Best Kayak Seat Of 2020 – When Comfort Is Much Needed

Every self-respecting King or Queen of kayaking needs a throne from which to preside from, why should you be an exception?  

If you have ever spent an extended period in a Kayak you will know first-hand how comfort is a major factor in your overall enjoyment. Not having the best kayak seat can literally be a royal pain in the ‘backside’ – and is the reason why seat upgrades are the number one kayak mod.

As humans, we are not designed to sit for long periods of time.  Years of evolution has altered the human body to stand, rather than be in a seated position. The stresses that sitting places on the body needs to be taken seriously.  And, suitable percussion taken to minimise the impact. 

No one wants their favourite past time to lead back pain and a trip to the physio or chiropractor.  With that in mind, it’s imperative that you support the body correctly when out Kayaking, with a carefully selected seat.

There are a number of different factors that will impact your seat selection, such as; Kayak type, your physical shape & mobility, kayaking style and budget.  

But surely all Kayak seats are the same? After all, surely a seat is a seat? 

Sadly, that couldn’t be further from the truth….and stop calling me Shirley!   

With so many seating options available on the kayak upgrade market it can be difficult to ‘bottom out’ which seat best fits you and your needs. Looking at all the various options can be a right pain.  But don’t fret we are here to help remove the ‘bum’ notes in kayak seat selection with our handy buying guide.  

But we haven’t stopped the fun there, we have also gone one step further and reviewed the 8 best kayak seats available to buy today… there will be no ifs ‘butts’ or maybes to why you haven’t brought on of the best kayak seats.  So, pull up a chair and get comfortable…. your booty will thank you for it!

(I promised no more seat related puns)

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In A Rush? The Winner After 36 Hours Of Research:

Leader Accessories Deluxe Padded Kayak Seat 

Leader Accessories Deluxe Padded Kayak Seat

Our Rating: 5/5 Stars
★★★★★

Why is it better?

  • Works with sit-on-top and sit-inside kayaks 
  • High-back design provides comfort even during prolonged paddling sessions 
  • The EVA foam padding is divided into panels for improved ergonomics and a contoured back and bottom support 
  • Comes with a detachable waterproof bag to store your essentials within reach Features four adjustable straps, two front, and two rear ones, for a customized fit 
  • Connects to the kayak using marine-grade brass clips 

How to Choose a Kayak Seat

Grey Kayak on Shore black kayak seat

This section should be titled, how to be comfortable in a kayak. There is no getting away from the fact that Kayaking is a sport that results in the participant spending a large proportion of their time in a seated position. 

Hours spent in a seated position can quite easily lead to back pain – but its doesn’t need to be so

I am not here to lecture you about the fact that standing is far superior to sitting.  Or, that people who sit for a high proportion of their day statically die ‘x’ amount years early

Although those statements are factually correct it’s not the objective of this article. And to be totally honest, a bit of a ‘bummer’.   Ok, that was that the last pun!

What I am hoping to achieve is to equip you with a clear set of information that will aid your buying decision.  The result being you selecting a kayak seat that reduces these stresses and maximises your enjoyment.  

I have also provided you with detailed reviews of 8 of the best kayak seats available to buy today.   I think we can all agree that is a win, win situation  

Seat Style – Oh, I like your Style

It’ s important when selecting a kayak seat to take into account the type of kayak that you own.  I know that sounds obvious, yet I’ve seen a number of people buy a ‘universal kayak seat’ only to find it doesn’t fit.

For simplicity let’s just say there are four different styles of kayak seats; 

Universal Kayak Seat

Two different types of kayak two-seat sit-on-top, with black kayak seat

The most common kayak seat is the universal clamshell.  

A fold-flat style seat where the back and base are joined at the rear of the base, and bottom of the back.  The backrest is supported by straps that are attached to the kayak hull.

Typically, the straps can be loosen or tighten to change the pitch angle of the back.   More suited to Sit-On-Top Kayaks, so if you own a sit-in kayak special attention needs to be paid to the back-rest height.  There is a risk it will be taller than the cockpit.  This is fine if you don’t plan to use a skirt but a little more problematic if you do.  Some of the bigger brands offer kayak seats with an optional reduced height backrest.

Solo Piece Kayak Seat and Twin Set Kayak Seat

SIt In Kayak with solo piece seat

The second kayak seat type is the solo piece seat.  The backrest and base are sold as separate parts.  

This type of kayak seat is focused on the sit-in kayak user.  It allows a smaller back cushion to be purchased which is then fixed using double-sided tape, Velcro or straps to the cockpit wall or around the hull.  The base is either fixed in a similar matter or uses the downward force of the paddler to secure the base in place.  

This type of kayak seat is quite rudimentary but is an enormous improvement on sitting on a bare kayak hull.  Some people prefer this set up as it allows them to mix and match the backrest and base material, level of padding, type of padding and seat breathability.

Lawn Chair Kayak Seat

Fishing Kayaks with Lawn Chair seat

The third type of kayak seat is the deck chair or lawn chair style, typically seen on fishing kayaks.  Metal framed with fabric base and back support; this fold flat style gives the paddler an elevated seating position. 

This style of kayak seat is popular with people with reduce mobility, such as those with bad knees.

With most kayak seats, it’s possible to adjust the seat height.  In the higher position; it allows for an easier sit to stand.  In the lower position; it reduces the paddler’s centre of gravity which helps to decrease roll when paddling.  Some fishing kayak seat also come with a swivel option, which also the seat to be turned side to side. 

Inflatable Kayak Seats

Inflatable kayak seat

Lastly, there are inflatable seats. Although typically these are typically only seen in the budget inflatable kayaks, they are available to be purchased independently.  I have seen a small number of kayak seats which have come with an inflatable backrest.  To me, the dis-benefits outweigh the benefits, as better options exist.  Personally, unless you are a massive fan, or slightly bonkers, I can’t see a compelling reason why anyone would want to purchase one.  

Padding And Support – A Little More Junk In The Trunk

SIt on top kayaks on beach, two blue, two green, with kayak seat

When choosing a kayak seat, it is important to ensure it provides ample support.  Support comes in two distinct forms; the shape of the seat and protective padding or cushioning.

Seat Shape

The shape of a kayak seat is the fundamental feature that influences comfort the greatest.  It’s important to note that the seat shape needs to compliment the paddler’s own physical attributes. 

But a general rule; the centre of the backrest should be high enough to support the lumbar region of the spine, with lower side flanks that provide stability yet allow the torso to move freely when performing a stroke motion.  

The base of the seat should be wider enough to cover the buttocks area, but shallow enough so that support ends above the knee. If possible, the seat should allow the knees to fall below the level of the hips, reducing the strain on the hip flexors.  

This is more achievable on raised seats, such as those used for kayak fishing. The backrest should be able to be fully adjustable to allow its tilt angle to be adjusted, this further reduces the strain on the lower back.

Seat Padding

Many would argue that the more padding the better, I tend to disagree.  I believe that the key is the strategic use of padding to support the transfer of weight during the paddle motion. 

The kayak seat cushion needs to be rigid enough to provide back support, yet flexible enough to allow the paddler to move.  It’s important that extra padding is provided in lateral areas as this is where a high amount of all motion occurs.  To aid more effective weight distribution and transfer of energy, padding should be modular and ergonomically shaped to support the body’s contours.

Material – Great Things Are Built on Strong Foundations

Oranage kayak on river shore with black kayak seat

When it comes to the material it is important to choose something durable which is able to stand up the environmental elements, while providing a good level of comfort to the paddler.    

Kayak seats come in a range of different materials and material combinations, each touted by seat manufactures as providing the ultimate level of comfort, durability and breathability. 

So how to choose the best kayak seat material?

Well, it depends on your needs, there is no magic combination.  So, it is wise to understand the various properties of each possible kayak seat material so that you can make an informed choice.

Here is a round-up for the most popular materials used in kayak seat construction;

Neoprene

Neoprene is super versatile rubber material which provides a good level of support whilst remaining flexible over a wide temperature range.  

This material is widely used in the water sports industry. It’s not waterproof but it does dry quickly.  

Special care needs to be taken to rinse Neoprene after exposure to saltwater.  But it’s generally good practice to wash down your kayak seat after use.

Nylon and Polyester

Nylon and Polyester  are polymer-based fabrics with a number of great properties that makes it an excellent choice for a seat cover.  

They can be woven into a mesh which when used on a kayak seat it proves some much needed ventilation, while still offering support and flexibility.  Its natural moisture-wicking properties mean a kayak seat covered in this material will excel at keeping the paddler cool and dry on a hot and sweaty day.

Gel Cushioning 

Liquid gel replaces EVA or memory foam to offer great support and cushioning.  Although a gel seat is effective at weight distribution it is inclined to retain heat.  Unless paired with a breathable top layer it can make a kayak seat a little hot and sweaty.  Moreover, the effectiveness of gel can be dismissed at low temperatures, the gel becomes more rigid. Likewise, it becomes slightly more fluid at high temperatures.

Molded Foam 

Typically polyurethane foam which is used heavily for the creation of seats for the automotive industry.     Molded foam seats are superior to slab foam seats, they formed as a single block using injection molding techniques. Slab foam seats are created from multiple pieces that are cut and glued to form a shape.  

As a result, molded foam products are able to be created in more ergonomic shapes that better contour the body – making them very comfortable. They generally last longer, have a better string recoil and are easier to reproduce consistently.  

EVA Foam 

Although EVA can be injected molded, it differs massively from the properties of polyurethane.  It’s less dense and as a result lighter in weight.  It’s springier than polyurethane which is why it’s used in the sole of performance sports shoes.  However, over time EVA foam will compress and flatten, losing it’s cushioning and support.  EVA foam is best when combined with polyurethane foam as the sum of its collective properties are greater than its individual parts.

Canvas

Although Canvas is not widely used in the creation of performance Kayak seats, it still can be found used on fishing kayak seats or for heritage seat applications.  Despite the fact it’s a tough and hard-wearing fabric it is a subjective deterioration by the elements.   This can cause the fabric to weaken, rot or break.

Ventilation – Don’t Be A Sweaty Betty

Man in Sit in kayak facing outward towards lake

An important factor in comfort, and one that is often overlooked when buying a kayak seat, is ventilation. Ventilation or breathability is the ability to allow air to flow between the paddler and seat.  

This serves two keys functions; 

  1. To help moisture evaporate keeping the paddler cool.  
  2. To allow moisture to be wicked away from the paddler keeping the paddler dry.

A hot and wet paddler can lead to overheating, sweat rash or blisters.  It makes being in the kayak not a fun place. 

Budget – Buy cheap, buy twice

Two children wading to water towards orange kayak with black kayak seat

Budget will play a huge part in any buying decision and is a major influence that cannot be overlooked.  Thankfully kayak seats are relatively inexpensive when compared to other Kayaking bits and pieces.  

However, when you start tallying up the total kit cost it may be tempting to cut corners and try to save a few dollars on a kayak seat.  I always suggested that you buy the best you can afford and spend at least $50.  

Kayak seats under this price tend to be poorly made and will require replacing more frequency, this makes them not cost-effective in the long term.  

If budget is a concern, I would recommend looking for good condition pre-owned kayak seats or buy a middle of the range product from a major brand. 

Best Kayak Seat Reviews & Recommendations: Top 8 Picks For 2020

1. Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus Seat 

Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus Seat
  • Award: Best For Ocean Kayak Vessels 
  • Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 
  • Price: 5/5 Stars 

The first one up is Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus Seat, designed to fit the brand’s sit-on-top models. 

The seat’s UV-resistant nylon construction goes a long way to prevent fading, warping, and other signs of sun damage, while the closed-cell foam padding boosts comfort, making longer trips much more enjoyable.

What’s more, the Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus is relatively high kayak seat, with a tall back – coupled with “wings” that wrap around the sides of your body – provides the much-needed back support. It’s a surprisingly effective design and one that taller paddlers will appreciate.

It attaches to the kayak using brass clips and boasts four-way adjustability, allowing you to fine-tune the fit to your body type, without compromising stability, comfort, or support.

Technical Specs 

  • Compatible with Ocean Kayak sit-on-top kayaks 
  • Nylon packcloth construction 
  • Closed-cell EPE foam padding 
  • Measures 23 x 15 x 2 inches 

Pros: 

  • Four-way adjustment system ensures a custom fit 
  • High-back design with side grips provides excellent back support 
  • Relatively breathable and dries quickly 
  • Easy to set up with sturdy brass buckles 

Cons: 

  • Designed to work specifically with Ocean Kayak sit-on-top kayaks
  • Could use a bit more padding on the bottom cushion 
  • Doesn’t include any storage compartments 

If you’d like to up the comfort and, more importantly, back support in your sit-on-top kayak, then Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus is kayak seat for you. 

2. Leader Accessories Deluxe Padded Kayak Seat  

Leader Accessories Deluxe Padded Kayak Seat
  • Award: Overall Winner – Best Lumbar Support Kayak Seat
  • Rating: 5/5 Stars 
  • Price: 5/5 Stars 

The Leader Accessories Deluxe Kayak seat – is a sit-on-top kayak seat – with an 18-inch high backrest – is a combination of the 210-denier polyester exterior and EVA foam padding. It’s resistant to the usual wear and tear of kayaking and oh-so-comfy at the same time. 

The foam’s distributed into panels for even better ergonomics and back support – especially in the lumbar area, where it’s needed most.  Making this a wonderfully comfortable seat. Its easy to see why we have award it the title; best lumbar support kayak seat.

The four included straps provide a broader range of adjustments, with reliable, marine-grade brass connectors that stay put no matter what. 

Plus – and this is my favorite feature – it comes with a waterproof bag attached in the back. It’s perfect for quick access to your personal belongings! 

Technical Specs 

  • Compatible with a sit-in or sit-on-top kayaks 
  • 210-denier polyester construction 
  • EVA foam padding 
  • Backrest measures 20 x 18 inches
  • Bottom cushion measures 15 x 12 inches 

Pros: 

  • Suitable both a sit-in and sit-on-top kayak
  • EVA foam is distributed into panels for improved ergonomics 
  • High back seat provides great stability while remaining comfortable
  • Four way adjustable straps 
  • Features a waterproof bag on the back 
  • Four straps with marine-grade brass connectors 

Cons: 

  • The seat cushion could benefit from additional padding  
  • The bottom portion of the seat could also be slightly wider 
  • May slide around a bit

Leader Accessories is, well, a leader in the aftermarket marine accessories market. Going from a stock kayak seat to the Deluxe Kayak Seat feels like upgrading to first class – minus the cost! 

3. GTS Expedition Molded Foam Kayak Seat 

GTS Expedition Molded Foam Kayak Seat
  • Award: Best Seat for Sit-On-Top Kayaks
  • Rating: 5/5 Stars 
  • Price: 4/5 Stars

When it comes to comfort during longer kayak trips, the Surf to Summit’s GTS Expedition kayak seat is the undisputed champion. The seat’s thoughtful engineering is more than deserving of that title: 

The seat’s construction is a blend of thermoformed EVA foam and 600-denier fabric, with a polyethylene sheet sandwiched in between. 

The resulting contour-molded design with deep comfort channels (that also help with draining) an 18-inchbackrest and 2-inch thick bottom seat, provides unmatched lumbar support, stability, and sufficient padding for all-day paddling sessions.

It boasts a six-point adjustment system, rather than the standard four, allowing you to customize everything down to the smallest of details.  Its one of the most comfortable kayak seat on the market.

Oh, and it comes with a mesh bungee pouch for easy-to-access gear storage! 

Technical Specs 

  • Compatible with sit-on-top kayaks 
  • 600-denier fabric exterior 
  • Thermoformed EVA foam and polyethylene sheet padding 
  • Backrest measures 18 x 21 inches 
  • Bottom cushion measures 16 x 18 x 2 inches 

Pros: 

  • Comfort grooves also serve as draining channels 
  • A two-inch-thick seat bottom prevents soreness
  • The high backrest provides spine-hugging support – most comfortable kayak seat on the market.
  • Six-point attachment system for optimal adjustments 
  • Built-in pouch for gear storage 

Cons: 

  • It’s the most expensive kayak seat on my list 
  • Some paddlers may find the deep ridges uncomfortable 
  • It’s a bit on the heavier side

GTS is well known for making some of the best kayak seats on the market.  If you want a perfect balance of cushioned comfort, tall back, and firm support – even during prolonged kayaking sessions – it doesn’t get much better than the GTS Expedition. 

4. Pactrade Marine Adjustable Padded Deluxe Kayak Seat 

Pactrade Marine Adjustable Padded Deluxe Kayak Seat
  • Award: Best Budget Kayak Seat 
  • Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 
  • Price: 5/5 Stars 

You don’t have to give up comfort and support if you go with a budget-friendly seat. Take this Pactrade Marine Deluxe Kayak Seat, for example: The combination of neoprene and 600-denier polyester used in the seat’s exterior ensures durability that can withstand the daily wear and tear of paddling. Moreover, the EVA foam padding is backed by a PE plate to ensure added sturdiness without compromising the comfort of the 18.5-inch tall backrest. 

You’ll find a non-slip surface on the bottom to keep the seat from sliding around, and it uses four adjustable straps to keep it in place. 

Also, it comes with a detachable backpack for storing food or other essentials within reach. 

Technical Specs 

  • Compatible with sit-on-top kayaks 
  • 600-denier polyester and neoprene exterior 
  • PE plate and EVA foam padding 
  • Backrest measures 18.5 x 21.6 inches 
  • Bottom cushion measures 

Pros: 

  • The tall backrest works for bigger paddlers  
  • Combines EVA foam and PE plate for extra back support
  • Has four adjustable straps
  • A detachable storage bag included

Cons: 

  • The seat pad could stand to be thicker 
  • Can’t be used in sit-inside kayaks without additional adjustments 
  • Slides around slightly despite the non-slip bottom

It’s called the “Deluxe” – and its design screams “premium” – but it’s still reasonably priced. If you want a padded kayak seat that’s easy on the budget, this is it.

5. Cascade Mountain Tech Folding Fishing Kayak Seat

Cascade Mountain Tech Folding Fishing Kayak Seat
  • Award: Best Fishing Kayak Seat
  • Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
  • Price: 5/5 Stars 

Yes, this is technically a foldable stadium seat. But who’s to say that you can’t get creative with it and give your kayak seating arrangements a serious boost? 

The Cascade Mountain Tech seat is 17 inches high and just as broad and weighs staggering 8.5 pounds. Keep the dimensions in mind before you ever attempt fitting this beast into your kayak. 

On the plus side, it has a durable steel frame with sturdy, water-resistant canvas stretched across it. 

Plus, it features comfortable padding, and even has bungee reinforcements, allowing it to hold up to 250 pounds of weight.

Technical Specs 

  • Compatibility based on dimensions
  • Steel frame and water-resistant canvas exterior 
  • Padded with bungee reinforcements 
  • Measures 17 x 17 x 14 inches 

Pros: 

  • Has a sturdy but foldable steel frame 
  • The tough canvas has a water-resistant coating 
  • The bungee reinforcements add additional support 
  • Works great in fishing kayaks  

Cons: 

  • No way to secure it without some modifications 
  • The 8.5-pound weight may be unsuitable for some kayaks 
  • It’s not specifically designed for kayaks

It doesn’t look like a regular sit-on-top kayak seat because it’s not – but that doesn’t make it any less comfortable or outstanding, especially for anglers who need the extra sturdiness and support.

6. Yakpads Cushioned Seat Pad

Yakpads Cushioned Seat Pad
  • Award: Best Kayak Cushioned Seat Pad 
  • Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 
  • Price: 4.5/5 Stars 

What if you don’t need a whole new kayak seat? Maybe you’re happy with your current seating arrangements and only want an extra layer of cushioning added into the mix. 

If that’s the case, the Yakpads low-back gel seat pad may be the answer. 

The 16-inch wide seat topper is gel-filled – the elastomer material is somewhat similar to what you’d see in bicycle seats – to make the kayak’s hard seat more comfortable and, at the same time, provide some insulation. 

The adjustable straps ensure universal compatibility, meaning that you don’t have to worry about the pad working with your current kayak seat.

Also, its low back makes it suitable for sit-inside kayak. When paired with an excising seat it makes for the most comfortable sit inside kayak seat. 

Technical Specs 

  • Universal compatibility 
  • UV resistant cover
  • Lycra-faced and neoprene exterior 
  • Elastomer gel-filled padding 
  • Backrest measures 16 x 9 inches 
  • Bottom cushion measures 16 x 12 inches 

Pros: 

  • The adjustable straps provide an almost universal fit 
  • The elastomer gel-filled padding doesn’t lose its shape easily – most comfortable sit inside kayak seat
  • Provides a layer of comfort and insulation 

Cons: 

  • The bottom seat cushion could be a bit wider 
  • Doesn’t provide back support or shoulder support for taller paddlers
  • The padding should be thicker

If you don’t want to throw out your entire kayak seat but wish to add a layer of comfort and insulation, the Yakpads gel-filled “saddle paddle” is an excellent solution. 

7. Skwoosh Kayak Gel Pad for Kayaks

Skwoosh Kayak Gel Pad For Kayaks
  • Award: Best Portable Gel Pad
  • Rating: 4/5 Stars 
  • Price: 4.5/5 Stars 

The Skwoosh Kayak Gel Pad is another option worth considering if you’re generally happy with your kayak’s seat but just need some extra padding . Sure, it’s basic-looking and pricey for what it is, but it gets the job done. 

The low-profile comfort pad measures 10.5 x 15 inches and is constructed with a waterproof nylon exterior and pressure-relieving fluidized gel padding. The tie-down loop comes in handy when securing the pad to your existing seat, while the non-skid bottom helps it stay put, even in wet conditions – definitely one of the best waterproof kayak seats on the market.

Best of all, it’s one of the most versatile options on my list, as it can be used pretty much anywhere where having too hard of a seat is the issue – from boats to bleachers, and beyond! A

Technical Specs 

  • Universal compatibility 
  • Waterproof nylon exterior 
  • Fluidized gel padding 
  • Measures 10.5 x 15 x 0.5 inches 

Pros: 

  • Foldable, lightweight, comfortable and portable design 
  • Features fluidized gel padding for pressure relief 
  • The non-skid bottom prevents slipping in wet conditions
  • Has a waterproof nylon exterior 

Cons: 

  • It’s a bit too expensive for what it is 
  • Only adds bottom cushioning and does nothing for the back
  • The padding is relatively thin

The foldable, portable, and most importantly, versatile design makes the Skwoosh Kayak Gel Pad an excellent choice if you want comfort in – and out – of your kayak!

8. Lixada Kayak Seat Back Rest 

Lixada Kayak Seat Back Rest
  • Award: Best Kayak Seat Backrest
  • Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 
  • Price: 4.5/5 Stars 

Every kayaker knows how taxing prolonged paddling sessions can be on the body as a whole, especially the lower back. Having some support in that area can make a world of difference. 

That’s why Lixada designed a lightweight and portable backrest for sit-on-top kayaks using a combination of EVA foam padding and Oxford cloth exterior. 

What’s more, the 9.5-inch tall backrest insert features contoured massage points that can relieve discomfort better than regular padding. 

It attaches to the kayak using four back and side straps with snap hooks, allowing you to achieve a customized fit that will provide comfort and support where you need it most. 

Technical Specs 

  • Compatible with sit-on-top kayaks and sit-inside kayaks
  • Oxford cloth exterior  
  • EVA foam padding 
  • Measures 9.5 x 20.9 inches 

Pros: 

  • Features EVA foam and contoured massage points for relieving discomfort 
  • Relatively lightweight and easy to install 
  • Attaches to the kayak with four adjustable straps

Cons: 

  • It only provides limited back support due to the 9.5-inch height
  • The stitching doesn’t look particularly durable 
  • There’s no bottom padding of any sorts 

If you want to give your back a break during long kayaking trips – and who doesn’t – this contoured EVA foam backrest insert by Lixada could be the answer. 

Final Verdict  

Getting the best kayak seat is, by no means, an easy task. When it comes to shortlisting your kayak seats, your options are wide and varied – and the reality is, we’ve barely scratched the surface today. 

Which one’s the best of the best, then, when there are so many variables – and personal preferences – to consider?

My vote goes to the Deluxe Padded Kayak Seat from Leader Accessories. It offers a perfect blend of comfortable top-to-bottom cushioning with ergonomic panels, supportive high-back design, detachable waterproof storage, and four-strap adjustability for a customized fit. 

Plus, the price tag is more than reasonable – cheap, even – considering everything you’re getting for the money. 

All the kayak seats I picked out for you today have the potential to get the job done. Some offer better lumbar support, others focusing solely on bottom cushioning – but the Leader Accessories nailed the balance of both!