sitbacker seats

Are the Sitbacker and the various other canoe seats with back support worth having? I’ve noticed in many online photos that these seats don’t seem to be often in use by experienced paddlers. Do they interfere with paddling in more challenging conditions? Are they best suited for casual paddlers that might spend more time fishing, photographing, or whatever than paddling?

Rescue is a dog with them

– Last Updated: May-23-11 8:45 PM EST –

In challenging conditions, most experienced paddlers drop to their knees to increase stability.

Actually paddling on your knees improves posture and decreases back strain.

While I sit I also fiddle and kneel and half sit and kneel.

One of my worst experiences was having to do a boat over boat rescue in the middle of a large river. The occupants were hanging on the stems of our canoe to avoid a head bashing while we did this but we had to dismantle the seats to empty the boat ( it was a large heavy Royalex tandem). And the rescue took far too long..if the water had been cold or the next rapids too close we would have had to jettison the boat.

You're correct.. I would consider them only in circumstances where should a capsize occur you can tow the boat to shore. The ACA has a new rescue of hauling the boat out of the water while it is parallel to the boat being rescued with the open side toward the rescuers. Essentially the rescuers pull the boat up and toward them but seats will undoubtedly make that more difficult.(caveat I have not tried this with a canoe with seat backs). Then reentry by the paddlers can be done with a heel hook which ought to work fine unless there are bolts and fittings under the seat to injure the foot.

There are pluses to seats. Without them some paddlers would not be able to get out on the water. Folks with traumatic brain injuries or functional lower limbed paralysis need them to just get out there. And that is fine..just be aware of the seats limitations. The adaptive paddlers I have worked with that needed them for sure were serious paddlers so in that sense seats are not a mark of a novice.

Seat Backs
Seat backs restrict torso rotation and chaff when paddling, but at great for fishing, photography and reading.

Had Sitbackers
They got in the way of my elbows when paddling. Comfortable for sitting and fishing, so in a fishing boat they would be great. I occasionally will take a Crazy Creek or other seatback on long trips just in case I want to sit a little. I find kneeling helps my back as much or better than a seat back. WW


– Last Updated: May-24-11 12:14 AM EST –

I don't use seatbacks, foot pegs or a kayak padddle. I kneel about 90% of the time & sit about 10% of the time; so seatbacks are just dead weight for me to haul downstream.

On the other hand, I outfitted my wife's Wenonah Vagabond with a wood/cane seat back & foot pegs, and she loves them both.
She also uses a kayak paddle.

Different strokes for different folks.........

Be aware: When using any aluminum or wood framed seatback, there is a chance they will get cracked, broken, or virtually destroyed in a shallow water capsize. The seat backs are higher than the gunwales, and may act as a roll/pivot point as the current pushes the boat downstream.


Agree with all here…
however if you desire a seat with support, I have a slick one that has an inflatable lumbar support that utilizes a squeeze bulb. Support is much better that a sitbacker, is light, and is more water resistant. As I now kneel to paddle, I no longer use it and am looking to sell it. The seat was made by Seair Sports.

I think I remember someone here …

– Last Updated: May-24-11 5:33 PM EST –

....... once talking about seat backs that got snagged up on on a tree limb or something when trying to duck under the tree/limbs in current .

One of our canoes came with foldable seat backs (OT roto mold seats) , but I took them off before it ever went in the water first time . Just never have used seat backers and still don't know if I would like them or not ??

I’ve used them extensively…
and still own a couple. They are pretty good for casual canoeing and the type of canoe fishing I do, but I found them to be not quite as comfortable as they could be. My back is usually okay when using them but my butt gets pretty sore after a while. I prefer a solid wooden seat back with four adjustable positions that I invented myself, which goes on my cane bench seats with no attachments, folds forward completely for when you need to push the canoe under a tree, and is narrow enough to not interfere with your paddling technique. With it, I often drape my life jacket over it for padding when I’m on my usual small, shallow streams in warm weather and water conditions (I know, I should wear it all the time but I don’t). And then I use an inflatable Thermorest pad for butt padding.