I really like kayaking, and the camp where I work sends campers on kayking trips throughout the summer. I went on a kayaking trip this past week, which really got me thinking about how kayaks work, and how they could be made better.
Narrower kayaks go faster than wider kayaks, but are also more wobbly. Longer kayaks go in straight lines, and are better for lakes. Shorter kayaks are better on rivers, and can turn more easily. Most of the kayaking I've done is on lakes, so I've mostly used the longer, thinner boats.
After an hour or five of kayaking, you get sore. The part that gets the most sore, for me, is my legs. I know that you're all thinking “Wait, don't you kayak with your arms?” and that's true, you use the muscles in your arms and core when you paddle. This is what your legs look like while you're kayaking. Wet Converse are optional, of course.
You use your legs to control side to side movement in your kayak, so they need to stay bent and in contact with the edges of the boat. Most kayaks don't include any sort of thigh support. I've seen a curved sort of inflatable pillow that people use to support their thighs, but there should be a better way to do it. If you had a seat made of stretched webbing, it might be more comfortable than a plastic seat, and would allow for more adjustment of position. You could have thigh supports made of the same material, so that your legs wouldn't be working so hard to stay up and bent. One day, I will rig up some sort of thigh support system that works like that, and it will be great.
The other thing that causes problems with kayaking is paddles. When I paddle, I get blisters on my thumbs (where you see the band-aid) and at the base of my ring finger. With a hard metal paddle to hold onto, there's no way to avoid blisters. However, paddles don't have to be hard and metal. What if we put a little bit of padding on the part of the paddle you hold on to? A little bit of foam might be enough, a quarter of an inch thick all the way around.