How to Raise the Seats of a Canoe

How to Raise the Seats of a Canoe
"There's nothing more uncomfortable than paddling a high-sided canoe from a low seating position," writes prolific canoe author Cliff Jacobson in "Basic Essentials Solo Canoeing." Not only is a low seating position uncomfortable, but it also reduces the ability to control the canoe and makes it difficult to kneel with your legs under the seat. Many manufacturers mount the seats in their canoes lower for greater stability while sitting. As a canoeist advances in skills, his grasp of stability increases, which reduces the dependence on a low seat. Many advanced paddlers raise their canoe seats well above the factory setting.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Wrench<br /><br />Hardwood<br /><br />Table saw<br /><br />Stainless bolts<br /><br />Drill<br /><br />1/4 inch drill bit<br /><br />1/4 inch stainless nuts
Step 1
Unbolt, using a wrench, the ¼-inch bolt that holds the seat to the seat hangers. The seat hangers are attached to each seat and each side of the canoe. Typically, canoe manufacturers uses stainless steel bolts that are easy to sheer and distort, so loosen the nut slowly until the tension releases and you can spin them off with your hands.
Step 2
Cut, using a table saw, a hardwood spacer the same length and width as the seat hanger. A typical seat hanger is an aluminum "L" bracket. Measure the length along the axis of the bracket running from fore to aft. The width is how far the flange of the "L" bracket extends from the canoe's side. Make the height of the hardwood spacer the height you wish to raise the seat. A typical seat hanger measures 10 inches by ¾ of an inch. Cliff Jacobson suggests adjusting seats only ½-inch per paddling season. Such an incremental approach allows canoeists to find the height that works for them.
Step 3
Drill ¼-holes into the spacer using a drill. These should align with the holes in the seat hanger. If the seat is standard, the holes should be located 9 inches apart, but the distance should always be measured before drilling.
Step 4
Bolt the assembly into the canoe. Because the seat hanger remains in the canoe, place the spacer on top of it and place the seat onto the spacer. Run the bolt through the holes in the seat, spacer and seat hanger. The nut and any extra length of the bolt should be hidden beneath the bracket. Hand tighten the bolt until it stops. Finish tighten the bolt with a wrench.

Tips & Warnings

Buy ¼-inch stainless bolts that are long enough to fit through the hardwood spacer, the seat and the seat hanger. If you plan on trying different heights, buy longer bolts and cut them to size after you figure out the desired height. A standard canoe seat typically adds ¾-inch to the depth. An aluminum seat hanger adds ? inch.<br /><br /><br /><br />A higher canoe seat may feel slightly tippier, so be prepared for your canoe to feel different. It may take some time to get the feel of the new seat height. Once you do, try different strokes to see if the higher seat made the boat more controllable.

Article Written By Bryan Hansel

Bryan Hansel is a freelance photographer and kayaking guide who began writing in 1993. His outdoors articles appear on various websites. Hansel holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and religion from the University of Iowa.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.