accustomed, this is the most comfortable way to kneel. If you have to kneel with your feet up on your toes like a ballet dancer, your knees will be flexed more, and you will have more foot AND knee discomfort.

What about thigh straps
Don’t think I’ll go as far as installing a saddle in my Yellowstone, but I was thinking about installing thigh straps. Has anyone installed thigh straps? How did it work out?

I thought about a saddle for my wildfire
In retrospect I am glad I didn’t do it. I ended up lowering the seat about an inch and a quarter and fell in love with the boat all over again. I definitely can’t kneel in it any more but I can’t say I miss being able to. No regrets lowering the seat.

What’ll bag you for one of those?
Looks pretty sweet!

I noticed that on your cool pics
Beautiful little creek you’ve got there. What’s the duct tape for though?

Counting on it!
Wanted the speed of a Magic, but did not like it’s handling as I like boats easier to turn, etc. Almost bought a Magic. Sure am glad I put that off! At a foot shorter the RapidFire should handle better and be as fast or very nearly so. The ratio of length to width of the RapidFire is 7.5. The Magic is 7.25.

Happy Paddl’n!