Submitted: 02-04-2011 by cD1
The Bumfortable seat has been reviewed recently by kayak distance racers, and their opinions are well-thought and respected. I have, however, a couple issues with the Bumfortable seat and feel that, as a general kayaking seat (which is the category for which it is sold), it is a 6 of 10 product.
I have been kayaking for about eight years and I own about a dozen kayaks, and one of my Valley Nordkapps has the Bumfortable seat. Although it is comfortable to sit in, and comfortable when sitting upright such as kayak marathoning, I do not find it nearly as useful for more dynamic kayaking. Rolling, deep bracing, reverse stoke are simply not side-supported enough by the Bumfortable seat. The foam is not really closed-cell, not truly open cell either, but something in between. This leads to flex, and flex is not good (except for comfort under the buttocks). The manufacturer has an optional band that goes around the seat, and my kayak came with the seat and band, but the band seemed not to make much difference. My other kayaks either have stock Valley or Prijon seats and backbands, or I have custom shaped and fit gray, closed cell foam. This option is much preferred if a kayaker is going to be dynamic and move in the cockpit and desires a form fit for dynamic use. Not only do I get a better "purchase" and more seat and back stability for forward stroke power with true minicell, closed cell foam, but itís also more ideal for rolling, etc. The intimacy of the hips and thighs is mandatory for proper boat control, and is the virtue of traditional seating or minicell. The Bumfortable, however, has a higher back than necessary, in my opinion, and has an emphasis on comfort over performance, and does not permit the stability around the hips and thighs to allow for ideal boat control.
Two additional issues regarding the Bumfortable: the installation/gluing and the price.
The foam is so "flexy" that the seat quite easily pulls up from the kayak bottom. I use the traditional method of installation, which is to clean the fiberglass or plastic thoroughly, including alcohol, allow to dry then use DAP Weldwood and allow some drying for super "tack", and then adding the seat. While this tried-and-true method works wonders for minicell (hard to remove even if you want to get it off, actually), the flexing Bumfortable will untack and come off on you during paddling. Itsí just too flexy, too open-celled, and the one-piece high back nature of the seat will have you putting direct pressure through it on each forward stroke. A two-piece traditional seat plus backband, for instance, does not allow direct pressure on the backband to be translated to the seat because they are independent units. I have had the Bumfortable pull detach frequently and frustratingly, even once on the first paddle a couple days after meticulous gluing; I have never had minicell come off, ever. A dislodged seat would be catastrophic on an expedition.
The price of the Bumfortable is high. The cost of closed cell/minicell is relatively much cheaper. Minicell can be obtained from most kayak general retailers, and in generic form at online auction sites. Shaping is so easy with a hacksaw and rough grit sandpaper, I donít know why anyone would use anything else. A custom minicell seat that one could make themselves would be, based on my experience, about 1/3 the price of the Bumfortable seat.
All in all, the Bumfortable would not be the best choice for a sea kayaker who values a roll, paddles dynamic (sometimes violent) seas-- the side support and back support are inadequate for bracing, cockpit maneuvers and strong support for a power stroke (e.g. I could never imagine a kayak sprint racer using a Bumfortable). A traditional stock seat and backband, or minicell custom, would be preferred for sea kayaking.
That said, in thinking who might use the Bumfortable seat successfully, I would guess that it might indeed be reasonable for a long-distance, non-rolling (esp. if flatwater) kayak marathoner. It would also be reasonable for a flatwater recreational kayaker, although rec kayaks are typically inexpensive and buying an expensive seat for an inexpensive kayak is counterintuitive. A kayak fisherman might desire a comfortable seat for a wide, stable kayak fishing vessel; I am not a kayak fisherman, and can say that the Bumfortable would be like a cushion on the buttock for long term sitting, but I do not know if the fisherman, with hands preoccupied by rod and gear, needs to control the boat with hips and body movements. If so, the Bumfortable falls short.
I appreciate being able to post my thoughts on two years of use of the Bumfortable, and a simple counterpoint to the opinions already provided here. Thank you.