Regardless of how well you store and take care of your boat, seat upholstery and padding inevitably become worn and ratty from sunlight, water spray, extreme weather, falling branches and more.
It’s likely that, after a few boating seasons, your original factory boat seats are faded and torn, and the padding is not nearly as supportive or comfortable. With the worst of winter (hopefully) behind us and a couple months to go until boating season is in full swing, now is a great time to start thinking about how to upgrade the on-deck comfort of your boat.
Refurbishing your upholstery can be a good option, but other boaters opt to go with replacement boat seats and chairs that you can install yourself. Oftentimes, these will exceed in quality of original equipment and bring an updated style to your boat, giving it a fresh new overall look. Several different types of seat upgrades are available; here’s what to look for when choosing one to meet all your comfort needs…
Traditional Seating Options
These are typically single-occupant seats, positions at the helm, (unsurprisingly) called helm seats. These can be as simple as a seat with no armrests, footrests or side-bolsters, or as advanced as a super-comfortable and supportive captain’s seat with all of the aforementioned features plus a flip-up leg bolster, adjustable pedestal/post height and swivel/slide functionality to provide a higher sitting position and better visibility.
For those looking for the most cost-effective option, the basic seats will be your best bet. They are easily bolted down and many of them have seatbacks that fold flat to provide additional surfaces when not being used. Or, for additional versatility, there are single bench seat options that offer reversible seatbacks to provide support in whichever direction you choose to sit.
Also grouped in with the traditional seating options are multi-person bench seats that typically need to be installed around the perimeter of your boat, however, there are multi-person options that are two basic helm seats back-to-back. What’s best for you will depend on the type, size and space available in your boat. Bench seats typically offer additional features such as under cushion storage and/or seatbacks that fold down, the back-to-back helm seats usually offer additional storage as well.
Specialty Seating Options
These seats provide an alternative option for those who prefer not to remain in a traditional seating position while on the water.
The first option is a leaning post, which is especially helpful if your boat has a tall center console. Installing a leaning post will allow you to clearly see over the console while either in a seated or standing/leaning position. Leaning posts sit upright and provide more height to allow the captain to steer, see all gauges and act quickly if trolling, towing or fishing while underway. They typically feature a high-mounted seat cushion or padded bench rail to sit on or lean against and may include a seat which can be removed or folded away. Certain styles offer additional features such as removable storage bags, fishing pole holders, optional backrest sections and adjustable height pedestals.
There are also special seating options for anglers. “Horse” seats, named after their saddle-like shape, offer the ability to sit freely at a taller height and position to use a fishing pole or observe the water with ease. Whichever way you use a horse seat, a quick hop down is all you need to get back on both feet.
Casting seats, also designed for fishing, feature a cushion that’s wide at the rear for comfort and thinner towards the front for easy climb-offs and a small rear support lip. This seat is a must for the avid fisherman.
Last on the list of specialty seats are child seats. While taking an infant on a boat before he or she is 18 pounds and can wear a lift vest on their own is not recommended, once they’re of acceptable size and age it’s fun to have them on board! To ensure they’re comfortable and safe, you’ll want to invest in a baby seat that will keep them secure and cool. The SearocK Baby Seat and Swing is a unique option! It hangs under any sturdy boat top, including the ribs of a bimini, using a 4-point harness that attaches above the seat and an additional stabilizer below the seat. Baby can enjoy the natural rocking motion of the water, and nap in the shade.
Portable Seating Options
When you need additional seating in a pinch, portable seats are the way to go! A favorite recommendation are seats with built-in coolers. These seats not only offer a supportive cushion and a reversible seat back, but have insulated walls, rubber seals and drain holes to keep the party going effortlessly. Like they say—the more the merrier, and the colder the drinks, the better!
Another fun portable seating option are marine bean bag chairs. Coming in three different styles—round, teardrop or armchair—these are a great way to add color, style and comfort on-board. They’re made with durable, high quality mildew-resistant marine materials and full-body support to take lounging on-deck to the next level.
Additional Ways to Add Comfort
In addition to seat upgrades, there are quite a few other ways to increase the comfort level on-deck.
Additional cup holders can be suction cupped to the sides of your boat. With all those fancy new seats, your visitors may want to sit back and enjoy a cool drink.
If you’re feeling really fancy, try some magnetic Silwy wine glasses that won’t tip over, so you can savor every last drop.
Lastly, to really ramp up the on-deck experience, invest in a boat grill. Most can be easily mounted to a rail or a rod holder, so it won’t take up too much space.
As boating season nears, be creative with how you can improve the experience your boat provides for you and other passengers. Now’s the time to make those upgrades to make sure your first ride of the season is your best one yet!