A comfortable sit-on-top kayak seat with a comprehensive back support that facilitates good posture and efficient paddling, plus contoured cushions and in-built storage
Made by a family run business that specialises in kayaks and paddling equipment, and which is based amid the aquascape of Norfolk in the UK, the Cambridge Kayak Deluxe padded seat is a self-descriptive piece of kit aimed at sit-on-top kayakers and SUPers who like to have the option of sit-down paddleboarding as well as stand-up paddling.
I have been testing this seat-and-backrest on a range of fresh and saltwater environments, while researching the best kayak seats currently available.
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Cambridge Kayak Deluxe padded kayaking seat: design and materials
A classic kayak seat designed for a wide range of sit-on-top boats, the Deluxe Padded Seat from Cambridge Kayaks features a standard-sized sitting area, with an outer horseshoe-shaped section of cushioning, complete with a raised pattern to provide grip and keep your posterior in place while you’re paddling.
Inside this is a smoother padded section, designed more for comfort, and a deep ridge separates the two cushioned areas ensuring your bum gets plenty of ventilation.
The larger upper section, the backrest, largely mirrors this design, with the contoured outer cushion extending support to the middle of your spine. The inner cushion has three well-padded sections, divided by gullies that allow back ventilation.
As with most kayak seats, there are four attachment points on this seat, here comprised of non-rusting brass hooks which clip to the four D-rings found on the deck of the vast majority of sit-on-tops and also on many stand-up paddleboards.
In contrast to many of the other models I tested while compiling our guide to the best kayak seats, the Cambridge Kayak Deluxe has a double strap leading to each of these clips, with two adjustment buckles, so you can refine the settings of the backrest to your liking.
Also uniquely (among the seats I tested), the Cambridge Kayak Deluxe comes with a storage pouch attached to the rear of the backrest, which zips shut and can be used to hold anything from food and your phone, to extra layers.
This pouch zips shut – but it’s not waterproof, so be sure to place the contents in dry bags – and it can easily be removed if you’d rather not use it.
Cambridge Kayak Deluxe padded kayaking seat: performance
There are three important things that a really good kayaking seat needs to deliver, above all others:
- It should be comfortable to sit on, ideally even for long periods of time
- It should provide excellent support to your lower back, both to avoid fatigue and so you can engage your core and apply good, efficient paddle strokes
- And it should be easy and quick to set up, and subsequently adjust while on the water
On test I thought that the Cambridge Kayak Deluxe seat delivered brilliantly on the first two of these elements, while I was less convinced about its performance in the third category. The set-up, with the dual strap-and-buckle system for each point of attachment, is a bit over-complicated for my liking.
In fairness, once you’ve done it a couple of times it’s easy and quick enough, but you still end up with strap-ends all over the place. I’ve tested several seats with single straps and one adjustment buckle, and they’re quicker and tidier to install, and I don’t think the micro-adjustments made possible by the extra strap a buckle are worth the additional faff.
However, this is a minor complaint, really. True to its name, once it was set up, I found the Cambridge Kayak Deluxe seat very comfortable to sit on, and in my experience the backrest supplied excellent support to my spine.
The patterned sections meant I didn’t slide around, and the deep troughs across the back and around the seat facilitated a little bit of airflow, which was great when I was building up a sweat and paddling hard.
I was able to push against the backrest and engage my core, so I could put in proper strokes when paddling against the flow or trying to move across the water a bit faster.
The removable bag on the rear of the seat is an interesting feature, about which I have mixed opinions. I enjoyed having an extra, secure storage space, and it’s large and useful for stashing all kinds of things, including various pieces of kayaking clothing.
But it’s not very easy to access while you’re on the water, it adds yet more buckles and clips to the clutter of straps, and I’m concerned that the zip will corrode quite quickly, especially if I use it on saltwater.
I definitely recommend rinsing it thoroughly with freshwater after each use, and giving it the occasional squirt of WD40. Also, the pouch isn’t waterproof so you need to use a dry bag to keep the contents from getting wet when paddling in the rain or in choppy conditions.
While I did find the Deluxe Padded Seat from Cambridge Kayaks a little fiddly to set up, providing comfort and support are by far the most important functions of a good kayak seat, and this saddle supplies both of these things with aplomb. Once you have it sorted, the seat can be really fine-tuned, the central cushioning is generous while the contoured padding on the outside helps keep you in place, and the backrest is high and wide, providing excellent support whether you’re putting in a stroke or kicking back and relaxing.