If any of you have ever tried an Exo kayak (or a plastic GuiGui), you’ve probably noticed how easily the backband pops out. It’s very difficult to lock the rope into the cleat properly, and just when you think it’s finally secure… it pops out again! If this happens mid-trick or mid-boof you can waste a competition ride, miss a boof or just generally end up in a sticky situation. In this post I’m going to outline the problems with the Exo backband and then explain how I’ve gone about solving them.

The problem itself is very simple: the rope that Exo use as standard (pictured below) is very slippery, and slightly too large for the cleats. This means that the rope doesn’t properly lock into the cleat, and has a tendency to slip out when extreme force is placed upon it (during a roll, boof or trick). The solution: CHANGE THE ROPE! Having experimented with different sizes of rope, I’ve discovered that 5mm marine rope (of which you’ll need ~2 meters) fits into the cleats much better and doesn’t tend to have the same slippery texture. In addition, tying a stopper knot on one side further minimises the possibility of the backband blowing upon impact. If you sit in the boat and tighten the backband to a comfortable position, add a figure-of-eight stopper knot next to one of the cleats. This means that you only ever need to tighten one side of the backband – making it faster to get in and out of your boat, as well as reducing the chance of your backband popping.

Depending on which boat you have, the process of replacing the backband is either a very simple or an extremely annoying process. In a plastic GuiGui the cockpit rim is hollow and you can put your fingers inside… this means that feeding the new rope up through the top hole is easy and at most you’ll need a screwdriver and some tweezers. On the other hand, the Rexy’s cockpit rim is sealed off (god knows why) which means that you’ll also need something long, thin and flexible to push the new rope up the inside of the cockpit rim; I found a 60cm skewer to be perfect for the job, although it still took a few hours of fiddling to feed the rope all the way through. Here’s how you can go about changing the backband in a plastic GuiGui:

  • Melt the ends of both pieces of rope, this stops them from fraying and connects the inner and outer layers.
  • Unscrew the rear screw of both cleats and swing them out of the way. The GuiGui needs a cross-head screw screwdriver whereas the Rexy uses an Allen Key.
  • Feed the rope through as pictured above-left, as the exit holes are quite small you may need to use tweezers to pull the ends through. The red circles symbolise stopper knots.
  • Screw the cleats back on.
  • Tighten the backband and place a figure-of-eight stopper knot on one side (I use the left), as close to the cleat as you can place it.
  • Tie a normal stopper knot at the end of the other piece of rope.

There we go, no more backband fiascos… I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful, if you’d like to be emailed next time I post then be sure to sign up below!