Kayaking is about enjoying what you’re doing at hand, whether it’s racing, fishing, meditation, or just leisure paddling. But how are you supposed to relax with the seat feeling like a solid rock below you?
A lousy seat can cause you lower back pain, neck aches, and eventually leg numbness. You might find yourself cutting your trips early or even falling out of love with this sport just because of an inconvenient chair. But we’re not allowing that to happen.
Here are our recommendations for the best kayak seats that will prolong your rides and provide you with nice extra features to make the best of your paddling time.
At a Glance:
- Woowave Kayak Seat – Our Top Choice
- Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus – Budget Choice
- Leader Accessories Deluxe – Best for Long Trips
- Pactrade Marine – Best for Rough Waters
- Manta Ray Deluxe Seat – Best for Tall Paddlers
The 5 Best Kayak Seats in 2020
We searched through a multitude of kayak seats and picked the best according to our trials. In the following reviews, we included each product’s most significant specs in addition to its pros and cons. Here is what we think about them:
1. Woowave Kayak Seat – Our Top Choice
It is not a coincidence that this awesome kayak seat tops our list today. That’s because it’s a light and versatile chair designed to keep anglers, kayak tourers, and multi-day adventure paddlers as comfortable as never before.
They don’t joke when they say it has a universal fit. Its four anchor webbings can fix the seat to any kayak you have, whether it’s a SOT or SIK. And if you decide to switch sports, you still can use it in canoes and paddle boards. The buckles and hooks are solid and corrosion-resistant, so they can withstand any type of water as well.
The model uses top-notch materials in the construction. The 12.5 x 15-inch seat is covered with a non-slippery 210D polyester shell and filled with a thick EVA foam cushion.
For extra support, the backrest is 17.7 inches long and contoured in a shape that offers maximum lower back support. Using the rear straps, you can adjust the back’s position to your desired angle. Long trips will seem like a breeze with the entire seat hugging your body just in the right spots.
It’s also easy to install and remove, so you’ll be able to secure it snugly with the snap hooks and remove it easily to protect it from UV rays when not in use.
Why stop there when you can incorporate every great feature in one product? The model is reasonably priced and offers a 1-year replacement warranty. It also comes with a detachable waterproof storage bag for fishers to store their tackles and recreational paddlers to secure their precious gadgets and lunchboxes.
What We Like:
- Universal fit
- Generous padding
- Durable and flexible
- Sturdy adjustable straps and anchor buckles
- Removable storage bag
- Easy installation
What We Don’t Like:
- No ventilation
- A bit small
Woowave is just the right seat for all kayak types and sports. It offers premium quality and provides comfort beyond our expectations. With thick cushioning, sturdy adjustable straps, and an extra removable pouch, it’s got everything you need.
2. Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus – Budget Choice
Kayaks, paddles, and pretty much everything that this sport requires is pricey, so why waste a good chance of saving a few bucks without compromising much?
At a fraction of the price for a high-end seat, this model is a mixture of flexibility, efficiency, and comfort. Although advertised as a seat for SOT Ocean kayaks, it works for SIK vessels as well as many other brands, too.
The design is pretty simple but different from any other model on our list. It takes the shape of a cradle with the sides of the backrest extended a bit to offer a wraparound design. This is not a style to look for if you’re going kayak fishing or planning on moving around a lot, yet it’s ideal for paddlers who want to sit back and relax throughout the trip.
The 23 x 15-inch seat isn’t much for a bottom cushion with its mediocre EVA foam padding. However, the back is well-padded and stands high enough to fit tall paddlers.
The reinforced stays used in the back offer high endurance and enhanced support, and the whole seat is covered with sturdy nylon to ensure unmatched longevity and waterproofing. Unlike the polyester used in Woowave, nylon isn’t affected by UV rays, so the seat will still look good as new for many years.
Apart from the reliable support and comfort, the chair comes with brass clips and four-way mounting straps. We found they’re not as strong as they seem, but they still do the job. Furthermore, the side straps are fully adjustable so that anyone using the seat will be able to find a good fit.
The low price didn’t keep them from adding a few bells and whistles. For kayakers who like to row their crafts at night, the seat has a reflective logo at the back so that they can be seen by larger vessels passing by. Moreover, the chair is breathable to prevent sweating and discomfort on hot sunny days.
What We Like:
- Bargain price
- Ideal for short trips
- Compatible with SOT and SIK kayaks
- Effective ventilation system
- Comfortable wraparound design
What We Don’t Like:
- Mediocre padding
- No extra storage
- Flimsy loops and straps
This model is ideal for shorter rides in hot areas. Although it lacks a storage place, and the padding needs thickening, it features top-notch materials, high backrest, and comfortable design for paddlers with back pain. And the price is a huge bonus!
3. Leader Accessories Deluxe – Best for Long Trips
If your usual trips last more than a couple of hours, you definitely should consider this model. The highlight of Leader Accessories seat is the strategic positioning of soft and dense padding in the seat’s center and backrest, which takes the pressure off your sit bones.
In terms of construction, it’s similar to Woowave, with the difference being the use of molded foam instead of EVA foam in the cushioning. The shaped padding follows your body shape and takes the weight off your soft tissues, allowing for extended paddling sessions without pain.
Over the padding, there is a thick layer of 210D polyester that gives a luxurious feeling under your body. The corrosion-resistant brass clips are sturdier than those of Ocean Comfort Plus, and the four straps are highly adjustable. You can set the back to sit tall or lean with an angle to provide you with maximum support for hours.
The seat measures 15 x 12 inches, and the back is 18 inches high. Although tall paddlers will find it particularly comfortable, the chair is quite small for big people. However, for kayakers with narrow cockpits, this seat could be the solution they’ve been seeking.
The model is compatible with either type of kayaks, and its installation is a breeze. Also, Its ventilation system will keep you cool and dry until the end. Another perk to emphasize how useful it is in long paddling sessions.
The price is comparable to that of our top pick; thus, it’s considered within pocket’s reach, and the detachable storage bag is a plus. During long trips, you’ll need to pack your kayak with GPS units, fish finders, tools, and snacks, so you’ll definitely make use of this extra storage.
What We Like:
- Provides all-day comfort
- Ergonomically shaped foam
- First-class construction
- Customized fit
- High backing for tall paddlers
- Additional storage bag
What We Don’t Like:
- Back has more padding than the seat
- Small size
This model is a game-changer for touring and race paddlers. It’s designed to protect your spine and lower back from all the injuries you can acquire from improper sitting positions. Hence, it’s the best kayak seat for your extended trips.
4. Pactrade Marine – Best for Rough Waters
For fishing and action-packed rides, Pactrade Marine is designed to hold up to the harshest conditions and provide you with unmatched comfort.
What makes this product stand out is its durable non-slip contoured surface. This unique feature is useful for people who paddle in whitewater or rough oceans on top of their SOT kayaks. No matter how soaking wet you are or the amount of water spilled on your seat, it’s going to hold you securely in place.
Covered with a mixture of neoprene and 600D polyester, it incorporated the most durable materials on our list. These fabrics can take a beating and come out unscratched. Besides, neoprene is known for being water safe, so no matter where you kayak, it’ll be up for the challenge.
With a width of 16 inches and 12 inches length, it boasts nearly the same size as Leader Accessories seat and is filled with top-class EVA foam.
Unfortunately, the seat’s bottom needs a little extra cushioning to help your tailbone. However, it’s compensated by the generously cushioned areas in the 18-inch backrest that provides excellent lumbar support.
Although it lacks the previous model’s ventilation system, it comes with a large zippered pouch for your additional gear. The four security straps hold the seat well with no wobbles. They’re adjustable so that the seat can be customized to fit different body shapes and sizes.
And finally, the aluminum swivel clasps are compatible with the attachment points of both kayak types.
What We Like:
- Non-slip surface
- First-class materials
- Ergonomic seat bottom and back
- Comes with a storage pouch
- Strong straps and clasps
What We Don’t Like:
- Not breathable
- Not much seat padding
If a more comfortable position and efficient paddle strokes are what you’re opting for, look no further than Pactrade Marine. It’s built with adventurous kayakers in mind, so it won’t let you down in any situation.
5. Manta Ray Deluxe Seat – Best for Tall Paddlers
Our model here strikes the right balance between lightness, functionality, and extreme comfort. This is a king-sized chair with a 21.5 x 15-inch bottom and 19-inch back. Paddlers taller than six feet can finally enjoy a decent trip free of backaches and full of quality time with their kids or friends.
Manta Ray is a plush seat padded with a thick layer of EVA foam that’s easy on your back and buttocks. The grooves on the seat help direct the pressure away and provide the support where it’s needed to be. That means you can spend hours in your kayak and feel like sitting on your home’s couch.
The adjustable straps allow you to set up the chair with a suitable inclination so that you can sit with the correct posture. It also comes with brass buckles and D-rings that can attach to any type of kayak.
For additional comfort, the model’s material is breathable. That means it allows the air to come in and the water to go out, sparing you the inconvenience of sitting on a wet sponge.
Unfortunately, it’s too pricey for a kayak seat with no storage places or out-of-the-world features to justify the high price. However, if money isn’t an issue, it’s the kind of posh chair you’d like to have on your vessel.
What We Like:
- Long backrest
- Ergonomic design with generous padding
- Adaptable to most kayak brands
What We Don’t Like:
- No storage bag
- Steep price
If you’re a six-foot paddler looking for a luxurious and highly comfortable chair that will raise your posture and hug your back, this one fits the bill.
Things to Look For in a Kayak Seat – Buyer’s Guide
When we were buying our first kayak seat, we thought, “Apart from comfort, what’s there to look for in a seat?”
Surprisingly, there are a few factors to check before you pay your hard-earned cash, and we compiled them for you in one spot.
Let’s begin with the seat’s cover. Generally, you’ll find one of three materials on the market, and sometimes two of them are used together. The fabrics are:
- Neoprene: This is a flexible material used in swimming suits and sportswear for its stability at different temperatures and resistance to deterioration over time. Since you’ll be continuously exposed to water splashes if you paddle in rough waters or your kayak is a SOT, opt for this fabric because it’s entirely water safe.
- Nylon: This is the type of material that won’t cost you much and lasts a lifetime. It stands up to years under the UV rays and continuous spilling with saltwater without chafing or wearing. It’s also water repellent, so if you don’t like sitting on something wet, go for it.
- Polyester: This fabric is comparable to nylon in sturdiness, though a bit weaker. It’s delicate and pleasant-to-touch. Unlike nylon, it absorbs water, sweat, and moisture, so it’ll keep your clothes dry.
Next, there’s the padding with which the seat is stuffed. It’s the primary determinant of your comfort, so you should pay extra attention to it.
EVA foam is widely used for its economical cost and exceptional longevity. It’s light, so it doesn’t cause overheating, but it tends to compress upon extended sitting, which can be painful eventually.
Seats packed with molded foam allow for better blood flow and are more comfortable for long-distance paddling. However, it’s sensitive to temperature, so it won’t be your best choice if you sail on hot summer days.
Gel padding has the lowest longevity rating of the three. However, unlike EVA foam, it doesn’t bottom out and provides comfortable support for your back and thighs.
Finally, note that larger thickness isn’t always a sign of better quality. Overstuffing can cause your legs and back to sweat. It also means that the seat will take a longer time to dry. What matters most is the regions where the seating is stuffed. It should match your body parts for maximum convenience.
Size and Style
The seat’s size should fit both your kayak’s size and your measurements. Measure the kayak’s cockpit and compare it with the seat’s dimensions. The chair should neither be too big or too small to guarantee maximum stability.
Moreover, measure the distance from your hips to your knees and see if it matches the seat’s length. If it only supports your bottom, it won’t be comfortable for long.
What’s more, consider your vessel’s type and the nature of the sport you’re going to do. Sit-in kayaks require low-profile seats, while sit-on-top ones accommodate more prominent ones. The latter are also suitable for activities that need continuous movement like fishing and racing.
The best kayak seat is the one that guarantees you sit in the most applicable natural position. Like office chairs, the higher the backrest, the less pain you’ll feel after a while.
It shouldn’t necessarily support your whole back. In fact, this can be irritating when fishing or paddling quickly, as it restricts your movements and renders simple actions like turning or reaching to bring something from the kayak’s hatch into a nuisance.
However, it should cover most of your back and provide lumbar or lower back support to protect your spine from future injuries.
Our general recommendation would be that paddlers who are six feet tall or more should opt for large seats with 12 to 18-inch backs. Shorter kayakers should go for 12-inch backs or under.
This is what you’ll use to tie down the seat to your yak. They should be sturdy and thick, but most importantly, they have to be corrosion resistant, especially if you sail in salt water.
Kayaks come with specific attachment points. Most seats have a universal fit, but some are specific to SOT or SIK yak. Hence, make sure to check if you have attachment points for the seat’s straps and clips, or else you’ll have to drill additional holes in your beloved vessel.
Breathable seats allow for the air to flow through the padding and to your back and thighs. This is a feature to look for if you do most of your paddling in summer or in areas where the temperature is hot most of the year.
It’s also crucial for SOT kayaks as the seat will be continuously wet, so it’ll allow the seat’s filling to dry fast and keep your clothes from absorbing the moisture.
While they’re not an essential feature, extra storage places are always welcome. They come in the form of additional pouches, small pockets, and in some cases, extra rod holders.
For kayak anglers, this is a blessing as they’ll have more accessible places to store their lures and tackles. However, they’re also beneficial for recreational kayakers, as they can hold their snacks, gadgets, and safety gear.
Frequently Asked Questions:
For those who want to know more, here are a few questions repeated by kayakers and their brief answers:
How to Make a Kayak Seat More Comfortable?
There are a few simple ways if you don’t want to replace the seat with a whole new one. For example, you can install a seat back if your craft doesn’t come with one. You can also put a padded cushion on your seat to help you sit longer with minimum pain. Finally, adjusting the chair’s height would allow you to stretch your legs and have more control over the paddles.
Do I Need to Upgrade My Kayak Seat?
That depends on how quickly you get tired when paddling. Suppose you’re experiencing any back pain or feel like the seat doesn’t match the climate or the sport you’re doing. In that case, you’d better upgrade for a more comfortable one with extra features like breathability and waterproofing.
Do Sit-on-top Seats Work With Sit-in Kayaks?
The simple answer is yes! The majority of the products fit both sit-on-top and sit-inside vessels. However, watch out for the seats that are labeled for a certain type of vessel. They may not have the right attachment clips for your yak.
At the end of the day, it’d be a shame to cut your fun time short just because of a lousy seat. We did our best to bring you the best kayak seats available on the market, and we hope that one of them will solve your problems.
To help you make up your mind, here are our final recommendations:
Woowave kayak seat is by far our top pick for its versatility and top-notch features. We found it comfortable in every possible way, and though its price isn’t the lowest on our list, it’s a worthy investment, as it can be used in many sports besides kayaking.
We trust Ocean as a brand name for kayaks and kayak accessories, so going for their product will definitely be a winning step. The product is cheap as chips and will make your short trips convenient and a hundred times more fun.
Finally, our last recommendation is Leader Accessories Deluxe seat. This seat is just crazy comfortable to the point that if your back can talk, it’ll thank you immediately for all the pleasure it’s experiencing.