Kayak Outfitting Tips for Playboating
Spring boating season is almost officially here, so it’s time to get out your kayak and make sure it is outfitted. It’s always a good idea to get your boat outfitted before you get to the river. That way you’re not rushing around trying to get on the water, and you can take your time to outfit your boat properly. It is very important for any kind of kayaking to outfit your boat, but it is essential to playboating. To learn the basics, or more advanced moves, you have to have total control over your boat. Without exception, you will always have to add some after-market outfitting to your kayak to get a custom fit, no matter what brand you are using. NRS has everything you need to custom outfit your boat, such as Minicell and Ethafoam blocks, H2Glue, and Padz kayak outfitting kits that include hip pads, ankle pads, seat pads, and thigh raisers.
You should be tight in a playboat, but not uncomfortable. The boat needs to be outfitted so that you can control the boat with your hips, knees, core, feet and paddle. First, you need to be sitting up high enough to give yourself enough leverage to control your boat with your paddle. I am tall for my boat, so I do not need to add an extra seat pad. However, if you are not so tall, sitting up higher may really improve your paddling.
Next, your hip pads need to hold you firmly in place so you have complete control over your edges and you are not flying off your seat when performing more advanced moves.
Your knees also need to be locked in place. All boats have knee pockets and some kind of thigh hooks, but sometimes there is not enough paddling where your kneecaps come into contact with the sidewall.
The first thing I do to outfit the knee area of my boat is to add extra padding to the area where my knees touch the side of the boat. In most boats you can easily glue in extra padding. In Jackson boats, if you let the boat sit in the sun and get warm, you can peel off the padding around the knee area and glue extra foam under the existing stock padding. The next thing I do is add blocks of foam under my knees and thighs to keep my knees locked into the knee pockets (see photo). I shape the foam to fit my thighs and then glue the blocks to the side of the boat using the H2Glue (that glue is still holding strong!).
Once I’m sitting up high enough, and my knees and hips are tight, I work on outfitting my feet. Foam is great because it gives you something solid to push your feet against. Most boats come with either foot foam or some kind of foot outfitting. I’m really picky about my feet, so in addition to shaping the foot foam provided by the boat company, I also pad out the area in the bow above my feet and the area under my ankles for extra comfort.
By outfitting all the areas where your body comes in contact with your boat, you will get more control over your boat and be able to learn new playboating moves! Have fun!