• Kneeling Saddle Review


    I thought it might be best to give an idea of the background of this review to see if it is valid to you. I only have two years of canoeing experience so i am no expert, mostly on lochs with only two moving water trips the second of which was a recent trip with Perthshire Wood Canvas and Bandy for a Spey decent, these guys are far more experienced than i am so i can use their view of water conditions for the review. For my first year of paddling usualy with Pink Otter i would always sit on the seat wearing muck boots which was great, but the more i wanted to progress my paddling i wanted to kneel which for me made a massive difference, things became so much easier with alot more control, the problem being the pain and numbness after a short period. I am not Canadian, i hear they watch the telly, have their dinner and even sleep in a kneeling position but as a Glaswegian the only time i kneel is when in what we call the HUEWEY position about six inches from the pan after too much beer and curry. When i met Bandy and PWC to plan the trip they suggested that i would need a kneeling thwart, so away i went and made one, i do a little woodworking and it doesn't come much easier than a thwart, i tried many different positions and angles not really liking it, two main problems;
    1. Entrapment, i felt stuck in there and with no real whitewater experience i just wasn't happy with it and the muck boots would definately be out.
    2. When leaning the boat to one side the thwart obviously moves with the boat therefore you are not horizontal if sitting on the thwart.
    So what are the alternitives, well there doesn't seem to be many, so i thought about making something to sit on, but i only had a week before the trip, then i found this.
    Stingray Kneeling Saddle

    I thought it was worth a punt as i didn't have much time left. I informed PWC and Bandy of my purchase and after some John Wayne/Raw Hide and Bonanza exchanges they seemed to be quite interested. PWC had pointed out there may be a chance of chaffing, which i thought may be valid, so out came the lycra cycling shorts with padded insert just incase. I also wanted some ankle support but didn't have alot of time to fabricate anything so a swimming noodle cut down would have to do, i also knew the muck boots wern't going to work so i looked for a pair of neoprene knee lenth boots with no luck so opted for lomo's ankle boots (lomo are working on knee lenth boots and should be ready in the Autumn, prototipe looks great) so this was to be my set up.

    The first time i sat in the boat with this set up it just felt right.
    So on with the trip, day one was normal river flat sections with rapids grade 1 and 2 the saddle does not move around in the boat, it is attatched to the mat which you are kneeling on so you can grip it with your legs and it wont move which i found great in the rapids when sitting in the middle of the boat. Onto the flat sections and i would move it slightly to one side to lean the boat over, again very comfortable, the only problem being the lenth of the noodles i had cut which were too long when the saddle is on one side of the boat. After about three hours of paddling we stopped for lunch, normally i would be in agony after kneeling for this amount of time but apart from a little numbness it was night and day better and i knew i had made the wright choice for me. Day two was basically one long rapid with bigger rapids all the way, we came across a rapid just before the washing machine which we did not expect, it was BIG! PWC thought it may have been a grade 2+/3 and the biggest he had paddled, during this i had my legs spread while sitting on it paddling on both sides and it did not move, then the washing machine no problem. Unfotunately we had to abandon the next day due to the very high river levels, i suppose what i am trying to say is both the more experienced guys i was with thought it was very much tougher than normal so while i accept this saddle is not for whitewater canoes it certainly worked for me on this trip. I don't want this to sound patronising coming from a novice like me, as i may well change to a thwart one day as i gain experience, but for me and my type of paddling mostly lochs with occassional rivers, no bigger than grade 3 then this seems to work really well, i am sure people will have opinions as to why this saddle is a bad idea but i can't see any advantages using a thwart over this if it is comfortable for you.


    Weight. Nothing / too light for scales / lighter than thwart / floats

    Height. Two sizes. 19cm / 24cm ( i have the 24cm one )

    Cost. 65

    I am working on a more permanent solution for ankle support than the noodles as this really does make a difference.

    I don't mean to put down thwarts as they are clearly the most popular way to go, but this may be an alternative if you are unsure about fitting a thwart. It is easy to get in and out of the boat and is quite versitile, as i say i only have 2 years experience so i am no expert but i find this comfortable and feel safe using this for my modest paddling ability.

    Saddle with noodles and caribiner on loop for attatching to centre thwart

    The way it comes

    In the boat

    I sruggled to find any alternative to the kneeling thwart, so i hope this may help somebody in the same situation as me.

    Thanks for reading

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Kneeling Saddle Review started by Red Otter View original post