Add a passenger canoe seat

Add a passenger canoe seat
Video Add a passenger canoe seat

Since I have already had to research this, I thought I would write about some options. WordPress tells me this is the most popular page on my site. I have added four more options since I originally wrote this.

So presumably you have at least one child. And if there are two adults in the canoe, you need to have a place for your child/children to sit. For the first year of canoeing with our child, we did not have a place for him to sit. We put a couple of extra horse collar PFD’s on the floor and he could sort of sit on that. This year, I decided I wanted our child, who will be 6 soon, to have his own seat. I wanted to make it comfortable in the canoe for him. I want him to fall in love with canoeing or at least nature and having a proper seat was fundamental.

So here are the choices:

  1. Boat Floatation Cushions on the floor of the canoe. I actually bought two of these from Amazon for our guest canoe. They are about 2.5 inches think and pretty comfortable. They are either a temporary or a permanent solution for seating in our guest canoe. But for now they are our solution.
  2. Old Town Snap-in Center Seat – This works for some Old Town canoes, and our main canoe is an Old Town Appalachian. So this is either a permanent or temporary solution for a middle seat. It worked, it fits our canoe, but not our Mohawk Intrepid. So I would only order it if you have verified that it will fit your canoe. I got mine at Austin Kayak because that was the best price I could find at the time. Maybe down the line, we will put in a permanent seat, but this works fine. You need to take out the seat to portage (on shoulders) the canoe. So we actually left it behind at the put-in the first time we used it. My husband had to drive back to get it after getting home.
  3. Mohawk Hanging Center Canoe Seat – This looks interesting. There is not much information on the website, but this may be a way to customize a hanging canoe seat for any canoe… or at least for Mohawk Canoes. A call to Mohawk is probably in order if this interests you.
  4. Wenonah Drop In Seat – OK, this seat is not available anymore, (5/2015), you didn’t want it anyway, it was expensive and did not look worth the money.
  5. Ed’s Canoes has a whole variety of canoe seats for sale. Here is my advice on seats. Do not buy a cane seat, buy a webbing seat. Cane seats look nice, but I have seen many broken cane seats on canoes. And the used canoe we bought as a guest canoe had broken cane seats on it. They were replaced with webbed seats. I would buy the long center seat webbed in Ash. Or I would buy Youth Tandem Seat. You need to buy the hangers and screws to go with it, so if you are going to do this, maybe call and get some advice from the store before putting in your order. I have not made an order with Ed’s Canoe, but I have emailed for advice. In the end we got the snap-in seat because it took no work to put in and fit our boat. Of course if you get one of these seats, you or someone else is going to have to put it in.
  6. Cheap solution: Get on the mailing list for Austin Canoe and Kayak. They send out coupons every once in awhile. A 15% coupon on one item, like this 40″ seat gets you the seat for less than $31.00. Of course you will need to buy the hardware to put the seat in. But that is a permanent middle seat for one person for less than $50. It may not be the solution for everyone, but it could be the solution for many.
  7. Homemade Cheap solution: Buy the hardware. For a seat screwed to the gunwale, you need some hardware, you can get it at Austin Kayak, also at Old Town , (but you have to buy 4 dowels and 4 bolt and washers separately, so it adds up). Ed’s Canoe also has the hardware. Or get the hardware for a hanging seat attachment kit from Mohawk Canoes. After you have the hardware, get a board from your local lumber supply, either 1″x 6″ x 4 feet or 1″x8″x 4 feet. Ash is the traditional choice for a wood canoe seat. I have not made this seat but, selecting the wood might be a challenge if you want to go cheap or you don’t want to paint layers of marine polyurethane. If you get the cheap pine, then after you get done cutting it to the length and size of the area it is going to be screwed into, you need to coat it with multiple layers of paint or marine polyurethane — and when I mean multiple, I mean like 5 or more coats. Make sure you coat the inside of the holes for the screws. But if you are not going to coat the wood no matter what, teak is a traditional wood used in (sail) boats. Cypress is used in house siding, so it must be water resistant. Cedar is use in shingles so it must have some water or rot resistant characteristics. I really don’t know the best wood to choose. But if you are going cheap, you will probably choose the cheap pine at Home Depot. You will have to make sure to cut it to the exact shape and size of the hull of your boat. If you do this, send me a picture and I will post it. This guy tells how to make really nice canoe seats (for the real woodworker). It will not be cheap and it will not be easy, but you can at least read about it.

Other Considerations

Someone suggested putting the middle seat in a position in the canoe, such that the seat could be used as the seat for a solo paddler. Normally when I have paddled a tandem canoe solo, I sit backwards on the bow (front) seat.

If you carry a canoe on your shoulders like this video, then you need to be concerned where the middle seat is located, so you can still carry the canoe. I used to be able to do this canoe lift with a 70 lb. Grumman canoe in my twenties. I can still carry a canoe like this, but I can’t get it up by myself like that anymore.

So you don’t want to portage on your shoulders? You could get one of these canoe portage carts and wheel your canoe to the water. We did a canoe camping trip in the Adirondacks in 2005 and rented a cart for our portages. It was fantastic, best money we every spent. Some of the portages were quite long.

Canoe Portage Cart – We now own our own canoe portage cart. It comes in handy especially with guests because chances are anyone we invite to go canoeing with us cannot do the shoulder portage, so we take the cart. By the way, that cart came with our guest canoe we got off of craigslist. What a deal. We got the Mohawk Intrepid 16 with worn out seats and a worn out center thwart, but it came with 2 new seats and a new center thwart which the former owner was going to put in, but never got around to it. And the canoe portage cart, for only $450. We had to spend a half a day outfitting the canoe with the new seats and thwart. And I was looking at the bottom of our guest canoe. It looks like it never went anywhere except a lake. There are no scratches or scuffs.

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