This article first appeared on the PAINLESS KAYAK FISHING blog.
Whether you’re paddling or pedaling a kayak, any combination of footrests with a backrest would eventually cause you discomfort of some kind since you’re sitting in the infamous L position, and eventually that could lead to a condition called ‘yakback’ or yak-back, with different variations including leg pain, leg numbness, butt pain (a.k.a. ‘yakass’) and so on.
Whether you paddle or pedal your kayak, or fish from it, the constant pressure your legs exert on your lumbar spine is an unhealthy thing that should be avoided.
But it can’t be avoided in any kayak that’s either a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak, so what do manufacturers of such kayaks do? – They can’t ignore the problem, obviously, since doing could hurt their sales. So they advertise their faulty products as being comfortable, ergonomic etc., and they assume that even if you took one of those kayaks for a 15-20 minute test ride, you’d be unlikely to notice the problem, as it usually takes longer than that for the passenger to start perceiving it.
They’ll advertise faux-features such as ‘new ergonomic design’, ‘improved lumbar support’ and any other combination of words that could convey a false sense of comfort, and get people to believe their problem is solved.
Some kayak manufacturers would even go further, and tell the world that their kayak is as comfortable as a real fishing boat, hoping that maybe some people would fall for this illusion of comfort.
But since kayaking and kayak fishing trips take longer than average test rides, sooner or later you’re likely to find that faux-comfort is not real comfort, and you’re having ergonomic problems, as you feared you would. In such cases you’ll probably end giving up kayak fishing, as many have done before, and for similar reasons, or switch to a W kayak, as a growing number of kayak anglers do.