Your position and comfort in the kayak play a huge role in the enjoyment of your time on the water. The three main contact points between you and your kayak are your buttocks, thighs, and feet. Proper kayak outfitting maximizes contact with all three of these points, allowing you to sit upright with good posture and letting you paddle more efficiently for a longer period of time.
Always adjust your outfitting while your kayaks sits stable on a soft, non-abrasive surface. If the surrounding land is unsuitable, simply place the kayak in some calm, shallow water and make your adjustments there. Regardless of where you complete your adjustments, remember that the goal is to maximize comfort and control.
Backrest angle – To sit up straight, add tension in the backrest strap. For a more relaxed, laid back paddling position, release some tension in the backrest strap. There are five different backrest strap tension systems, depending on the kayak model you own:
- Kayaks with Flex 4 seat outfitting use rope adjustments. Pull on the rope to tighten or raise the seat then lock it into place with the cleat.
- Kayaks with the Sit-on-Top seat are adjusted by two independent sets of straps.
- Whitewater Kayaks outfitting use a ratchet system located at the front of the seat, doubled with a cam buckle located behind the right hip pad. First, set the ladder strap in the ratchet to the last notch towards its free extremity; in that position, the backrest should be pulled all the way back. Then pull on the strap at the cam buckle to eliminate any slack in the strap. Sit in the kayak and crank the ratchet until you obtain the desired tension in the backrest. If the adjustment range provided by the ladder strap and ratchet is not enough, loosen the ratchet and pull the strap through the cam buckle a little more to gain more tension.
Backrest height – Generally speaking, a higher backrest setup provides more comfort for casual or long paddling sessions on calm waters, and a lower backrest makes rolling easier and allows more range of motion for performance paddling, or for rough conditions. To adjust your backrest’s height:
- Flex 4 Seat: slack both knobs behind the backrest a couple turns, pull up or push down the backrest to the desired height, then tighten the knobs again to finish the setup. If the knob appears to turn loose, just push against the seat cover with your other hand as you tighten. If it still doesn’t tighten, try twisting the knob clockwise… (see more info in this video)
- Floating Backband: View this video here
- Flex Light Seat: View this video here
Hip pads – Models with Advanced Contour Fit and High Performance Contour Fit outfitting come with adjustable hip pads. By slacking the support plate screws using a standard Phillips screw driver, these hip pads can be moved forward and back. You can also customize your hip pad settings by inserting foam shims between the support plate and the cushioning. Models with custom fit outfitting, slide in foam blocks into the pouches to adjust the seat to your body.
Footbraces – Properly adjusted footbraces increase your control, letting you put the kayak on edge for turning or for bracing in an oncoming wave. A properly adjusted footbrace should allow your knees and thighs a snug fit under the cockpit and thighbraces. There are two types of footbraces:
- Quicklock footbrace system (kayaks without rudder) – Simply pinch the trigger on the rear of the foot pedal to release the locking mechanism. Once released you can move the foot pedal forwards or backwards along the track to customize your fit. You can even tighten the footbraces while seated by using your feet to pull them closer to you.
- Adjustable footbrace system (kayaks with rudder)
- Slider Pedal– Designed so you can fit your footbraces without affecting your rudder control system. Pull the straps to move the foot pedals closer to you. To move the pedals further away from you simply release the ladder lock on each strap and the pedals will slide forward. View more in this video
- Gas-Pedal - Designed so you can fit your footbraces without affecting your rudder control system - pivot the plastic tab up to release the pedal and move the pedal forward or back. To lock the position, pivot the plastic tab back flush against hull or in down position. View more in this video
IMPORTANT: After all your adjustments are complete and you are seated in your kayak, you will want to verify that you can still easily exit your kayak. If your kayak is equipped with a rudder, also confirm its proper function. Then, time spent in your kayak will be your best teacher as to which areas of your body may require additional padding.