Solo canoe

Thinking of purchasing a river running solo canoe. Need to run a mix of flatwater and class I and II. Looking at a symmetrical canoe such as a MR freedom solo 14 or a Mohawk Odyssey. How would it work with keeing the seat in place for a comfortable seat (maybe a folding backrest) for flatwater, and also adding a saddle and turning the canoe around for swiftwater work?

Many thanks!

I have a MRC FS too. Never thought of swapping directions for seat & saddle work, but there is no reason it would not work. The hull is symmetrical.

Now you have me thinking…


If I were doing that I would use the
smallest pedestal I could find like the TKO as it will invariably be in the way of your feet when paddling from the seat for flatwater.

The Mohawk saddle in my MR
Guide/Freedom allows both sitting and kneeling with no need to swap direction. If you get tired of kneeling and want to sit, you just lean back a little on the wide, comfy part of the saddle and throw your legs forward.

Yep, and if you want to sit higher
… just place a 1" minicell pad on top of the saddle. Since the Mohawk has a hole running through the bottom, it’s easy to rig a fastek buckled strap to hold the minicell pad in place.

I would not
IMO your cockpit is going to get awfully crowded with both a seat and a saddle.

Kneeling with your tail on the seat ought to work just fine for class II+. Some folks (not me) even use thigh straps with the seat if you want to lock in.

If you really want to be able to use both maybe you could set up a strap down saddle and take out one when using the other?


No hole in mine, but for flatwater and
class 1-2, a pad would stay in place. The saddle in mine, bought used, is the one that usually came with a big thigh strap running across the front of the saddle. I’m ditching the strap. I just don’t need it for class 1-2 water, given that the saddle widens toward the front to spread my knees.

Mohawk will probably still sell this saddle, for less, without the thigh strap. They sold me a triple saddle originally for a Probe 14, but without the straps and foot braces. Just call 'em and discuss it.

I agree
I agree with Tommy. If you do this, the saddle will be in your way when sitting, the seat will be in your way when kneeling, and you will be miserable in both situations.

You could rig a minicell pedestal backed up by a fairly wide thwart. You might need to suspend the thwart a few inches from the gunnels depending on the depth of the canoe. You could then get up off the saddle and sit on the thwart like a seat.

Alternatively, you could take a regular seat and angle it downward a little at the front so that you could use it like a kneeling thwart. You would need to make sure the seat was high enough to get your feet under while kneeling. All you would need then is a pair of knee pads. You could add thigh straps if desired.

I imagine if you are clever, you could figure out some type of seat hanger such that you could adjust the angle of the seat from horizontal to angled by raising up the back of the seat a bit to adjust it for kneeling.

I envision one problem:

– Last Updated: May-11-09 8:26 PM EST –

If you put the pedestal at the best possible location for good handling and trim, and place the seat so that you have to swap bow for stern when sitting on it, you will be sitting well forward of center when you use the seat. Ever paddle a canoe from a position that is forward of center? Bad idea! (except sometimes when paddling into a strong headwind)

Now, what I HAVE seen done, which worked okay, is to place the seat well behind center, and place a pedestal at center (or maybe it goes slightly behind center). In a boat set up that way, the paddler does not swap bow for stern when switching seating positions, but is somewhat compromised when sitting in the seat because of being so much farther behind center. However, being pretty far behind center works much better than being even a little bit in front of center.

The boat I saw set up this way was a Novacraft Supernova. Most Supernovas come from the factory with the seat VERY far behind center (I used to think they were all made that way until Clarion proved me wrong), so that a solo tripper can trim the boat with one large gear bag instead of two. That Supernova's owner kept the factory seat in its original position and installed the pedestal in front of it. It worked well enough for him.

If your Class-II isn't too severe or too frequent, I like TommyC1's idea of thigh straps combined with the regular seat. I find that kneeling on a slanted seat is darned comfortable, and if the pedestal isn't absolutely necessary, I would simply add thigh straps as the first step toward improving control.

A foam pedestal/seat seems to solve
this problem. When kneeling, one’s butt is somewhat forward on the wider sitting portion of a Mohawk saddle. For paddling seated, one’s avoirdupois shifts back a few inches, and the torso tends to be “back” more, but the legs are extended out front. In my MR Guide, the boat trims slightly bow light when I kneel, but more nearly level when my legs are out.

I had an earlier small canoe, a MR Compatriot, where I had devised a foam saddle similar to what Mohawk later offered. In that boat also, kneeling left the bow a little up, and sitting leveled it.

My heavy size 14-15 feet may have had a role in the balance.

Sitting works better if a little padding is put on the sides for knee comfort, and if some foam foot blocks are glued to the bottom.

With this kind of saddle, for an easy transition from kneeling to sitting and back, the only thwart holding down the saddle must be at the back or stern end of the saddle. Instead of a thwart over the thighs, the saddle sides must be flared a bit and carved to support the inside of the knees. A little flare at the top of the saddle keeps the thighs down. Mohawk uses their giant strap to keep the knees down, but I find I don’t need it. A smaller person (I’m 6’ 5") might have to carve the Mohawk saddle sides down to get a good fit.


– Last Updated: May-11-09 10:28 PM EST –

If if were my canoe/my decision:

1. I'd lower the front edge of the seat an inch or maybe even 2 inches. Allow enough seat height for easy foot clearance.

2. I'd get a Cooke Custom Cover butt pad for the seat.
If properly positioned (you can adjust the butt pad positioning), it will provide some padding for the back of your thighs, and your butt while kneeling.

3. I'd get a Cooke Custom Cover kneeling pad(large size) to pad my knees & lower legs when kneeling.

4. If I were going to do "over" class 2 on a fairly regular basis, I'd add thigh straps.

If I left the seat in; I would "not" put in a pedestal. Cockpit would be too crowded with both seat & pedestal in my opinion. #1 through #4 would serve you just as well as putting in a pedestal for kneeling. If you get tired of kneeling, you could still sit on the seat.


thanks for the info
I think it may be too crowded to have both. I have very little expersince with a pedistal setup. How comfotable is it for extended time in the canoe?

depends on the person and setup
Some people can kneel on a very low pedestal (as in a C1 decked canoe) for long periods with little discomfort, and some are in agony after 5 minutes.

Most people find relatively high pedestals (10+ inches) more comfortable than low ones (less than 6 inches) but stability decreases with pedestal height. Ankle blocks (minicell foam blocks that go beneath and support your ankles) can make a big difference when kneeling for long periods.

Yeah, I have a 9" seat height on my
new OC-1, and it’s comfortable for a long time in spite of the length of my legs. My lowest pedestal was 5.75 in my slalom c-1, and frequent breaks were necessary.

9" is good
I can kneel all day on a 8" to 9" saddle. Lower than that I feel.

My buddy John had an 11" saddle in his Ovation. I called it “The Tower of Terror”. It felt VERY unsteady to me.


seat vs saddle
I’ve tried several arrangements in my MRC Guide: seat, sloped seat, saddle (large Voyeageur, the one with the gallon jug as a dry case molded in.) I’ve settled on a sloped seat, with a wider cane area to be more comfortable when paddling heeled over, glued-in contoured kneed pads, and thigh straps. I do want to add foot rests forward, to keep me from sliding forward when sitting, but haven’t gotten to that yet.

I mostly paddle kneeling, but sit when my 104 year old knees (52 years each, that math works, right?) need a rest.

I would agree that both a seat and saddle would make it too crowded.

And, if considering a saddle, I suggest another thwart to brace the gunwales when you remove the seat. When I used my saddle, without another thwart and no seat, I could feel the additional flex in the hull between the fore and aft gunwales.