Hobie Outback seat modifications
I bought a Hobie Outback because I love bicycling. Might as well pedal on the water too! I liked it the first time I tried one, but my first long journey on my Outback showed me the stock seat had a major problem - the back wasn't anywhere near tall enough!
My recumbents have a 20" high seatback (actually taller, but that's where my back hits at the highest point) which is - obviously - very rigidly attached to the bike so the rider can really lean into it if needed. The Hobie seat, aside from being too short - thus digging into my back when I would lean into it - had no support for the upper half of the back so it just folded over. I looked at various options online, but most are still too short at 16-18". That's understandable, if you're going to paddle a really tall seat will probably just get in the way. I finally found the Skwoosh high-back seat that is - yay! - 20" tall.
I ordered one, and when it arrived gave it a try. So close, but still not quite right. It has a stiffer back, as it has two fiberglass battens sewn in. Those worked fine, but due to the way the seating area of the Hobie is shaped when I leaned back the bottom of the back just folded forward into my lower back and the top folded back so I wound up laying down! If I carefully positioned myself I could get a short distance in my "ideal" position - and oh did it feel nice! But it was great effort to remain in that position, and even when sitting more upright I was using some of my core muscles just to hold myself up.
Enter the PVC Tinker-Toy project! I went home, set the Hobie up on the garage floor, and mulled it over. Had a few ideas I didn't like because I wanted if possible to avoid drilling holes in the kayak. Finally decided some sort of PVC pipe frame that could support the back might work. Off to the hardware store for 1" Sch 40 PVC and a bunch of fittings.
I didn't draw up plans ahead of time, I just sat and visualized a bit then started cutting and dry-fitting things together! It took a few modifications to get things to the final result but went far quicker than I thought it would. It also works far better than I thought it would! The final product uses a couple of 3/4" stubs to slot into the scupper holes in the rear well, has an angled portion to support a large area of the seat back, and is light weight. Very easy to slip into position, strap on the seat, then remove after the ride.
It feels WONDERFUL. Very firm, no flexing while pedaling, and I can finally truly relax and lean into the seat on a kayak! No edges poking into my back, no flex making me wonder if a strap is about to give. It's almost as good as the recumbent seat - the recumbent having the advantage of a wide metal frame with mesh stretched around it so it conforms to the back better and breathes a LOT better. Perhaps one of these days I'll actually try fitting a RANS seat to the kayak!