Every boat needs comfortable seating. Whether you’re out fishing for the day or just going out for a pleasant paddle, it’s no fun if your backside is sore! A nice quality cushion or boat seat is absolutely necessary for enjoying your time on the water.
There’s all sorts of options for small water craft seating available. You can opt for a simple cushion that’s easily transferred to and from your boat, or you can always install something a bit more permanent. Whatever you decide is best for your boat, there’s no need to spend a ton of money. We’ve tracked down the best value boat seats and cushions for small craft like canoes and rowboats that will keep you comfortable all day long.
There’s a few different style options included here on this list so you can really consider what’s best for your water craft:
Seats one through four are highly portable, removable seating options that work great for both canoes and rowboats where there is bench seating. This style of seating is a sort of hybrid between a simple seat cushion and a higher quality folding seat that requires installation. This type of option provides you with a bit of back support and enables you to lean backwards which is a nice upgrade from your standard boat cushion. It keeps your bottom padded and allows you to sit with better posture than seating that doesn’t offer any kind of back rest.
Seats five through seven are included here for the pleasure boater or fishermen that really wants to equip their boat with some comfortable seating. These folding, upholstered boat seats are a lot more solidly built than the hybrid type of seating and can be leaned back in all you want without consequence. These units are meant to be installed onto your boat using simple hardware, but depending on the style of boat you have you very well might be able to utilize seating like this without bothering with a permanent installation. Although not necessary, going through the process of installing a boat seat like this can be really rewarding. Particularly for fishing use it’s AWESOME to have a mounted seat of this style that allows you to swivel and puts you a bit higher on the water. This type of boat seat will not be compatible with many canoes and is more geared towards rowboats and jon boats. I’ve owned a folding seat by Wise for years for use on the bow of my 10 foot jon boat and have never bothered installing it — it leans against the front railing of my boat and stays secure. It’s all about personal preference!
Options eight and nine on this list are standard boat/canoe cushions. They’re inexpensive and easily transferable between water craft (or anywhere really). This is a bare bones style option for your boat — but we’ve found two of the best value options that won’t disappoint you if you don’t mind the lack of a back rest.
The final seat option listed here is a sort of unique posture support device that might be the perfect fit for you depending on both the state of your spine and boat design. It will only really fit on wider bench seating and likely is not suitable for rougher waters, but none the less is an interesting and potentially game changing option!
No matter your boat, your back side or your back we’ve got you covered with a seating option that will no doubt enhance your experience on the water. Quit suffering through what’s supposed to be a pleasant outing and treat yourself to days boating that don’t end with your comfortability.
1. GCI Outdoor SitBacker Adjustable Canoe Seat with Back Support
I’m a big fan of this seat from GCI Outdoors for its lightweight, portability and surprising level of comfort. This is a great unit to equip to your canoe or rowboat and also for switching between water craft. It’s only 11 by 16 by 18 inches and just three pounds yet it provides the posture support and cushion of a much more robust seat. The “install” takes just moments using the dual buckle bench attachment system — its all simple as unfolding the seat and clipping it to your boat seat. The clips are not absolutely necessary, but they add a bit more stability while doing things like paddling and actively fishing and will keep your bottom from sliding the seat around. If you own a rowboat or jon boat with wider bench seating that’s directly connected to the floor this seat will still perform just fine.
GSI Outdoor’s patented single buckle “Auto-Fold” system makes collapsing this seat a total piece of cake. There’s furthermore what GSI calls a portage lock incorporated into the the design to keep the seat securely folded when collapsed. Check out the attached video below for a look at how the SitBacker operates — you’ll be impressed.
This unit is hardly any more cumbersome than a standard boat cushion yet it provides you with some pretty righteous back support. You gotta love being able to lean back while out paddling a canoe all day. If you’ve never owned a seat like this you’re going to wonder what the hell took you so long to give your spine some assistance. You can adjust how far you recline with the side strapping and there’s furthermore some solid lumbar support built into the back rest. The split contoured seat base is also compatible with just about any canoe seat. This is a super versatile option for boat seating that you will likely end up using for all sorts of activities aside from enjoying your small craft.
One thing worth mentioning is that the steel frame has a 250 pound weight limit — if you expect to have heavier boaters on board then you’ll need to look elsewhere. For such a light weight seat in this style the weight capacity is still quite impressive in my opinion. All in all, this is highly versatile and supportive option for the cost that will perform for years with the proper treatment — an excellent value buy from GSI Outdoors.
Price: $34.99 & Free Shipping (13 percent off MSRP)
- Collapses quite nicely into a compact package that is easily traveled with or transferred between boats
- The steel frame adds some awesome rigidity to this unit setting it apart from most other seats of this style
- Strapping on the underside of this seat clips to bench seating to keep you from sliding the seat around
- The back rest has some additional lumbar support built into the design for some added support
- Due to its versatility and lightweight (three pounds) the SitBacker is great for all sorts of activities aside from boating
- Has a weight limit of 250 pounds, so this unit is not suitable for particularly heavy boaters
Find more GCI Outdoor SitBacker Adjustable Canoe Seat with Back Support information and reviews here.
2. ALPS Mountaineering Weekender Seat
Here’s a comparable option to the SitBacker from ALPS Mountaineering that comes at an even lower cost. The seat style is very similar — the only real difference is that it lacks a steel frame and enhanced lumbar support. Having a frame certainly adds to the rigidity and therefore overall seat structure, but if you’re not particularly heavy this option will still perform just fine for you with a back support height of 16 inches.
It collapses almost flat and weighs a mere 21 ounces so this is a super portable and transferable seat option. There’s also strapping on the underside of this unit for securing it to a bench seat for some added stability. The back rest is adjustable and allows for an adequate amount of lean while sitting. The padding is only half an inch thick, so there’s definitely more cushioned options available, but it’s still absolutely better than sitting on a bare bench seat. For budget boaters who want to add some cushion and back support to their water craft this is a great option.
There’s handles for easy transport when traveling with or transferring this seat to another boat, and even a mesh pocket built into the back of the back rest. Having a bit of storage built into your seat is totally underrated, it’s great being able to reach back and have your camera, snacks or tackle box directly on hand. This is another unit you’ll likely end up using in many different contexts from sports game to days at the beach. If you like the style and price tag of this seat but think you might need just a bit more seat cushion than half an inch, check out the Explorer +XT seat also by ALPS Mountaineering listed at number four of this list.
Price: $18.02 & Free Shipping (28 percent off MSRP)
- Extremely portable and lightweight when collapsed (just 21 ounces) making it easily transferable between boats
- Very reasonably priced boat seat
- Includes strapping on the underside of the seat that clips to a bench seat for some added stability
- Mesh pocket behind the back rest is great for stashing a camera, snacks or a slim tackle box
- Seat cushion is only half an inch thick — if a thick, soft cushion is what you’re looking for in particular there’s better options listed here at a comparable price (see number 4)
3. Rio Gear My Pod Bleacher Seat
Here’s a slightly different bleacher style seat from Rio Gear. The My Pod Bleacher seat does not employ any adjustable strapping in order to set the back rest but instead utilizes a sort of internal ratchet system. The back rest has four different positions that simply click into place. It’s a solidly built system that doesn’t allow for any give or sag in the back rest like some of the seat models that use adjustable strapping.
Rio Gear has built this unit super compact but it still provides plenty of sitting space. The whole seat folds flat and includes a carry strap for easy transport but when opened up both the back rest and seat are 17 inches in length. It’s another great seat for transferring between boats or fishing holes with ease. The seat does not fold shut like a sandwich but rather extends all the way open to lie completely flat. This way it’s only two inches thick and stores with ease — pretty neat! There’s also some strapping on the underside of the seat to lash to bench seating so you can avoid sliding off your canoe or rowboat seat. This seat sits on the ground nicely so if you have a flat bow or platform on your jon boat (or a larger sized boat) you can toss it right up there. The underside of the seat is even padded so you don’t have to worry about scratching your boat.
Customer reviews praise the My Pod Bleacher Seat for it’s rigidity while sitting. It has a somewhat low 225 pound weight limit, but is impressively strong for its size none the less and can actually be leaned into like a real seat. It’s an effective design that come’s at a surprisingly affordable cost.
One additional feature that I’m really fond of is the addition of heat pockets in the seat bottom for sliding in heat packs when temps are chilly. This seat is also designed with sporting games in mind so it’s been built for long sits in the cold. It’s a feature that you might end up really enjoying if you do any cold weather paddling. For a seat in the $30 range Rio Gear has come up with a pretty righteous product that is quite well reviewed by boaters and sports enthusiasts alike!
Price: Starting at $24.54 & Free Shipping on orders over $25 (up to 18 percent off MSRP)
- The four position back rest is easy to use and well reviewed for strength, this seat will keep you properly supported
- Has strapping on the underside of the seat for lashing to a bench seat so you can further secure this unit to your boat
- There’s a sleeve to stash some heat packs if you’re ever out paddling in the cold!
- Folds flat for easy transport and includes a carry strap — it’s great for use both on and off the boat
- The underside of this seat is padded and it sits nicely on flat ground so it’s great for using on deck on bigger boats as well without having to worry about scratching up your boat
- This seat is conveniently washable!
- Some customer complaints that the seat padding is a bit thin
4. ALPS Mountaineering Explorer +XT Seat
This unit from ALPS Mountaineering is an awesome choice for those small craft boaters who really want some cushion. This seat bottom is a whopping 2.25 inches thick so there’s a lot of padding between you and your boat. It’s built from open and closed cell foam and well reviewed for comfort. This is a seat that works well for larger sized or heavier boaters. It’s both wide and well cushioned so it’s easy for people of all sizes to use.
The back rest is fully adjustable and can be leaned into without sagging despite the lack of a hard frame. This is an awesome seat for both row boats and canoes but there is not any strapping for securing this unit to a bench seat. If your canoe seating is particularly narrow then this one might be a bit challenging to use.
The Explorer +XT has an awesome and unique design in that when it’s folded it includes backpack strapping. It’s easily tossed on your back and weighs just 2 pounds 13 ounces. If you ever need to portage your water craft or have a bit of trekking to do before you reach your boat this is a lightweight seating option that can easily go with you anywhere. A thin pocket sleeve is also present on the underside of the seat for stashing some lighter gear adding to this unit’s versatility. Portable, affordable and seriously comfy, the Explorer +XT is no doubt one of the best value seats of this style great for boating.
- Crafted with open and closed cell foam with a 2.25 inch thick bottom cushion — this seat provides some excellent padding for those who prefer some extra cushion on their backside
- The webbing straps effectively allow for fine tuned back rest adjustments
- Includes strapping to be worn like a backpack when collapsed making it super easy to carry and transfer between boats (just 2 pounds 13 ounces)
- This seat is both spacious and strong enough to support larger and heavier boaters
- There’s a sleeve pocket on the underside of the seat for stashing some light gear
- There is no strapping for securing to a bench seat — if you own a canoe with narrow bench seats then this unit might have a tendency to want to slide off. Wider canoe bench seats and typical rowboat seating is more compatible with this option
5. Wise Economy Low Back Seat
This is my personal favorite seat included on this list — I’ve been fishing in a unit just like this since I was a young kid and it’s still going strong. A low back folding seat of this style is perfect for row boats and jon boats of all sizes, and is potentially compatible with some canoes as well. This seat from Wise is particularly affordable for the quality of the design and materials which is why it made this list. This unit can be used as is depending on your boat or also mounted onto a swiveling pedestal with some simple hardware. Mounting this bad boy will be particularly awesome for fishermen who want to get up higher on the water and really be able to point and shoot while casting.
Wise has built this unit with aluminum hinges and an injection molded plastic seat frame. It’s fairly light weight due to the design yet super comfortable due to the compression foam padding. The seat is 19 inches high, 16 inches wide and 14 inches deep. It’s compact but definitely big enough to support just about any style angler. If you do choose to keep this seat unmounted, it’s low profile enough to switch between boats with ease. If you intend on permanently securing this to your water craft, Wise has conveniently included the mounting fasteners for mounting to any standard BIA four bolt pedestal system.
The seat material is mildew and UV treated marine grade embossed vinyl. There’s 11 beautiful color options and patterns available — some with a classic, vintage look and others a bit more modern. You can totally customize your boat’s color scheme with this option if you’re into that. This seat is furthermore absolutely built to last through years of rain, sun and sitting! If you really want to extend the aesthetic life span of this seat than consider covering your boat with a tarp of some sort if it’s stored outside. If the seat isn’t going to be mounted onto your boat then bring it inside once you’re off the water. A comfortable, affordable, compact and stylish boat seat option from Wise — this one is a winner for sure.
Price: Starting at $42.47 & Free Shipping (up to 9 percent off MSRP)
- Can be easily mounted or used as is depending on your boat
- Marine grade embossed vinyl is built to last and has an awesome, almost vintage look
- 11 color options to choose from
- Compact enough when folded to be easily transported between watercraft yet spacious enough to be suitable for most sized anglers.
- One of the most affordable options for a quality boat seat of this style
- You might have a hard time getting this seat to work with your boat without mounting it depending on the design — careful not to tip this one over if you’re going to just sit it on top of a bench seat!
6. Leader Accessories High Back Folding Boat Seat
Here’s a high back folding seat option that’s quite comparable to the high end unit listed up next by Navistyle but comes at about half the cost! If you’re sticking to mostly fresh water boating and are not a super heavy individual, then this seating option is just as good as any! This is a fairly large seat at 21.5 inches high and 17.5 inches wide, so unless the boat you have in mind is on the larger end of small craft you’ll want to look elsewhere. This option is definitely not compatible with canoes.
Leader Accessories has built this Cadillac of a boat seat with corrosion resistant aluminum hinges and hardware and UV treated marine grade vinyl. It’s not quite as rock solid and built to last as the NaviStyle High Back Seat by Tempress listed at number 7, but then again what is? The craftsmenship is still absolutely sound and will last for years of boating as long as you don’t outright neglect and abuse it.
This seat is equipped with a five by five inch standard mounting bolt pattern that is of course compatible with swivels and pedestals. This is a seat that will require mounting due to its size so don’t expect to just toss it into your rowboat. Once secured, the height of the back and thick cushion support of the seat base can be leaned in to all you want! This is the perfect option for boaters and fishermen that really want to feel like they’re on a big boat rather than a small craft. Leader Accessories has absolutely come up with one of the best value, quality boat seats on the market with this one.
Price: $49.99 — $55.99
- Particularly high back makes for a very relaxed and solid seat that you can lean in to all you want
- Excellent price seat for the quality!
- Awesome array of 17 different colors and patterns to choose from
- Easily mounted on any standard five by five bolt pattern
- This is a pretty large seat that borders on being too big for small craft use — definitely carefully consider your boat size before purchasing
- If your boat is going to be on or around saltwater than definitely consider replacing some of the hardware with stainless steel alternatives
7. Tempress NaviStyle High Back Seat
Here’s a top notch option for those looking to mount a long lasting, high quality seat to their row boat or jon boat. This seat is compatible with larger, marine water craft but it’s still compact enough for use on smaller water craft. This is one tough unit — Tempress is a brand that’s serious about building ultra-durable, long lasting products. Make sure to check out the attached video below for a run through of this seat’s impressive features and design.
This won’t be an option suitable for canoe use, but it’s perhaps the best of the best when it comes to row boats. This seat is honestly a bit excessive unless you’re an avid fishermen who really enjoys sitting high up on the water with strong back support, or are just the type of boater that prefers a luxurious place to sit. The molded foam employed in the cushion design outdoes about all the competition, and comfort panels with lumbar support on the back rest keep you comfortably sitting straight up.
The high impact plastic frame is far more rugged than most other folding boat seats and should be able to handle any size or weight boater. Check out the impact test in the attached video for a look at how tough this seat frame (and vinyl) is compared to the competition. It’s definitely a bit more expensive than the other options listed here but it’s absolutely an appropriate price tag considering the quality. All the hardware is stainless steel and corrosion resistant so you don’t have to worry about replacing nuts and bolts if you’re planning on boating on or near salt water. The hinge is a special design that doesn’t “pinch” and it even includes a push button lock for keeping it securely closed while trailering or traveling with your boat.
Perhaps the most righteous feature of this seat from Tempress is that it has been built to be universally mounted. It’s compatible and comes with the required hardware for swivel mounts, standard pedestals and many more mounting options. Whatever you got going on your boat (or whatever you want to design) will work with the NaviStyle High Back Seat.
Last but not least, the marine grade vinyl used here is stain resistant and should’t fade on you any time soon. There’s even nine unique color options and patterns to choose from so you can match the existing color scheme of your boat. No doubt a bad ass seating option that all your boating and angling buddies will be envious of!
Price: Starting at $99.99 & Free Shipping (11 percent off MSRP)
- Truly one of the best built boat seats — great quality hinges, hardware and marine grade fabrics ensure it will perform for many seasons
- Universal mounting design! Compatible with swivels, standard pedestals and more!
- Provides fantastic lumbar support — if you struggle with back pain while boating then definitely consider this option
- Nine unique color and pattern options
- This is a relatively expensive option, but the quality of the materials, versatility in mounting options and inherent design of this seat still make it an EXCELLENT value
- This seat is very unlikely usable without properly mounting it
8. Crazy Canoe Pad III Cushion
Here’s a simple but mindfully designed seat cushion from Crazy Creek Products perfect for just about any style canoe. What you see is what you get with this one — it’s essentially just a cushion that secures to canoe bench seating. The strapping on the underside of the cushion that fastens it to the boat seating sets this unit apart from most other boat cushions. It’s nice knowing your seat won’t slide out from underneath you when you’re really digging that paddle deep or setting the hook on a monster fish!
This pad is super lightweight at just nine ounces and is only 11 by 15 inches in size. It’s a minimalist option for the minimalist paddler, but fairly comfortable none the less. It’s one inch thick, but the material is memory foam so it should provide a nice cushion for your bottom. If you want something that stays secure to your canoe while paddling and is easily removed and traveled with, this is the boat seat for you. For around $30 you can buy a much more comfortable boat seat than this that includes a back rest — what you’re paying for with this one is portability and the memory foam padding. Definitely not the most luxurious option of the lot, but perfect for certain style boaters.
Price: $30.84 & Free Shipping
- Super lightweight at just 9 grams
- Easily attachable and removable to canoe bench seating — great for boaters who store their boat outside and want to bring their seating in after a day on the water
- Memory foam padding is quite comfortable to sit on despite the fact that it’s only one inch thick
- No backrest present! This is just to add some cushion to your bench seating
- For $30 you could buy a much more inclusive boat seat but we still found this item to be a great value due to its portability and ease of use</li
9. Flowt Type IV Throwable Flotation Foam Cushion
Here’s one more simple seating option that might fit the bill for your boat. This type 4 throwable flotation pad is US Coast Guard approved as a life saving device and also works great as a seat cushion. The value of this seat comes from the fact that it’s also a life saving device. Depending on where and how you’re boating, rafting or canoeing it might be a wise idea for you to have a seat cushion that doubles as a life preserver. It’s a minimalist option that doesn’t provide any back support, but then again there’s no moving parts or strapping to malfunction or fail. Sometimes simple is better if you truly want a long lasting, value product.
It’s built from PE foam and is well reviewed by boaters, gardeners and sports spectators for comfort while sitting. The exterior is abrasion resistant and of course water proof so you should own a set of these pads for years without needing to replace them. The webbed throw handles make these cushions easy to travel with and also allow them to be secured to bench seating if you choose to. The dimensions of the cushion is 16 by 14 and 3/8 inches so it’s plenty big for any size boater. There’s even seven different color options if you want to match the color scheme of your boat! It’s a bare bones option that we found worth including here for those that like to keep it inexpensive, simple and safe!
Price: Starting at $17.59 & Free Shipping on orders over $25 (32 percent off MSRP)
- US Coast Approved as a life saving device
- Webbed throw handles can be secured to bench seating if you want to keep this unit from sliding around
- Abrasion resistant and of course water proof exterior — this is a seating option that you should own for years especially considering there’s no strapping or moving parts that might potentially fail
- Seven different color options available
- Provides no back support
- If you want this unit to secure to your boat’s bench seating you’ll need to secure it with your own cordage through the webbed handles
10. BackJoy Posture Plus
This is a unique choice of alternative seating that you might fall in love with depending on your water craft. If you’re shopping for seating for your canoe than this likely won’t be very compatible, but if you own a jon boat or row boat with wider bench seating this could be a major game changer for you. The Posture Plus seat from BackJoy is a unit that’s designed for mitigating and partially treating lower back pain. It corrects your posture by tilting your pelvis in a better orientation for your spinal health. This seat assists you with properly engaging your core while sitting and therefore reduces the direct strain on your back. It could be perfect for rowers who struggle to maintain good posture while on the water. Check out the attached video below for an anatomical look at how the Posture Plus works.
This is a super simple seating option that only weighs one pound. Grab it off your sofa or office chair and take it along rowing, fishing or bird watching out in the boat. It can essentially go anywhere there’s space for it to sit. The EVA foam covering is totally waterproof so although this product is not meant for boating there’s no harm in getting it wet. I like this simplicity of using this seat and how it has the potential to make a big difference in your overall spinal health. For around $40 I think this is an excellent value buy you’ll own for years and years of use on and off the boat.
Price: $39.99 & Free Shipping
- Innovative design that corrects your sitting posture to help correct and treat lower back strain and pain
- Can be used essentially anywhere there’s adequate sitting space (narrow canoe bench seats might be a bit tight)
- Employs a waterproof EVA foam covering so don’t worry about this one getting wet
- Five color options to choose from
- This seat option requires a wider bench seat than a lot of canoes typically have — it won’t work well if your boat seating is narrow
- You may experience a bit of discomfort when first using this product because your body needs to adjust to this (healthier) posture stance. Try using it at home or at work a bit before taking it out on the boat to avoid this possible initial discomfort
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