Sea kayakers - foot plate or foot pegs?

I had some really awful foot pegs in my first kayak. They were so weak and small that I used to pop off of them when I most needed them. My Alaw Bach had nicely sized foot pegs that I never popped off of, but I always had it in my mind that wished it had a foot plate, more like my WW boat. OTOH, it was nice to be able to stretch my legs out sometimes, in between them.

If you were ordering a new boat (ahem, not saying I am, maybe), what would you order? Foot plate or pegs? Assume the foot plate is at the perfect angle and location for your paddling style. Assume the pegs are fantastic pegs that stay exactly where you put them no matter how hard you press on them. Which would you prefer, and why?

I’ll add a third option (just to make it more fun!) - custom bulkhead with some foam for comfort. I foamed out a previous kayak and it was by far the most comfortable option for me. I have a kayak with a foot plate and while I like it, the rest of the kayak isn’t terribly comfortable so I can’t give it a fair judgement. I have also had comfy foot pegs and terrible ones, the bad ones are really bad.

My personal choices would be:

  1. foamed out bulkhead
  2. foot plate
  3. foot pegs

I think I’m too chicken to go that route. Too many what ifs for my anxious brain. “What if I put it in the wrong location.” “What if I can’t sell the boat later if/when I need to?” I confess I think it seems like the ideal solution - especially for a boat like the Cetus LV that doesn’t have a foot plate option.

One my last special order I specked where the bulkhead would be and foamed back from there . You can figure how much foam should be added and not mess up the BH placement for the next owner.
You can also order it with footpegs and then remove them from the rails or remove the rails altogether so as not to goof things up for the next owner…
Good luck…

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You don’t have to be a chicken about it. I use 2" of minicell on my current bulkhead and it’s perfect for me. If you want to play it conservative, just keep the bulkhead 4" or so farther out and double the minicell. I had about 6" of minicell in a non-custom placed P&H Quest bulkhead and it worked just fine.

The other benefits of a custom placed bulkhead vs the other options are minimizing cockpit volume and adding that volume to your front compartment. I am 6’3" with long legs. I remember wishing I had the extra 5 or 6" of room in the front hatch on my Quest where it would be useful on trips.

I have a couple of sea kayaks where I installed the Onno foot plate. A P&H Capella 169 - a surf playboat for me, and a Current Designs Extreme, a fast open water cruiser. I shaped a few inch thick foam block for my P&H Sirius right against the bulkhead, and the same for my P&H Quest LV. I simply use the bulkhead on my NDK Greenlander. And I have different foot pegs in others. I actually prefer the solid foot plate or bulkhead without the foam. I can feel that little bit of give in the foam once in a while when I sprint, or am pushing for speed, or trying to make an aggressive maneuver, and whether it really makes much difference or not, I guess it bugs me just a bit at times when I notice it. But it’s certainly comfortable enough. The foot plates I find just as comfortable, without any squishiness.
To directly answer your question, I would order the foot plate. It’s more comfortable. It allows my feet to be in different positions without any worries of not being locked in. So things like rudder strokes. I can bring both legs applying pressure towards the inside of the turn without worrying about not being locked in. The foot-stop will be there no matter where my feet are.

So, basically no one prefers pegs. So far. It’s between a foot plate and a custom bulk head. This is actually good, because I think those are better things to choose between. One boat has the option for a foot plate and one has the option for a custom placed bulk head.

Where do you put your custom bulkhead? Do you base it solely on your inseam + (something)? Since the seats adjust, I feel like I’d surely screw up the location for overthinking. I have a 32 inch inseam, in case that helps.

When I ordered a new P&H Cetus, I ordered it without foot pegs, so I could add foam to make a bulkhead foot plate. I left the bulkhead in the typical factory position. Depending upon how much you think you would want to move the bulkhead, you might consider just leaving it in the typical factory position. Just add more foam layers, minicell is quite firm, so it won’t give much.

I sat in a demo boat and we measured from the front of the seat to the bulkhead. For my current boat, the factory bulkhead placement was perfect as it was. My boat came with the piece of foam perfectly cut and the correct thickness. I don’t think inseam alone would be enough information.

How do you like that boat? Every review I’ve read of the Cetus LV compares well to the Rockpool Isel. There is a local-ish dealer here which saves on shipping, and it’s also just less expensive than the Isel. OTOH I KNOW I will love the Isel and can’t demo a Cetus so I might end up with an Isel. Weighing so many options right now… So far none have magically gone up for sale within reasonable distance, but I can always hope.

My Dagger WW boat had about 6" of foam on the adjustable foot plate (which was bulkhead-sized). I never had any complaints at all about it. It was just the right combination of firm and comfortable, but it took me a while to dial in where I most liked having it. I suppose the first thing I’d want to find out is where the bulkhead is normally placed and then figure out if I would need 20" of foam, or something more reasonable.

Yeah, that occurred to me after posting. I suspect there are at least a few factors, including seat height and thigh brace placement.

Here is what Valley says about custom bulkhead positioning (from their website.)

Other manufactures likely have instructions that are specific to them, so check out whoever you are planning on ordering from.

I love it, what a wonderful all around boat! We actually got two, one for me and one for my wife, who has foot pegs in hers. Both are Cetus MVs. I have not paddled a Isel, so cannot compare. The boat I had before was a WS Zephyr, which I liked, but the Cetus is much better in many ways.

I will also say that P&H provided a piece of foam, 3 inches thick, cut to fit. And since you may want to angle the foam so your feet are positioned with your toes forward. So I would suggest you want at least that much space ahead of your feet as you sit with your legs outstretched. Less than that and you may not have enough foam to make it angled.

For P&H if you say you want custom bulkhead position, their website says they will contact you to determine the correct placement.

Thank you so much, everyone. This is all super helpful. It’s fun to think about custom ordering a boat. I’m not sure I’ll go that route, but making a decision based on whether or not I can get a foot plate is no longer a deciding factor.

This is a foamed out Caribou…
Shown with an underdeck bag and the foam was deep enough to hold a pump…

SEA-LECT pedals 50 bucks bolt in standard holes 14" which most hulls have it 14.5"

That’s a lot of foam. Do you ever hear of people blowing out their bulkhead from pushing too hard? That would be unpleasant.

I think my Alaw Bach might have had Sealect pegs. They were nice - especially compared to the awful ones in my previous boat.

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