Whether your kayak is the most expensive or cheapest on the market, you are still going to sit in it on the water. This makes kayak seats one of the most important components of kayaks. Having a seat that’s as hard as a rock or simply not comfortable enough means you are not going to enjoy your time on the water. Before you know it, you’ll start getting plagued with back pain, neck aches, and ultimately leg numbness. Most times, you’ll have to cut your kayaking short due to these inconveniences.
The seats of most kayaks leave much to be desired. There are some kayaks with very good seats on the market though, but you just have to buy an aftermarket kayak seat if you want maximum comfort. If you are the type that loves to kayak for hours or spend all day on the water, then you should consider getting a quality kayak seat.
There are tons of kayak seats on the market with some being better than the others. If you’ll be buying an aftermarket kayak seat, then said seat must be better than the existing one in your yak, right? This article will provide you with all you need to consider before buying a kayak seat thereby giving you valuable information with which you’ll make a decision and choose a kayak seat that meets your needs.
Do You Need to Upgrade Your Kayak Seat?
This is the first question you need to answer before looking for a new kayak seat. It’s easy to know if you need to upgrade your seat. If you find yourself quickly becoming uncomfortable and expiring back pain. Neck pain, and leg numbness when you are paddling, then it’s time to start considering getting a new kayak seat.
Your factory kayak seat (the seat that comes with the kayak) may be comfortable on short kayaking expeditions but not on longer expeditions. If this is the case and you are the type that goes on longer expeditions, then you need to upgrade your seat to make your life more comfortable on the water. Kayaking is meant to be fun and not an avenue to accumulate all kinds of pain and aches.
There are some kayaks that have seats that can’t be modified. You are essentially stuck with the seat made by the yak’s manufacturer whether good or bad. But many kayak brands allow you to replace your factory seat with an aftermarket one. Advanced and experienced paddlers usually make sure to buy kayak models that have replaceable seats in case they want to replace the factory seat sometime.
How to Choose Your Kayak Seat
The type and quality material used to manufacture a kayak seat will determine the level of comfort it offers as well as its durability. Below are popular materials used to manufacture kayak seats and their characteristics.
Neoprene is a popular material used to make kayak seats and is well-known for its flexibility and stability under different conditions. Also, neoprene is very durable and waterproof making it capable of withstanding water splashes.
Nylon is another material used for kayak seats. The material is less expensive than neoprene and is a preferred choice for many manufacturers. Nylon is also very durable and long-lasting but it is not as water-resistant as neoprene.
Polyester is a material similar to nylon in durability and sturdiness albeit a little weaker but it’s more pleasant to touch. This material is capable of absorbing moisture thereby keeping the seat and your clothes dry.
Types of Padding
This is another important factor to consider in a kayak seat. A kayak with good padding will keep you warm and comfortable.
EVA foam is the most common padding material used in kayak seats because of its economical cost as well as its exceptional durability. The material is also light and won’t cause overheating. However, there is the drawback of the material compressing after some time and this can make the seat to be slightly less comfortable. Manufacturers are now making the EVA foam in their seats to be less susceptible to compression. I included kayak seats from such manufacturers on this list.
Molded foam is another material used for padding in kayak seats. This material is more comfortable for longer kayaking expeditions. It’s however sensitive to temperature and may become hot on hot summer days.
Gel padding is another type of kayak seat padding and is not as durable as EVA foam or molded foam. However, the material provides excellent back and thigh support and doesn’t bottom out.
I must also mention that thickness doesn’t translate to better quality when it comes to padding. It’s more about the regions of the seat that are padded as this will determine the level of comfort you get from the seat.
Comfort & Breathability
Comfort is one of the reasons why you are buying an aftermarket seat so you have to go for a very comfortable seat. The kayak seats on this list have been used by various kayakers and verified to be very comfy so you have nothing to worry about on that front.
Breathability is another feature to look for if you’ll be paddling on hot summer days or in a hot climate. Breathable seats allow air to pass through the padding to your thigh and back and absorb moisture from them. Breathable seats are even more important for sit-on-top kayaks as the seat will continuously get wet and you’ll need the seat’s filling to dry fast. And this will keep your clothes dry and prevent them from absorbing water.
Back Height – Back Support
The more a kayak seat allows you to sit in the most applicable natural position, the better. This means the higher the backrest of a kayak seat, the more comfortable you will be. This doesn’t mean a seat has to support your entire back as this can become irritating when you are paddling quickly or fishing.
A rule of thumb is for very tall kayakers (about six feet tall and more) to go for large seats that have a back height between 12-18 inches. A back height of 12-inch or less is ideal for shorter kayakers.
Seat Size / Compatibility
It’ll be frustrating for you to buy a kayak seat just to find out it doesn’t fit in your kayak. So before buying a seat, be sure to find out the measurements of your kayak to determine if your seat option is compatible or not. The seat you are buying has to fit in and also be compatible with your kayak. I don’t think you’ll be having trouble here with the seats on this list.
Many kayak seats are designed to be compatible with a wide range of kayaks. Also, there are many seats that can be used for both sit-on-top and sit-inside kayaks. However, make sure that a seat is not specifically labeled for a certain type of kayak as such seats may not be compatible with your vessel.
Mounting Straps / Stability
This is another very important factor, especially for people that go kayak fishing. Mounting straps are what you’ll use to attach your seat to the kayak and for this reason, must be very strong and sturdy. It’s important that you go for kayak seats that have corrosion-resistant straps if you’ll be paddling on saltwater.
A kayak seat with good mounting straps will be stable. And seat stability is very important, especially for kayak anglers. This is because a stable seat allows kayak anglers to sit comfortably while fishing without losing focus because of a wiggling seat.
Many people don’t really need this as there’s already space in the kayak for gear storage. But having extra storage space is never a bad thing, is it? But storage shouldn’t be among the top reasons why you choose a kayak seat though having space for small items like bait, water bottles can only be a good thing.
A kayak seat can make or break your kayaking experience. As a result, it’s important you have a quality kayak seat. Choosing a kayak seat is no easy task and I hope the reviews and buying will make the decision-making process a lot easier for you. Comfort by far is the most important factor when choosing a kayak seat. And as you can see from the buying guide, there might be a need for compromises.
Choose a comfy seat and see kayaking in a whole new light!