Sliding Seat in a Solo Canoe

Those who own solo canoes with a sliding seat, how much distance forward and/or aft do you generally use to trim the boat?

Is the range of movement enough? Or do you wish it would slide further?

In my Osprey
I think there’s about 16"(8" seat on a 24" slide) . I’ll measure it when I get home and update this.

I do use it all as it makes a huge improvement sliding forward when paddling into the wind. I’m not sure if I might want to get back a little further than I can now when running down wind… maybe.


Never too much in my Advantage
Paddling empty, no more than say 2" either side of dead on (slightly bow heavy for me) with changing winds, or upwind vs. downwind. I usually find it best to be just slightly bow heavy in any normal conditions.

Me too
I generally trim my Merlin slightly bow down However on a recent river trip with String and waterbuffy I slid back a couple or three inches to put me level. If I was going up stream or racing in suckwater I would slide forward about the same.

I suspect that doesn’t really help you because I normally paddle empty except for hydration and a PFD. If I was tripping with a full boat I would use my slider over a wider range of positions.



In my Wenonah Encounter I keep the seat at the furthest aft position. When paddling empty it is still bow heavy. When paddling fully loaded it is difficult to get too much/enough of the load in the rear. Maybe it’s just my big feet weighing it down. The slider would be more useful in a boat that is more evenly trimmed to begin with. My Mohawk Odyssey has a fixed seat and I’ve never felt the need to move the seat forward or backward.

good responses
so it sounds like 16" range should be plenty. Maybe even less if the the mid range is set on the balance point of an empty hull.

Thanks for the input all! Any more experiences or advice appreciated.

I never move mine, just keep it where
my legs are well braced and comfortable against my bulkhead/footrest.

Me too
I have an Encounter, too, and I couldn’t agree more. Set at its furthest aft position it is still bow heavy. With a heavy pack behind you it starts to trim out.

I used to have a Penobscot 15 wit a fixed seat set about 4" aft of center. That worked great. Any trim adjustments could be done with positioning a daypack.

It all depends on the model you have and to some extent the individual canoe.

was the front of the seat 4" aft or was the dead center of the seat 4" aft?

A few more factors to consider…
Here are a few more factors to maybe consider. A couple may have already been mentioned, but one or two of these might be new ideas.

First, more range might be nice if you’re going to be taking some trips and need to adjust for gear. Otherwise, you might only adjust for wind, and then only rarely. You might adjust to get the balance point that’s right for you, and then just leave it there.

Second, it probably depends on how long your canoe is and how pointy the ends are. All else equal a small adjustment might make more difference on a shorter canoe or one with pointier ends that can more easily be pushed down into the water by these adjustments. (I know, there are some fancy naval architecture terms for that. Just can’t think of them at the moment.)

Third, there’s the possibility that your seat supports might have other uses. I have a woodstrip Voyager that’s a little on the heavy side. I had it built with a long sliding distance for the seat, just in case. The crossbars at either end of the sliding seat structure make a nice place to grab the canoe when taking it off the rack or putting it back on. Because they’re so far apart, it gives me nice leverage to control all that weight. If they were closer together, things might be more awkward. (And, in the category of other uses, you might want to consider how all this works with bags, yoke clearance, etc.)

Fourth, there are potential disadvantages to having a sliding dimension there that’s really, really long. It could be a problem with strength, and it could also be a problem with having your legs hit the supporting structure, whatever form it takes. If you like to have your legs out straight, even some of the time, that might be a consideration.

Hope this helps.


16 inches should give you more adjustability than you’ll ever need.

I had a Swift Osprey and also a Shearwater and I’ve got a Souris Jensen solo 16 with a slider.

Assuming the center position is somewhere near where you’d want a fixed seat, you’ll typically only use an inch or two max in either direction to adjust for light loads or weather conditions. You might want to bias it a bit towards the back of the boat since you typcially need to slide it back to accomodate a load more often than forward (perhaps to do a little crazy freestyle). For me, often paddling with a 70 pound lab all of my sliders have more than enough total range to cover the load with or without the dog with plenty left over …but sometimes end up at or near the back of the travel when I have a big load (like 70 pound dog in little low volume Souris River solo!).

this helps
The support structure I was fiddling around with in my canoe is on the sides of the hull, not in the middle on the floor.

One reason
I used a pedestal in my boat was that the sides were so thin I felt it was easier to not stress them any more then they were…

build my own
I’m building this one on my own. So no worries about side strength.