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Back seat comfort


Oct 11, 2007
There was actually nice weather a few days ago, so I did a longer trip, about 50km. I knew it was going to be hot and sunny in calm conditions so I decided to wear gym gear, whatever that relatively quick drying fabric is that gym shirts and shorts are made out of. I didn't think much about it until I realized the mistake I'd made.

In past years I've learned to line the back of my kayak seat with a skwoosh pad, a gel thing meant for sitting on but that I sit upright at the back to lean against. Without it, what happens is the sweat pools on the inside back and after a few hours of paddling and leaning my shorts against the back of the seat the band around the top of the shorts begins to dig into the skin on my waist. At best it's a minor annoyance but after 8 hours of paddling it can become rubbed quite raw and so quite painful. That happened this particular day, and so a perfect day for long distance paddling became uncomfortable.

Thinking back just about every pair of pants with an elastic waist band creates this same problem for me. The skwoosh is a good method for mitigation of the problem but not elimination, and it can create other problems by slipping down and whatnot. So my question is: what pair of pants or shorts has someone found that is free of chaffing? Assuming you too have sensitive waist skin. I have not yet found such a set of clothing outside of a wetsuit, etc.
I've never tried them, but what about Reed Chillcheater shorts? I think they have a flatter waistband.

Pretty sure someone here has some...Sheila, perhaps?
Without wishing to sound as though I'm preaching, why are you leaning back while paddling? When you stop for a while and rest is the time to lean back. While paddling you should be sitting upright or even leaning forward to maximize your reach. If necessary practicing core exercises on land will make a substantial difference to your paddling comfort on the water.
JK, an alternative that takes a different approach is to use a substance like Glide. I ran every one of 25 marathons and each of the 8 times on the West Coast Trail I use Glide or an alternative. I would swipe it on, just like you do deodord-rant, in the areas prone to chaffing. Worked for me and a fair percentage of runners use it. For the record, men use it over their nipples as well. Ever see photos of the finish line? Guys with blood stains on their chests because they did not use Glide or a similar product. MEC carries a version of it. Many of the fabrics that are best for workouts are prone to exacerbating the chaffing issue hence onto the scene comes Glide. I have used it on long paddling days but for areas where I am prone to chaff from life jacket which, given my weird upper body shape, I don't seem to get adjusted perfectly.
I wish it was that simple, Roy. Maybe leaning back is the wrong way to phrase it, as truly leaning back does provide temporary relief by moving the trouble spot away from contact with the backrest. But you can't paddle for long that way, or effectively. The backrest, in my view, should provide lumbar support, assuming I've got the lingo and anatomy correct on that. So we're talking the bottom couple of inches, not the top. Where the contact seems unconditionally necessary just happens to be about the location of the waistband for me. I can slide forward to avoid touching the backrest entirely, but I suspect that's not effective for paddling. Though I can't say I've tried for long, it's just not a natural seating position. Basically: elastic waistband + sweat x hours = eventual discomfort. Not generally an issue on shorter trips, so I'm thinking paddlers of 20-30km trips won't experience this.

Maybe the Freya solution, kayak naked?

Tatlow, your post came just as I was writing this. Will try Glide, awesome suggestion.
So, if I understand it correctly, the bottom line (sorry - lousy pun) is that the chaffing from your waistband is the bottom 2 inches of your butt? When I'm paddling there is contact with the backrest only from about coccyx level down - about 3 inches. The waistband of my pants is at least 4 inches above my coccyx. I'm having difficulty visualising your waistband being that low (although I don't make a habit of trying to visualise that part of anyone's body!!!!). Am I missing something? And again, I really believe core strengthening will help.
Doesn't she? Pretty sure Dan mentioned something about that at one time. Dan? Dan? Where are you?

Roy, I'm at the age where a bottle of ointment is preferable to a core workout to solve health-related issues. Quick and easy. I can't see changing my paddling style to any great extent at this point, especially when I'm happy now to maintain rather than improve... If on a 50km paddle my biggest complaint is chaffing I think I'm doing okay. I suppose I could try cinching my waistband up higher too, but that look of a man with his pants up to his armpits, well, I'll leave that to you.

I'll try this and report back: http://www.mec.ca/product/5009-478/sports-akileine-anti-friction-nok-cream-75ml/?f=10&q=skin
"I suppose I could try cinching my waistband up higher too, but that look of a man with his pants up to his armpits, well, I'll leave that to you".

Low blow and uncalled for. I was simply trying to offer solutions by better understanding the problem.

Good luck.
I to have had this problem. My solution was a stretchy fitness belt made by everlast whith a velcro closure. This also helps for posture. I don't go without it. I bought mine at homesense for around ten bucks. Hope this helps someone .
Finn said:
Freya kayaks naked?!
Uh huh. :big_thumb

On her Australia circumnavigation she developed a severe case of salt water sores and found it better to paddle without clothing rubbing against exposed lesions.

I tried naked paddling once -- luckily, no one was there to see it. :yikes:
Been using a pair of lightweight Kokatat wet suit pants last several years, which are cut to fit while you are seated. Coverage of the back band contact zone is very good, so the back seam is barely above the top of the back band. No chafe problems.

Kayaking nude might help also, but I am afraid some lovesick walrus might mistake me for a love object ... got to trim back that mustache and file down the canines, I gues if I want to do it the Freya-way!! :roll: :lol:
Oops, should have put a happy face with that comment, Roy. Wasn't meant to insult, just a jape about waistband levels, so not a low blow, possibly a high blow though in the literal sense. I do appreciate the feedback. Cheers, jk
Thanks JK.

As I said I'm just trying to understand the problem because, after more than 50 years kayaking, I've developed a paddling position where my body just doesn't touch the back band/seat back at all and the solutions being suggested by others on this thread seem to be addressing the symptoms rather than the cause. While this is good, I really believe you will increase your enjoyment and efficiency if you try to sit up, engage your core and not use the back band at all except when you stop paddling and relax.

Just my experience.

In my case, I need lumbar support. I crushed a disk many years ago which leaves my back compromised, relatively inflexible, and slightly crooked. Luckily, with lumbar support in just the right place I can sit erect in a reasonably good paddling position and go for 4 or 5 hours with maybe an early break. The point is that not all backs are equal and what works for one doesn't necessarily apply to someone else.