The 10 Best Boat Seats
This wiki has been updated 15 times since it was first published in July of 2018. The right seating can make or break a day on the water, especially if you're spending hours fishing or going on a long trip. Whether you are looking to replace the old chairs on your trusty boat or need to upgrade the comfort level on a new vessel, our selection of seats provides you with plenty of comfortable, functional options. Many fold down to save space and provide storage, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
March 09, 2021:
More than just a place to sit, a boat seat should be made from marine-grade materials that are also lightweight and durable, additionally, they should provide certain benefits specific to the vessel in which they will be used. For example, they can enhance the interior design, thus increasing the value of the boat, they can provide additional storage, or they may be designed with specific activities in mind such as fishing. In this update we added several new options to the ranking, thus broadening their scope of use.
For those looking to add more seating to a vessel, a two-person option may be the answer. The Wise Lounge has a unique design that comfortably seats two people back to back, and also folds down flat for lounging and sunbathing, whereas, the Xgear High Back and the Moeller Marine Deluxe allow passengers to sit side by side. The latter also includes a useful storage compartment in its base, which, thanks to its insulated walls and built-in drainage system, could be filled with ice and used as a cooler. The versatile Fishmaster Marine Center Console is not only wide enough to accommodate multiple users, but it also doubles as a leaning post while fishing and incorporates three rod holders. However, the lack of a backrest will perhaps make long journeys somewhat uncomfortable.
Single-seat options come in a range of styles and sizes, from larger helm chairs, such as the Wise Captains Chair, which features an aluminum pillar base that allows it to be adjusted to just the right position for controlling the vessel, to small folding options, such as the Leader Accessories Shell. The Tempress Navi Style and the Tempress Elite are two more foldable seats that have plenty of cushioning and good lumbar support, making them a great choice for longer journeys.
October 02, 2019:
The Leader Accessories Captain was no longer available, so we dropped it from the list. In assessing the rest of the items, we decided to upgrade the Leader Accessories Deluxe in the rankings — while its applications are limited (it’s made specifically for kayaks), it’s quite effective at providing comfort and stability in a situation where both can be hard to come by.
A sturdy bench seat with an insulated cooler compartment in the base, the Moeller Marine Deluxe strikes us as an efficient use of space. Users seem to agree, reporting that it can keep multiple riders comfortable for long periods of time and provide plenty of storage for all kinds of items.
Knowing that fishermen and hunters prefer a certain type of seat, we added the Guide Gear Advantage Max-4 to the mix. It’s simple and affordable, and with its camouflage pattern, you can even set it up within a hunting blind if you want to.
E-SeaRider Bean bag chairs may not be as in style today as they were in decades past, but E-SeaRider has made them a viable option for boaters who want to take their on-the-water relaxation to the next level. You can choose from several shapes — armchair, round, teardrop or wedge. e-searider.com
Todd Marine From standard helm seats to ladderback chairs and wide benches, Todd Marine offers a plethora of quality options that are designed to withstand saltwater conditions. Avid fishermen will want to consider the model with built-in rod holders, and the cooler swing-back seat is great for groups with lots of food and drink. toddusa.com
Set Sail In Style
Do you need a helm chair for the captain or multiple seats for passengers?
People operate watercraft for a variety of reasons, but whether they’re on the water to fish, hunt, explore, or relax, they can probably agree on one thing: comfortable seating is vital.
Styles vary widely between different types of boats and applications, but the material and design of the seat is important regardless of the type. Seats covered in marine-grade vinyl are ideal, as this durable material offers steady resistance to water and mildew.
Unless you’re setting up a basic, utilitarian fishing boat, you’ll want a seat with ample padding for comfort and support. A quality cushion will also help provide shock absorption, which becomes increasingly valuable if you find yourself in rough, hostile waters.
Boat seats are typically waterproof, but if you’ll be out in saltwater, it’s a good idea to go with a model that features an aluminum frame. The high salt content in the water won’t damage or corrode an aluminum frame as easily as other metals or plastics. For freshwater vessels, a seat with resilient stainless steel hardware should work well.
Once you’re comfortable with the quality, shift your focus to the seat type. What style of boat do you own? Are you looking for an individual seat, multiple seats, bench seating, or a full-blown furniture set? Do you need a helm chair for the captain or multiple seats for passengers?
If you’re equipping a fishing boat, simplicity and ease of use triumph over fancy features. A basic folding seat — with a hinged backrest that flips down — is the most common style. A bucket seat provides more cushion and support, but lacks the folding functionality, while a bench seat can accommodate two or more individuals and mounts directly to the boat deck.
On large cruiser watercraft, you’ll often find bolster seats that provide better back support and additional features like armrests. Back-to-back seats — connected at the base but facing separate directions — efficiently utilize your space and usually feature storage underneath.
If you’re in the market for a more specialized seat, there are plenty of options available. Designed to aid you in battling feisty fish, fighting chairs feature built-in rod holders and padded arm rests to help ward off fatigue. A cooler seat is a nice space-saving solution with — you guessed it — a cooler that serves as the base. A swingback seat is a versatile choice, as you can quickly adjust it to face forward or backward.
Installation, Cleaning, and Maintenance
We’d never attempt to dissuade anyone from adopting the seafaring lifestyle, but we’ll let you newbies in on a little secret that is well-known to veteran watercraft owners: boats are a lot of work, both during the boating season and in the off-season.
But what’s the fun without a challenge, right? Whether you’re purchasing new seats or replacing old ones, you’ll need to prepare yourself. Make sure to take accurate measurements of the space available in your boat (or of the seats currently installed), so you know with certainty that your new components will fit.
To prepare yourself for any accidents that may occur, you may also want to keep a vinyl repair kit handy on the boat, which is helpful for fixing tears.
You’ll have to mount certain seats to a pedestal, and this can make things tricky. While some of these models come with the pedestal, many do not. If that’s the case for your selection, you’ll need to carefully evaluate available pedestals before buying one to ensure it matches the specific brand of seat you plan to install.
While most seats are constructed with resilient, high-quality vinyl — which is standard for marine applications — they’ll still eventually break down without proper care. After installing your seats, it’s wise to apply a special UV protectant to them prior to taking the boat out. Depending on their level of exposure to the sun, you should reapply the protectant every couple of months to ensure its effectiveness.
Cleanliness is key to longevity, so you’ll want to get into the habit of conducting routine cleanings, as well. This will help prevent the buildup of grime and mildew as well as stains on the vinyl that could become permanent if not addressed in a timely fashion. Be sure to use a boat cover when your watercraft is not in use — if a substance such as tree sap finds its way onto an uncovered seat, the sun can bake it into the vinyl, making it nearly impossible to remove.
If mildew stains develop over time, you’ll want to use a powerful marine-grade mildew stain remover to remove them — not bleach. To prepare yourself for any accidents that may occur, you may also want to keep a vinyl repair kit handy on the boat, which is helpful for fixing tears.
Decking Out Your Vessel
Once you’re satisfied with the seating situation on your boat, it’s time to equip it with the components and accessories necessary to create a fully enjoyable experience on the water.
With a boat grill, you can whip up burgers and brats for your friends and family, then jump into the water to cool down and swim off those calories.
For reliable protection from the elements, the aforementioned boat cover is a great place to start. Another indispensable item is a solid anchor. These are available in a variety of styles for different types of boats, and they’ll allow you to post your watercraft up in a specific location by preventing it from drifting due to current or wind.
If you plan on doing some swimming or snorkeling, you’re going to want to install a boat ladder. Many of these are telescopic and adjustable for use on vessels of various sizes. For those of you with canine friends who enjoy an occasional frolic in the water, a dog ramp will prove useful, as well.
Many cookout enthusiasts will argue that nothing beats spending a sunny afternoon grilling in the backyard, but we challenge them to consider this alternative: spending a sunny afternoon grilling out on your boat. With a boat grill, you can whip up burgers and brats for your friends and family, then jump into the water to cool down and swim off those calories.
You probably invested a considerable amount of time and resources into your boat, so why restrict your use of it to daylight hours? Pick up some bright underwater boat lights to enhance your visibility for navigation in low-light conditions and maybe even attract some fish.