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Top 3 Best Rowing Seat Pads

Best seat pads and cushions for indoor rowing machines

Do you feel like your rowing seat pad is a rock?

Do you think it’s time to invest in a new rowing machine seat cushion?

Lets take a look at a scenario.

You are excited to finally get a rowing machine and you have been waiting a long time to get in shape.

You’ve done the research, picked out the perfect rower, assembled it, and are ready to go!

You begin rowing and everything is great. Your muscles are working and your heart rate is elevated.  The calorie counter is ticking away and you begin to sweat.

Then, all of a sudden after 15 minutes your butt is killing you! It hurts so bad it is hard to think about anything else and it gets to the point where you have to stop rowing!

Frustrated, you get off and wait for the numbness to go away. You were just starting to really get into the workout until this happened.

If this is you, do not worry! It happens to a lot of people and there is an easy fix.

Buying an inexpensive rowing machine seat cushion, combined with some other techniques, can virtually eliminate any lower body pain experienced while rowing.

For those in a rush, I recommend the Hornet Watersports seat cushion.

And also the 2K Fit Rowing Machine Seat Cushion. These are marketed for the Concept2, but are designed to fit most rowing machines.

What Can Cause Rowing Butt Pain?

While many people just blame a hard and uncomfortable seat for the cause of butt pain, this may not always be the case.

There are a few factors that can cause rowing butt pain that may want to be explored along with a new rowing machine seat pad.

1. Bad Seat

Ok, I kind of sound hypercritical but a lot of the time a rowing machine seat is very uncomfortable.

Each seat is not made to fit the specific user so it is difficult to manufacture a seat for everyone. Most times a seat is made for an average size person so if you are bigger or smaller your butt can really suffer.

Bad seats can cause pressure on certain parts of your butt that will begin to hurt after 10-15 minutes. Pressure on the glutes and hamstrings can begin to hurt your sitting bones as well as cut off blood flow to your rear.

A well designed rowing seat pad can fix this issue.

2. Bad Form

Many beginner rowers have not yet found their correct form and do not center their mass over the middle of the seat.

Beginner rowers often lean too far forwards or backwards and sometimes to the right or left. A lot of people don’t realize that just being right or left handed can subconsciously cause your body to put more stress on one side.

Try rowing “strapless” a few times a week. This means your feet are in the footrests with nothing securing them in place. This will force you to center yourself on the seat and not shift your weight to any side, otherwise you may fall off!

3. Muscle Soreness / Inexperience

When first starting to row your muscles will be exposed to a very abnormal type of workout. Many times the muscles used while rowing have not been worked out in years.

Rowing Machine Butt Pain

The ‘piriformis’ muscle is one example and after some time these muscles will strengthen and the pain will disappear.

Your butt and back will be sore for a few weeks, so you may need time to adjust to the new workout. Give your muscles some time to adjust and some of the pain will go away.

Remember to stretch these muscles before and after each workout.

It will also take time to build up to longer sessions. Just think of it as running. You don’t just start off by running 10 miles, you start off slow and build your way up.

4. Incorrect Seat Assembly

Ok, this may be embarrassing but it happens a lot. The design of the seat causes a lot of people to assemble it backwards because that’s how it looks like it should fit. This is especially true with the Concept 2 seat pad.

The part with the indentation should be in the back. This cutout is for your “tailbone” to sit in and relieve pressure in that area.

Rowing Machine Seat Direction

As you can see from the photo, some rowing machine seat pads are confusing.  I can definitely see some people assembling this backwards, but as you can see the cutout for the tailbone should be in the back.

If your seat is on backwards, correcting it may solve some of your pain issues!

5. Overweight

While many people buy a rowing machine to lose weight it can be the cause of some discomfort at first.

Having a few extra pounds can cause a lot of unnecessary pressure when all your weight is focused on your butt.

A rowing machine seat cushion and a little time will cure this.

6. Sitting Bones & Tail Bone

Your “ischial tuberosity” and “coccyx”, as Wikipedia puts it, are two areas that receive a lot of pressure when sitting.

If a seat is not designed properly or your sitting bones and tailbone do not align properly with the seat design, then these areas can begin to hurt.

Your bones can become a little more resilient to the pressure as time goes on but usually an extra rowing seat pad will fix this issue.

Benefits of Rowing Seat Pads

After going through all the causes of butt pain and a few ways to fix them, you can probably tell that a rowing seat pad solves a few of the problems.

Lets go over a few reasons why you should buy a rowing machine seat pad.

When you add a rowing seat pad to your erg or scull you will immediately notice the seat is more comfortable. While this may not matter when rowing a 2k, it will matter if you are rowing for longer periods of time.

A rowing seat pad will 100% make your workouts more comfortable and allow you to complete those longer rowing sessions.

Your workouts may even feel as comfortable as this puppy! Ok, most likely not but we can all dream about this during our next erg session.

Your session will be more comfortable because a well designed seat will alleviate unnecessary pressure on your sitting bones and tailbone. It will also increase blood flow to your hamstrings and glutes so they do not go numb.

Some rowing seat cushions even help to improve your form by better aligning your body to allow for better posture. This will help to reduce butt, back, and leg pain.

If you are using your rowing cushion for indoor and outdoor rowing you can even buy a pad that insulates your butt from the cold and can float.

All of these reductions in pain and improper form will allow you to focus on more important things and lead to better erg times.

Will Seat Pads Make Rowing Machines More Comfortable?

Yes, the best seat pad will make your rowing machine more comfortable. With the best rowing machine seat pad, you will cover distances longer than 2k meters while keeping butt pain and discomfort at bay.

A comfortable row pad reduces the pressure on your tail and sitting bones. As a result of the reduced pressure on your sitting bones, more blood will circulate to your glutes and hamstrings. And this averts the numbness you’d normally feel with an uncomfortable rowing seat.

Even more impressive, a rowing machine seat pad designed specifically to align your body better will improve your posture due to the offered support. And the result of this is an improved rowing form, reduced back pain, and most importantly, reduced butt pain. Therefore, seat pads can make your rowing machine more comfortable.

Can I Make My Concept 2 Rowing Machine Seat More Comfortable?

Yes, you can improve the comfort level of your concept 2 rowing machine with the best row pad. If you own a Concept 2 rowing machine in your home gym, you want to consider this Concept2 Model D & E row pad by Rowing Machine King.

Designed to cure butt pain, this butt pad for your Concept 2 rower shields your bum from the original seat of your rowing machine. Besides, it works with other leading rowing machine brands, making it a row pad you can use if you often feel pain in your bum.

Also, it boasts a 3-inch-thick cushion made from high quality foam (65D material). So, if you want a rowing machine seat cushion for serious comfort, you want to look no further than this seat pad; it compresses slightly to relieve pressure from your sitting bones.

To make this seat pad fit perfectly on your Concept 2 rowing machine, this seat cushion features elastic straps boasting a non-slip grip. And this makes securing your seat pad in place a no-brainer. Also, this seat cushion features a wide zipper that comes in handy to allow you to remove the memory foam for hassle-free clean-up.

What Should I Look for When Buying a Rowing Seat Pad?

You want to check the seat pad’s material quality, size, shape, and thickness. Usually, rowing seat pads feature a design made from gel or foam. But some seat pads feature silicone material. So, the material quality is the first thing you want to look for before purchasing.

Foam is the best seat pad material since it features cutouts for your sitting bones. Also, it is more customizable than gel. On the other hand, you want to buy a seat pad made of gel if you’re not looking for a specific seat pad. Finally, silicone seat pads should be your last option if you can find foam or gel seat pads.

The thickness should be your number two concern since it affects economics. Usually, the seat pad thickness ranges from 0.5 to 3 inches. If you’re looking to row while feeling your rower’s seat, you should opt for an 0.5-inch seat pad. But for a more comfortable rowing experience, you want to opt for a thicker seat pad.

However, you want to ensure your preferred seat compresses to the correct height so it doesn’t affect your rowing form. Rowing seat pads made of foam will benefit you the most if this is what you want; they compress to the correct height and absorb pressure on your sitting bones. And this results in improved blood flow to your hamstrings and glutes.

For size, you want a seat pad that accommodates the entire size of your butt. This ensures your weight doesn’t exert pressure on a specific butt area since this will cause butt pain in the affected area. Regarding shape, you want to buy a seat pad with sitting bone cutouts. And more importantly, you want a cutout for your tailbone.

Specifications and How to Select a Rowing Seat Pad

If you have now decided that you 100% want to purchase a rowing machine seat pad you need to look at the different types available.

Unfortunately like most things, rowing seat pads come in all shapes, sizes, and materials.

Below are the different specifications of different rowing seat pads and how to analyze each one.


A rowing seat pad can come in many different shapes with different molds, contours, and cutouts.

Some are specifically made for certain rowing machines. For example, you can buy a custom Concept2 seat pad or a WaterRower seat pad.

Other companies have also made rowing seats specifically for the Concept2 rowers. They are the most popular rowing machine so it has the largest market.

Rowing machine seat pads will have many designs, with some just a flat cushion and others having a lot of contours that mold to your butt.

You will also see many cutouts for your sitting bones and tailbone to fit into.

Rowing Machine King Seat Cushion

Rowing Seat Pads

Concept 2 Seat Pad

When choosing a seat cushion, think about the shape of your rowing seat and where you feel pain while rowing. A good rowing seat pad will fit nicely on your seat and alleviate pressure where you are feeling pain.


Rowing machine seat cushions can come in different thicknesses from very thin all the way up to 3.0” thick.

When buying a thick rowing machine seat pad, you have to make sure it is made from high quality foam material.

This will ensure the cushion will compress to the correct height and not alter your rowing position and form.

It will also ensure the cushion does not cause unnecessary pressure on your hamstrings during a workout and decrease blood flow.

The cushions below will be perfect for rowing, but just keep this in mind if you are buying a generic cushion from the store.


You will see some very small, minimalist seats and some that almost look like a bucket seat.

Some rowing machine seat cushions will be wide, while other will be sized specifically to fit over a Concept 2 seat pad.

If you feel your seat is too small you may want a larger sized seat cushion. If you feel the size is ok but just want a little extra padding, you will want to make sure you don’t get a cushion that is too big and gets in the way.


Probably one of the most important categories is material.

It seems most cushions are either made from gel, foam, or some type of rubber (silicone, sorbothane).

The different materials all have their pros and cons, with all of them functioning almost the same.

Gel seems to be used in generic seat cushions that can easily be placed over any rowing seat. They are not highly customized and just add a layer of comfort on top of a hard seat.

Foam is used for more customized seats and usually has cutouts for your sitting bones and tailbone. They can be very thick and function similar to gel seats.

A variety of rubber seats are used to provide a thin layer of protection for more of a training style. They are highly customized and have a lot of contours and cutouts. Rubber may not be as comfortable as gel or foam but it works well for athletes who are looking for a little extra cushioning while still maintaining the feeling of a normal rowing seat. Some of these seats also help to keep proper rowing form.

Just keep an eye out for the type of material your cushion is made from. You may want a material that floats if you are using it on water or to help insulate your butt from the cold seat.

You also don’t want any material that will absorb sweat and may want something that can easily be washed.

How Durable Is a Rowing Seat Pad?

Seat pads for rowing machines usually take a year. But this depends on the quality and frequency of usage. Of course, a high quality seat pad will take longer before losing its cushioning effectiveness. Even more, it will take even longer if you use it occasionally.

If you start to feel discomfort, that might be a sign to replace your rower’s seat pad. But with frequent usage, you might need to replace your rower’s seat pad after 6 months or even less. So, keep monitoring the ergonomics and support offered to check if you need a new rower’s seat pad.

Best Rowing Seat Pads (All Rowing Machines)

Below are my top 3 general rowing machine seat pads. I included a few different options to hopefully fit everyones needs.

There are some rowing seat pads with mixed reviews.  I feel this is due to the people buying the seat cushions already having a problem to begin with and it is possible that a cushion will not totally fix the issue.

I also believe some companies don’t want to create a seat pad that alters the position of the user too much which often results in reviews saying the cushions are too thin and provide no additional comfort.

Nonetheless, here are my top rowing seat pads:

Skwoosh Gel Rowing Seat Pads

Skwoosh is a popular brand that has created a few rowing and kayaking gel seat pads.

There have been mixed reviews about how well they work but they have received more positive reviews than negative.

You can find Skwoosh pads here.

They are not extremely thick so they won’t alter your positioning and they are waterproof.

Some people have combined them with the Concept2 seat pad and found it to work well.  They have 3 available pads that all function similarly.

YakPads Gel-Filled Saddle Paddle

This is another popular gel seat pad that can be used for many activities.

Yakpads can be found here.

It is marketed towards kayakers but can be used on rowing machines or any sitting activity.

It is slightly thicker than the Skwoosh gel seats and has been used by some rowers with success.

Best Concept2 Rowing Machine Seat Pads

Due to the Concept2 being such a popular rowing machine there are a lot of seat pads made just for this rower.

While any of the rowing seat pads mentioned above will work (especially my Rowing Machine King Seat Pad!), here are a few designed specifically for the Concept2 seat.

Concept 2 Seat Pad

You can order a Concept2 seat pad from the Concept2 website.

The pad is very thin but does have sitting bone cutouts and helps to add a little layer of protection.

The reviews for this pad have been pretty poor but for the price it is worth a try.  A lot of rowers pair this cushion with another to make a comfortable seat.

The cost is only $3.50 and can be ordered here.

Hornet Watersports Concept 2 Seat Cushion

The Concept2 Seat Cushion by Hornet Watersports will fit perfectly over your current Concept2 seat. It can be found here.

It is made from 1/2″ thick PU foam and does a nice job of adding a little extra protection to your butt.

It has anti-slip material on the bottom to prevent it from moving around while rowing.

EndureRow Concept2 Rowing Seat

EndureRow Concept2 Rowing Seat

The EndureRow Concept2 Rowing Seat is actually an entirely new seat that comes with easy instructions on how to make the change.

You can check it out by visiting here.

The seat is a little bit softer and has cutouts for your sitting bones and tailbone.

The cost is quite high so this is for serious rowers who are confident this will work.

Vapor Fitness Concept2 Seat Cushion

The last option is the Vapor Fitness Concept2 Seat Cushion Cover which can be found here.

This is a piece of silicone padding that fits perfectly over a Concept2 seat.

It can also be combined with other cushions for more support.

“Rowing Machine King” Seat Cushion (Currently Out of Stock)

The “Rowing Machine Seat Cushion” by your very own Rowing Machine King! This is my very rowing seat pad designed to help cure rowing butt pain!

Rowing Machine Seat Cushion
Rowing Machine Seat Pad

It is similar to the ComfiLife Orthopedic Cushion that I used to recommend but it is specifically design to fit on a rowing seat.

I hope this seat pad is a huge success! It is designed specifically for the Concept2 but can fit on most rowing machine seats.

Plus, you can use it as a regular cushion without the straps, so it can fit on most exercise equipment seats.

See the full Rowing Machine King Seat Cushion Review & Pricing here.

Create Your Own Rowing Seat Pad

Buying one of the rowing seat pads mentioned above isn’t going to break the bank, especially if you already coughed up the cash for a Concept2 rower.  However, it can be frustrating to spend $20-$50 on a seat cushion only to find out it didn’t solve the problem.

That is why you may want to make your own cheaper seat cushion to see if it helps with relieving some pain before buying a higher quality item.

There are two easy options to making your own rowing seat pad for cheap.

1. Bubble Wrap & Towel

Many people resolve their rowing seat problems by simply taking some bubble wrap, cutting it to the shape of the seat and placing a towel over it.  Others skip the bubble wrap and just sit on a folded towel.

You may find that this will help your problem and can invest in a more durable option later.

You can buy Bubble Wrap for about $10.00 and hopefully you have an old towel laying around your house.

2. Buy & Cut a Foam Pad

You can go to any local discount store and find some foam seat pads or pieces of foam for about $10.00.  Then measure where your sitting bones are and create some cutouts.

If you prefer to search online for foam, you can look at the FastCap Kaizen Foam 20mm which should do the trick.

You can also browse the bestselling rubber sheets & rolls.

This video does a great job of explaining how to make your own rowing seat pad.

You can then adjust the cushion as you see fit.  After some experimentation you should be able to see some improvement.

How Does a Rowing Seat Pad Improve My Rowing Experience?

A rowing seat pad improves your rowing experience by making rowing very comfortable. And it does this by absorbing a portion of your weight. As a result, it absorbs pressure exerted on your sitting bones.

Pressure reduced to your tail and sitting bones means your backside will experience an increased blood flow. And with plenty of blood circulating in your lower body, essential muscles such as the hamstrings and glutes will be numb-free.

A rowing seat pad can also insulate your bum from the cold rowing machine seat. Also, most rowing seat pads feature a design to fit on your preferred rower and protect you from the seat temperature.

Since rowing seat pads also feature excellent non-slip surfaces, they don’t slide off the rowing machine since this will affect your rowing form. And if you opt for gel seats, you will benefit from additional comfort and support. But these gel seats suit experienced rowers best. So, rowing seat pads will benefit you in several ways, making them worthy investments.

Should You Wear Gloves When Using a Rowing Machine?

Yes, you should wear rowing gloves. But only if your hands are prone to blisters. Your hands will sometimes have blisters, especially if you use a rower often. Usually, these blisters form when you pull the handlebar harder than normal for long periods of time.

If you are getting blisters and are looking for some ideas on rower gloves, take a look at this called “Best Rowing Gloves“. I also talk about how to prevent blisters there too.

Consider wearing the best rowing gloves to prevent your hands from blistering. But if you don’t use a rower often, you might not need rowing gloves. Also, rowing gloves will be unnecessary if you use reasonable force to pull the handlebar.

Final Thoughts

When I first started writing this post I did not think it would be almost 3,000 words long.  For me, rowing for long periods of time does not bother my butt too much so I thought providing some insight on how to fix the issue and recommending a cushion would be easy.

However, I did not realize all the different nuances of rowing seat pads and how every person is effected differently.

There are 1,000s of different seat cushions out there but hopefully one of these will get the job done.  Just remember that the problem may not only be an uncomfortable seat but can be any of the causes listed above.

Give your butt some time to get used to rowing, focus on good form, start off with cheap, simple solutions and work your way up.

If you have any comments or questions on rowing seat pads you can leave them in the comment section below.

Recommended Reading

Should I Use a Rowing Machine Everyday?

Is Rowing Machine a Good Exercise?


  1. Hi there,

    I recently purchased a Stamina 1399 ATS Air Rower, after doing research on rowing machines. A common complaint I saw was that the seat is horribly uncomfortable. I can definitely attest to that! The seat is very uncomfortable, but manageable with a small towel folded on top of the seat. But I’d rather have something a bit more comfortable and permanent. Can you recommend a seat pad that is of good quality and would be compatible with this machine?

    Thanks very much!!!

    1. Hi Ryan,

      Yes, unfortunately a lot of rowing machine seats are very uncomfortable! Hopefully some of the pain will subside with time and maybe a cushion can help in the meantime.

      This article lists all the best rowing seat cushions available. Luckily the Stamina 1399 has a pretty basic design so most cushions should fit right on top of the seat. There are no custom or specifically designed seats for the Stamina 1399.

      Your best bet may be to go to a local outdoors store and look for a generic seat cushion that you think will work. You can test it to make sure and then add some double sided tape to make it more permanent.

      Sorry I cannot give a better answer! You are not alone in this struggle and I hope one day there is a better solution!

    1. Chris,

      Thank you so much for bringing that to our attention! I’ve been searching for a rowing seat cushion to replace the “orthopedic seat pad” due to it not being specifically made for rowing. This is the perfect combination of size and cushion!

      Thanks again!

  2. This must be the MOST useful article on the subject ever! Unfortunately your own seat cover is currently unavailable at Amazon. The improvisation that you described, using bubble wrap and a towel, has worked really well: I fold a good length of the bubble wrap and then fold the towel around it so it forms a neat cushion and it never slips.

    1. Thank you for the kind words!! Unfortunately, my supplier in China tried to scam me (I think), so I am no longer manufacturing the cushions.

      There are some great alternatives on Amazon that should be very similar.

    1. Hi Ben,

      I didn’t come across any custom rowing seats like you mentioned when doing my research. Most rowers were just using waterproof kayak pads.

      It my be better to post this in the Concept2 forums (just search google). There are specific forums for on-the-water rowing.

  3. Ironically, the best seat pad of all, is the one pictured (multi coloured), but not mentioned. Citius Remex. I use one on the erg and in all boat classes, if you are putting in serious km, nothing else can compare.

    1. Hi Beth,

      Thank you for the comment. Can you link to where someone in the US or UK can buy the cushion? I believe when I created the post it was only available in Sweden.


      1. Hi Edwin (and Beth)

        My name is Steffen, I’m the co-founder of the ProW seat from CitiusRemex. First of all, thank you very much for your interest on the ProW seat. We have been working on having a dealer in the US/Canada, but with no luck so far. However, we can deliver out of Denmark. If you order seats, I would recommend to do an aggregate order with other interested to limit the delivery costs.

        You can read more about the seat here: https://citius-remex.com/

        Kind regards

    1. Hey Burton – Thanks for reaching out! The MaxKare Water Rower has a very similar seat to the Concept2, which most cushions are designed around.

      You can buy my Rowing Machine King Seat Cushion here!

      No worries if not and if you purchase and there are any issues just send me an email and I can get you a refund. Hope that helps!

  4. I’m on the list for a model D but I stopped using one at the gym because I got a kind of bruised or trapped nerve pain running down my leg while rowing. I could really only manage 10-15 minutes before I had to walk around to relieve the pain. It’s a gamble buying the rower in the hope I can mod the seat to prevent the pain.

    The pain doesn’t quite sound like like those in your article. Can you suggest a good seat option that stands a good chance of stopping that pain? I’m UK based and I suspect the easily available options might be different. What features should I look for in a seat pad for this pain?

    1. Hi Paul – I’m not sure what would help relieve this type of pain. If it is some type of pinched nerve by guess would be a memory foam cushion would work best. I would look for a cheap option to test if it works and then return it if it doesn’t. You may also want to try stretching that area for a while as that can help alleviate nerve pain.

  5. Just come across your site and loving the advice, articles, and comments feedback, really fab to see such an engaged expert for a change!

    Quick Q if I may, my funds wouldn’t stretch to a Concept machine so I chose the equally well reviewed and far less expensive V-Fit Artemis 2 which is performing brilliantly (a few niggles but you get what you pay for). The seat however, oh the seat, has caused me a problem or two. Do you think the recommendations you’ve made for the Concept will work for the V-Fit?

    Thanks – Stuart

    1. Hi Stuart – thank you for the kind words! I think these recommendations will work for the V-fit as well as most other rowing machines. All the seats are fairly similar so adding any cushion should work. The easiest and cheapest route is to find some foam that you can cut out and see if that fixes the issue. Even finding an old sweater or something soft can be cut to size and will help alleviate a lot of the pressure. Hope that helps!

  6. Any suggestions for the Inspire 2.5 cross rower. The seat is long and wide so nothing will “fit over it”
    It would have to sit on top

    1. Hi Tim – thanks for reaching out! That’s a tough one. You may have to try to customize something. You can see if the cushions that have the “grippy” rubber bottom will stick to the seat enough or maybe try securing a cushion with some type of double-sided tape. It’s definitely an odd shape so you’ll have to get creative.

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