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Expert Shopper Camping & Outdoors

Best boat seats

Which boat seats are best?

At their most basic level, boat seats offer safety to those onboard while resisting water in order to maintain function. Beyond that, boat seats provide a chance to ride and glide in both comfort and style. Some are designed to be safe at high speeds, while others are only suited to slower paces. Any seat you choose may have unique designs and special color combinations, as well as some convenient features.

Our buying guide takes you through what you need to know to find the right boat seat — perhaps our top pick, the comfortable NorthCaptain S1 Deluxe High-Back Folding Boat Seats — for your time on the water.

What to know before you buy boat seats


The activities and speeds you plan on embracing with your boat determine the style of your seats. Almost all boats are required to have a captain or helm’s seat that’s safe at any speed, as sanctioned by the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC). Passenger seats are under less strict requirements but should still reflect the regular usage of the boat.

For water sports and frequent acceleration, you want a high-back seat to keep you in place. For those intent on fishing and operating at more casual speeds, casting seats (which lack arms and sometimes even a back) will suffice.


Boat seats come in various sizes to accommodate all ages of passengers. Larger seats add more weight and take up more room. You want to be comfortable and secure, but if you have a seat that’s too large, not only do you increase drag, you may move around more than is optimal.


Most boat seats are made from a combination of stainless steel, molded plastic, foam padding, and marine-grade vinyl. This offers the sturdiness required to move at high speeds while also providing a comfortable and water-resistant seat that stands up over time. Watch out for any cheap substitutes — in some cases, less durable aluminum may be used instead of stainless steel.

What to look for in quality boat seats


With boat seats, you can show off your personality or match a certain style with any number of colors and pattern combinations. Most products are offered in various colors so that once you have your seat selection down, you can choose between different looks.


Not all boat seats come with arms, but they provide comfort and extra security. Arms offer an additional fixture to hold onto while moving at high speeds, and the peace of mind makes boating more carefree. Casting seats for fishing don’t usually come with arms.

Folding back

Some seats may fold down when not in use, which helps prevent drag when the boat is being towed. However, this feature is only useful if the folded-down seats are locked securely in place and don’t pop up when moving.

Back support

If you plan on longer rides, you may want to consider boat seats that provide extra support, particularly for the lower back. Sitting in a boat seat shouldn’t be arduous or painful, so opt for one that keeps you protected. This feature is also beneficial for those playing water sports and in need of rest after physical exertion on the water.

How much you can expect to spend on boat seats

You can find quality passenger seats and some value captain’s seats for between $60-$125. High-end helm seats run higher but likely are more comfortable and durable.

Boat seat FAQ

How can I best maintain my boat seats?

A. Clean your boat after every use, especially if you’ve been riding on salt water. Check the seat bolts after about 50 hours of high-speed use and tighten them if necessary. Investing in a boat cover that offers UV protection helps the seats keep their vibrant look and color longer.

What is marine-grade vinyl?

A. A combination of polyester backing, adhesive, PVC foam, and vinyl, this material protects the seat from the elements — namely sun and water. Marine-grade vinyl seats can get wet regularly but avoid developing mildew or mold and they’re made to withstand fading over time.

What are the best boat seats to buy?

Top boat seats

NorthCaptain’s S1 Deluxe High-Back Folding Boat Seats

Our take: Versatile and comfortable pair of high-back boat seats for all water activities.

What we like: Provides comfort and safely at higher speeds; folds down to save space and avoid drag when not in use. Decent price for two. Offered in a range of colors.

What we dislike: No arms. Not ideal for youngsters.

Where to buy: Sold  by Amazon

Top boat seats for the money

Seamander Marine Low Back Boat Seat

Our take: Pair of well-made low-back seats at a solid value.

What we like: Comfortable low back boat seats for long rides or short stints. Boasts simple design and easy installation. Folds down and stays in place.

What we dislike: Lacks arms. Some concerns about durability.

Where to buy: Sold  by Amazon

Worth checking out

Tempress’ NaviStyle High-Back Seat

Our take: Ergonomically designed high-back folding seat for the utmost in comfort.

What we like: Impressive design offers maximum support, including lumbar protection. Folds down for convenience. Some color options available. Resists UV, mold, mildew, and stains.

What we dislike: Price is a bit high. Cost may vary with color.

Where to buy: Sold  by Amazon


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Anthony Marcusa writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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