How do You Choose a Kayak Seat?

A bad kayak seat can give you one of the worst kayaking experiences. Everything about it feels off and you can end up with bad back pain.

A good kayak seat, on the other hand, feels like it was made for you. The padding is just right, it is breathable and the backrest supports your back perfectly.

Here, I discuss the top kayak seats of 2021 to help you pick the best kayak seat for your needs. There’s also a buyer’s guide so you can make an informed decision. 

I tried several kayak seats and found the Harmony Gear Standard Sit-on-Top Seat to be the best overall. It offers value and comfort– an irresistible combination for any kayaker.

The Harmony Gear Standard kayak seat conforms to your body– giving you all the support you need. The ergonomic design is so nice, you won’t have a problem extending your trips a little longer. And it is fully adjustable to fit most kayaks.

The Harmony Gear would be great for most kayakers, but some people may prefer something different. So keep reading to see which kayak seats are best for specific use cases. 

Best for Overnight/Long Kayaking Trips – Leader Accessories Deluxe with Storage Bag

When going on a long kayak trip, you’ll want a comfortable seat and one whose quality is reliable. You also need all the storage you can get. 

The Leader Accessories Deluxe offers all these things. The EVA foam padding won’t lose firmness or shape when you sit on it for hours. The high back support is ergonomic, giving you comfort all day long. 

The materials and hooks are high-quality, so the seat won’t start coming apart when you’re in the middle of nowhere.

About storage, the Leader Accessories comes with a detachable waterproof bag at the back. You can store your small valuables in it as it is easily accessible.

Best Budget Choice Kayak Seat – Pactrade Marine Adjustable Padded Deluxe Kayak Seat

You can still get a quality kayak seat even when on a tight budget.

The Pactrade Marine is priced reasonably and it is made to last. It features neoprene, 600D polyester, and EVA foam. 

You may be paying less than you would with a high-end seat but you won’t be losing anything in terms of comfort and durability.

The padding is just enough– not too thin and not too bulky. You can sit in the Pactrade seat for hours.

What’s better is that it comes with extra storage for your lunch box or valuables. 

The 7 Best Kayak Seats for Kayaking in 2021

1. Harmony Gear Standard Sit-on-Top Seat – Our Top Choice

The Harmony Gear sit-on-top kayak is designed to offer comfort at a reasonable price. 

Being fully adjustable, it will fit most sit-on-top kayaks, as long as they have attachment points. This means that you can switch it between kayaks if you have several.

The articulate design will conform to your body shape, making the seat feel like it was made specifically for you.

Both the seat and backrest feature nylon-covered foam. The materials make it more durable and easier to clean. 

The hardware is corrosion-resistant, something that saltwater kayakers will appreciate. You won’t have to worry about rusting. 

The bottom is skid-resistant for added stability. 

The Harmony Gear sit-on-top kayak seat is best for someone who is looking for a comfortable and quality seat. The ergonomic design will allow you to paddle for hours without getting sore. 

2. Leader Accessories Deluxe with Storage Bag – Best for Overnight/Long Kayaking Trips

Extra comfort, firm back support, and additional storage– these are things that every kayaker needs on a long trip.

The seat has a durable EVA foam interior and a 210D polyester exterior. The deluxe molded foam cushion allows you to be in the water for as long as you want. You can kayak all day or night long without getting numb. 

It also has a high back design and sufficient padding in addition to being ergonomic. The Leader Accessories Deluxe seat is one of those chairs that you settle into so nicely, you won’t want to get up.

With four adjustable straps, two at the front and two at the back, you can adjust it for maximum comfort. It will also fit most kayaks, including sit-in kayaks.

One of the best things about this kayak seat is that it offers extra storage. It comes with a waterproof detachable bag at the back. It would be nice for your valuables or lunch. And you can easily reach it. 

The marine-grade brass connecting straps are corrosion resistant. They are made to last.

This kayak seat is ideal for someone who enjoys long excursions.

3. Pactrade Marine Adjustable Padded Deluxe Seat – Best Budget Kayak Seat

The Pactrade Marine deluxe kayak seat ensures that you enjoy comfort on a budget.

It features four adjustable straps with heavy brass clips. The sturdy straps ensure that the kayak seat attaches securely so you don’t get frustrated. And you can attach it to most kayaks, including sit-in kayaks. 

The Pactrade has a non-slip contoured surface. It is made using neoprene, 600D polyester, and EVA foam. It will last a long time and you will enjoy cleaning it.

One thing that will impress you is the padding. It is not too thin and you will not start getting all sore after a few hours. And it is also not ridiculously thick. It feels just right and quite comfortable. 

Some kayakers swear it’s the most comfortable seat they have ever used.

The 17-inch high back seat is comfortable too and offers amazing support for your back.

But that is not all about the Pactrade Marine kayak seat. It comes with a storage bag too, which measures 13” (L) x 10” (H) x 4.5” (W). 

The bag can fit a few essentials or tools. 

I’d recommend this kayak seat for any kayaker who is on a budget but doesn’t want to compromise on quality and comfort.

4. Surf To Summit GTS Sport Sit-On-Top Kayak Seat 

If you don’t mind spending a little more money for a fantastic kayak seat, you might want to check the Surf to Summit GTS out. 

The GTS kayak seat is designed to offer support and comfort to the smaller kayaker. However, taller paddlers may also find the 13-inch high backrest comfortable. 

It has deep padded thermoformed foam panels that conform to your individual shape. It gives you personalized cushioning that is comfortable yet firm.

The Surf to Summit kayak seat features heavy-duty 600 denier fabric in areas that undergo a lot of stress. These include the zipper pack attachments and the back of the kayak seat. You don’t have to worry about durability because this chair can handle heavy use.

Both the seat and backrest have ultra soft EVA foam. The seatback is tri-laminated for structural support. All these features are meant to eliminate fatigue and keep you in the water for longer.

The GTS kayak seat has solid brass snap attachments at the front and back. It can be easily adjusted and will work with most sit-on-top kayaks. The seat provides a sewn-in cargo bag at the back too. And who doesn’t like additional storage?

This kayak seat is suitable for the smaller paddler to whom comfort is a top priority and they don’t mind spending a little more.

5. Skwoosh Expedition Kayak Seat – 20″ High Back Support with Lumbar Roll and Nylon Gel Seat Bottom 

The Skwoosh Expedition kayak seat is best for the paddler who wants exceptional back support or one who has a bad back.

The backrest is reinforced with two battens to give it strength and structure. It is a high back seat at 20 inches, so it will support your lower and upper back. 

The lumbar roll is a unique feature that many kayakers will appreciate. And it is adjustable so it is suitable for people of all sizes. It ensures comfort for those super long kayak touring trips.

The seat cushion is one inch thick. It offers comfort but it is also low profile so it doesn’t interfere with stability. Since it is a waterproof gel-bottom seat, it will not absorb water. This is usually an issue with sit-on-top kayaks. 

There are four adjustable straps with corrosion-resistant clips. The seat can be attached to most sit-on-top kayaks.

For storage, the Skwoosh Expedition has an easily accessible bungee net as well as two insulated water bottle holders. 

If you are looking for that extra back support or you have a back issue, this may be the seat for you. It is worth checking out.

6. Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus Seat Back 

The Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus seat promises amazing support for your upper and lower back. It also has extra padding for the paddlers who like to stay a little longer on the water.

This seat’s rugged nylon construction has a built-in ventilation system. This makes it one of the best kayak seats for paddling in hot weather. You won’t be all sweaty and uncomfortable. 

The Ocean Comfort Plus kayak seat has four-way adjustable straps and clips made of solid brass. You can adjust it to different comfort options and customize it to fit your body type. 

The UV-resistant nylon ensures durability. It is perfect for people who paddle a lot, especially under the hot sun. 

The reflective logos on the Comfort Plus kayak seat illuminate in the dark to provide visibility.

This would make a great kayak seat for anyone who wants extra support and adjustability. 

7. Kerco Angler-x Sit on Top Kayak Seat 

The Kerco Angler-x, as the name suggests, is a good seat for a fishing kayak. But it will also work for regular paddling.

The kayak seat comes with extra padding, which is soft and comfortable. The padded seat provides comfort to anglers. No more soreness, pain, and numbness. 

The manufacturer says that it will fit most kayaks and canoes. So if you own a kayak and a canoe you won’t need two seats. 

The Kerco Angler-x fishing kayak seat has a non-slip bottom. There are a few things more frustrating than a seat that keeps sliding when you are trying to have fun. Luckily, that is not a problem you will have with this seat.

The kayak seat is made using molded foam and nylon fabric. It is durable and will last long, even with heavy use. The foam makes the seat comfortable and firm but not stiff. 

The adjustable straps have marine-grade anti-corrosion clips. You can use your Kerco Angler-x in salty water.

If your fishing kayak came with a horrible seat, this one can make a good replacement.

Buying Guide: How Do You Choose a Good Kayak Seat?

When buying a kayak seat, there are a number of things you need to know.

Check them out.

Types of Kayak Seats

Kayak seats come in different designs. And what’s ideal for one kayaker may not work for another.

Check out the various types to see which one suits you.

a. Basic Kayak Seat

As you can guess, a basic kayak seat doesn’t have any fancy features. It is simple in design.

The chairs have little padding, just enough to keep you comfortable for a few hours. 

These basic kayak seats don’t have premium back support. Some of them may not even have extra storage.

A basic kayak seat is best suited for short recreational boating trips.

b. Deluxe Kayak Seat

This seat type has more padding than a basic kayak seat.

Some of the deluxe seats you see in the market are not universal. So not all of them will fit your kayak. Have this in mind before you buy.

Deluxe kayak seats are suitable for longer kayaking adventures. Most of them have a more comfortable backrest, making them ideal for kayakers with back issues. Or anyone who desires added back support.

c. High Back Kayak Seat

These kayak seats are the best when it comes to comfortable backrests. Not only do they support your lower back, but your upper back too.

You need a high back seat if you are an angler who spends many hours in your kayak. It will help you cast more comfortably too.

If you are super tall, you will also find that this seat type holds your back well.

d. Inflatable Kayak Seat

Like inflatable kayaks, inflatable kayak seats are easy to transport and store. That is their biggest advantage.

Some of them, however, are not as reliable as regular kayak seats. But the designs keep getting better. You can find some really awesome inflatable kayak seats.

Things to Consider When Buying a Kayak Seat

Several factors will determine whether or not a kayak seat is right for you.

Let’s look at them.

1. Type of Kayak

Not every kayak seat will fit your boat. Some seats are universal, designed to be compatible with almost any kayak. Others are made for specific kayak types or models.

Most manufacturers state the models that are compatible with their kayak seats. If not, check the attachment style to see whether it will be right for your boat.

Even better, enquire from the manufacturer or read other kayakers’ reviews.

Make sure the seat you are buying will fit in your kayak as well. Confirm the kayak cockpit measurements so you don’t end up with a kayak seat that is too big for your yak.

2. Type of Kayaking

Whatever you do in your kayak influences the kind of seat you should get.

For instance, when it comes to fishing and touring, you will need a little more padding. With these activities, you can spend hours in the seat and you don’t want to be sore at the end of the trip. You will also need a chair with great lumbar support.

Another thing that especially kayak anglers should look for is storage. You’ll love having your fishing gear where you can conveniently reach it.

For whitewater kayakers, a stable seat with an anti-slip feature would be nice. You will not like having a sliding seat when kayaking down a waterfall or rapid.

3. Body Type

Don’t forget to factor in your body type when choosing a seat for your kayak. This mostly has to do with your size and shape.

Larger kayakers should look for wider seats and backrests. 

If you are taller, consider a seat with a high backrest—this has already been mentioned above. 

4. Padding

The right kayak seat should have a reasonable amount of padding. Too much will make it less breathable. Too little and you will not be comfortable. 

If you expect to be in the kayak for hours, find a seat with extra padding.

A kayak seat will either have foam or gel padding.

Foam padding is more durable. It is ideal for kayakers who paddle often and for extended periods. However, the foam may compress with time, making it uncomfortable.

Gel padding is the most comfortable and it doesn’t compress over time. But it is less durable compared to pressure-molded foam.

5. Back Support

Regardless of how amazing the seat is, you will still be miserable if the back support is uncomfortable.

The right backrest should be wide and high enough for your back. This means that larger people should get seats with a wider backrest. And taller kayakers should opt for higher backrests.

The back support should also be sturdy. And you will be even more comfortable if it is contoured and form-fitting.

You may also want to check whether the backrest angle is adjustable. That way, you can set it to your preferred position.

Note: higher is not always better for the back support. A very high one may limit your ability to paddle fast and cast. The backrest should be just high enough, not too much.

6. Seat Fabric

Kayak seats are commonly made using polyester, nylon, and sometimes neoprene.

Nylon is not expensive but it is water repellent and extremely durable. It can take a lot of abuse and is suitable for heavy use. The material doesn’t get easily damaged by the sun or salt water.

Polyester feels soft against the skin and it is a moisture-wicking fabric. It will keep you from being all sweaty—perfect for kayaking in the summer.

Neoprene is suitable for use in and around water. That is why it is preferred for sit-on-top kayaks. You won’t have to worry about it getting wet.

7. Stability

Can you imagine what it would be like to kayak in a seat that won’t stay in place?

Not only is it annoying, but you can also find yourself taking an unplanned swim. 

When shopping around for a kayak seat, see if it is slip-resistant to prevent sliding. 

The seat attachment to your kayak helps with stability too. More straps offer secure attachment. Most seats have four; two at the front and two at the back. 

The straps should be sturdy so they don’t start coming apart.

8. Features

On top of the above important factors, there are others that are not necessary but would be nice.

One of them is a mesh panel. It facilitates ventilation which will maximize your comfort, especially in hot weather.

Something else you may appreciate is extra storage. It could be a pocket for a few essentials, a bottle holder, or even fishing rod holders for the anglers.

How to Make Kayak Seats More Comfortable

Maybe you already bought a kayak seat. Or you are not prepared to buy a new one. Can you make the one you have more comfortable? Certainly!

Here are a few options.

a. Pad It Up

If you think you could use more padding on your kayak seat, get a seat pad. There are tons of kayak seat pads on Amazon—both foam and gel pads.

Remember not to pick a seat pad that is too thick. You wouldn’t want to raise your center of gravity too much. You should also pick a pad with anti-slip technology so it can stay in place.

This is a simple solution instead of going out and buying a whole new seat.

b. Add Inflatable Thigh Support

The seat pan (the part of the seat that you sit on) may not be long enough to support your thighs. As you can imagine this is not very comfortable.

Thigh support will solve this and alleviate discomfort as you kayak. You can get it with your kayak; but if not, buy one. They are not expensive and they are adjustable.

c. Adjust Back Tilt Position

This is where it helps to have a seat with an adjustable backrest. When you are tired of paddling, you can tilt it slightly and lean back to get some rest.

When you start paddling again, remember to bring the backrest back to a 90-degree angle. You will strain if you try paddling with the back tilted.

d. Adjust the Knee and Foot Position

The knees and feet play a role in controlling the kayak. If they are not properly positioned, you will have a hard time.

Adjust the footrests such that you can stretch your legs comfortably. Your knees, on the other hand, should be able to contact the deck of your kayak, especially in a sit-in boat.

This video explains it clearly.

e. Adjust the Height of Your Seat

Lastly, you can raise or lower your seat to a more comfortable position. 

Understand that a higher position means a higher center of gravity and, hence, less stability. So while you want to be comfortable, make sure you consider stability as well.

How to Upgrade Your Kayak Seat

What if the kayak seat you have is just bad? You have tried everything but the discomfort is still too much. In that case, it is time for an upgrade.

Factor in the following features when choosing an upgrade.

1. Lumbar Support

A seat with great lumbar support properly holds your back, promoting good posture. It helps the back stay in a natural position.

Everyone knows that poor posture is the root cause of many issues, including back and neck pain.

This is important, more so for people with back problems.

The Expedition kayak seat is one example of a chair with proper lumbar support.

2. Breathability

We have discussed this briefly above.

A kayak seat that allows air circulation will keep you cool and comfortable, especially when it is hot.

Breathability is also useful for kayakers with sit-on-top boats. You can’t stop the seat from getting wet. But breathable material, in most cases, dries faster.

3. Size and Compatibility

Find a chair that is compatible with your kayak and your body type.

Be careful not to buy a seat that is too wide for your canoe. Or one that is too narrow for your body. You will not be comfortable in it. Factor in your measurements and that of your kayak when buying the seat.

4. Use

For people who specialize in one type of kayaking, like touring, you only need to buy a seat that works for your style. But if you like to try different things—fishing, recreational, touring—get a versatile kayak chair.

You should be able to adjust the backrest angle, seat height, lumbar support position, etc. This will ensure comfort and you can spend more hours kayaking.

Kayak Seat Q&A

Q: How Do I Keep My Kayak Seat from Sliding?

A: Here is a simple solution to help keep your kayak seat in place.

Q: How Can I Make My Kayak Seat More Comfortable?

A: You can make your kayak seat more comfortable by:

  • Adding more padding
  • Adjusting the height
  • Adjusting the backrest angle
  • Adding thigh support

Q: How Do You Install and Secure a Kayak Seat?

A: The process is pretty much straightforward and this video explains it well.

Q: Do Sit-on-Top Seats Work with Sit-Inside Kayaks?

A: Most kayak seats attach to D-rings using hooks. So they will be compatible with sit-in kayaks and even SUP boards with D-rings.

Conclusion

Choosing a kayak seat can quickly get complicated. You don’t want something that will make you miserable. But now that you know what to look for, you can easily find a kayak seat that suits you perfectly. There is no reason to deal with soreness or pain anymore.

The Harmony Gear sit-on-top kayak is our top choice because it is affordable and comfortable. You will love how it conforms to your body, giving you customized support. The non-slip bottom is also a nice touch because you won’t have to worry about a sliding seat.

Don’t let a bad kayak seat ruin the experience for you. Pick one from the seven amazing options above and go have fun!

Happy kayaking!