Canoe Seating Position: Where To Sit In A Canoe?


Although it seems easy and simple, there are a few different sitting techniques and positions in a canoe. They all have their pros and cons, and they all help with some aspect of canoeing, but the main thing proper sitting affects is the movement of the vessel and how well and easily it moves through the water. Not to mention the fact that a good position helps you stay fresh, therefore keeps you safe and healthy.

The key is to learn how to properly spread the weight so it is distributed equally and allows the best canoe to move freely. This article will show you the canoe seating position you could apply to your paddling sessions, and we’ll talk about where to sit in a canoe solo.

Where To Sit In A Canoe Solo

The best answer to this question is the bow seat, so you’re facing the stern of your vessel. If you sit or kneel here, you’ll be the closest to the center of the canoe. This way you’ll get more stability and balance, and therefore even more control of your vessel, even with all your canoe equipment on.

Where To Sit In A Canoe In Tandem

Every seat in the canoe has its own task, so it is quite important to find the best canoe seating position for you and your companions.

Sitting In The Stern

The backside of the canoe is where the steering happens. That’s why the most experienced paddler needs to sit there. If the crew is made of two paddlers, then the heavier one should sit at the stern. This way the stern will be deeper in water and it will be easier to move. In the ideal circumstances, the heaviest person is the most experienced one, but if it is not the case, try both options.

Sitting In The Bow

Whoever sits in front of the canoe will have only one job – to paddle. That’s why sitting in the bow is recommended for beginners, so they can feel how water works, learn the best paddling techniques, and get familiar with canoe movement. Also, it is recommended for the lightest person to sit at the bow, because of the balance and the ease of moving through the water.

Sitting In The Canoe Centre

While only two members of the canoe crew paddle and there may not be the third seat, most of the modern types of canoes can hold the weight of three or even four people. But, there are a few rules. In case there are three people on board, the heaviest one should sit in the middle. In case there are four people, the calculated weight of extra passengers will probably be bigger than a single person’s, so you won’t have to worry about that, but they should sit on the floor of the canoe, and not on the crossbars. If someone sits high, the balance will change and you may end up capsizing. On the other hand, sitting low will help with maintaining the balance, so feel free to relax, lay back and enjoy the ride.

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How To Sit In A Canoe


Now when you know where you should sit in a canoe, it is time to learn the ways how to do it. Although it may seem irrelevant, the position you take can make difference between comfort and discomfort.


Finding good posture is essential as it represents the best position for your body that will help you keep the fatigue away and maintain the movements naturally. To do it, there are a few steps you should take:

  • Sit straight, whether on the seat or the floor
  • Place your legs so you feel comfortable
  • Now relax and let your body sing for a bit

The result should be a natural paddling posture. If you don’t relax a bit, the tension in your muscles can be too big and you could end up injured.  Good posture will take the pressure off your back, while it will keep your vessel stable and make your strokes as strong as they can be.

Sitting Position

Although most paddlers around the world prefer sitting on the seats, there are some other positions you may try out that will keep your boat centered better and help you get more control of your canoe.


A great choice for windy weather and rough waters, and recommended if there are kids, pets, or canoeing beginners on board. It can also serve as an alternative to your usual position, so you don’t get cramps if you spend too much time in one position. It may be challenging to find the perfect position, but once you do, you’ll see the benefits fairly quickly. Also, there is an option to install knee pads. You may combine sitting and kneeling, or basically do anything that will help you feel comfortable so you can concentrate on paddling.


This is recommended only for solo paddling, and athwart can be used as support. Kneel near the center of the canoe, but your paddling side. Your vessel will tilt a bit, maybe even a bit more, but don’t worry – a low gravity center will prevent your boat from capsizing, so it is really stable canoeing position. It may take some time to learn it and to do it properly, but when you do you’ll have a position that makes your strokes more powerful, makes your reach bigger, and makes any maneuver way easier.

Make Yourself Comfortable And Practice

Don’t be lazy, take your canoe and hit the nearest body of water, then practice until you find the perfect one for you. It may be the kneeling, or you may prefer the heeling, or you may end up sticking to the regular seating, but it is really important to learn it and master it before you go out on a more serious journey.

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In this article you’ve read about the canoe seating position, also we’ve answered the question of where to sit in a canoe solo. Now it is up to you to take off the canoe cover and go and practice. Canoeing is a form of great exercise; it can also be quite fun if you include some fun canoe games, so it will most definitely be worth the effort.

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