Valley Backband: the "fix" deciphered

-- Last Updated: Apr-15-07 8:11 PM EST --

I love Valley boats, but as many have posted over the years, the Valley backbands are uncomfortable and strike the paddler in the wrong spot on the back (low). Reading VCP reviews, clearly this is a common comment. In fact, Peter O at CCopia told me that Valley is developing a new backband that is not yet complete.

After careful investigation and plenty of trial and error (including fitting my Avocet with an Immersion Research Flex Capacitor band which still was inadequate), I have localized the problem, and the fix.

The seat pan (yes, I intend on keeping the stock Valley seat) has the back curve too far forward of the back band. Thus one feels little support, even with the backband cinched tight. That is the first trial at fix, tighten tighten that stock backband. But it is still too far forward for the curve of the seat pan.

Added one inch thick minicell today, and problem solved. Cut a piece about 4 inches wide and 10 inches long, and one inch thick (this thickness is key as it must get that band out to the back edge of the seat pan contour) and voila, the most comfortable paddle I have had in a Valley.

I plan to minicell it to the backband permanently.

If you’re talking about…
the new plastic seat. I find that the rear upslope is more than enough support to keep me in place and I have loosened the backband to the point that I only contact it when leaning back. I find it allows me better hip control and freer rotation.

However some other people that paddle my boat complain.

I’ll tuck that idea away for the future.

Valley came out with a new backband
in ca. 2004 models that seemed to solve the complaint problems you’re reading about. I have a 2004 Avocet with a really comfortable backband, but when it broke (and they all do) I replaced it with a Snapdragon. I didn’t like how the Snapdragon fit/worked - it was never quite right, so last week I repaired the Valley and then modified how it is mounted in the boat. It now has more flex and shouldn’t rip out. I made two ~1.5" ‘O’ rings out of bungie through the stock ‘D’ rings. The backband straps now mount through the bungie instead of the ‘D’ rings and thus backband is free to flex up and down. We’ll have to see how it holds up over the long term.

The newer poly boats, ca. 2006, have a new seat that I find terribly uncomfortable compared to the old foam seat that is in my boat. It was so uncomfortable for a friend that he just ripped the entire seat out of the boat and is replacing it with a foam seat. This after trying other backband combinations as well. The newer seat is too long and tilted up toward the front making for a very uncomfortable long paddle. Unfortunately, the old ABS/foam seats can’t be retrofitted into the newer poly boats because of a change to the coaming area. So much for ‘enhancements’. Good luck with your mod. I hope it works out for you.


It’s not a hammock
The back band is there to keep you from sliding off the back of the seat when you are paddling. If it is any higher or tighter than needed to accomplish this, torso rotation will be greatly inhibited.