thigh braces for larger folk

I have a little exp in canoes. Tripping with the Scouts we do about 100 mi a year, floating and camping. I own 2 canoes, a 17’ 1971 Grumman, and a Old Town Disc 169.

Last year we did a 107mi trip (Allegenehy river trail) and a buddy of mine brought his kayak. I was watching him and determined that I would like to give it a shot.

Well, I started looking for used kayaks and soon learned that there are few touring kayaks made for fat guys. Being on the cuddly side, 6’ 265, just plain large but not rotund haveing worked outside for all my life, limited the used boats available where I could get in AND take a heavy backpacks worth of gear for 5 days with some spare, got me looking for a old Sea Lion because they are rated for close to 400lb. Well I ran across one and picked it up along with a Carolina rated at 300 for my little 6’ 211 15 year old for a can hardly go wrong price.

I climbed in, and I find that my pole climbing thighs have me REAL locked in.

I am wondering if there is another path to go besides just pulling the thigh braces out. The shortest single day river trip I have ever done was 4 hours, and the longest we covered 36 miles. Compressing my legs in will not work. I am pretty certain that I can brace normally into the cockpit and that wont lock me in.

Downsides? Suggestions?

Will you have to cut the braces out, or
can they be removed just for some trial fitting of an alternative?

Because of height and crooked legs, I’ve had to cut back and modify thigh braces on a couple of kayaks, and on a third I had to glass in braces that didn’t come with the boat.

From when I started paddling in '73, I was often kept out of kayaks because of entry/exit, seat width, and thigh brace problems. It sounds like with your boat, you’re close to a solution. But it will take some fiddling.

Smaller people like me need affirmative thigh braces because we just don’t reach any deck without them. But there was a day when kayaks had none and people just added minicell to the part under the deck where they had contact.

Aside from it affecting resale value, you could probably just go back to the old days and rely on some padding right under the regular deck area. It sounds like contact is not an issue for you.


– Last Updated: Apr-15-14 1:41 PM EST –

Looks like 3 screws are all thats holding them in.

Lack of contact is not a problem with the braces in, in fact the fit is tight enough that getting out in a hurry could be rough. I am a newbie when it comes to kayaks and I know that the theory is that side with the holes points to the dry, and thats about it. Being larger means that getting in is hard, but putting the 16' kayak on top of the truck isnt. Trade offs.....

As to resale, these are pretty well used boats, not in horrible condition, but the shine is definitly off. Unless I put a hole in them, I think I can get what I have in them back out if I dont enjoy kayaking (right).

I will see about yanking the screws out tonight and giving her a test fit.

Perception Sea Lion?
I assume that your boat is a Perception (Aquaterra) Sea Lion, probably rotomolded polyethylene.

The molded thigh brace assembly should unbolt and slide out.

Have you tried paddling this boat? The Sea Lion is a somewhat narrow kayak and if you have a lot of upper body mass you might find that it feels too tender (tippy) for your comfort. I would take the thigh brace assembly out and try paddling it before investing any time and material on it.

If you are comfortable in the boat, it is not difficult to fashion your own thigh pads out of minicell foam as Celia suggests. That stuff is easily cut and shaped with surface forming tools, Dragonskin, or sandpaper and can be glued in with contact cement.

I sawed the braces out of my kayak
after they caused permanent hip socket damage from pressing my knees down and outward. This solution is fine as long as you can still make contact with your knees at the sides of the kayak or under the deck.

Roominess under the braces depends on the height of the deck, but also on the shape and material of the braces. Mine were hard, molded in, and angled downward. Old Town sells rubber braces that would be more flexible. Some braces angle more upward.

If you remove the braces you can wrap a strip of neoprene along the coaming to provide cushioning for your knees. I taped mine down with two-sided tape.

3 screws and pulled the thigh braces out. I can get in and out quickly, knees are not pushed in and down and I can brace to the underside with no problem, so that part is closer to being solved.

pblanc, that is the plan. The thing that stinks is that there are not a over abundance of ones that will do what I want to do in “circus bear” size so I am hoping that I get over the tippy part. If the learning curve isnt designed by Rube Goldberg, I should make it. I read about both of the canoes I own being "tippy, so we will find out if you are a better predictor. I’ve been wet before, so what the heck.

Waterbird, It didnt feel rough tonight and I always wear quick dry pants so that should help. That sounds like a plan though.

Or use thin minicell foam
You can get the stuff in quarter inch sheets, Weldwood glue to put them in. I’d suggest some padding, just a bit.

working on it
Gotta be able to get in and out safely before I am going to take it on the water. Air is important to me.

I have owned it for less than a week and it just snowed again yesterday. It will get wet soon, not in the next day or so unless I can get the wife to open the pool. I will float it though before I put any more time in it.

Snow here too
It didn’t bother the dogs I was walking, but they have a lot more fat than me. They are both at the point where I have to lift up a butt and/or a fore end to get them up a couple of basic steps. (These are not my dogs. We don’t have fat pets.)