The seats on your boat have lived long lives and have supported your family through tall waves, impromptu storms, and crowded sunset cruises. They have many stories to tell but just can’t provide the same support any longer. Or your boat could use a facelift and new seats would do the trick quite well. Either way, you know how important it is to choose a seat that will stand the test of time from a quality and looks standpoint.
What makes a seat comfortable? The answer can be complex as boating becomes more specialized and boaters more demanding. Having designed seats for many of the manufacturers that sell you your boats, Attwood Marine stays out front of design trends and is pleased to provide the following information for you to consider when making your selection to insure an excellent seating experience.
First, the seat’s backrest should follow the natural curve of the spine. Also, an upward curve at the back of the seat pan rotates the pelvis forward and properly positions the lumbar region. Another key feature for a properly curved seat pan is that it facilitates proper water drainage. And a rounded front or “waterfall” edge reduces pressure on the thighs. Proper contouring will align the seat form with your physiology for a more comfortable experience during and after your boating.
The seat relieves pressure by shifting upper body weight to the backrest, while not reducing support. This is done by angling the seat and seat mount. Optimal seat pan-to-backrest angle is 95° -105° for passengers, 95° – 100° for drivers.
Pedestal height is critical for comfort and the driver’s vision. If too low, weight shifts onto the sitting bones. If too high, weight shifts onto the back of the thighs and into the spine. Seat height should be adjustable within a 5″ range — 14.5″ to 19.5″ above the deck.
Seats should fit a range of body sizes. Look for seats that accommodate numerous body frames to ensure you and all your passengers are comfortable.
Your seat should feature effective shock absorption that isolates the boater’s spine from hull pounding. Ask your retailer if the seat can take a 4-G hit without transferring shock to the rider. This can be accomplished by providing the appropriate space and material for a soft landing with no bottoming out.
If the foam is too thick, the body “swims” without support, and movement is restricted. If the foam is soft or thin, it “bottoms out,” leading to discomfort or injury. The right amount of sculpted foam enhances the comfort and support already designed into the ergonomic contour of the seat.
In the market today you can find sophisicated mesh materials and technology. It is nice in that it dissipates heat and moisture and offers cool comfort. Look for ventilated seat backs and pans to allow pass-through of air and water for increased comfort on those long hot days on the water.
While underway, quality seats can absorb up to 4-Gs of impact from waves and hull pounding. Inferior seats allow pressure points and impaired circulation. A proper suspension has stretching action to minimize pressure points. Even while idle and sitting still, the suspension should adjust to pressure to provide long term comfort.
There are numerous styles of seats and accessories to consider. Bucket seats are designed to be comfortable in any seating position and can be found on cruisers, runabouts, deck boats, and pontoon boats. Bench seating is extra wide for sharing the helm or stretching out and are excellent for the boats already mentioned, yachts and center console boats. Important accessories to look for include a flip-up bolster as it can add height and improve visibility. A fold-down seat back provides a cleaner look and allows the unrestricted movement often needed for active fishing. When considering a folding seat be sure to make sure the hinges don’t pinch you when it is in an upright or seating position. Lastly, many seats incorporate storage panels allowing you an additional location to stow items.
As you can see, there are many factors to consider prior to purchasing your seat. Do the necessary homework, take into account the way you will use your seat and rely on Attwood Marine and the choice you make will treat you, your family and your friends well for many years to come.