Kayaking is a great sport, but after a while, it can be hard on the back muscles, and because of this, there are a vast number of kayaking fans who have cut short their day.
A kayak chair can make the difference and make it much easier to stay out on the water for extended periods.
Not only do these seats give added comfort, but they also support you while you might be doing something else aside from paddling.
Fishing being a prime example, these seats provide lots of comfort from their cushioned seats and support the back while you cast or land a fish.
Many designs can be different depending on what you need your seat for, and some do come with extra features like storage pouches.
It doesn’t matter what the extra features are if the seat doesn’t perform as it should. So with all that in mind, we have taken a look at the top 5 kayaking seats and put them through their paces to see if they deserve their place in the top 5.
These kayaking seat reviews will tell you everything you need to know about buying a seat, and then hopefully, your choice will be much easier.
What is a Kayak Seat?
When you purchase a kayak seat, you are often presented with two types. These can be in the form of a single backrest, with some models coming with a separate kayak seat cushion to sit on.
These are generally at the lower end of the market, or they come with a kayak when seats are included in the purchase.
The second type will be a foldable AIO (all-in-one) padded seat. This is more supportive and comes in a sit-in Kayak seat, which will have both a cushion and back support.
They are hooked into the d-rings on the kayak and using a strap. They give overall comfort and support to the seat and the lumbar portion of your back.
This type can help you stay on the water for longer because fatigue doesn’t set in so quickly.
Paddling can also be more comfortable now that you have back support to push against. There is also the consideration of the kayak type you have because this will determine the kind of seat you can attach.
Top Kayak seat Reviews
1. Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus Seat Back
This Ocean Kayak accessory comes from one of the best-known names in kayak construction. They are well-reputed, and this seat is no different.
It is built to fit any Ocean Kayak sit-on-top models but can also provide several other kayak brands. It comes with lots of extra padding and seat ventilation.
The nylon construction is UV resistant to fight any fading or warping issues that befall onto other seats.
Compared to some alternatives, it is a little more expensive at just over $40.00, but there is plenty of comfort and support from one of the most affordable kayak fishing seats for this.
Once you are sat in the high back kayak seat, the body is cradled well, and it gives high enough reach up the back to offer all-day comfort without restricting movement.
With the numerous fastening points, it is fully adjustable to provide the best seating position and solid support when needed.
- Provides comfort and support
- Durable, UV resistant construction
- Reinforced stays for durable back support
- Reflective logos
- Easy to clip on your kayak
- Fits any kayak
- Leaves plenty of space when mounted to a 2 person tandem kayak
- Slightly less affordable.
- Primarily designed for Ocean Kayak models
- Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Ventilation system
- 4 Adjustable Front and Rear Straps
- Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 2 inches
- Sit on the top styled seat
- Brass swivel buckles and stainless steel springs
The Ocean Kayak parts never disappoint, and this seat is no different. The seat can be identified in low light conditions with subtle touches like the glow in the dark logo.
For any kayaker who likes to spend a long time on the water, this seat is a worthy addition to their kayaking gear that will give many hours of continual comfort and enjoyment.
2. Yakpads Cushioned Seat Pad, Gel Seat Pad for Kayaks, Portable Seat Cushion for Outdoor Watersports and Recreation
This YakPads kayak cushion review takes a look at their cushioned seat pad. Although it isn’t like kayak chairs of sorts, it is at home in hard-backed kayaks where it offers plenty of cushioning from their proprietary gel, which will mold to your body when used. It comes with easy connection loops and non-slip backing, so it can be positioned to give some lower back comfort.
The kayak seat pad is fully insulated, so you won’t feel any discomfort if the temperatures drop. The design is simple, and with a quick unfastening, the seat pad can be used outside your kayak.
- Reduced & distributed pressure for kayaker’s seat
- Lycra covered to the neoprene seating surface
- Protects lower back from rubbing
- Insulates paddler from cold seat
- YakPads proprietary gel-filled seat padding
- Comes in 3 colors
- Costly for simple use
- No back support
- Dimensions: 16 x 16 x 12 inches
- Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Neoprene and Lycra construction
The YakPads cushion is good at what it does and offers many hours of comfort for areas inside a kayak and out of one, be it hard-shelled or an inflatable kayak. However, for a price of around $30, users might feel they should be getting a little more for their money.
Nonetheless, the seat pad can eliminate discomfort on cheaper built-in kayak seats or any hard surface where you need to sit for extended periods.
The main advantage of this gel cushion is the center of gravity doesn’t raise, so it still offers plenty of stability while paddling.
3. Leader Accessories Deluxe Kayak Seat Boat Seat
Leader Accessories are another large brand of manufacturers of kayak backrests. The deluxe kayak seat is a molded foam offering to be specifically used on kayaks to support the kayaker’s bottom and back. It is fully adjustable with four straps to provide it with plenty of rigidity.
It includes a molded section that runs vertically up the spine to reduce the chance of backache.
- Provides plenty of comforts
- 4 straps give a wide range of adjustability
- Suitable for long trips
- Competitive price
- Molds to the body
- Full back support
- The bottom could be better
- Poor customer service
- Deep grooves in the seat can provide discomfort
- Dimensions: 20 x 15 x 12 inches
- Weight: 2.68 pounds
- Molded foam construction
Though most customer reviews are favorable, a few say the elevated kayak seat doesn’t offer much comfort after an hour.
This might be down to the large ridged around the molded section in the seat part or the fact that the seat part might be narrower than some alternatives and can’t cover the kayak’s bottom. Also, some users say it does give back support, but the lower back still suffers. (Read What To Wear Under Wetsuit)
While researching, it was found that the seat is quite high, so because it is molded to the body shape, it might not be suitable for the medium to a shorter person.
With this being said, if you are on the taller side, the seat does perform well, and for a guide price of just under $35, it can give some good use.
One other customer report states that because the deluxe kayak Seat boat seat comes in a two-tone black and grey, the black color seeped into their bathing costume. It might be a one-off incidence, but it is worthwhile remembering.
4. Ocean Kayak Comfort Tech Seat for a sit-on-top Kayak
The Ocean Kayak Comfort Tech Seat is a beefier kayak seat upgrade to the Comfort plus seatback. It is designed for long trips on sit-on-top types of kayaks from Ocean Kayak so that it will clip in without any problems.
From this, you can adjust it to your preference and receive the maximum amount of comfort, which is ideal for a touring kayak.
The seatback is taller to offer full back support, and it comes with extra strengthening braces built-in. Also, it has the full-back ventilation system as other Ocean Kayak seat models.
Like its smaller brother, this seat is an excellent addition for kayak fishing as it gives lots of side support while twisting the body but without restricting movement.
- Lots of padding for comfort
- Good in rougher waters
- Light for the size
- Built-in reflective safety logos
- Reports of the hard bottom piece
- Expensive compared to others
- Dimensions: 21.8 x 14 x 12 inches
- Weight: 2.1 pounds
- UV-resistant nylon packcloth construction
- Sit on the top styled seat
- Brass swivel buckles and stainless steel springs
Being a level up compared to the earlier, it still comes with the same excellent construction, and much of it is very similar. The significant differences being the extra thickness of the padding and the higher back support.
The difference might not show any benefit for many users, and with a rough guide price of just over $50, it might not appear to be a worthy investment compared to the earlier model.
It does come in stiffer, and there have been a couple of users who state there isn’t much benefit after a period of the thicker padding.
With all this in mind, and for anglers who do stay out on the water or who might be facing rougher waters, the price for a little extra comfort might be justified.
5. Pactrade Marine Adjustable Padded Deluxe Kayak Seat Detachable Back Backpack/Bag Canoe Backrest
The Pactrade raised kayak seat follows the design of many others with the grey and black and the ribbed section that provides back support. The one major difference with this kayak seat is the inclusion of the removable backpack.
Although handy, once you are in your kayak, removing it from the rear of the seat or trying to reconnect could take quite a lot of fidgeting.
Sitting on top kayaks does provide extra comfort, but the deep ridges in the cushion might offer some discomfort to a few users over extended periods.
The four adjustable straps are a well and truly tested design, but when connected, the seat doesn’t fully support the sides of the body.
The seat was also found to slip forward on a couple of occasions during testing. This can be while leaning back or when you are twisting to remove the backpack. Pushing the seat back into position isn’t easy, especially if you are holding your rod.
- Fully adjustable
- Contoured non-slip surface
- Detachable backpack for accessories or small lunch box
- Straps not set up correctly
- Seat not as comfortable as advertised
- The height of the seat might not give lower back support for shorter kayakers
- Dimensions: 21.6 x 11 x 31.1 inches
- Weight: 2.8 pounds
- Material: neoprene+600D polyester, interlayer: EVA foam+PE plate
For a budget option of a sit on top kayak seat, the Pactrade marine might suffice to come in with a price tag of just under $40.
However, some alternatives give much better back and side support within this price range and remain in position when you might be twisting in your seat.
What to Look For When Buying a Kayak Seat
Many kayaks come with seats already in, but these are generally budget versions and don’t offer
much in the way of back support when fishing from your kayak.
The best solution is to change the seat for one that fits you right and allows you to fish in comfort for hours on end.
Here is a breakdown of what you need to consider when buying a replacement kayak seat.
Type of seat foam
There are three types of construction methods in a replacement kayak seat and are used in different seats.
This brings different benefits. Gel padding is soft and squidgy and molds to the shape of your bottom. However, this type is more for kayak cushions than a backrest.
Pressure molded foam is the second and can stand up to lots of wear and tear. These are much firmer and can be on the harder side. Thermo-molded is the final option and is found in most seats.
Polyester is one fabric that is often used, and it does allow for more wicking (allowing sweat to soak in and evaporate), which can make it a good option on hot days. These are softer to the touch and can give a bit more comfort.
Nylon is the other option and is far stronger than polyester. It is also water-resistant rather than having a wicking ability.
On hot days, nylon can give the impression of feeling hot, but it is more wear-resistant, preferable for most users.
One of the most common fabrics used for newer kayak replacement seats is neoprene. This is a wetsuit material, so it is waterproof and resistant to saltwater. It offers long life, but if it gets torn for any reason, it does need a quick repair before the tear spreads.
Almost all aftermarket kayak back support options use hooks and d-rings to secure the seat to the kayak. It is these with the straps that provide the support and flexibility to adjust the seat position.
Some are made specifically for certain models of kayak, and these give a far better fit than a third-party seat. Kayak seat sit on top types do differ from sit in varieties, so this needs to be your first consideration.
Fastening methods are in the form of metal hooks. If you are using your kayak on the ocean, this needs to be corrosion resistant.
Aftermarket seats, when made for a particular brand of kayak night, come with differing fixing points. It can be easy to fasten a couple more connection points (d-rings) onto your kayak.
This might seem like unnecessary work, but when you can get the best kayak seat back that meets all your needs, it can be a simple job that is worth doing.
Seat height and back support
Low seats are as good as having no help at all on long trips. Lower back muscles can take a severe pounding.
Depending on your height, you might opt for a higher seat, but having kayak seatbacks that are too high for shorter users can fit incorrectly, and you find there is no support in the lower back area.
The best kayak seats are adjustable and aren’t molded to a specific size. Many are molded to the body shape, and when this is too high, they can push up towards the shoulder blades and restrict your paddling movement.
Second, the lower back part might not contact your back; this is where you get lower back strain from an incorrect fitting seat. It is also where a kayak gel seat pad fails in giving support.
The only way you can tell is to choose the highest seat that feels comfortable for your size. And, at the same time, you should check it doesn’t slip or slide if you lean backward.
Some seats promote they are suitable for long kayaking trips, but they might not offer the best solution due to their construction. Some foam seats can start rubbing after a couple of hours.
This comes from how high the seat cushion is and how secure it fits your kayak. When your weight moves from one side to the other, such as casting your line, the seat needs to stay in position while making sure you don’t lean to the side.
It is easy to lose balance, so the very best kayak seat will hold the side of your body as much as giving back support.
One further factor is the connection methods; the four hook connections are recommended because they prevent the seat from sliding to the side.
Storage and size of the seat
This area covers a sit-in kayak seat upgrade when it is in your kayak. If it is too narrow, it won’t fill the full width of your kayak, and if it is too wide, it will creep up the side.
This might not sound too much of a problem, but it can quickly reduce the space you have available if the seat is molded.
There is also how you store it once you have finished. Molded seats won’t fold because they are a set size.
The top kayaks brands will be quickly removed so you can wash them and then fold them to a smaller size for transportation rather than leaving them in your kayak car rack.
With lots of testing on the water, we put all of the above seats through their paces to come up with a conclusion. We took into consideration all factors and usage scenarios for who would most benefit.
We quickly began to see the winner early on, and the winner of this best kayak seat review was the Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus Seat Back.
While it has a bigger brother with built-in supports and thicker padding, we felt for a price to performance ratio; the Comfort Plus was the most comfortable kayak seat by far.
No matter how much we twisted and turned in the seat, we never had to adjust it back into position.
Further to this, it gave more than adequate side support for anglers who would be casting their line, and one feature that set it apart from other alternatives was the breathable area.
This negated the fact the cover is made from nylon, and air circulation was excellent even in the hot spells.
The seat performed great in all areas, and the straps and hooks fixed it in place and wouldn’t interfere with a kayak fish finder if attached.
It is a well worthy winner, and it was quite a surprise that it fell at the lower end of the price bracket.
One final benefit is, you can paddle for longer, so if you are concerned with calories burned kayaking, there is nothing to worry about.
This seat makes you comfortable, but you still need to hammer home the work.
Read more Kayak Guides.