Choosing the Best Canoe Seat for Your Next Canoe Trip

The best canoe seats for your next Boundary Waters adventure

In our opinion, the best canoe seat is the Crazy Creek Canoe Chair III. It is lightweight, portable, durable, and can double as a camp chair. We love that it fastens securely to the bench seats in our canoe and can be removed in a second.

Choosing the best canoe seat can be a game-changer for your paddling experience. A well-designed seat not only provides comfort but also enhances mobility and stroke power.

The right canoe seat should offer stability, preventing unnecessary shifts that could affect your balance on the water. However, it shouldn’t compromise on portability – after all, you don’t want an extra burden while portaging. And with two kids in tow on most of our trips, every ounce counts!

In this guide, we’ll explore various types of canoeing seats available to help you identify the best canoe seat for your needs.

Best Canoe Seats – Different Styles

From sturdy aluminum frames to plush fabric models, there are plenty of choices. The best canoe seat for really comes down to your canoeing style and what you look to achieve.

One thing to note is that we are talking about traditional canoes, including Kevlar canoes. If you have a kayak, inflatable boat, power boat, or are looking for something for your next sit-on-top kayaking adventure, then this article unfortunately is not for you.

The seats here are all designed to function best with a traditional cane canoe seat, not a tractor seats, bucket seats, or other kayak seats. 

Spoiler alert! We think the Crazy Creek Canoe Chair III is the best canoe seat with back support and most comfortable for long trips. Read on to learn why.

Aluminum Frame Seats

L.L. Bean Aluminum Canoe Seat

Aluminum frame seats are durable, great for folks with a larger frame, and come with a comfortable seat cushion. However, their rigid structure can limit your paddle stroke as they make it harder to reach the sides of the canoe when paddling.

Two notable options in this category are the GCI Outdoor Sitbacker Canoe Seat and Sail Sit-Back Canoe Seat.

LL Bean also sells aluminum frame canoe seat that is a branded version of the GCI model. 

Cane Canoe Seats

Wooden Canoe Seats are not the best options for long trips

If you dream of an old wood and canvas canoe, then cane canoe seats could be your best option. They look great, however are less comfortable and functional on long trips.

The Folding Ash Cane Canoe Chair from Harmony stands out with its classic appeal and durable design. While it looks great, it is not the best canoe seat for longer trips as it can be a little stiff.

Fabric Canoe Seats

Fabric Crazy Creek Canoe Seat

Our favorite canoe seats are fabric seats. They all come with a cushioned seat pad made with a thick foam cushion and a high backrest design and make the best canoe seats for almost any type of paddling.

The best product on the market is the Crazy Creek Canoe Chair III. It is lightweight, portable, and comfortable. It also makes a great camp chair, emergency sleeping pad, and camp cushion.

Other options like the Kelty Camp Chair, ALPS Mountaineering Weekend Seat, and ALPS Mountaineering Explorer +XT Seat (discontinued) provide a high-quality nylon-covered foam seat pad, however they do not have built-in straps that attach securely to your canoe.

Pads And Cushions

Best Canoe Seat - Crazy Creek Canoe Pad without Backrest

Pads and canoe seats cushions are the best canoe seat options for those looking at affordable ways to add extra foam padding onto existing canoe benches.

The Crazy Creek Canoe Pad is the same as the Canoe Chair III above, but without the back.

Other notable options include Frost River’s Canoe Seat Pad and Bag, Granite Gear’s Stowaway Seat Pack, and Portage North’s Canoe Seat Pad.

The key benefit of many of these options is the under-seat storage. There are many days I wish I had a tackle box securely fastened under my seat!

Key Takeaway: 
Looking for an all-around canoe seat that won’t break the bank? Look at fabric canoe seats like the Crazy Creak Canoe Chair III. In our opinion, it is the best canoe seat on the market.

Criteria for Choosing the Best Canoe Seat

Like any gear purchase, you need to determine your specific needs prior to determining the best canoe seat.

We recommend considering factors such as comfort, durability, adjustability, and portability. Remember that almost anything can be returned, so do your best, try it out, and return it if it doesn’t work.


The best canoe seats should provide sufficient cushioning to keep you comfortable during long days on the water. High-density foam, closed-cell foam or gel padding is preferred.

The design of a seat also plays an integral role in comfort; some of the most comfortable canoe seats come equipped with contoured padded backrests that align with your spine’s natural curve, providing much-needed back support.

If lower back discomfort is a concern or if you plan long hours out on the water, opt for high backrest designs, like those found in many sit-on-top kayaks.


The best canoe seats are able to withstand constant exposure to sun, rain, and wind. High-quality nylon or polyester are the best materials due to their resistance to elements.

This is where paying up for well-known brands really pays off. While you may be able to find a cheaper option on Amazon, I highly doubt it will compete with the best canoe seats in terms of longevity.


We also recommend making sure your seat is adjustable. We all have different bodies, and the best canoe seat is the one that fits your body.


Long paddles in remote locations require lightweight gear. Look for that balance between comfort, durability, and weight. If you will be portaging, find seats that can stay strapped to the canoe during the portage, like the GCI Outdoor Sitbacker and the Crazy Creek Canoe Chair III.

Key Takeaway: 
Canoe seats are all about functionality. Look for comfortable options that are durable, adjustable, and easy to portage!

Best Canoe Seats with Back Support

There are a lot of canoe seat options. Some are great, and some are downright junk. In our opinion, there really are only two options if you are looking for canoe seats with back support.

Crazy Creek Canoe Seat III:

Best Canoe Seats - Heavily loaded canoe with a Crazy Creek Canoe Seat III in the BWCAW
Unloading our canoe at a portage in the BWCA

The Crazy Creek Canoe Seat III is the best canoe seat in our opinion. It offers exceptional comfort due in part to its thick foam cushioning and high backrest design.

The adjustable straps provide customization, and the bottom straps firmly attach the seat to the canoe. It is lightweight, supportive, and easy to portage. 

Crazy Creek also offers a long-back version if you are looking for the best canoe seat with back support.

GCI Outdoor Sitbacker Canoe Seat:

GCI Outdoors Sitbacker aluminum Canoe Seat

If you are OK with carrying a little extra weight, then the GCI Outdoor Sitbacker is another great option. It is the second-best canoe seat. The contoured padding is excellent and provides a slightly higher seat height (your hip flexors will thank you) and additional lumbar cushion. 

The backrest is higher than the Crazy Creek version and the aluminum frame is more supportive, especially if you are on the taller or heavier side.

We see these deep in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and have yet to find someone who thought the size or weight was a burden.

Best Canoe Seats Without Back Support

If you couldn’t care less about back support, then we’d recommend looking at a simple canoe seat pad.

The best canoe seat pads are Frost River’s Canoe Seat Pad and Bag, Granite Gear’s Stowaway Seat Pack, and Portage North’s Canoe Seat Pad.

That being said, if this is the case, you are probably better off just using the seat that comes with your canoe.

Canoe Seat Maintenance

Canoe seats do not require a lot of maintenance, but they do require occasional care.

Try to store them out of the elements when possible, and clean with a mild soap and warm water.

Regular checks for signs of wear and tear like fraying webbing straps or loosened stitching can also help fix a problem before it is too late.

Canoe Seat Installation

Best Canoe Seats - Crazy Creek Canoe Seat III in a fully loaded canoe and folded down for ease of portaging

A good canoe seat basically installs itself. They are custom-made to fit the traditional bench seats found in most canoes. Both the Crazy Creek and GCI models have a dual buckle strap system that go under the original canoe seat and connect.

Our only advice is to make sure the new seat is tightly connected. Otherwise, it will slide around while padding. It is much easier to tighten everything on dry land than in a fully loaded canoe.

Key Takeaway: 
The best canoes seats basically install themselves. Just make sure they come with dual buckle systems that tighten under your existing canoe seats.

FAQs in Relation to Best Canoe Seat

What is the best material for a canoe seat?

The best material for a canoe seat is typically high-density foam or gel padding, covered with durable fabric like nylon or polyester.

How can I make my canoe seat more comfortable?

Add comfort to your canoe seat by using high-density foam pads, cushions, or installing adjustable backrests. Seat covers also help.

Where is the best place to sit in a canoe?

In tandem canoes, the stern (back) offers better control and visibility, while the bow (front) provides power and direction.

Is it better to kneel or sit in a canoe?

Kneeling lowers your center of gravity, providing stability and power. Sitting allows easier paddling and is better for long distances. Choose based on conditions and personal preference.

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