solo canoe backrest options

I use a Hemlock Kestrel for flatwater coast paddling. The best way to paddle this canoe is kneeling and that is how I use it. However, on a long day of paddling, it sure would be nice to sit and have some sort of backrest.

Seats available don’t fit the bill. I have used the generic seats with backrest attached, crazy creek canoe chair, etc. Presently use a Cookes Custom sit pad which is nice in that it cushions the leading edge of the seat and it’s comfortable for kneeling. But no back.

What ideas have some of you used to solve this dilema. Are solo kneeling canoes regarded as no backrest set up only? Personally, while kneeling/paddling I prefer to not have a backrest so it’s only for rest stops and very calm water paddling when I sit/switch.

I would suggest two things. First,
see if you can use minicell, or any other material that you like, and build up just a low support that supports the back of your pelvis, as well as coming around your hips.

Second, put in some kind of a footbrace, and also some light minicell thigh hooks, so that when you are sitting, you are more locked into the boat, rather as if you were sitting on a high kayak seat. The hooks should not hold your thighs in place, just provide locating pockets.

I don’t know the height of your customary kneeling position, but the dimensions should work out.

The advantage of a somewhat more locked-in seating position is that you may find you can paddle sitting with security in other than very calm conditions.

a Chosen Valley Canoe Products back band. E-mail Kevin and ask about it. Should fit as I have a Bell YS solo,and it works great,and is adjustable forward & back by side straps off the rails ahead of the seat. Great product,well made.

About halfway down the page is a picture.


Coleman Stadium/Boat back rest.
I tried one of these in my royalex Bell Wildfire with foot brace last weekend on a river trip and it worked great for holding my butt on the seat while pushing off of the foot brace. It made paddling the Wildfire in the seated positon much more comfortable and in control.

It didn’t inhibit my rotation at all, because only the lowest part was in contact with me unless I leaned back to take a break.


  1. The hooks that hold it on the front of the seat can get in the way of your heels a little bit when you are changing from kneeling to sitting position.
  2. Those same front hooks can get moved around a little bit when getting in or out of the boat and need to be recentered.

    I’d bought this thing a few years ago at a garage sale and never tried it because I thought it was too hokey looking and would inhibit rotation, but I was surprised at how comfortable it was and how well it held me on the seat when using the foot brace. I’ll use it the next time I take the Wildfire out also.

    It’s inexpensive enough to give it a try.

After much thought and seeing what solutions were posted, I came up with a marriage of sorts or perhaps it’s a domestic partnership?

I took the most comfortable seat I owned for sitting:

I attached my most comfortable seat pad for kneeling:

Anyway, cut a slit at hinge of super seat to insert webbing straps of the cookes pad. I will post pics if it works.

So far, Erics idea is one I like but too $$ as is the chosen valley product. Yanoers idea I tried but got uncomfortable for kneeling. g2d

I can’t visualize a pic would be appreciated.

Anyway, trying the cheapest first then going with Erics (less surgery on canoe) finally with Chosen Valley. I just don’t want to drill into my pretty wood gunwales if I don’t have to.

If there are anymore ideas…please post them. Meanwhile, I will test my marriage of two seats and let you know how it works out.

Chosen Valley
I’ll throw in a second vote for the Chosen Valley backrest. It’s an excellent product.

Looks like a danged robot.

not that one
it’s this one:

I would have to screw into gunnels to attach it which is why I am hesitant but it does look like the ticket.

I didn’t like the Crazy Creek either
so I tried the Sitbacker and found it to be much more comfy although a bit heavier. It has a frame so the seat feels more like a chair than the Crazy Creek which sort of wraps around you and I find it uncomfortable. The Sitbacker is great for camp, too. I’ve spent 6 and 8 hour days in the Sitbacker and feel just fine at the end of the day. The leading edge of the seat makes a good butt support when kneeling, too.

Chosen Valley
I “third” the CVCA backrest. It is great!

BTW – The robot looking thing is a “assistive technology” so that handicapped/parapalegic folks can paddle.