Today's sit-on-top kayaks are used in waters ranging from placid lakes and peaceful coves to turbulent rapids and overhead breakers. The proper seat, tailor-made to your needs, can help enhance your kayaking experience in any conditions by increasing comfort and performance while also offering healthy support for your back.
Choosing the Right Seat for You
The best sit-on-top kayak seat for you depends entirely on what type of endeavor you will be taking on in your boat. Will you be going on long extended-length paddles in calmer waters? If so, a seat that has more padding and a higher back for support might be the answer. Also, one that incorporates a pack might be convenient for snacks and gear. Or are you more of the dare devil surf-kayaker or rapid runner? Then a a more streamlined seat that is going to enable tricky paddling and be less likely to bonk you in the head might be a good choice. A seat that has a lower center of gravity is also desirable for these more extreme sit-on-top kayak uses.
Some sit-on-top kayakers favor a different style of seating than the common one-piece seat and backrest. They use a seat glued onto the top of the kayak in combination with a patch of padded material held by straps called a backband. When properly adjusted and buckled into your kayak, these lightweight bands offer ample support without the cumbersome weight and bulk of a full seat. The backband supports your lower back and allows you to move with your vessel while the glued-in seat allows you to sit lower to the water for higher performance. Kayak-surfers favor this setup for its freedom of movement as well as kayak divers that need good access to the rear storage-well for their scuba gear.
So you just got your sit-on-top kayak and don't really know what your going to do with it yet but don't want a sore bum? You might want to opt for a universal system-style seat. You start with a basic seat and can add on accessories like fishing-rod holders and cargo packs or hydration systems when you're ready. This kind of system also works well if you plan to use your kayak for different functions. Shoot the rapids on Saturday then snap in your rod holders and hit the lake Sunday. Expect to spend between $50 and $150 for a quality sit-on-top kayak seat.
Finally, when purchasing your seat, you will need to specify whether your kayak has the older style plastic buckles for installing the seat or the brass clip connectors common on most newer models.