I have been kayaking for about eight years and I own about a dozen kayaks, and one of my Valley Nordkapps has the Bumfortable seat. Although it is comfortable to sit in, and comfortable when sitting upright such as kayak marathoning, I do not find it nearly as useful for more dynamic kayaking. Rolling, deep bracing, reverse stoke are simply not side-supported enough by the Bumfortable seat. The foam is not really closed-cell, not truly open cell either, but something in between. This leads to flex, and flex is not good (except for comfort under the buttocks). The manufacturer has an optional band that goes around the seat, and my kayak came with the seat and band, but the band seemed not to make much difference. My other kayaks either have stock Valley or Prijon seats and backbands, or I have custom shaped and fit gray, closed cell foam. This option is much preferred if a kayaker is going to be dynamic and move in the cockpit and desires a form fit for dynamic use. Not only do I get a better "purchase" and more seat and back stability for forward stroke power with true minicell, closed cell foam, but it’s also more ideal for rolling, etc. The intimacy of the hips and thighs is mandatory for proper boat control, and is the virtue of traditional seating or minicell. The Bumfortable, however, has a higher back than necessary, in my opinion, and has an emphasis on comfort over performance, and does not permit the stability around the hips and thighs to allow for ideal boat control.
Two additional issues regarding the Bumfortable: the installation/gluing and the price.
The foam is so "flexy" that the seat quite easily pulls up from the kayak bottom. I use the traditional method of installation, which is to clean the fiberglass or plastic thoroughly, including alcohol, allow to dry then use DAP Weldwood and allow some drying for super "tack", and then adding the seat. While this tried-and-true method works wonders for minicell (hard to remove even if you want to get it off, actually), the flexing Bumfortable will untack and come off on you during paddling. Its’ just too flexy, too open-celled, and the one-piece high back nature of the seat will have you putting direct pressure through it on each forward stroke. A two-piece traditional seat plus backband, for instance, does not allow direct pressure on the backband to be translated to the seat because they are independent units. I have had the Bumfortable pull detach frequently and frustratingly, even once on the first paddle a couple days after meticulous gluing; I have never had minicell come off, ever. A dislodged seat would be catastrophic on an expedition.
The price of the Bumfortable is high. The cost of closed cell/minicell is relatively much cheaper. Minicell can be obtained from most kayak general retailers, and in generic form at online auction sites. Shaping is so easy with a hacksaw and rough grit sandpaper, I don’t know why anyone would use anything else. A custom minicell seat that one could make themselves would be, based on my experience, about 1/3 the price of the Bumfortable seat.
All in all, the Bumfortable would not be the best choice for a sea kayaker who values a roll, paddles dynamic (sometimes violent) seas-- the side support and back support are inadequate for bracing, cockpit maneuvers and strong support for a power stroke (e.g. I could never imagine a kayak sprint racer using a Bumfortable). A traditional stock seat and backband, or minicell custom, would be preferred for sea kayaking.
That said, in thinking who might use the Bumfortable seat successfully, I would guess that it might indeed be reasonable for a long-distance, non-rolling (esp. if flatwater) kayak marathoner. It would also be reasonable for a flatwater recreational kayaker, although rec kayaks are typically inexpensive and buying an expensive seat for an inexpensive kayak is counterintuitive. A kayak fisherman might desire a comfortable seat for a wide, stable kayak fishing vessel; I am not a kayak fisherman, and can say that the Bumfortable would be like a cushion on the buttock for long term sitting, but I do not know if the fisherman, with hands preoccupied by rod and gear, needs to control the boat with hips and body movements. If so, the Bumfortable falls short.
I appreciate being able to post my thoughts on two years of use of the Bumfortable, and a simple counterpoint to the opinions already provided here. Thank you.
A cold wind comes over the water? Rain? Capsize and get chilled? Cagoule. I even use it off the water for sitting lakeside and keeping full coverage over legs, and being one-size-fits-all, it is very easy to loan to other paddlers in a rescue situation. It is warm without being overheating. The hood and Velcro wrist gaskets are reminiscent of top quality Kokatat drysuits, but without rubber gaskets.
The benefits of a the cag and its simple and sturdy attachment over the coaming or sprayskirt raise it head and shoulders above a dry top, which is harder to put on, must be placed under PFD, does not seal the cockpit, and must be properly size. I find dry tops/splash tops to also be fairly restrictive and sometimes chaffing on the arms with paddling; this is not true of the cag.
I never leave home without this storm cag, and although pricey, it is the best single piece of paddle clothing that I own.
Lightweight, my all carbon, bent shaft model is a pleasure to look at. It grabs a washtubful of water per stroke but exacts the toll from your shoulders; you can definitely feel it’s wrath after about 20 minutes of paddling. I would not recommend this paddle for an all day sojourn unless you’re name is Popeye and you remembered to put a can of spinach in your day hatch. I've learned to use a lower paddle angle for self preservation, but a Werner Camano would likely serve anyone better overall for a long tour. I use the Molokai with my lickety-split Prijon Barracuda as a workout paddle and it does excel if you will be on the water for a short time (30-60 minutes) and wish to develop a torso like Michelango’s David. If you are more the Jacques Cousteau-Marlin Perkins animal observer type, you will want to get no closer to Molokai than a trip to it’s namesake island.
Werner has, as of this writing, discontinued the Molokai. Too much liability with dislocated shoulders, perhaps. I own a large bladed Werner Corryvrecken fiberglass, which I enjoy soundly, and when I compare the blades, they are only slightly different in geometry, and about the same size. I am certain that the transparent, thin fiberglass weave of the Corryvrecken (still my favorite overall paddle) allows just enough “give” to make paddling it a pleasure. For even more ease of high angle paddling, I own and recommend the smaller bladed Werner Shuna—particularly promising for female and youth paddlers.
One neat feature about these workouts is that they are extremely adaptable—anything ranging from a leisurely row to stretch and get the blood flowing, to a serious all-out broiling body temperature bloodbath. The choice is yours. Customer service is exemplary, and this company knows its mission: it makes the Concept II only, and services it well. And other than oiling the chain on occasion, there really is no other maintenance for this device. The computer automatically turns on when you row, and records time, distance, speed, and cadence. You can track your progress by computer link if you desire, and even race another boat on the computer if you desire. This permits pacing to accomplish new personal best times. The machine does fold in half, and although still fairly large, could be stored on one side of a bedroom or in a large walk-in closet.
The Concept II Rower has been discussed many times on Paddling.net, and I suggest a through search of the Advice archives, as well as viewing the manufacturers website. I have owned the machine for about a year, and honestly, have no complaints about it other than the fact that it makes me sweat and groan from a workout well tuned to my paddling avocation. Highly recommended.
Once paid for and installed, I paddled for over two hours on a local lake and observed several things. First, my impression of the rudder-up Calabria being a poor tracking vessel was confirmed. Many say -"I want to learn to paddle correctly rather than have a rudder". Be my guest. I mild breezes 5-10 mph, that rudder-up Prijon starts rotating like on a pivot before I can get the opposite paddle in the water! It tracks well for a while, then boom, starts to drift substantially. I have paddled every weekend for two years, and many years in canoe as a kid -- not an expert, but I know poor tracking when I see it. Now, put new rudder down, and big improvement! The rudder goes up and down well, and when down, tracks very well. In fact, without using the foot controls it can be a tad hard to turn at times; this is a new sensation in this whirling dervish of a yak. I experimented with eyes closed, and after 30 seconds of paddling without the rudder, I could literally be going 90-180 degrees (yes, almost all the way around in the wrong direction) off course. With the rudder down, I was pretty much on target to a point on the horizon. As a newbie to rudders, though, I will say that I do not love that my yak --pristine, one piece, rattleless, and simple-- now has a mechanical unit with guide-wires, control ropes and a blade. Some message board posters suggested that rudders can break, I used to say, "How?" Now I know. My immediate test run in my backyard pond pulled a cable out of the foot peg due to a loose screw. Easy fix, but a pain in the butt. So, simplicity goes to the wayside when you add a rudder (a skeg would be nice, but not available on any Prijons). Another key: the rudder DOES give drag. It is small but perceptible. I used to think, "How can a Washington quarter thin rudder give drag" Answer: when you pivot it, ever so slightly (10 degrees), there is drag equal to the entire surface area. Even perfectly straight, drag noted. If I was blinded to the rudder position, I think I could still, just barely, tell that it was down by the drag. Add that times two hours or all day kayaking, and we may have an issue. The footpegs work well with the gas pedal controls; even applying heavy pressure on the footrests, the pressure goes on the axel pedal, not on the gas portion thus not an issue for rudder control.
All in all, a fine kayak made better with the rudder, but I suppose I am not much of a rudder kind of fellow, and would prefer the silent, sleek lines of a yak with no moving parts as opposed to the rudder. I concur with reviewers below that the Calabria requires a rudder. I question though if the Calabria is the right vessel for everyone as it is really middle ground…not a super speed stealth (and even dowdier with the rudder), and a little long for creeks and streams, yet a tad short for large water. My Capri(s) plus a longer seaworthy boat might have been the key for me.