Thigh braces?

Sorry if I keep innundating you guys with novice questions, just trying to learn…

We went paddling with some friends the other day on a local (flat) river…they rented some boats from a local rental place (we own our own). Anyway, I noticed that the boats they rented (plastic) had built-in thigh braces. One of them was an Easky (pic attached for reference):


Our boats don’t have these at all…pic of ours attached for reference:


My question is…when it comes time to learn to roll, will this be a problem if we don’t have these thigh braces? We bought these boats partly because they looked like good boats to learn with, and partly because we live in Germany and didn’t have many options (without spending a ton of money for another brand), but until now, I never considered that this may be important.

Will this cause us problems? I hate to think that I’ve wasted a lot of money…I mean, we’re really happy with the boats so far, but we’re now starting to consider what else we can do with them to learn and grow in our skill level.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news,
but yes, thigh braces are important in learning to roll. Also, before you learn to roll, you’ll likely do a fair number of wet-exits. My guess is your boat doesn’t have a sealed bulkhead in the front (or maybe the back as well). If you don’t have adequate flotation in the front, it will fill with water and be almost impossible to empty. This makes for a dangerous situation in all but the calmest and flattest of conditions. Fortunately, these are also conditions where you are not likely to need a roll.

sealed bulkheads
My boat has a sealed rear bulkhead, plus I have a float in the bow…wife’s boat has no bulkheads but we have floats in bow and stern.

We have practiced wet exits and re-entries as well. The learning to roll part is something we want to get proficient at on flat water as we hope to eventually build up to some WW in the future.

So, is there an after-market addition I can look for or am I totally screwed? Is it still possible to learn to roll without the braces? We plan on taking lessons, but I’m now wondering if we should just use their boats or can we still learn in ours?

lack of thigh braces will be a major problem for rolling or even edging controllably.

How wide are your boats? anything over 25 inches wide will be tougher to roll.

Not all boats have molded-in braces, a lot have braces bolted or riveted on. I’ve seen some braces floating around ebay. you may get lucky and find a trashed old school whitewater kayak ,salvage the braces and bolt them onto your kayak.

Wider than that
Both boats are about 28" wide…looks like I’m gonna have to start looking for new boats, eh?

If you have a chance get the Dubside video. It will just show you that with proper technique you can roll anything. One of the things I really really liked about his video was his comment that his folding boat was over 25 inches wide and he learned to hand roll it simply because he didn’t have any other options. He talks a bit about placement of thigh braces. More than likely you will be able to simply glue minicell foam pads into position to give you purchase. (Dubside brings the footpegs in and spreads his knees more to get adequate purchase to roll. When you see him rolling a double sit on top 30+ inch kayak in the video you realize that while a skinnier boat may be easier to roll it is by no means impossible to do it with yours. Depends on your dedication I guess. To paraphrase Dubside he says something like don’t change boats because you are having difficulty…just keep practicing. And just imagine, when you get a skinnier boat you will probably be able to do cartwheels!

(you probably will have to adjust somewhat with seat backs and scooting forward maybe but you can do it. You are not screwed. Definitely get a copy of his video.

The kayak roll is another good dvd and EJ’s rolling and bracing.


Cockpit fit
Getting a good fit in your bats’s cockpit is important for improving many aspects of boat control, including rolling.

Look at this site:

Don’t worry about your boats lack of built-in thigh braces. You can customize it exactly how you want it.

I’m skeptical…
…no doubt it CAN be rolled, but to try to

learn a roll on it when you can’t roll anything

else seems like trying to learn how to play

soccer in snow mobile boots.

Sure, maybe Becham could do it, but someone who

has never played?

Without a thigh brace you’ll probably get into

bad leaning habits. Instead of raising your off

side knee and doing a J lean, you’ll probably

lean your entire body.

YOu might be able to retrofit some thigh braces

or maybe even some thigh straps from a SOT.

Thanks again…
…for all your help and suggestions.

I re-read through this thread and realized I must sound like a jackass, but you have to consider the situation…I’m in the middle of Bavaria, the nearest “real” kayak shop (as opposed to a store that also sells kayaks) is about 2-3 hours away, and every time we go out and paddle flatwater, we’re the only kayaks we ever see…

And of course we didn’t find this site until after we bought the boats!!

Learn in something else
You may be able to get cretive with minicell and glue and build in thigh braces from the side, protruding into the cockpit. Depends on how you fit to start with, how far it’d have to reach.

Most important though, as alluded to in an above post, you should learn to roll in something more suited. The early stages of getting a roll are characterized by tending to do a lot of things wrong, and between width and fit the boats you have won’t give you any favors in allowing a small mistake to happen and still get you up. So while strictly speaking possible, it may be awfully, awfully discouraging.

Many kayakers have more than one boat.
Your boats may be great for half the stuff you want to do. A totaly different boat may be needed for the other stuff.

You may have noticed, most poster on this board have specific boats for specific conditions. There is no one uberboat.

Thigh braces are a must
Prijon kayaks have a thigh brace that bolts in and you can order them from a Prijon dealer. Necky may also sell you a set. You may want to visit a dealer and check them out.

Although Dubside’s video is excellent, he didn’t start by rolling a 28" wide boat with no thigh braces. You need the braces for good paddling technique as well. If you take a rolling lesson they will put you in an appropiate boat with braces to learn from. Go to the store you bought the boat from and voice your concerns. Maybe they can do something for you. Although you purchased a recreational paddling boat, you can have years of enjoyment from it and get a kayak as well. The resale market for used is high too.

One more thing…
Sometimes the first thing new paddles ask about is learning to roll. It’s far more important to lean to get back into your boat after a capsize with a paddle float than learning to roll. Then learning to brace in waves and handle your paddle. The entire process of growing as a paddler is an evolution of skills and experiences on the water. Safety and good judgement far out weigh any paddling techniques.

re: Dubside’s boat…
Not to take anything away from Dubside’s skills (his abilities and dedication are tremendous) but he didn’t use that boat in Greenland solely to challenge himself. Yes, the Kahuna is 25" wide but the way it rolls is extremely unique and for Dubside I’m sure it helps facilitate some of his rolls. It rolls like a whitewater boat in that it takes significant force to start rotation but then it flips upright rather than rolling upright due to the extreme primary stability. It’s just a different way to roll a kayak and I wouldn’t say that Cheri Perry or others in an 18" kayak were at an advantage or disadvantage to Dubside in his 25" kayak. (I have hand rolled Dubside’s kayak and it felt strange but I could definitely feel it’s potential for rolling.)

You do not sound like a jackass at all
I think your interest and willingness to grow into the sport is laudable.

No question that you have a rec boat andd that will make things a bit harder to accomplish what you are envisioning for yourself as you grow into the sport. All I was trying to say is that if that is all you have and there is no possibility of getting other boats, then you should not just say…well i can’t do it because it is a rec boat.

Of course it would be easier in a 21 inch boat with a low deck. and yes I agree that all safety skills are important including getting back into your boat with a paddle float or with assisted rescues that you and your wife can practice.

The Inuit people viewed rolling as a basic survival skill. children were taught to scull first before allowing them to paddle. When you learn to roll it becomes obvious that it is such an easier option in so far as you stay in your boat, use less energy, and are out of the elements much faster…all good things.

so again you are not screwed. Maybe a bit more challenging if you have no options but the boats you have, but increasing your safety levels and skills in any boat is a worthwhile endeavor.


He also modified it for layback NM

paddlefloat re entry
Blah. In conditions that would cause you to capsize, chances are a paddlefloat reentry would be very difficult at best.bracing IS important

Paddlefloat re-entry is only good for…err…nothing? the one freak time a 10 ft wave is going to come out of nowhere,flip you and dissapear? or maybe the freak case of reaching for something and flipping over.

are you high?
"… It’s far more important to lean to get back into your boat after a capsize with a paddle float than learning to roll."

wow - quite an assertion. I agreed with most of the rest of the post though.

do Greenland kayaks have thigh braces?
not a troll, i’ve never seen a real one.

Greenland qajaqs…

– Last Updated: Aug-09-06 1:51 AM EST –

... have masiks. Much better than small separate thigh braces.

Greenland qajaq have small ocean cockpits. the forward edge of which rests on a beam that goes from gunwale to gunwale called a masik. This goes across the thighs. There is quite a bit of variation in design and construction but all serve the same purpose.

My skin boat also has a knee brace (like a second masik) just forward of that. The knee brace rests just aft of my kneecap, the masik behind aft of that. Together they give me a 4 1/2" thigh brace the goes all the way across the qajaq, which is less that 19" wide.

In other words, I have a LOT of very comfortable contact - and I'm also not wedged in and can work legs a bit while paddling, engaging the masik in and alternating manner for the Greenland stroke variation bringing in more ab crunch - and not radically different from my commercial boat with keyhole and thigh braces. Some dedicated rolling boats tend to have much tighter fit than my SOF.

The main difference is you can't slip off or out of a masik the way you can with some thigh braces, and your not locked into a specific spot for bracing. Wherever your legs are they can find support.

Once you have a boat with an ocean cockpit/masik setup - anything else can seem a poor substitute - particularly for rolling, but also general handling.