The 10 Best Canoe Seats
A Brief History Of Canoes
North American adventurers used them extensively, as the land was full of smaller creeks and rivers that weren't suitable for larger boats.
Canoes might be the oldest form of boat known to man. Excavations in the Netherlands revealed the Pesse canoe, which is believed to date back to 8040 B.C.E. It was a dugout canoe that was made of a single, large piece of pine, chopped down with flint tools.
The Dutch weren't the only ones carving out boats, however. Canoes were also found in the Amazon, as well as in Australia, where the Aboriginal people used a variety of woods to make them.
These small, lightweight boats were capable of carrying a surprising amount of cargo, and while they weren't especially durable, it was easy to patch them up when the need arose. The designs slowly became more elaborate, as well, with many tribes using whale bones to make sturdier frames, and stretching animal skins across the boat to make them more waterproof.
When European settlers ventured into the Americas in the 17th century C.E., they immediately recognized the value of these watercraft, especially as they tried to explore and map the new continents. North American adventurers used them extensively, as the land was full of smaller creeks and rivers that weren't suitable for larger boats.
The first European to cross all of North America, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, relied on canoes and kayaks for large portions of his voyage, and once the fur trade took off, trappers used them to commute to and from trading outposts.
In the 1800s, people began to use them for fun and recreation, and clubs formed around their use. The Royal Canoe Club was founded in London in 1866, with its Yankee counterpart, the American Canoe Association, coming along 14 years later.
As you might expect whenever a bunch of like-minded people get together, friendly competitions started to develop, and soon people began to race their canoes. Canoeing was a demonstration sport at the 1924 Olympics in Paris, and made its debut as a full-time sport in Berlin 12 years later (although it was overshadowed by other goings-on).
Millions of people still canoe every year, both for fun and for sport, and it's remarkable how little the design of the boats has changed since the Mesolithic Era. One thing that hasn't changed, however, is how remarkably easy it is to fall out of one of the things.
Finding The Right Canoe Seat
It's remarkable how many people neglect to consider their canoe seat when shopping for a new boat (which, presumably, is why you're here today).
If you're planning on spending a lot of time in your canoe, you'll want to make sure your seat is comfy. You expect to have sore shoulders when you're done paddling, but there's no reason why you should come home with an aching back.
Many options don't have a backrest at all, so unless your posture is perfect, you should skip those entirely.
If you already have back problems, you should find a seat that offers plenty of lumbar support. Many options don't have a backrest at all, so unless your posture is perfect, you should skip those entirely.
Find one that stays in place, as well. If you can't secure it in some way, it'll slide around all over the place, especially once it gets wet. There are many with straps, while others snap-in over the top of the boat.
Another thing that you shouldn't overlook is the possibility of storage space. There are some with mesh pockets, which can come in handy when you're out on the lake. It's an easy and secure way to keep your phone, keys, and anything else you don't want to lose in one place, although you can replicate these benefits with a dry bag.
Once you find a seat that works, you'll be able to stay out on the water as long as you like without needing a chiropractor the next day (you can still get a massage — just tell your boss we said you could take a personal day).
Tips For Safe Paddling
While canoeing is lots of fun, it's not without its risks. Dozens of people die while paddling each year, so don't let your guard down while you're out on the water.
Take every precaution you can before you launch your boat. That means wearing a life vest, even if you're a strong swimmer, and carrying a survival whistle or flare gun in case you need help.
Most importantly, though, if you're in a rural area and hear banjo music, paddle for your life.
Don't overestimate your abilities, either. Take some classes before you start, and respect the rapids. Check the weather report before you leave, and if it looks like there's a storm coming, stay home. It's not just rain you have to worry about — the lightning that accompanies it is what will probably get you.
Be sure not to take any risks by leaning over, as it's easier than you think to flip the canoe. If you're going out in the ocean, or during colder months, remember that hypothermia from being in the water is a much bigger danger than drowning.
To minimize the risk, you can wear a wetsuit under your clothes, and keep a blanket, chemical hot pack, and means to start a fire in a waterproof bag. Get out of the water as soon as possible, and find a way to warm yourself — but don't do it too quickly, or else you could trigger a heart arrhythmia.
It's probably a good idea to take some basic first aid classes while you're at it, since there's a seemingly endless number of ways to hurt yourself out in the wild. Also, make sure you tell a friend where you're going, and what time you expect to be back, and have them call the authorities if you don't show up on time.
There's no reason why you can't come back safe and sound from every adventure, provided you take these simple precautions. Most importantly, though, if you're in a rural area and hear banjo music, paddle for your life.