"Trying on" a Kayak
Page 6 of 8
When you try on a boat, notch up the foot braces toward the seat until you have to sit with your knees touching the walls of the boat. (If you wind up sitting in the Lotus position, this boat is too wide for you.) Now sit up straight and push back hard against the back of the seat. Then try bringing the foot braces another notch towards you and push back again. Remember you're looking for firm contact everywhere - without being uncomfortable anywhere. If there are experienced paddlers around, take a look inside their cockpits and ask for a test-sit. Many good paddlers customize the fit of their boats and this pays off in better boat control and more comfort over the course of a day. These modifications are rarely expensive. Most involve no more than a few pieces of mini cell foam and a little Contact Cement.
Some kayaks are sold with a real seat, that has a real back, like a chair. It makes a boat look seductive in the showroom, but unless you can make a deal with God that you'll never, ever capsize, it's not a feature you want. A seat that sticks up higher than the cockpit rim makes it significantly harder to get back in your boat after a capsize - whether you're doing a self-rescue or getting help from someone else. If the boat of your dreams has a chair back to its seat, have the dealer replace it with a low back-band.
Atlantic Kayak Tours, Expert Center
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