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Outfitting Tips Learnt the Long, Hard and Faff-Filled Way

Posted: 06.11.2015 BY Natty Cordon

Everyone knows that outfitting is easier with your bum sticking out... It's just science

It's just scienceGetting a new kayak is normally accompanied by a great deal of excitement. I personally become a bit like an irritating new parent – constantly talking about the new addition to my family and showing photographs to people who understandably couldn’t care less.

Unfortunately, I have also found that getting a new kayak can often be accompanied by a fair amount of agro whilst you try and get the outfitting just right, but it’s worth putting the time and effort in, otherwise you may as well save yourself lots of money and buy a sit-on-top instead!

​Now obviously ‘just right’ is a very variable concept depending on the particular kayak, what you are using it for and your own body shape and personal preferences, but I thought that I would share with you a few of my preferred outfitting techniques. They’re not particularly ground-breaking, but they might just save you a bit of faff time or add some extra comfort to your ride.


It's a balance between being heigh enough for reach and control but not so high as to lose stability

​Your seating position will build the foundation for the rest of your outfitting, so it is important to try and sort this out as a first priority. Find yourself some flat water and a friend. Ideally, you want to position your seat so that the trim is even and the boat sits fairly level in the water, although you might prefer to have a different seating position depending on your style of paddling. Use your friend to advise you on whether you are level or not and don’t forget to take your allen key so that you can fiddle around with it there and then.

​When you’re on the water, get your friend to have a look at how deep you are sitting in your boat. If the cockpit rim is somewhere around your (man)boob region or you are struggling to get your paddle vertical in the water then you might want to think about using foam to raise your seating position. This will give your more power and control through your stroke and will help to ensure that your blade is closer to the surface of the water when rolling. 


​This is the one that is really worth spending time on. Start by moving the footrest much further back than you need it to be. This will mean that you can build the footrest out with foam. This might seem to be a bit of a faff but I have been really grateful for have it when I have missed my line and piled into a rock or failed to boof into a shallow pool.
I tend to start by shoving paper on to the footrest and folding it over to create a template. I then tape the template to the foam (making sure that it is the right way around) and the cut the foam with a sharp kitchen knife. It’s important to ensure that your foot cannot pass around the sides of the foam and become trapped. I then add extra layers so that the heal area is built up more than the toe area which I personally find provides the most natural and comfortable seating position and provides more protection for your ankles. 


​These should hopefully be fairly self-explanatory with most boats. It’s worth mentioning however that people often remove layers of foam from their hip pads when they are causing cramp in their legs but this reduces your connectivity. Often, you can reduce cramp by moving your hip pads slightly further back, or by adding layers of tapered foam which are narrower at the end which is closest to your feet. 


​Again, these are hopefully fairly self-explanatory. Most boats will have some form of adjustment system, which allows you to move the thigh braces. I tend to find that having them as far from your knees as possible provides most control, but make sure that you have good connectivity all the way along the thigh brace to ensure comfort. I add an extra layer of tapered foam so that the thigh brace really wraps around my leg. 


​This is one must-add extra that I fit to all of my boats. The sorts of piton-based incidents that I outlined above can have as much of a painful result for your knees as they can for your ankles. A good layer of foam, not only helps to save your knee caps in such an even, but also helps to help your legs firmly into your thigh braces.
​After many years of trialling different glues, and seeking advice from friends, I tend to find that a spray-on contact adhesive is your best bet. Spray the foam, leave it to dry for a minute until it is tacky and then it will stick right in with no need to tape it in place. 

​After hours of faff, your hard work will pay off! Don’t expect it to be perfect the first time you get it on the water. You might find that you want to change your seating position, which will probably then involve changing your footrest, hip pads and thigh braces. Think of your outfitting as more of a project – start with a good foundation and you’re onto a winner!