Nothing ruins kayaking like an uncomfortable kayak seat.
There’s a lot to keep in mind when you’re buying a kayak seat. From back support to padding to whether it has a detachable bag, and let’s not forget affordability!
Read on as we discuss the pros and cons of five of our favourite kayak seats.
Read Next: Our picks for the best inflatable kayaks for fishing.
Top Kayak Seats (Comparison Table)
Best Kayak Seats
Best Overall: Vibe Kayaks Deluxe Padded Kayak Seat
The Vibe Kayaks Deluxe Padded Kayak Seat is incredibly comfortable, which makes all the difference on a longer trip.
With a high back, it offers extra back support. This makes it especially great for taller kayakers, or those with back problems. It also offers extra support for paddling.
It comes with a detachable bag which clips onto the back but is easily accessible without needing to turn around. We used it to hold our lunch and sunscreen on a trip on calmer waters and found it very useful.
Although this seat doesn’t come with instructions, we were easily able to figure out how to install it. We found that the seat fit most of our kayaks well, even if we didn’t have hooks for the straps.
This seat has adjustable straps which means it can fit most kayaks and even over preinstalled seats. Depending on your kayak, the buckles of these straps might slip a little.
Unfortunately, the material of this seat dries more slowly than we would have preferred.
Of our five picks, the Vibe Kayaks deluxe padded seat is the most budget friendly. This seat is especially good for a beginner kayaker who is still learning what he or she likes.
At a glance...
- High back offers extra support
- Detachable, waterproof bag for extra storage
- Fits most kayaks
- Easy to install and remove
Best Friendly: Brooklyn Kayak Company Professional Universal Kayak Seat
The Brooklyn Kayak Company Professional Universal Kayak Seat is versatile and adaptable. With a bit of creativity, we were able to make it fit both sit in and sit-on top models.
We found this seat easy to install and simple to remove. This makes it a stellar seat for storing or transporting.
The crowning feature of this seat is its high back. This offers extra support for older kayakers or those with back problems. We took this seat out on a four-hour fishing trip and returned with no backaches.
Although this seat doesn’t offer much butt padding, we still found it rather comfortable. However, an extra cushion or foam wedge is a cheap and easy addition if necessary.
Something we really appreciated about this seat is that the straps held it in place very sturdily. This means that the seat bottom didn’t slide forward while we were paddling.
Another great feature is that the seat handles getting wet very well and drains water away from the padding. It also dries and stores without mould.
At a glance...
- Fits sit in and sit on top models
- Good for storing or transporting
- High, supportive back rest
- Lots of straps equals great stability
- Drains water away from padding
Most Cushioning: Yakpads Portable Gel Seat Pad for Kayaks
Yakpads Portable Gel Seat Pad is ideal for someone who doesn’t own a kayak and instead uses rented kayaks.
We loved for its simplicity, comfortableness, and durability. Filled with gel rather than foam, this pad makes a huge difference to a kayaking experience.
Although this pad is deceptively thin, it is firm but still soft. We took a six-hour fishing trip and unlike usual, our tailbones didn’t hurt afterwards, and our butts weren’t numb.
This pad has three straps that easily loop around any kayak seat, meaning there is no installation necessary. We also loved that this makes it very transportable.
In fact, it could even be used to make concert a motorcycle seats more comfortable and easy on the rear!
With a rubber bottom which gripped the seat, the pad doesn’t slide forward. We could also shift position without it slipping around under us.
Although the pad affixes on top of the kayak seat, we found it didn’t raise our centre of gravity much.
Another great feature of the Yakpad is that is handles getting wet very well and dries quickly. It kept us cool and (mostly) dry and allowed for more airflow.
We also found the material very easy to clean, and being small, the pad is stores well. This is a great pad if you’re looking for a quick and comfortable solution and hate instillation.
Although it doesn’t offer much back support, the Yakpad is a good solution for butt numbness. We used it on its own but it could also be added to other seats for extra comfort.
At a glance...
- Filled with gel (incredibly comfortable)
- No installation necessary
- Rubber grip bottom prevents slipping
- Small and very transportable
- Dries out quickly
Most Adjustable: Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus Seat
This Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus Seat is sturdy, supportive and incredibly versatile. It’s best feature is the adjustable back.
This seat was a breeze to strap in and simple to remove. The straps have solid, sturdy brass swivel buckels and the seat holds weight well.
Our seat got quite wet when we took it on a test ride. But, the ventilation of the nylon meant we stayed mostly dry.
We loved that we could easily adjust the straps to fit most of our kayaks.
It works for both sit on top and some sit in kayak models.
What sets this seat apart is that the back can be adjusted to any angle, from straight to more relaxed. We loved being able to lean the seat back for less serious trips.
The back provided excellent support, especially for our short team members, which allowed us to stay on the water longer. However, it might not be enough support for taller kayakers.
Unfortunately, the seat itself doesn’t offer very much padding for your butt. We cut some foam padding and used Velcro to attach it to the bottom of the seat – easy fix!
Also, on some of our kayaks, the bottom, which is quite slick, tended to slip around a bit. However, we found that if we tightened the straps right, this held the seat in place better.
This is a good seat for expanding a single kayak into a tandem for a child, friend or even pet.
At a glance...
- Fits sit on top and some sit in models
- Sturdy and strong straps
- Angle of back of seat can be adjusted
- Mediocre padding
- Quick and easy installation
Most Supportive: Leader Accessories Black Deluxe Kayak Seat
The Leader Accessories kayak seat is incredibly supportive, especially for taller kayakers or those who struggle with back problems.
The higher, firmer back on this seat provides extra back and side support and prevents cramping, especially on longer trips. We took this seat on a six-hour test ride and were so comfortable!
Installing this seat was simple and only took us a few minutes. It has two straps at the front and two in the rear, with solid brass clips.
This straps on this seat are incredibly adjustable and we loved that we could do easily small adjustments while rowing. The brass hook connecters are strong and sturdy.
We loved how handy the small, detachable bag was and found it especially useful for carrying fishing gear. Unfortunately, the bag is not waterproof, so we wouldn’t recommend it for choppier waters.
The only shortcoming is that the seat is not as padded as we would have liked. Our rear-ends went a bit numb during the test ride!
Although this seat is built for sit on top kayak models, it also worked on our sit in model. However, we were frustrated by the fact that the straps needed to be tightened throughout our strip to prevent slippage.
Although its lacking in the cushioning department, if what you’re looking for is back support, this is the ideal seat.
At a glance...
- Simple and quick instillation
- High, firm back for extra support
- Small detachable bag for extra storage
- Not very well padded
- Adaptable to various kayak models
Buyer's Guide for Marine Speakers
High vs Low Back
Higher, more supportive backs are especially crucial for those who take their kayaks fishing or are serious rowers. Recreational kayakers, however, don’t necessarily need the extra support will manage with a normal or low seat.
Either way, if you have chronic back pain or other back issues, opt for a seat with a high, supportive back. We promise, your back will thank you.
However, this is less important for shorter or young kayakers, who should be sufficiently supported without a high back.
Slip 'n Slide
Few things are as annoying as a kayak seat that is unstable or tends to slip or slide around under you. Look for a seat that will grip your kayak well or has straps that can be tightened for stability.
If you do accidentally buy with an unstable seat, it’s not the end of the world. We’ve found that attaching Velcro to the bottom of the seat, or duct taping the straps, are easy fixes.
Although it might seem gimmicky, the best extra feature your kayak seat can come with is a detachable bag.
Extra points if its water resistant!
These are super helpful for holding anything you need including your lunch, your sunscreen, or even your phone. We especially loved being able to store (and easily access) extra fishing gear or tackle in our detachable bag.
Sit in vs Sit ontop
Whether you have a sit in or a sit on top kayak model, will determine what seat you can get.
While seats are typically built to suit one or the other, most seats can be adapted to any kayak. However, it is important to be aware of what model the seat you have your eye on is designed for.
After a few hours on water, anyone’s butt starts to feel the brunt of sitting for such a long time.
Its important to choose a seat that had plenty of padding. We’ve found that though its rarer, gel is more comfortable and easier on the rear than foam.
However, when it comes down to it, padding is less important than a supportive back. If your seat doesn’t have enough padding for you, simply buy an extra cushion or wedge of foam.
Ideally, you want a kayak seat that is well ventilated and will drain water away from the padding. This is important for two reasons.
Firstly, you don’t want to be sitting in a puddle of water and damp pants during your kayak trip. Not only is it a bit gross, it can also make your thighs chaff.
Secondly, a seat that holds water is more likely to grow mould or start to stink. Nobody wants that!
Every kayaker has unique and specialized needs and preferences.
The best kayak seats are the ones that can be adjusted to fit these. In our experience, the more straps a seat has, the better.
Although straps can make a seat confusing to install, they allow for highly customizability. A plus is being able to adapt your seat for use across a range of kayak models.