I normally begin product reviews with an explanation of the methods of review. I’ll get to that later on. I’ll begin differently by answering a more general question: why add a cushion to a kayak seat?
This is a question many might ask, particularly if a devoted angler recently spent money on a high-end fishing kayak with a beautiful ergonomic seat. The occasional kayak angler may also ask it too. “I don’t spend much time in the plastic-molded hard seat of my big-box store model kayak, so why add a cushion?
Right. Both recreational and hardcore anglers know this day: it’s that morning when the bite is really good and you stay a bit longer. Before you know it, an extra hour turns into a full day. You stand up to stretch, and there’s a funny tingling in your leg, or a cramp in your back, or you don’t know what hit you. Whatever it is, it isn’t good.
If you’d had the extra seat height to stretch your legs, or some additional back support, or added comfort for your back end, a good day on the water might not have turned into a date with the chiropractor.
I know because I’ve been there. Sciatica, cramps, lower back strain and other health issues are common ailments in any profession that requires you to sit for long periods. If fishing from a kayak gets you away from a desk, why risk bringing the ailments with you? And if you aren’t desk bound at work, why risk developing those health issues while on the water? Kayak fishing is difficult work at times – why not be comfortable while you grind out a good bite?
Many kayakers add extra seat padding to their rigs but most of it is not made for use in the outdoors and it easily wears out. Other items made for the outdoors (for example, inflatable hunting seat pads) are not made to get wet or sit in the hot sun for long. In short, there has never really been a seat cushion made specifically for the wide, deep seats found on most fishing kayaks.
But now there is. It’s called the Kayak Kushion.
Product Specifications and the “Yard Test”
Materials are only as good as how they are assembled. You wouldn’t want a zipper on the back of your pants, for example. So the first step in evaluating any product is to study the components and how they cooperate.
The Kayak Kushion comes in two parts. First, there is the cushion itself. Second, there is the cover. Inserted into the cover, the Kushion and cover measure 18” x 13”. A zipper runs around the two sides and front edge, a carry strap makes for easy transport and a long strap with a cam buckle is sewn into the bottom of the cover. The cam buckle is made of metal, which I noted to be an excellent product point because plastic parts tend to degrade and break after extended exposure to sunlight.
The company also offers a variety of color options for the cover, including custom covers. Aesthetic appeal is an important feature relative to functionality, and the company website offers a solid range of colors and variants. Addition to the cover options, there are options for the cushion., as the company offers both the “Original” design and a “Firm” option, the latter of which I did not review.
Prior to field-testing, I ran my cushion and cover through what I call a “yard test.” I rubbed the product cover through some mud then blasted it with a hose to get most of the dirt out. I let it air dry outdoors, but it froze overnight and that added extra wear as the materials contracted and expanded with temperatures. I inspected it for color loss or fraying, and there weren’t any.
I then placed the product in the laundry machine on a light cycle, without detergent. It emerged good as new without fraying or even ink loss on the printed logo. Additionally, the zipper worked perfectly when I reinserted the cushion pad.
(Side note: Kayak Kushion sent me an interesting supplemental product called a “Kayak Kleaner.” It was a high-grade sponge, of the better quality most of us ignore in favor of cheaper options at the supermarket. I used it to rub clean some of the initial dirt from my cover and cushion, and then later used it with a boat cleaning product to give my kayak a shine. Like the cover and cushion, this was very durable after repeated use).
Having passed initial yard test assessments with a high score, I set about rigging the Kayak Kushion to my kayak seat.
For a video overview of the Kayak Kushion, click on the image to see Chad Hoover discuss it:
Installment and Functionality
The Kayak Kushion’s buckle and cam strap will fit any kayak seat, whether it is molded plastic or a detaching, elevated seat. There are installment considerations to think about for each.
I fish from a Jackson Bite FD with the Jackson Comfort seat, an elevated seat designed for pedaling, paddling and fishing. Like most other high-end kayak seats, tension on it can be adjusted using straps. But you have to be careful to avoid creating potential tangles and snag points, so keeping straps tight and neat is a must.
To install the Kayak Kushion, simply place it on your elevated kayak seat, run one end of the strap under one side, through the cam buckle, and tighten to adjust. Mine had a solid connection to my seat and I was able to pass it through other straps in order to avoid messy loose ends. Fixing the front loop to the front of the seat also prevents it from moving around as you shift your weight.
Attaching the Kayak Kushion will present some decisions to anglers fishing from kayaks with plastic molded seats, however. The metal buckle could scratch the plastic or make noise on such a kayak. Rather than cut the strap and degrade the product (you might need the strap when you finally upgrade to a kayak with a better seat!), here are two options:
- Simply run the strap through the buckle, and wrap the buckle and strap in some Gorilla tape. In this way, you eliminate the potential for noise that scares fish and sharp angles that cut plastic, and you save the strap
- Wear the strap over your lap. When sitting on the seat with the Kushion underneath you, strap the buckle and strap like a seat belt in your car. I like this option because if you flip your kayak, you save the Kayak Kushion. Do not however use the cushion as a flotation device (always wear a PFD on the water).
Test 1: A Short River Trip on a Cool Day
I always run any product through varied conditions. For my first test run with the Kayak Kushion, I chose a cool winter day. Air temperatures were in the high 40’s when I launched and colder in the shade. There was a light breeze of cold air from the north.
The temperate day turned my attention to air flow. Many high-end kayak seats are built with fabrics that increase air flow to keep anglers cool on hot, sunny days. While that technology is excellent for most of the year, winter anglers have to add extra layers to protect themselves from the cold. Extra layers can encumber movements, make PFD’s too tight and create a hazard if a kayak flips.
I immediately noticed that the Kayak Kushion created a cozy layer between my legs/backside and the seat. I could feel colder air on my back, but my thighs and rear end were protected well by the Kushion. As the day wore on and the sun heated the air and kayak I noticed that, conversely, my legs did not get hot. In this way, the Kayak Kushion provided a layer of comfortable protection without creating a thermal drain.
This was a very good product point. Inflatable cushions create a layer of air that will cool or heat. On hot days, that expanding air creates stress on cheap cushion seams; on cold days it becomes a heat sink, draining heat and energy from your body. The Kayak Cushion is not inflatable, therefore, it does not cool or overheat.
The next factor was comfort. I pedal and paddle as well as stand when I fish. That movement can push added cushions around. Additionally, when river fishing, my movements increase in relation to current. Fixed tight with the cam buckle, my Kayak Kushion was exactly where it should have been every time I moved, creating a wide plane on the seat. After a time, I barely noticed it was there, and when I got out of the kayak to stretch after several hours, I was not cramped or sore.
Some anglers like to use cushions as back support, too, so I shifted the Kayak Kushion to the back of the seat. The seat back is where our bodies exert the most pressure in the form of resistance when we pedal and paddle. Here too, the Kushion performed well – it did not get hot and it retained its shape.
When I returned to the ramp, I dropped the Kushion in the water, and it floated. While it is obviously not meant to be used as a flotation device, it will float so that if you forget to secure it and it goes in the water, you can retrieve it. I did not wait, however, to see for how long it would float – I was beginning to like the product, and wanted to save it for the next test.
Test 2: A Long Fishing Tournament on a Big Lake
It was late February in North Carolina, and several cold fronts had swept through the region. I was launching at sunrise for an 8 hour long tournament. When I launched, air temperatures were freeing, in the mid-20’s. By mid-day, I was sweating in the sun. Additionally, there was a stiff wind through the morning. My Kayak Kushion was fixed to my kayak seat, and I had another, brand name hunting cushion pad for back support.
I was going to compare the two. Both were light weight, but the Kayak Kushion was twice as thick. I kept the latter under me until mid morning, when I switched the two, and used the Kayak Kushion for back support. The effect was immediate. All morning, the wind chilled my back, despite my layers. When I switched to the kayak Kushion for back support, it stopped. Conversely, the thinner cushion that was now under me did not provide great heat retention in the cold wind. My conclusion: if you fish in cold weather, or want to have both solid back and seat support, buy two kayak kushions.
It warmed later in the day so I removed both cushions. I immediately felt the difference. After 5-6 hours of sitting and pedaling/paddling in the cold, my lower back need the extra warmth and support provided by the Kayak Kushion. After one hour without it, I put it behind me again and fished the rest of the day without complaint. It made an appreciable difference. When I am fishing, the last thing I want to do is think “My back is getting sore.” I just want to focus on catching fish.
The Kayak Kushion is a great product because you don’t realize it is there, but you know it as soon as it is gone. I’ve used it on 4 trips that ranged from freezing weather to warm sunny afternoons, and I’ve cleaned the Kayak Kushion twice. I’ve also spoken with the company reps on several occasions and found them to be polite and responsive.
In sum, the Kayak Kushion has won me over. It is a high quality product that delivers on both materials, functionality and performance.
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About the Company
For more info about the Kayak Kushion company, visit the website: Kayak Kushion.
About the Reviewers
Chad Hoover is the owner of Kayak Bass Fishing. Follow him on Youtube
Henry “Hank” Veggian has lived in North Carolina since 2006. He started fishing from a Jackson Coosa in 2011. Gaining a reputation as a tournament kayak angler on the booming North Carolina scene, Henry began competing on a national level in 2016. A former tournament director for Carolina Kayak Anglers, he also conducts seminars and spreads the gospel of our sport. His writings on kayak fishing have appeared in numerous publications. A member of the Jackson Kayak Fishing team and the Ketch team, he currently fishes out of a Bite FD. For more product reviews, visit Hank’s blog.