Traveler's Gear Box: TravelChair's Paddler Chair

The Paddler Chair from TravelChair has an adjustable lumbar support to help your aching back. Kurt Repanshek photo.

Long days in a canoe can lead to an aching back, unless you modify the basic seating situation. For years I resorted to a Crazy Creek chair, but this summer I found a newer, more comfortable solution.

The Crazy Creek model worked relatively fine, in that it provided padding for the cane seat and a back for support that could be stiffened with the tug of a strap or two. But, in hindsight, the support it offered wasn't the best.

Enter the Paddler Chair (MSRP $60) from TravelChair, a company that's been around since 1984. Not only does this chair offer an S-bend backrest that pulls its support from an aluminum frame, but it has a thickly padded seat and, best of all, a movable lumbar support.

A mesh fabric covers it all, thus promoting quick drying. The chair weighs just 2.3 pounds and can support someone up to 250 pounds. It quickly attaches to your canoe, or kayak, seat with locking straps. One the back of the seat there's a mesh pocket that keeps small items -- sunscreen, a point-and-shoot camera, lip balm -- within reach.

The only quibbles a week of paddling in Yellowstone National Park turned up were that the chair's height is not adjustable (paddlers shorter than 5-foot-10 might encounter problems with their arms bumping the frame), and the mesh pocket not quite deep enough.

But the support was wonderful, in part thanks to the lumbar support that can be repositioned (it employs Velcro or a similar hook-and-loop fabric) to where it's most needed. A very welcome addition to ease your aching back.