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Best Sit-On Top Kayak Seat

Mark Armstrong
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Ok, so you’ve had your new kayak a while now. It’s great fun, and buying one was possibly one of the best ideas ever!

But there’s a problem…

Every time you go out, you start getting pins and needles, then your legs begin to go numb. You get sore hips. All of a sudden kayaking isn’t as much fun. You’re no longer enjoying the freedom of paddling around and exploring new places…enjoying the clean fresh air.

Nope, instead your attention focuses on the negative effects of ‘sitting pain’, leg numbness and even lower back pain. You might not even be paddling as efficiently as you could be if you don’t have the correct kayak seat.

Well, the good news is that seats can be purchased individually from kayaks.

So today, we’re going to go through the best sit-on-top kayak seats (or ‘chairs’, if that makes you happier!) on the market today. There are different kinds of seats for different kayaks, so it’s important that you pick the right one for the job.

Kayak Seats: At A Glance

What Is A Kayak Seat? How Do They Work?

If you buy a kayak with seats included, then generally speaking, you will get one of two options.

1) The kayak will come with either just a single backrest. Sometimes you may also receive a separate pad to sit down on. These are normally shipped with the lower-priced budget kayaks.

2) A foldaway ‘all-in-one’ padded seat. This will protect both your back side (the boney parts) and provide support for the lumbar area of your back.

Quite often, users who buy budget kayaks, complain of discomfort and pain from being seated, even for short periods.

If you are still happy with the ‘yak but want the extra comfort, then a better quality seat may be the way to go. And if you don’t even have any kind of seat or padding, we recommend you at least go out and get a seat cushion/pad.

Just make sure there are attachments on your kayak to allow the straps of any seat to attach onto your kayak!

Do Sit-On-Top Seats Work With Sit-In Kayaks Or Paddle Boards?

Some of the sit-on-top seats are versatile enough to work on different types of kayaks and even SUPs.

Yeah, we know it’s “Stand Up” Paddle Boarding, but hey, sometimes it’s nice to transform your board into a ‘kayak’. Ok, not exactly the most durable and manoeuvrable ‘kayak’, but you get where we’re coming from…

Regardless, if there are attachments available near a given seating area, you could be in luck!

Should I Upgrade My Kayak Seat, Pad or Cushion?

Like we said before, if you become uncomfortable very quickly, or you feel you just don’t have full control of the kayak, then it is perhaps worth considering upgrading your kayak seat.

And, if you don’t have a seat or have a seat with poor padding, then actually, a purchase/upgrade is probably going to make sense if kayaking is something you are going to start taking more seriously!

How To Upgrade Your Kayak Seat

Lumbar Support

If you spend a lot of time on the water, opting for a kayak seat with good lumbar support can be important, as this can help to relieve some of the pressure from your spine, just like you might find with some office chairs or car seats.

This can also be useful if you suffer from back pain, as it can help to prevent further pain from occurring as it should allow you to sit in a more natural position.

Breathability – No Sweat!

A breathable seat can be beneficial when you’re on the water as it can allow the seat to stay relatively dry or dry quickly, as water can usually drain through it, for example with seats with mesh fabric.

If you plan to fish or are using a sit-on-top kayak that’s exposed to splashes, choosing a seat with a breathable fabric can help keep you more comfortable, compared to sitting on a wet seat.


Before you upgrade your seat, think about how you use your seat. Will you be fishing and want a seat that can let you sit higher on your deck with a more rigid frame? Or perhaps you’ll be in a sit-inside and may want a lower profile seat.

No matter how long you plan to spend on the water, you will probably want a kayak seat with a seat back that can be adjusted to suit your paddling style. An adjustable seat can also work well if you’re fishing, as it can allow you to alter it to a more suitable position.

You may also find seats with additional features that can come in handy, such as storage pouches and rod holders, which can be ideal for transforming a recreational kayak into a fishing vessel.

It may also be possible to modify your vessel and create your own seat, for example, by using another boat seat.

Size And Compatibility

Before you settle on a seat, it can be useful to make sure you know the measurements of your particular kayak so you know that your seat option will fit. The size of the seat can also give you a good idea of how comfortable it might be for you, for example, if it’s too narrow it may not offer you the maximum level of comfort.

On the other hand, if it’s too wide, it may not fit on your yak. Compatibility is another thing you may want to consider, as some seats may not be suitable for all types of vessels.

How To Make A Kayak Seat More Comfortable

It can be easy to make your existing kayak seat more comfortable by adding a little extra padding. There are various products available that can let you boost your comfort and are designed for kayaks, such as foam seat pads – like this one. Or you can make your own custom foam seat.

Adding a foam or gel seat pad under or on top of your seat can help if you’re sitting for long periods. However, it can be a good idea to make sure that it’s waterproof or you could find yourself even less comfortable if it absorbs water.

It can also be possible to add a seat back if your existing seat doesn’t already have one. These can often be attached with straps to D-rings on your vessel.

Video: How To Make Your Own Kayak Foam Seat

Comfortable Seats For Fishing

For fishing, you will also want to keep in mind how comfortable your seat will be when you’re just sitting, relaxing, waiting for the fish to bite. But it will also need to be comfortable for when you’re paddling to your fishing hole.

You might find that a raised seat can be useful for fishing, as it can give you a better vantage point. Many seats for fishing yaks can often have sturdier frames than recreational seats.

Some might feature padded mesh seat backs and bottoms that should let water drain away, as well as boost comfort.

Swivel Seats

Having a swivel seat can make it easier to get in and out of your kayak or canoe, and it may even make it easier to paddle. With some boat seats you can add a swivel mount to transform your kayak seat into a more convenient swivel seat that can rotate to face whatever direction you want.

Video: DIY Swivel Seat

To add a swivel seat to your kayak or canoe, you would need to first install a mounting base that will sit across your vessel, perpendicular to the sides.

This base, which can be either a purpose built one or even a flat piece of wood, can help to distribute the weight and offer a little more stability, which should come in handy if you’re swiveling.

The base will also give you a slightly elevated platform, which can make installing the mount and seat a little easier.

Now that you’ve got your swivel seat mounted you should find the seat is able to swivel 360 degrees. This could make it more convenient for moving around when you’re on the water, particularly for fishing and when you need to grab gear from behind your seat.

Top 5 Best Sit-On-Top Kayak Seats

Here, we are focusing only on seats, not pads. All these seats use straps to help keep them in place while paddling.

If you are unsure whether or not these kayak seats fit your kayak, we recommend you contact the manufacturer of your kayak for confirmation. Or alternatively, head down to your local paddling store.

1: Surf To Summit GTS Sport Sit-On-Top Kayak Seat (Best For Bad or Sore Back)

Surf To Summit GTS Sport Sit-On-Top Kayak SeatPin
  • 4 straps (Adjustable)
  • Material EVA foam & PVA foam combination
  • 12 inch tall back
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds

The four straps adjust and clip onto the kayak with brass snap attachment clips. Designed for sit-on-top ‘yaks, but will fit a lot of sit-in kayaks as well.

There’s a built in pack at the rear that you can store essentials in, which is very useful.

The thermoformed foam panels provide extra comfort and back support.

2: Pactrade Marine Adjustable Padded Deluxe Kayak Seat

Pactrade Marine Adjustable Padded Deluxe Kayak SeatPin
  • Adjustable Front and Rear Straps
  • 4 Copper Hooks
  • Made from Neoprene + 600D Polyester
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds

A padded adjustable seat suitable for most sit-on-top kayaks.

This kayak seat has 4 straps in total. Two for the rear and two for the front. Each one clips (with a copper hook) onto the kayak. The straps adjust, hence the universal fit.

It has a non-slip surface to help keep you in place when paddling strongly.

This lightweight seat also comes with a carry bag to store other items.

3: Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus Seat Back

Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus Seat BackPin
  • 4 Adjustable Front and Rear Straps
  • Ventilation system
  • Weight: Around 2 pounds

Although this seat comes from Ocean, and is suitable for Ocean kayaks, it can be used for a lot of other kayak brands.

Another padded seat with 4 straps (adjustable). The seat is UV protected to help against ageing from the sun’s rays. The Ocean logos are reflective, helping to increase your visibility when a light shines on you when it becomes dark.

Video: How To Adjust/Install Your Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus Seatback

The seat is also ventilated to help combat sweat and it’s higher back helps boost comfort.

4: Kerco Angler-x Sit on Top Kayak Seat (inc Back Pack Extra Thick Seat Pad)

Kerco Angler-x Sit on Top Kayak SeatPin
  • 1.5″ Thick Cushion
  • 4 Adjustable Straps with Brass Clips
  • Weight: 4 pounds

This adjustable seat comes with extra thick padding and an anti-slip bottom to help keep you in place. You might want to add more padding at the bottom if paddling for more than a couple of hours though.

This nylon seat comes with 4 straps (you can see a pattern here!) and clips to hold you in place.

The seat can be used in kayaks or paddle boards, as long as there are fastenings on the kayak or board to clip the Angler-x seat into place.

Comes with a detachable zipped pack.

5: Leader Accessories Deluxe Kayak Seat Boat Seat

Leader Accessories Deluxe Kayak Seat Boat SeatPin
  • 4 Adjustable Straps
  • Marine Grade Brass Clips/Snaps
  • Adjustable Webbing
  • Material: Molded Foam
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds

Another ‘4 strap’ adjustable kayak seat, designed to be tightened to your liking and body shape.

Can be folded up for portability. Is well supported and should fit most kayaks out there.

Comes in black/gray and black/gray colors.

We hope this guide to kayak sit-on-top seats was useful. Share if you think it’ll be useful for other too!

Over to you….have you got one of these seats? If so, what do you think? Can you recommend any others?

We also have a kayak cooler seat guide for the fishing lovers among you 🙂

Best Seat For Sit On Top Kayaks - Pinterest ImagePin

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