Best Boat Seats

Updated July 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

28 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
339 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best boat seats

Last Updated July 2020

Boat seats are a requirement for boats regardless of whether you’ve got a fishing boat, pontoon boat, sailing yacht, or ski boat. It’s dangerous to stand while moving at high speeds across the water.

Seats are at prominent and visible aspect of a boat that immediately make a statement about your boat’s style and how valuable your boat is — all of which can affect the resale value of your boat. Boat seats are classified by the ABYC (American Boat and Yacht Council) into two main categories: Type A and Type B. Seats that are rated Type A are safe to use at any speed. Seats that are rated Type B are only safe at speeds under 5mph. Thus, the primary use of your boat will dictate what type of seat you should get.

There are many factors to weigh when searching for the right boat seat for your needs, but our buying guide will help you navigate the shoals of boat seats.

If a boat seat doesn’t have a folding back, turn it backwards when you’re towing the boat on a trailer. The convex back will present less wind resistance and drag than if the seat is facing forward.

Key considerations

Boat use

If you plan on using your boat for water skiing or other high-speed recreation, you’ll need stronger chairs with higher backs to support you during acceleration and possibly even arms to support you during high-speed turns. These types of chairs normally don’t have folding backs and present more drag when pulling your boat down the road on a trailer.

If your boat is mainly used for fishing, you’ll want to have some fishing seats on it. These seats are often mounted on the front of the boat on swivel-type mounts. Casting seats don’t have arms and have either a low or non-existent back.

Seat use

Boating regulations are specific to each state, but it is nearly universally required by all of them to have a captain or helm seat in the driver’s position. The helm seat, designated Type AD under the ABYC standards, must be safe at any speed and has to meet stringent requirements regarding how much torque, weight, and how many impacts it can withstand when supporting 225 pounds. Passenger seats, Type AP, must meet somewhat less stringent requirements but must be safe at any speed. Fishing and casting seats, Class B, are the least safe and should only be used at 5mph trolling speeds or less.

Size

Pay close attention to the physical size of the chairs. Some of them are appropriate for small children, while others are sized for large adults. Find a chair in your house that you’re comfortable in, then measure its width and depth and the height of the back. This will give you a target to shoot for when selecting seats for your boat.

Mounting

All of the seats in our top picks are intended to be mounted on a pedestal — usually a swivel pedestal. However, some boat seats are meant to be attached directly to the floor.

EXPERT TIP

Never stow heavy objects on a boat seat when the boat isn’t in use. The weight will compress and eventually deform the foam.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Materials

Stainless steel, aluminum, high-density foam padding, injection molded plastic, and marine-grade vinyl are the main materials boat seats are made from. Helm chairs will have more stainless steel in them than other types of chairs. Low speed and folding seats usually have aluminum hinges for the seats. In most cases, the frame is made from injection molded plastic. If the description lists any other materials, take a close look to ensure the manufacturer isn’t using a cheap substitute.

Colors

There are a multitude of colors and patterns to choose from, so this is where you can really make a statement about yourself and your boat.

Arms

A chair with arms is not only more comfortable than one without them, but it is also safer. The arms act as a padded safety barrier to keep you from falling out of the seat. In choppy water or at high speeds, especially while turning, you need all the help you can get. Being out on the water is so much fun that people often forget about safety until it’s too late. This is particularly true if you have small children on the boat with you.

Smaller seats without arms are generally best for fishing. Casting and playing a fish once you’ve hooked it is easier when your arms aren’t bumping into an armrest.

Folding back

Boat seats with folding backs present less drag on your vehicle when you’re pulling your boat on a trailer. Once unfolded and locked in position, you’ll have a comfortable seat for fishing or just lounging back and enjoying the day. Make sure the seat has a safety strap to keep it locked down. Otherwise, it will pop back up and possibly damage the hinges.

Back support

How long will you be on the water? The longer you sit, the more back support you’ll need to keep your back from hurting. Some seats specifically mention that they include lumbar support for your lower back. If you have any back problems or want to avoid getting them, there is a lot to be said for a seat with good back support.

Bright, eye-catching colors and designs create a statement. Plus, they make your boat stand out from the crowd.

Accessories

Once you’ve picked out your seats, there are a few other accessories worth considering to give you the best experience on the water.

Swivel pedestal: Attwood Corporation Economy Pedestal
This pedestal swivels smoothly and its height adjusts from 11.5 to 17.5 inches. If you don’t have pedestals to begin with, this is a great place to start.

Gear caddy: Wise Boat Seat Caddy Gear Holder
Everyone likes enjoying drinks and snacks on a boat, but you’ll need a place to stash them when your hands are occupied with a rod. This gear caddy is perfect for holding your cups, small tools, and other items. It has two cup holders and a rectangular middle section for miscellaneous items. It fits most seats and comes in five different colors.

Cleaning wipes: Better Boat Cleaner Wipes
Your seats (and the rest of your boat) are bound to become dirty over time. They wipe away dirt and grime while protecting your seats from harmful UV radiation. These are multi-surface marine wipes for all your boating needs.

Chair cover: Leader Accessories Grey Helmsman Fishing Chair Cover When your boat isn’t in use, protect your boat seats with a chair cover to protect them from UV rays, pollen, and other things that could damage their materials. This affordable cover has elastic around the bottom for a secure fit.

Boat seat prices

Inexpensive: Between $35 and $60 is the low price range on boat seats. You’ll find most Type B boat seats in this category. Seat backs that fold down are common and you’ll have a wide variety of colors to choose from.

Mid-range: Between $60 and $150 is the middle price range. Here you’ll find some of the cheaper Type AD boat seats as well as higher-grade Type B seats. There are also some two-seat packages available in this price range.

Expensive: Over $150 is where you’ll find top-of-the-line Type AD seats. Stainless steel will often replace aluminum in these seats.

EXPERT TIP

Clean your entire boat, including the seats, after every use. Regular cleaning and maintenance will lengthen the usable life span of your equipment.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Put a seat cover over your boat seats when the boat isn’t in use. It keeps them clean and protects them from undue weathering.
  • Tighten all the bolts on your boat seats after 100 hours of use. If you routinely engage in high-speed activities, check the bolts every 50 hours.
  • Don’t put tackle boxes and other equipment on the boat seats. Seats aren’t made to hold equipment securely in place, and it is all too easy for the motion of the waves to knock something off the seat.
A well-maintained boat with sharp seats and colors will have a greater resale value than a shabby boat with dull or faded seats.

FAQ

Q. How many different kinds of pedestals can boat seats be mounted on?
A.
Most boat seats have standardized bolt holes, enabling them to be attached to almost any mount on the market. Of course, you should always double-check the compatibility of seats and pedestals, especially if you already have pedestals.
 

Q. What is marine-grade vinyl?
A.
Marine vinyl looks and feels similar to regular vinyl but there are some differences. Marine vinyl consists of four layers: polyester fabric backing, adhesive, PVC foam, and vinyl skin (about 0.05 millimeters thick). The PVC vinyl is made with specific additives that protect it from UV rays and make it resistant to mold and mildew.
 

Q. How long will my boat seats hold up in the sun?
A.
UV-resistant fabrics are measured in hours of protection. A fabric with 500 hours of UV protection will last 500 hours before it begins to fade.

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer

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