Canoe seats – How Can I Sit Comfortably in My Canoe?

Why and how canoe seats can offer you extra comfort during your long trips in a canoe

Writing this article took me back to a painful memory of when I spent my first day in a canoe. At first, I didn’t feel anything because of how excited I was to canoe and explore the river, but as I got up and tried to sick back into my car, my bottom was so sore I decided to take a walk instead.

Ouch! Just thinking about it makes me feel sore again. But back then, little did I know that I could install a cozy, soft cushion to sit on, and all my troubles would be fluffed away.

And let’s not even mention the back pain from a poorly-supported back seat with all its hard-bodied materials that will undoubtedly lead to a stiff back and an aching rear end.


Choosing the right canoe seat for you

With all that said, you already know where this article is going. By the end of it, you will learn all about:

  • How to pick the right canoe seat or cushion?
  • Seat Dimensions
  • Padding
  • Back Support
  • Mounting
  • Extra Features
  • Kneeling vs. Sitting
  • Product recommendations

So, whether you are out fishing or just taking a short canoe trip to relax after a long day, or maybe you are a fan of multi-day canoe trips, being comfortable in your own canoe is something that will make it even more enjoyable and make you keep coming back for more.

Now, before we go into the first section, it’s important to note that there is a multitude of varieties of a canoe seatback or a canoe backrest, or merely a canoe seat. There are the simple foam cushions to ergonomic reclining seats that you can install and remove by a wish.

There are the more expensive ones that offer higher stability and comfort, and then there are the budget options that also do a good job of supporting your bottom and getting rid of that pain.

Here, firstly I’m breaking down the process of how to choose a canoe seat, and then we will move on to the features of each one so that you can make an informed decision.

The Skwoosh Kayak Gel Pad I will tell you more about later in this article

How to pick the right canoe seat or cushion?

Canoe seats on sale have flooded the market, and there are so many varieties that make your head spin. I felt as confused as you right now when I was buying my first canoe seatback but not to worry, let’s break down what you need to know to find the ideal canoe seat.

The Seat Dimensions

This is probably the most important thing when it comes to picking out a canoe seat because hey, what’s good a seat is when you cannot fit it inside your canoe? You also want to pick a seat that’s lightweight because most canoes’ weight capacities range from 250 to 300 pounds, so if you add a seat that’s a considerably heavy, your weight and the weight of the rest of the gear might come as too much, and you and your inflatable canoe will be in trouble.


The Padding

The padding is another important thing for a canoe seatback because if it doesn’t provide you with enough cushy support, what’s the point of it, right?

However, you cannot go for one that’s too thick either, because it will keep your center of gravity higher and will decrease your stability on the water. Most canoe backrest paddings are between half an inch and an inch thick, so this is something to look for.

You practically need to balance comfort with firmness. But if you also get pain in your tailbone or sitz bones from sitting in your canoe seat that’s supposed to prevent this, then it’s time for a new seat.

With that said, the seat is as essential and as comfort-providing as your canoe, so take a look at these top-notch canoes because apart from high-quality, they provide you with more storage space flexibility because they can be inflated but still remain rugged and rigid as the solid ones.


Back Support

Canoe seatback and canoe backrest seats are very important, but your need for them will depend on the type of canoeing you do. If you go for whitewater trips and something that demands quick moves and more activity with your hands and back rather than the casual paddling, then a canoe backrest may not be of much use.

But if you go for more leisure paddling in your canoe and you spend more than a couple of hours each time, then providing extra lumbar support will surely be a lifesaver.

You can always lean back and allow your muscles to rest while you are exploring or fishing so that you aren’t in a paddling stance all the time.

Going back to the fast-moving waters, for active paddling, you may not need a backrest seat, but you will still want to add a cushion so that you get that extra support for your bottom. Plus, these cushions double as pads to rest your knees on when you’re kneeling on the deck.


The Mounting

Installing a canoe seat in your canoe is quite easy, and you usually don’t need any tools or skills to be able to do it. Nowadays, we have models with straightforward designs that have built-in straps on the seat bottom.

With these, you can just cinch the seat tight to the canoe, and you are good to go.

Note that you should tighten your seat properly, so it doesn’t shift around and throw you off balance while paddling.

All The Extra Features

Basically, that’s all you need to know regarding canoe seats, but before we move on, here are some additional features your canoe seatback might include.

Storage Pocket:
It’s great if your seat has an extra pocket somewhere that’s waterproof and hidden. Some might be large enough to fit your keys, and phone and some might be bigger for stashing snacks, water, fishing gear, or anything else you want to keep within arm’s length. These pockets are usually found on the back or on the side.

Getting a canoe seat that can be turned into a flotation device when needed is super-practical and helpful. To be clear, you should always wear your separate personal flotation device when canoeing on the water, but these canoe cushions can come in extra handy too.

Wide Use:
No, your canoe seat won’t be just a canoe seat, but it can also be a kayak seat, a seat for rowboats, and other water sports gear where a seat can be mounted. Usually, these seats come with easy to attach racks and straps so you can quickly swap them out to other watercraft.


Kneeling vs. sitting in a canoe

Different canoeing experts will tell you different things based on their personal experience. But none the less, here we will talk about should you kneel in your canoe or sit and why and when kneeling might actually be better for you.

The posture in which you stay for most of your canoeing is extremely important because it can literally either make your paddling more efficient or break your back and leave you feeling terrible.

Having a proper posture will take the pressure off your back and allow you to perform more powerful strokes and be well-balanced in your canoe.

For this, you should sit upright and have your pelvis tucked in and your back relaxed but straightened up.

Sitting in your canoe is totally fine if that’s how you feel the most comfortable, but you should know that kneeling adds much better stability to your posture. Why?

Because it lowers your center of gravity and gives you more intimate contact with your canoe and, therefore, and increased control of it no matter the water.

When is kneeling more useful?
When you are paddling in windy conditions, or you have children or pets on board. It can also be a good additional tool in your toolbox when you want to switch things up a bit and move your legs and back so that they don’t get cramped after sitting in one position for too long.

Or why not sit just like this and relax?

Comfort for Kneeling
But don’t worry, even if you decide to kneel, your new canoe seat won’t go to waste. You will still make good use of the seat. How?

Well, the front edge of your seat should still take a lot of your bodyweight because this takes the pressure off your legs and leaves them free to move up and down in case you need to adjust the boat tilt.

If you are looking for additional comfort support, in order to make paddling more comfortable, you can install knee pads inside the canoe.

Some paddlers will also combine sitting and kneeling by extending one leg forward while kneeling off the seat. If you’re paddling solo, the most common position to sit is on or kneeling against the bow seat while facing the stern of the canoe. This positions you closest to the center of the canoe, which gives you better control.

If you are alone in your canoe, you can use a thwart for support.

So, as you are kneeling near the center of the canoe, offset your body to one side (to your paddling side). And there you have it, this is called “heeling” a canoe.

Don’t worry if your canoe takes on a pronounced tilt. Your center of gravity is low, so it will be in a very stable position.

While kneeling and sitting in a canoe are more prevalent, heeling can too be very comfortable, but it may not come as natural to you in the first few tries. Do not give up. Practice it, and you will have three possible canoe stances that you can switch up so that you don’t get tired of staying in one position throughout your canoe trip.

The best canoe seats online

Now that I’ve shared all the essential things to keep in mind when picking your next canoe seat online let’s talk about choices. Indeed, there are many on the market, but after some research and personal experience, I have comprised a list of the best canoe seats you can get.


Skwoosh Gel Pad

If you are looking for the utmost comfort while canoeing, I would gladly name this the best canoe cushion out there.

It’s lightweight, and it’s designed to fit around your bottom so that it supports you in all the right places without even feeling that you have underneath you. It is low-centered, so you can be stable in your canoe, and with it, no matter the water or the weather conditions, you can always maintain a low center of gravity while you are seated – this is key for keeping your watercraft stable.

The key to this perfect support is the pressure-relieving fluidized gel that will always stay in the same shape, unlike the cushions in which by sitting after a while, you leave a dent that no longer feels comfortable.

It has a slim half-inch layer of padding, which is also added stability, and it doesn’t weight more than 220 grams or 8oz with dimensions of 10.5″ x 15″ x 1/2″.

A non-skid bottom keeps the cushion from slipping out of position, and a tie-down loop allows you to tether it to your canoe so you won’t lose it in case of a capsize. Keep in mind that no ‘tie-down’ buckles or loops are built-in, but the textured non-slip bottom does a good job of keeping the cushion in place.

It can also act as a kneeling support cushion by either folding it in two or use as is, and apart from the canoe seat cushion, it can work well for kayaking, rowing, and stadium seating too.

Key Features

  • Lightweight, low-profile, fluidized ½-inch gel cushion.
  • Non-skid bottom keeps it in place while paddling.
  • Weighs just 8 ounces.
  • Protects your ‘sitz’ bones during prolonged paddling.
  • Made in the USA
Old Town Web Canoe Seat

Old Town Web Canoe Seat 34″

For those looking for a more permanent canoe seat, something that is sturdier and fixed, this wooden, nylon webbed seat will be an excellent choice for you.

The wooden frame is exceptionally strong yet flexible so that you have a comfortable seating platform that provides support when you needed it. You can also fit this seat into most of the canoe models in the bow or stern in less than 30 minutes with just basic tools required.

Cutting the frame to fit your particular canoe can be done fairly easily, especially because detailed installation instructions are included. The distance between the two wood arms is approximately 9-inches, which is the ideal length for comfortable seating, as well as not taking up too much space inside the hull.

The webbed nylon surface allows air to flow freely through the seat, adding to its strength as well as ensuring it dries out quickly when wet. Keep in mind is that no mounting hardware comes included, so make sure you pick that up separately if needed.

Key Features

  • Sturdy and flexible ash and nylon webbed canoe seat.
  • It can be fitted in either the bow or stern of most canoes.
  • Installation is fairly straightforward.
  • Webbed nylon seat is strong and dries quickly.
Last updated on 24/02/2024 14:34

GCI Outdoors Big Comfort Wide

For those in need of extra comfort and relaxation, while canoeing, I have just the thing for you! This wide canoe seat can be used anywhere for anything like kayaking, camping, and canoeing thanks to its versatile design and the integrated L-shaped hook, which quickly secures the seat to benches, bleachers, and other flat surfaces.

You get a 20″ wide seat that can support up to 330 lbs. and the adjustable backrest lets you set the recline angle to your preference, while the 4″ seat elevation keeps your rear end high and dry.

Additionally, it weighs only 2.6 pounds, and the aluminum-frame not only makes it lightweight, but it also makes it durable and sturdy for any occasion.

The seat is made out of breathable nylon mesh and polyester, which are fabrics that wick away moisture, so you’ll have more than enough airflow to stay cool and dry no matter the weather.

The seat also works well for wider kayaks, stadium seating, and for folks who prefer a slightly wider perch to sit on.

Key Features

  • Breathable nylon and polyester seat fabric.
  • Bottom straps allow you to mount the seat to benches, bleachers, and other flat surfaces.
  • Seat height is elevated 4 inches.
  • Measures 23.6″ x 22.8″ x 16.3″.

ALPS Mountaineering Weekender Seat

Who said you have to break your budget in order to get good gear for your canoe? Surely not me!

This budget-friendly pick is actually a lightweight folding chair designed to fit as a canoe seat. It was designed with a bottom webbing for easy attachment to canoe seats or bleachers, or other hard surfaces.

Its recline angle is made to be easily adjusted with the provided webbing straps on both sides, while two webbing handles make carrying it in your hand a breeze.

A mesh pocket on the rear of the seat allows you to stash snacks, cameras, and other gear you want to keep within arm’s length. 1/2-inch thick closed-cell foam provides excellent protection and comfort for your legs and back while still keeping your center of gravity low in the water.

Keep in mind this seat is relatively lightweight and doesn’t feature any type of metal frame. You can still set it up to be rigid and provide back support; just make sure to pull the bottom webbing straps as tight as possible.

Key Features

  • A lightweight, packable seat is cheap and effective.
  • Bottom webbing straps provide a sturdy mount.
  • Half-inch thick closed-cell foam padding.
  • Mesh rear pocket for storing smaller items.

And there you go. By now, I hope you we able to pick your canoe seat and understand what you need and why you need it. As always, if you have any additional questions on canoe seatback or anything else related to canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, comment below, and I’ll be happy to answer.

In the meantime, I’d love to connect with you on my Facebook and Instagram account for more cool tips and recommendations on paddle boards, canoes, and kayaks.

I might earn a small commission when you make a purchase through my link, so that I can keep my site running and pay the hosting bill. Read my affiliate policy to learn more.
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Review written by: Tom

Hi! My name is Tom. During the year I try to be on a paddle board as much as possible. By reading this blog you'll stay updated on everything I test on the water :)

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