The best kayak seats are quick and easy to set up, and offer enough lower back support and posterior comfort to make every paddling escapade on your boat or board an enjoyable experience.

Alongside stand-up paddleboards, sit-on-top kayaks are easily the most popular paddling craft on the water, especially in summer, and most people kick off their kayaking journey on such boats.

Popular with people ranging from recreational paddlers to kayak fishers, sit-on-tops are typically quite wide, with a fairly flat-bottomed hull shape offering plenty of primary stability. They are relatively easy to paddle, even when conditions get a bit lumpy and bumpy. And, if you do capsize, it’s comparatively simple to right these boats and remount them – unlike attempting a self-rescue in a sit-inside kayak, which requires reasonably advanced skills and a lot of bailing.

But one of the downsides of sit-on-top kayaks is that they typically don’t have much of a seat, beyond whatever vaguely bum-shaped feature has been included in the design of the plastic hull, which won’t have any padding whatsoever and no back support.

The good news is that you can buy add-on seats and backrests for sit-on-top kayaks. Most of them are fairly inexpensive and they’re very easy to install. Many can also be used on stand-up paddleboards, which, if you have a kayaking paddle, will enable you to effectively transform your SUP into a sit-down paddleboard, which isn’t an awful lot different to a sit-on-top kayak.

Here we take a look at the best kayak seats for you, no matter what kind of paddling you primarily do.

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Best kayak seats for sit-on-tops

Cambridge Kayak Deluxe padded seat

A very tall and wide-backed sit-on-top kayak seat with extensive support, contoured foam features and in-built storage


Design: Tall kayak seat and backrest; Materials: Polyester, with brass attachment clips; Storage: Large, zipped storage pouch on the rear of the back rest; Seat size (depth x width): 30 x 38cm; Backrest size (height x width): 45 x 53cm

Reasons to buy

+ Highly supportive tall back; Storage pouch on the rear; Good levels of padding; Permits airflow; Very adjustable; Contoured padding

Reasons to avoid

– Webbing a little fiddly; Pouch zip potentially vulnerable to corrosion; Heavy

The Deluxe Padded Seat from Cambridge Kayaks is high performing and very comfortable, but it is quite a busy bit of kit, with a tangle of straps coming out from the main body like the arms of an overexcited octopus. Once you have these sorted, however, the seat can be fine tuned and adjusted to a really fine degree. The backrest is very high and wide, providing excellent support when you’re putting in a stroke or kicking back and relaxing.

The attachment clips are brass, so they won’t rust or corrode, and both the seat and the backrest feature contoured padding, to allow some airflow to cool your bum and back. The seat has a thick (20mm) horseshoe of padding covered in a rash of raised bumps, which supply grip and stop your bottom sliding and moving around as you paddle, while the centre of the seat has a smoother cushioned area for pure comfort.

One excellent feature of this kayak seat is the large zipped pouch on the rear of the backrest, which can be used to stash all sorts of stuff, from food and drink to a hat, gloves and/or a cag. I’m a little concerned that the zip on this pouch might corrode after period of exposure to saltwater, but this is something that could be avoided by regular rinsing and the occasional squirt of WD40.

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Aqua Marina High Back Seat with Cushion

A comfort-orientated kayak seat, with generous padding for paddlers’ posteriors


Design: Kayak seat for leisure paddlers; Materials: Polyester material with EVA pad; Storage: Two bottle holders and a central pouch with Velcro fastener; Size: 38 x 54 x 83cm

Reasons to buy

+ Generous level of cushioning; Great storage; Easy to adjust

Reasons to avoid

– Plastic attachment clips less robust than other models; No contouring on the seat to allow airflow

This well-priced kayak seat and backrest has excellent carry capacity, with a pair of water bottle holders – one on each side of the seat – and a generous-sized pouch centrally located on the rear, which closes with Velcro (a better option than a zip, which can corrode and become unusable).

Easy to install, with four straightforward straps that work with the D-rings featured on most sit-on-top kayaks and SUPs, it’s also simple to adjust on and off the water. The seat itself is a big, thick cushion-style affair, complete with EVA elements to help with the padding, which is noted for its comfort.

There’s no contouring on the seat or the back, however, so breathability could be an issue and it might get a bit hot and sweaty if you’re paddling in warm environments. When it’s not in use, this seat can be stored in bungee netting.

Palm Deluxe Backrest

A sturdily built, supportive seat and backrest that’s easy to set up and excellent to use on the water


Design: Seat and backrest; Materials: Nylon-elastane mix fabric, polyester webbing and powder-coated steel attachment clips; Storage: None; Seat size (depth x width): 32 x 40cm; Backrest size (height x width): 39 x 50cm

Reasons to buy

+ Excellent, long-lasting attachment clips; Works on a range of sit-on-top kayaks; Well-padded, contoured seat and back; Tall back; Good airflow; Easy to use 

Reasons to avoid

– No pockets

This well-thought-through and nicely designed kayak seat and backrest from specialist paddling brand Palm Equipment is really simple to set up, and supplies top-end comfort. The powder-coated steel attachment clips that clip on to the boat’s D rings won’t corrode even after repeated exposure to saltwater, and they’re the best on any kayak seat we have tested.

The 25mm polyester webbing is also highly robust, with really solid stitching, and the straps are extremely easy to adjust, both before you launch and while you are sat in the seat, out on the water.

The backrest is nice and high, supplying genuine support for your spine while you’re paddling (or simply sitting back and enjoying the view). Featuring 40mm-thick thermoformed foam, this deluxe model boasts padding in all the places it’s really required.

The cleverly contoured design cushions your buttocks and supplies back support while also allowing some air to flow to these areas too, so you don’t get too sweaty when you’re digging in and paddling hard.

Buy the Palm Deluxe Backrest from Escape Watersports

Best kayak seats for SUPs

Two Bare Feet High Back SUP Seat

A really good, affordable SUP seat that also works well with most sit-on-top kayaks and provides excellent back support


Design: SUP seat; Materials: 600D Polyester Fabric Padded Seat with EVA material; gold-plated Zinc alloy quick-shackle attachment clips; Storage: None; Seat size (depth x width): 30 x 40cm; Backrest size (height x width): 35 x 55cm

Reasons to buy

+ Supportive backrest; Comfortable padded seat; Easy to attach; Versatile across a range of sit-on-top kayaks and SUPs; Contoured back rest for airflow

Reasons to avoid

– No contouring on the seat; No storage

best kayak seats

Although designed to work as a sit-down option for stand-up paddleboarders, this seat and backrest can be fitted to most sit-on-top kayaks to provide additional comfort and support. The gold-plated zinc attachment clips are resistant to corrosion and the four cords are satisfyingly simple to set up, and easy to adjust when you’re out on the water.

The wide backrest can be tightened up to curve around your torso, to provide really good lower body and back support while you’re paddling hard. The seat is comfortable, with 10mm of EVA-bolstered padding, but it’s not contoured, so there’s no airflow and it can get a little warm.

The backrest bears the Two Bare Feet branding and is contoured, with several troughs, so there is a bit more breathability here. Overall, this is a nice, no-messing-required SUP seat that’s supportive and easy to use.

Buy the High Back SUP Seat from Two Bare Feet

Isle Cloud Kayak Seat

A sumptuously thick and forgiving seat for optimum cushioning while you kayak, with a semi-rigid, reinforced backrest.


Design: Inflatable seat and fibreglass-reinforced backrest; Materials: EVA padding in the seat, with a fibreglass-reinforced back support; Storage: Web pouch on the rear of the backrest; Seat size (depth x width): 52 x 43cm / 20.5 x 17in; Backrest size (height x width): 51 x 66cm / 20 x 26in

Reasons to buy

+ Supremely cushioned seat; Extremely supportive backrest; Easy to assemble and adjust; Mesh pocket on the rear of backrest

Reasons to avoid

– No contouring on the seat; Height can affect centre of gravity; Pricey

The standout feature of this advanced kayak chair and backrest is the super-sized seat cushion, which, when fully inflated, is over 10cm/4in thick, providing a sumptuously bouncy, cloud-like ride.

Besides the pneumatic cushioning, this SUP seat also has EVA padding. Designed for use on stand-up paddleboards and sit-on-top kayaks – and Isle’s innovative in-betweener craft, which is essentially both a SUP and a kayak – the height of the Isle Cloud seat is so generous it will affect your centre of gravity and balance, so that’s something to be aware of and might take some users a bit of time to get used to.

The semi-rigid backrest is reinforced with fibreglass, so you can really push into it when applying a paddle stroke, or lean back securely when just chilling on the water. If you’re sit-down paddling a SUP, this seat can also be combined with a foot brace (also available through Isle) that will allow you to really put some power into your stroke by engaging your core.

The seat cushion is removable, so you could use it as a kid’s seat elsewhere on the board or in another boat. On the rear of the backrest there is a mesh pocket for stashing an extra layer, a snack or a water bottle.

Buy the Cloud Kayak Seat through

best kayak seats

Aquaplanet Kayak Seat

An add-on seat for transforming SUPs into sit-down paddling craft and making sit-on-top kayaks more comfortable


Design: SUP seat and backrest; Materials: Neoprene; Storage: Large, detachable, zippered storage bag on rear of backrest

Reasons to buy

+ Tall back; Easy to install and adjust; Good storage; Folds down small when not in use

Reasons to avoid

– Minimal padding on seat; Zip on storage pouch might corrode

This slimline seat and backrest is ideal for SUP paddlers who want the option to sit down every now and then – perhaps when tackling more technical water, or simply when their legs are tired. It folds down so flat that is can simply be stashed under the deck bungees until required.

It’s easy to install when you do want to avail of a seat, with four attachment clips, and the backrest is nice and high for optimum support. On the downside, there isn’t much padding for your posterior, so comfort levels aren’t high.

This seat will fit many sit-on-top kayaks too, but this minimalist padding approach might make many boat paddlers look to other models featured here, which have better cushioning. On the back of this seat you will find a removable storage pouch that zips shut, and can be used to carry all kinds of small items from food and drink, to kayak sunglasses, hats and extra layers.

Best advanced kayak seats for serious paddlers

GTS Expedition Molded Foam Kayak Seat

Designed by paddlers for paddlers, this is an advanced seat for those going on longer and larger adventures than your average beach goer


Design: Sit-on-top kayak seat; Materials: Thermoformed foam, plastic and fabric; Storage: None included (bottle holders and packs can be bought separately); Seat size (depth x width): 18 x 16in / 46 x 40cm; Backrest size (height x width): 18 x 21in / 46 x 53cm

Reasons to buy

+ Super secure six-point fit; Contour moulded seat for superior comfort and performance; Excellent back and lower body support; Comfortable seat

Reasons to avoid

– Won’t work with all boats / boards; No storage included; Pricey

A premium-priced, performance-orientated seat and backrest for paddlers who spend serious amounts of time on the water, whether they’re fishing or exploring, and expect plenty of return on their investment.

It is a serious investment – it costs almost as much as some kayaks do – but for your outlay you get a very cleverly contoured, highly supportive seat, plus a tall, thermoformed foam backrest, complete with grooves shaped to support your spine and wrap around lumbar region for additional stability in technical water.

The 5cm/2in-thick seat has plenty of supportive padding, which is also contoured both for better breathability around your bum area, and to allow water to drain away from the seat quickly and effectively. The 6-point triangulated rear strapping system is category leading – it keeps the seat very firmly in place and enables the paddler to customise the positioning for optimum comfort levels.

Buy the GTS Expedition Molded Foam Kayak Seat direct from Amazon

Buy the GTS Expedition Molded Foam Kayak Seat direct from Walmart

Buy the GTS Expedition Molded Foam Kayak Seat direct from Surf to Summit

Sea to Summit Solution Gear Tripper Kayak Seat

A superb seat that helps sit-on-top paddlers fine-tune their performance while sitting comfortably


Design: Kayak seat and backrest; Materials: Thermoformed foam with alloy in the backrest; Storage: Three mesh pockets on the rear

Reasons to buy

+ Broad and highly supportive back; Contoured to facilitate airflow and water drainage; Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

– Seat could be more padded; Pricey

From excellent Australian brand Sea to Summit comes this very well designed, simple-to-use kayak seat and backrest, which is compatible with almost all sit-on-top kayaks. Both the seat and the backrest are well contoured, which promotes airflow and means water can drain out easily.

The tall, wide backrest can be pulled in tight and it features alloy elements, making it super supportive when you’re putting in some effort and paddling hard, and also comfortable if you are leaning back and taking in the view across the waves.

There are three mesh pouches on the rear of the backrest, which you can use to stash all sorts of things within easy reach, from hats, gloves and additional layers through to food and drink.

Buy the Solution Tripper Kayak Seat via eBay

Buy the Solution Tripper Kayak Seat direct from Sea to Summit

Best kayak seat for children

Harmony Gear Kids Kayak Seat

A kayak seat to keep your pint-sized paddling partner comfortable and engaged in the boat


• Design: Child’s kayak seat; Materials: 800 Denier Nylon; Storage: None; Suitable for: Children weighing under 38kg / 84lb; Seat size (depth): 5cm / 2in

Reasons to buy

+ Keeps kids comfortable; Elevates little ones so they can join in and paddle; Easy to use on a variety of craft; Anti-slippage bottom

Reasons to avoid

– Not designed for SUP boards

Intended to keep children comfortable while you concentrate on the paddling (and/or to elevate the young person so they can join in with their own oar), the Kids Kayak Seat from Harmony Gear can be used in various boats, from double and single kayaks through to canoes.

There are no straps to fiddle around with, you just put the seat wherever you want it (somewhere you can see your little passenger, for obvious reasons) and the no-slip bottom keeps it in place (up to a point!). The seat is 5cm/2in thick, and provides plush amounts of cushioning to keep kids happy and comfortable.

Buy the Harmony Gear Kids Kayak Seat from Amazon

best kayak seats

How to choose the best kayak seat for you

There are myriad kayak seats available out there, but many of the no-name generic ones are substandard, badly designed and made with poor-quality materials, including attachment grips that corrode and seize up after exposure to saltwater. We recommend considering the following factors before making a purchase.


The best material for the padding used in kayak seats is a closed-cell foam like EVA, which is supportive enough to supply some cushioning without being too soft, and won’t absorb water and become heavy. Check that the attachment clips used on the seat are made with a metal that won’t corrode – look for powder-coated alloys, brass or at least stainless steel clips.

Even plastic, which might not seem as strong, will outlast a cheap metal clip that rusts or corrodes. Check that the seat material is robust (poly or nylon ripstop fabrics are good) and that the stitching is decent, especially where the straps connect to the main seat.

If the seat features a zipped pocket, ensure that it’s a good zip (Velcro is better). Even if all the right materials are used, it’s still important to thoroughly rinse your seat in fresh water after each use on the sea.

Beware kayak seats with substandard grips, and always rinse metal and moving elements (including zips and grips) with fresh water and allow to dry after use in the sea


Look for a simple (see below) but effective design, with four main attachment straps and contouring in both the seat and the backrest, which will aid airflow and make the seats much less sweaty to use, and also allow water to drain away.

Ease of use

Most seats for sit-on-top kayaks and SUPs are extremely simple to use, and so they should be. All good boats and boards have four D-rings – two just behind where you sit while paddling, and one either side of your thighs – and all you need to do is secure the attachment clips to these rings, and then tighten the straps until the seat feels comfortable and supplies some support for your back.

Comfort and support

The best kayak seats will offer support to your lumber area (lower spine) while you are paddling – so you can push back into it and engage your core while applying a forward stroke – and be padded enough to make it comfortable enough to remain in a seated position for an extended period of time. A tall back can offer extra support when you’re taking in the view or perhaps while fishing, but the lumber area is the important bit, and some side support can be beneficial too.

best kayak seats


Pockets and pouches for stashing useful items – extra layers, a hat, gloves, sunglasses, snacks and water – are a nice extra touch. Just beware cheap zips that will quickly become inoperable after exposure to saltwater.

Compatibility and versatility

If you have a sit-on-top kayak and a stand-up paddleboard, it’s great to get a seat that can be used on both. The good news is that most seats can be used on the majority of boats and boards, but this isn’t always the case, so do check carefully before making a purchase.

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