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I've been using the Bumfortable in my own kayaks for years now and would not use any other seat. The seats are made from a thermo molded foam rubber (100% recycled) with a smooth surface that gives good rotational movement. The seat fits a wide range of kayaks sizes but you will need to customize the seat installation to get the best fit for you and your kayak. This is normal and standard stuff for any kayak and canoe.
Kocho's comments are correct and that the seat fit will be different for each kayak design. I have three kayaks, one is very narrow and has a Bumfortable Narrow fitted into it that I've modified to suit the kayak and myself. For years this narrow kayak has had no problems with seat comfort, then one day I also started getting a little rub spot on my tailbone. I think it was initiated by a seam in a pair of paddling pants I had been using for too long and really needed to retire. The odd thing was, that after that day I got the same rub spot again with other pants.
To fix the problem I also did what Kocho did and carved a little away from the tailbone area. Then, not happy with that, I cut a hole out on the seat where my tailbone was rubbing. Problem solved! I have seen others cut holes in their seats to account for their particular unique personal shapes. The nice thing about this seat is that you can do this. I recommend though, that you give it some time before you start carving away at the seat.
My other two kayaks are much wider kayaks and use the Wide seat, unsupported on the sides. The fit would be much nicer with the sides braced with foam between the hull and seat but I loan the kayaks out, so leave the seat a loose fit. They are Velcro fixed in place. The sides spread out a bit when I sit in the seat but I get no control problems from this and I get no rubbing anywhere even after many hours of continuous racing.
Fixing a seat is always a personal choice. Everyone wants to do it their own way. Some people like to permanently glue them in. Others use Velcro so the seat can be adjusted or moved to other kayaks. Also like Kocho, I've had seats release during racing, not because the seat is flexing, but because the glue I used has failed in the wet environment. I will find the perfect glue one day!
One way a customer did it was smart. He glued two strips of Velcro beam wise (east west) to the seat. Then in the kayak he glued two strips of Velcro bow stern wise (north south). This I highly recommend. The advantage of this is that you get adjustment in three directions, sideways, length ways and rotational in the vertical.
Another advantage of this method is that when you grab the seat to adjust it, (make sure you run the Velcro up the sides of the seat a little), you can lift using the Velcro. The problem I have encountered is that industrial strength Velcro holds so strongly that the glue will pull free before the Velcro does. So minimizing the Velcro contact area with itself and maximizing the glue contact area is an advantage. You only need a few square inches of Velcro to Velcro contact to make a very strong bond.
So far, contact adhesive seems to be the best but sometimes not great. I think the freshness of the glue, manufacturer, air temperature, etc, all affect the initial bond. If you find a great glue email me and let me know and I'll get it up on the website.
Now a word on the surface of the seat. It is smooth, but it is not hard plastic or fiberglass so the amount of slip is very much dependent on the type of material you are wearing. I find I get good rotation with any lycra or nylon blended material. I use cycling pants for most of my paddling.
Fit is a little friendly when you first sit in it. Like a new pair of shoes or a new mattress, the first few minutes are odd but after 10 minutes it feels like it's part of you. The only person that elected not to use the seat I know of, had prostate issues, and sold the seat to a friend!
As far as price goes, yes the seat is not the cheapest you could buy. It's made using a hand laid up multistage process in a heated, pressure mold. The seat is made in New Zealand where there are labor laws that have minimum pay levels, health benefits, 401k type schemes, and paid vacation and sick leave. All this contributes to the cost. Considering people are spending $3,500 or more on a kayak or canoe and then finding them painful to paddle. The seat often fixed issues that have plagued some people for years or never paddling without discomfort. Some people were considering buying a new boat to fix the problem or giving up paddling, the seat has opened up their paddling world again,(actual customer comments to me).
Steve Gurney has also been listening to the feedback and is developing new seat innovations. I'm working on a new idea I've code named the "PXT Synergos" to make fitting the seat between kayaks a breeze. I'm also adding additional fitting information for the seats and more photos and video of the seats to help everyone understand what they are and how to use them. Canoes are also been outfitted with the seats with great results. Check my website regularly for latest updates, www.pxtkayaks.com.
Phil - PXTkayaks
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 it’s 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. Its’ 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 don’t 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.
The wide version of the Bumfortable seat fits nicely in the boat but I feel it is still a smidgen too narrow for me. I'll explain. The seat is made of shaped foam. This means it has a give to it – it needs to be used with appropriately sized inserts between it and the boat hull or it will only provide very limited support on the sides. Meaning you will shift your weight in undesirable directions while rolling or edging if you do not firmly pad b/w the seat and the kayak hull.
When I padded my hull to achieve proper balance b/w contact and space to move, the Bumfortable sides stay slightly away from the sides of the kayak. E.g. it is narrower as provided than I would ideally want it. When I sit in it, my bum pushes the sides to the side and they now fill the space properly. Perhaps I need to glue them to the outside to have them stay there. But I also feel some of this at the very base of the seat and to correct that I would need to do some shaping of the bottom of the seat and glue it all over to make it stick in place and hold a slightly different shape than it's original shape. That's more customization than I want to do and I do not want half a gallon of contact cement to make it stay where needed. So I accept that slight shape imperfection for me and use it with four 1x4" strips of heavy duty outdoor Velcro attaching it to the hull (and not have it glued to the minicell foam inserts on the sides b/w the seat and the hull). Still quite comfortable, but if your bottom is broader than mine, this means you will have some unnecessary contact with the seat just by sitting in it and stretching it to fit you. And you would need to do intricate adjustments and a lot of gluing to make the thing fit perfectly.
The second problem I have with the seat is that my tail bone begins to hurt after some hours of paddling. I ended-up carving a small dent in the rear of the seat where my tail bone is and that helped minimize the problem.
So why 8 ranking? The seat requires quite a bit of customization to make it fit properly you and your kayak. To fit anyone who is outside of the ideal size of the bucket, the seat ideally needs to be glued very well on the outside so that it stays in shape rather than have your bottom push it wide to fit you. For relaxed touring or a snug fit the latter (your bottom shaping the seat) may be great, but for active exercise paddling or racing where you want a close but loose fit this is not good – creates rubbing while still having some wiggle due to the inherent foam softness. That same softness is great for longer hours, not so great for precise boat control.
Overall a decent seat and could be perfect for those who fit well in it (padding on the outside to the boat hull is pretty much mandatory even if you fit perfectly). Lightweight and seems durable so far. On the other hand, for about $30 in minicell foam, I can shape a comparable seat in a few hours time that would fit me and my kayak hull perfectly. I got one of these home-made seats in my other kayak and it works just as well as the Bumfortable. Somehow I was expecting a different feel from the Bumfortable (e.g. from reading their website descriptions I hoped it would be firmer and slicker, more like shaped plastic than foam) but it really is very much a foam seat with all the benefits and drawbacks of foam. If you like foam – great. If you want something a little more supportive and rigid (for precise boat control) and slippery (for good bottom rotation) – get something else.
There isn't a perfect seat since our bottoms and our kayaks are all shaped differently - the Bumfortable may or may not work for you.
For installation I also used velcro, but I wouldn't trust the self-adhesive - it doesn't seem to be waterproof enough, and can't really bond to the epoxy-glass matrix. I prepped the surfaces then painted in a double layer of industrial contact cement on everything, making sure to run the velcro up the front and back edges of the seat so that the force of tearing the velcro faces apart doesn't fall on a weak butt end, and running the velcro both ahead and behind the attachment section, on the floor of the hull, for the same reason. Then I sealed all edges of the velcro with Aquaseal. Also, I masked (with masking tape - it has stayed stuck ever since so I guess it's ok) both sides of the velcro strips on the underside of the seat to make them effectively only about 1" wide instead of the full 2". There is more "stick" than you actually need with the velcro, and it's quite a wrench to tear the seat out otherwise, and stresses the attachment. This way, if the velcro starts losing strength eventually I can unmask the sides to bring it back up to strength.
A side-benefit of the Bumfortable is that the high sides of the seat serve to pad the balance point for carrying the boat on my shoulder.
Such was the case with my Thunderbolt seats. The stock seat held me snugly and left me feeling secure in the boat, but (and perhaps this seat was modified by a previous owner) the back of the seat was such that the edge would cut into my back, especially if I used any significant amount of rotation in my stroke. My legs and buns would get numb after awhile as well. Using a back strap took away the back discomfort - as long as I was paddling casually. When I got aggressive (as in racing) and used a lot of rotation, I would end up with significant back chafing from the strap. I tried various padding schemes, but nothing really worked well. My lower back looked like I had been whipped and beaten in a POW camp.
With the stock setup not working for me, I opted to try the Onno seat. Reviews of this seat were glowing in admiration for the seat, and my experience with other Onno products was very favorable, so I called Pat and got one on order, getting the seat installed and briefly tested a week or so before the 2009 USCA Nationals. Not wise. The Onno seat is an excellent touring boat seat, but in my race boat I found it too wide and flat, leaving me feeling disconnected from my boat (which seriously compromised my performance in the swirling waters of the Allegheny river at the Nationals). Also, when I tried it without the back rest, the edge of the seat cut into my back. With the back rest it was much better, and the smooth back rest chafed me less than the back straps I had tried previously, but it still was rubbing me. At the Nationals I picked up some padding and got a good fit with the seat, using it fairly well in an 18 mile race the following week, but it still didn't give me as much rotational freedom as I desired. It was also a little heavier than the stock seat, and seemed to place my center of gravity a little higher. The quest for a better seat continued.
During the course of my search for a better seat for the Thunderbolt, I came across an interesting kayak seat called the Bumfortable (as in, keeping your buns comfortable!) from Gurney Gears. A wildly colored seat, made from closed-cell plastic foam, the Bumfortable seat promised to be an ergonomic seat that would provide support and cushion in all the right places, while having a slippery enough surface to allow body rotation for a proper forward stroke. Other claims included: warmth, reducing pressure points by redistributing the load over a larger area, light weight, no water absorption, low center of gravity, and - very important to me - structural back support without the chafing of back straps, etc. As a bonus, I read on a racer's web site the story of an individual who had installed a Bumfortable seat into his Thunderbolt, and really liked it:
Time to get out the credit card!
I ordered the narrower model, even though others had said they were able to get the wider model to fit the Thunderbolt. I think it was a good decision; the seat fit the Thunderbolt about like it was made for it - and for me. Like most people, I tried sitting in the seat before placing it in my boat, and found it was a little uncomfortable. There's a rise in the middle of the seat that kind of feels like it's going to give you a wedgie. Once in the boat, however, the seat felt great.
Gurney Gears shows how to glue the seat in place, but I opted to use 2 inch wide industrial strength self-adhesive Velcro hook and loop fastener material instead, a trick used by other paddlers in the area. After removal of the Onno seat, I used a cleaner/degreaser to clean the inside of the hull, followed by the use of rubbing alcohol as a final degreaser. I then attached a couple of strips of the Velcro material to each side of the channel running along the bottom of the seat. Having already test fit the seat to the boat, I knew where I wanted it placed, so I attached the mating Velcro material to those strips, removed the backing, and placed the seat in the desired position. It was easy and worked great. When I sat in the boat, the seat conformed to the bottom of the boat, and the seat sides provided just the right amount of foam padding between me and the cockpit sides (actually the stock seat hangars).
A couple of days after installation I headed out to the river for an 18 mile run - 9 miles up paddling at race pace, and a casual return trip after joining up with a recreational group coming down stream. My experience in the past has shown me that some seat seem ok when you're pushing hard, but hurt your back when you slow down. Conversely, a good touring seat is usually poor when you're going all out.
When all was said and done, I was very pleasantly surprised to find this seat seems to do all things well. I felt more connected with my boat and more stable than I've felt with any other seat. At the same time, I was able to really put the power to the water, getting plenty of rotation without any rubbing against my back. I think I ran some of my fastest times ever on that section of my local river, a combination of feeling secure in the boat and the ability to put my full power into the paddle. The Velcro installation worked great - the seat never even hinted at moving. If necessary, though, I could remove it and relocate the seat to fine tune the boat. During my outing my back was comfortable whether I was running hard or taking it easy. It seems to provide support to the back in just the right places, while avoiding rubbing in more tender areas. The seat definitely feels warm and comfortable. It's not hot and sweaty, just warm. It should make the boat feel pretty comfortable in winter.
If you need an improved seat in your kayak, and you can get past the wild colors, I would highly recommend the Bumfortable seat for serious consideration.
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