Saturday, November 9, 2013

What's new in fishing kayaks' ergonomics?

When we launched this blog years ago, the notion of ergonomics in fishing kayaks basically meant that manufacturers added foam in the kayak's seat... Not that it helped much, really, since foam gets compressed, and leaves the angler to struggle with the increasing sensation of their lumbar spine being compressed both vertically and horizontally. This problems has often been described in multiple articles published on this blog, as well as in other websites dedicated to elucidating the truth in these (often painful) matters, and educating anglers about the inconveniences and risks associated with the singular and almost cruel L kayaking position...

So, what's new these days? 

Not much really.  Most fishing kayaks out there still feature the classic setup that based on footrests and a backrest designed to trap you in between, and allow your legs to work as powerful pistons that would continuously compress your lower back against the seat's backrest.
Some fishing kayaks feature wide canvas seats that are similar to stadium seats, or director seats. Why has anyone thought such seats may be more comfortable than foam filled seats is beyond anyone's understanding, but the field of kayak design is extremely restricted in the possibilities offered to come up with meaningful innovations, which is why such innovations are so rare in it.

Other fishing kayaks feature seats featuring a mechanism enabling their user to raise or lower them at will. The idea behind this innovation must have been that a higher seat is less painful to sit on, as far a the infamous 'yak back' syndrome is concerned. This is not absolutely true because sitting higher in a kayak that's essentially not a very stable vessel makes the user feel even less stable, as anyone can understand intuitively. Furthermore, and here it takes a kayak designer to analyze this family of products, the user who loses some of their stability and sense of comfort automatically tries to compensate for their loss by increasing their control over the kayak's lateral motion (rocking). This can be done in the L position only through a more rigid and tighter posture of the legs and back, and consequently more pressure on the sensitive area known as the lumbar spine. The end result of sitting higher in an unstable kayak that offers its user no effective means to improve their control over their kayak is an awkward sensation of helplessness and discomfort that gradually turns into the well known yak back or some other type of lower back pain and marked discomfort in one's legs.
The only way manufacturers of those kayaks found to help their clients with this new problem is by making the kayaks increasingly big and wide, in an attempt to improve their stability. This may work to some extent, but it also exacerbates the problem of such fishing kayaks being 'barges', that is particularly slow, hard to propel by human power, and lacking acceptable tracking capabilities - In other words, nothing you and I would like to spend time in.
Which brings the angler who hopes to find the perfect fishing kayak back to the Wavewalk 500 series that's back pain free and offers both unrivaled stability and unmatched ease of paddling.