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 Post subject: saddle instead of seat?
PostPosted: January 20th, 2021, 11:03 pm 
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Joined: August 7th, 2002, 7:00 pm
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Location: Duluth, MN
I've been thinking about the fact that I basically only kneel in my solo (swift osprey) with my butt against the seat. Getting my feat out from under the seat at a portage is often a pain (more so every year), and I always have some residual fear about extracting my feat from underneath the seats in the event of a whitewater dump. This got me thinking that perhaps I should just swap out the seat for a saddle, but having never used one I'm not sure about how comfortable they are or how well this might suit me. Any thoughts from the collective brain trust? (I was also wondering if a saddle would impede portaging somehow, given the clamp on yoke and such.) Anyway, curious if anyone out there prefers a saddle to using a standard seat.


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2021, 8:55 am 
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Joined: May 25th, 2017, 3:02 pm
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Location: Guelph, Ontario
I’m sure there are others with way more experience with Saddles than me but I find the saddle way more comfortable on my butt than the edge of my seat when I’m kneeling for a long period of time. I only own a tandem canoe and pop in a Northwater saddle when I go out solo in it.

https://northwater.com/collections/saddles-kneepads

With my size 13 flippers at the end of my legs I have my seat mounted a bit higher than ideal for whitewater as I too have concerns about getting my feet out from under in a whitewater dump. Part of that depends on the foot wear I have on.

Adjustable saddle may provide a solution to saddle position during portage.


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2021, 8:58 am 
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As a mostly whitewater paddler who has spent a lot of time sitting on a pedestal, I have some opinions. First, by "saddle" I am assuming you mean a foam block of some sort, not one of those tractor seat things. That said, they are not uncomfortable and can be shaped to whatever form you find best. However, you can only kneel and will lose the option of sitting and stretching out (which is why I have seats in my expedition boat).

There is also an issue of portaging. A pedestal will occupy the same real estate over the balance point as a yoke. With an Osprey this may not be an issue because it is light and you can just carry by putting the pedestal on your shoulder. There is also the option of fitting a yoke on struts like Adirondack guide boats.

Finally, it will weigh more than a seat.

Personally, I would look at adjusting the seat for a tripping boat.


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2021, 9:55 am 
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Joined: January 8th, 2007, 9:56 pm
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Location: Wisconsin
After 30+ years of whitewater paddling and telemark skiing, my knees are no longer what they used to be. So now I kneel only when in rapids.

I still have a pedestal in my whitewater playboat since that's used almost exclusively in rapids. But I prefer a seat in a touring or expedition boat since 90+% of almost any wilderness trip is flatwater. I realize I'm sacrificing a little bit of control in rapids for comfort in the flats by using a seat, but for me it's worth it. I have relatively small feet, so extricating my feet from under the seat is less of a concern than it may be for others with big flippers at the end of their legs.


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2021, 11:41 am 
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Joined: May 25th, 2017, 3:02 pm
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Location: Guelph, Ontario
I’ll argue with Peter’s point on weight. My closed foam saddle does not weigh more than my seat.


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2021, 1:04 pm 
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Dave_k. -- point taken. I was thinking of a full-on whitewater pedestal with Yakima footbraces. Obviously not required here.


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2021, 1:47 pm 
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Joined: July 9th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Cambridge, Ontario
I started solo river tripping with a seat and quickly moved to a saddle. I soon built up a custom saddle that was wider, longer and taller than the typical Mike Yee pedestal. This added relief to my knees and ankles and also allowed me to sit on the saddle cross legged for short periods of time. I used this set up for about 15 years - with most trip being one week or less. I moved back to a seat on my last trip this past October.

My +'s for the saddle:

I find kneeling to be a much more efficient paddling position - for both flat and white water, and paddling in the sitting position bothers my lower back - I'm much more comfortable kneeling in a saddle

I'm feel much more secure and in control paddling whitewater in a saddle - better contact for my backside and the ability to grip with thighs. Entrapment with the seat is another concern - I'm big footed.

My +'s for the seat:

I can't kneel all day and when sitting the seat is far superior for comfort. I should note that I'm in my 40's so the majority of my tripping in the saddle was in my 30's. I appear to have a higher tolerance for kneeling stress than others - a tolerance that has decreased with age.

The saddle gets in the way while portaging. It's less of an issue in my current boat because it's small and light (Vertige) and I could shoulder it but it was a bigger issue in my Vertige X and Sunburst. A clamp on yoke could solve most of this issue but I could never be bothered to use it. With my seat placed a few inches aft of center, I use the forward edge of the seat as the yoke on top of a pack and find it to be very comfortable to portage.

The saddle (with foot braces) takes up more space thereby reducing how much gear I can pack. This might not be a consideration for a larger boat but in my 13' boat equipped with airbags it's a factor

I suppose ideally I'd have both.


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2021, 2:02 pm 
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Joined: January 11th, 2005, 4:58 pm
Posts: 2080
Location: Manitoba
Options
seat
seat raised high for easier feet exit while kneeling
seat angled forward for kneeling (more comfortable?)
kneeling thwart (less structure to get your feet out from under)
saddle, foam
saddle, plastic, old school

Seats offer more paddling positions (feet under, feet in front, one foot under and one foot forward, kneeling, etc.).
With kneeling thwarts you can easily move closer to your onside gunwale.

For saddles, I find height as well as width important considerations. There is some flexibility with saddles as well because you can add a chunk of foam under your butt on the flats and then remove it for WW. And I've seen paddlers sit up on the back or top of their saddles for a length stretch (only works on saddles with a big enough back support or top).

Portaging with saddles. Most saddles are positioned centrally, with the front of the saddle near the balance midpoint so that your belly button is the pivot point. So most of the saddle is behind there you install a removable yoke. So it does impede portaging a bit. The other issue is the depth of your canoe and the saddle height as you need room for your head but you should be able to install a removable yoke but might have to weight the stern a bit to compensate for the slightly forward yoke position.

I'm okay canoeing a 100 km river trip using a saddle. In fact, I enjoy heeling the hull and paddling against the arc, something that is easier to do paddling from a saddle.

You could get a saddle and place it in a canoe and try it out or try out a canoe that already have a saddle installed.

The other thing to consider is to more your paddling position aft of centre and use a permanently installed yoke. I think that's a good option for soloing larger canoes, such as your Swift Osprey at 15'.

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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2021, 12:14 am 
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Joined: November 16th, 2007, 1:11 pm
Posts: 129
Location: Mid-coast Maine
I have a similar response to Brian and Doug. My whitewater boats are saddle only. The XL is easy to shoulder and has no yoke. The Mad River ME has the saddle mounted aft of the yoke which makes portaging no problem. My tripper has both saddle and seat. I prefer the seat for long stretches of lazy floating or doubleblading flatwater, then pop onto the saddle for better maneuverability. Again, mounted aft of the yoke, portaging is no problem. I find you have much more control over leaning and bracing your boat from a saddle as it significantly increases the amount of leverage you can apply with your hips and body weight. My saddles are all homemade out of minicell - nothing fancy, just a rectangle with a beveled edge on either side of the seat. I am a taller guy and I've found the standard saddles off the shelf feel like trying to sit in a child's car seat. I literally cannot get my butt down low enough for a standard saddle to provide any support without poking my knees through the side of the canoe. I make mine taller (about the height of the seat) and wider as Doug mentions, which allows me to kneel in a taller supported position and allows more blood flow to the extremities. It probably puts my center of gravity higher in the air than it ought to be, but you can't have it all... I don't use foot braces, but I can hook my toes around the back of the saddle which locks me in just fine. I also make them removable - velcro tape on the bottom attaches it to the hull and prevents slippage, and a few pieces of 1/2" pvc poked through in either direction allows paracord to tie it down to d-rings glued to the hull - one tight to each side of the saddle. Can switch a saddle between boats in a matter of minutes. It does take up space in the tripper, but paddling the Moisie solo, it's not an issue. I've also installed a bilge pump and battery into the bottom of the saddle which is useful when you want to hit the waves hard, but don't feel like spending 10 minutes with a milk jug every time you do.

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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2021, 9:23 am 
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Joined: August 16th, 2011, 8:02 pm
Posts: 316
Location: Edmonton area
I use a height, and fore/aft, port/starboard adjustable pedestal that I made from a foam archery target.

I trip solo in a tandem Bluewater Freedom Tripper 17', that I've removed the seats and kneeling thwart from.

I made two mini-cell folding "wings" that attach to the pedestal by 4 small pieces of poly cordage glued into holes drilled in the wings and saddle, that allow the wings to either flip out on either side of the saddle to drop the seat by an inch, for kneeling. Or, I can flip the wings under the saddle to raise it for sitting. Raising/lowering takes maybe 10 seconds.

I glued in 2 pieces of webbing into the front and back of the saddle, and they connect with an adjustable fastex buckle. These pieces of webbing go through a webbing loop on a pvc patch that I've glued to the floor of my boat. This allows me to slide the saddle around in the canoe, to heel or re-trim in changing wind, but it also lets me snug up the adjustable webbing on the saddle, so that it is pulled tight against the floor, and doesn't move at all during portages.

The saddle is right behind the permanently attached sculpted carry yoke, and doesn't interfere with portaging at all. In camp, I have used the saddle as a footstool in front of the fire, a writing table inside my tent, and a spare seat for someone if required.

I've been using this system for years now, and it provides what I think is the best of both seats and saddles. I can sit cross legged on it when it is up close to the carry thwart, or I can push it back from the thwart and stretch my legs out. In moving water when I want to kneel, I reach down, flip the wings out to the side of the saddle from underneath, and I'm good to go.

If any of that is confusing to anyone, I can try to post a photo or two of it if desired. At any rate, I thought that I would throw that out there, because is certainly is possible to have a very functional and adjustable DIY saddle/seat without spending much money or time.

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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2021, 10:28 am 
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Location: Kanata
guyfawkes041,
Sounds interesting, could you please post a photo or two of what you've created.

thanks!
rab


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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2021, 5:54 pm 
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Location: Guelph, Ontario
Guyfawkes041
I believe you posted photos of your creation on a thread I started a while back. Saving you reposting them.

https://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewto ... s&start=15


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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2021, 6:23 pm 
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Location: Edmonton area
Thank you Dave_k, that does save me some time. There are two variants on the "hinge" which connects the minicell wings to the open cell saddle, and allows them to fold out/in. The first used fabric glued between the pieces, and the second used short pieces of poly rope glued into holes drilled in the pieces. The rope worked better. I have more pics and am happy to answer any questions if anyone has any. Cheers all.

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PostPosted: January 25th, 2021, 1:37 pm 
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Joined: February 26th, 2009, 11:13 am
Posts: 151
Location: Eganville, ON
Whenever I'm tripping solo I remove the tandem seats, and install the foam saddle. I raised the standard saddle by 2" so it is much easier to keel for longer periods. I also alternate to single kneeling and one leg extended to stretch out the ligaments. The higher saddle allows for sitting with both legs extended on occasion when paddling power can be sacrificed.

I place the saddle behind the middle yoke, up against a thwart. With a couple packs placed in front of the yoke I find the canoe balances perfectly. With the seat in this position it can be portaged with a canoe pack or barrel on, but not with a hiking pack that sticks up much above your shoulders.

To install the saddle I simply use 2 strips of mounting tape on either side and mount it just as we are setting off for a trip. After sitting in the seat for an hour it is well glued down for the remainder of the trip, and even holds up on the ride home strapped to the roof. When done with the saddle, slow sustained lifting eventually breaks the bond and it can be stored until next time.

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PostPosted: January 25th, 2021, 3:09 pm 
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Joined: July 9th, 2003, 11:48 am
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Location: Back to Winnipeg
Here's my 2 cents from 1 weekend of lake tripping on my ww saddle.... I was in a boat that doesn't track well and I was paddling through some choppy winds. Apparently I was engaging my legs a lot for power & control. Being on a saddle in one position, this concentrated the effects on my muscles. I woke up in the middle of the night with major cramps in my groin muscles!! It was not good. Paddled the next day with other stuff under my butt so that I'd sit higher and could have a few more options for movement. My groin muscles have honestly never been the same since. And I was worried about my knees. Something to consider.

I think I'd go with a seat for tripping.

For river tripping with a saddle, I'd bring extra foam to raise & widen it. I'm still undecided on positioning, depending on the trip. I think I'd have a proper yoke installed (instead of fiddling with a removeable yoke) and position the saddle behind it (aft of an ideal centre position), throwing my gear in the front as ballast for trim while paddling.

Anyway, maybe the above problem was unique to me, but the severe muscle cramps were something I hadn't thought about, and really did not enjoy.

Cheers, P.

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