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There are many features and options that the designer can choose to include or omit with the overall decision being dependent on the end benefit or performance that he/she would like the boat to have or do.
The different features to consider when looking to purchase a canoe, kayak, sea kayak or sit-on-top can be found under each heading.
FEATURES EXPLAINED - SEATS
Of all of the features of your kayak, the seat is one of the most important, because if your seat is not comfortable, you are not going to be able to spend extended periods of time in your kayak.
Also, an incorrectly designed seat can lead to medical conditions because of impeded blood flow back from the legs and an unsupported seat position can cause muscular problems in your legs and lower back.
TYPES OF SEATS
There are 2 common types of seat systems a "full pan" seat or an "integrated" seat .
A "full pan" seat is moulded separately to the kayak shell, and is added as another part during the assembly process. In a plastic kayak, you will usually find that it is secured just outside the combing by screws that pass through the kayak shell and into a nut under the seat or an insert that has been moulded into the seat itself. The base of the seat then generally sits directly onto the inside floor of the kayak.
An "integrated" seat can also be known as an "drop-down" seat and this is moulded in as part of the hull. You are able to easily identify this type of seat because it is attached to the sides of the kayak at the combing and is usually the same colour as the kayak.
Full Pan Seat
At Australis, we use a "full-pan" seat because:
At Australis, we do not use an "integrated" seat because of how they concentrate pressure and stress in just a few places on the kayak.
Our original "Funyak" kayak had an integrated seat.
Whilst it didn't have support pillars under the pan, we did need to place a piece from foam under the seat to reduce some of the pressure felt by the seat where it joined onto the combing.
When we re-made the Funyak mould, we replaced the "integrated" seat with a "full pan seat" because it helped to disperse the weight of the paddler over a greater surface area, rather than concentrating it in a few places, as well as offering more structural support to the overall shape of the kayak, making it safer.
Whilst not as common as a full pan or an integrated seat, some kayaks are made with a "podded" seat. This is where the seat and backrest are moulded as one piece. The backrest is not able to be adjusted to other angles, and actually forms a "bulkhead" preventing water moving from the cockpit to the back of the boat.
At Australis, we do not use a "podded" seat because:
A well designed seat will help you to maintain correct paddling position and prove more comfortable because:
The soft, flowing edge (rather than a sharp edge) helps to make your paddling experience more comfortable because it doesn't cut into the back of your legs, and because there is unrestricted blood flow and nerve impulses, sciatic pain and the "pins and needles" feeling are minimised;
The Coccyx (or tailbone) will ache if continual pressure is exerted on it.
A poorly designed seat can cause all sorts of short term and long term medical conditions.
Symptoms that you will experience in a poorly designed seat include:
Whilst the inclusion of foam pads on the seat makes it look more comfortable, this can actually give you a sense of false security.
If the actual seat design does not hold your pelvis in the correct biomechanical position and support your torso, you can actually do yourself more harm using this product than the benefits that you will receive from paddling.
The seat should be wider than you are, and you can then customise the boat to suit your paddling style. This will often see slimmer people "pack the boat out" with foam so that they can fit into it more snugly.