Frequently Asked Questions

We get lots of questions about suspension in general, how it works on a boat, and the best way to select the right seat for your application and sea conditions.

Here are few of the questions we get asked the most, and our brief answer to them. Our team is happy to explain any of these concepts in more detail.

If you need additional support, get in touch with our team at We're here to help, listen, and guide your journey into a smoother, more comfortable ride on the water.


Injuries and fatigue on the water can be caused by incorrect body position when operating the boat. Taking a comprehensive approach to helm design, seat ergonomics and human factors can make the difference between an alert, ready-to-perform crew and a tired, bruised one.

When the boat hits the water, it must stop, but you, the human occupant, will suffer sideways, lateral, and fore/aft motions. Depending on where the wave angle is relative to the boat, you’ll be thrown in different directions. Upon impact, the upper part of the body will collapse down through the spine, and the loads on the spinal column, muscles, soft tissues can be quite high. If you experience an acceleration at 2g, your mass, supported by your spine, is doubled. If you’re sitting up straight, the body is designed to take that impact, but if you’re bent forward or sideways, your spine will be twisted. The lateral fore and aft impacts will throw you sideways or forwards, then you are likely to hit the next wave with your spine out of alignment. The end plates on your spinal column will bend, and the invertible discs in between are going to be pinched. If your spine is compressed in this manner, as is what happens in consecutive wave impacts, injury is likely to happen.
The biggest part of the wave impact is nearly always vertical. It is critical to keep your spine straight and in a natural curve when you hit the wave. If your console placement and seat ergonomics are correct, you should be in a position where you can stay upright at all times. You shouldn’t be getting thrown or twisted sideways when hitting the water: good ergonomics should allow you to stay braced in the seat with good foot support and comfortable arm position. This allows your body to take a vertical wave impact and not experience damage. If the fit of your seat isn’t right, you won’t be able to stay upright and straight.
If you’ve got the controls mounted to the seat, as many of our customers ask for, you’re well braced and in a good posture because you have the controls in a natural position right there in your hands. If the ergonomics aren’t correct, you as the operator are more likely to stand up to use the throttle and steering controls. In that case, that’s all they’re holding on to when operating the boat. It’s not the best position to be in when conditions are bad, and the boat gets hit from a unexpected direction. The operator needs to be able to choose to operate the throttle and control the steering rather than hang on to the controls for support.
A good shock mitigating suspension seat is optimized to absorb the impact with your full body weight resting on it at the time the impact happens. If you’re not resting on it the time the impact happens, it’s not going to work. For example, if you’re just using the seat as a backrest or bolster and most of your weight is on your legs, then the force is going to go down through your legs and not through the seat. The muscles and joints in your legs leading up to your spine will be affected, because you’re essentially taking the hit on your knee joints or ankle joints to protect your spine.
The most important consideration for console and seat ergonomics is sightlines and visibility. The operator in particular (and ideally everyone else in the boat), needs to be able to see forwards, have a good line of sight out of the boat so they can see what’s around them and see what the oncoming waves look like. If the seat is at the wrong height, or if the windshield or console are at the wrong heights, the boat operator can’t see particularly well. The experience we have with poorly designed helms is that the operator tends to stand up to get the visibility they need. If they’re doing that, they’re not getting the shock mitigation protection from the seat. They’re less supported so they won’t be able to tolerate the big lateral motions if the boat hooks or gets hit sideways. The shock isolation being provided by the seat is zero, putting the operator at risk for spinal injury.

Materials and Performance

The saltwater environment is one of the harshest on the planet for materials and components. When on a boat, the stress on the equipment from the ambient conditions is magnified by the physical pounding of the waves. Equipment must be built to last...or it fails.

For all aluminum components, we use thick hard-coat type anodizing as per MIL-A-8625 Type III. This anodizing type is recognized for its abrasion, damage, and UV resistance. We also combine the use of SAE 316 marine grade stainless steel fasteners and hardware with the application of Fluid Film® corrosion preventative to augment the corrosion resistance offered by using SAE 316 stainless steel. Shoxs seats are carefully assembled to prevent galvanic corrosion between dissimilar metals. The combination of film protection and correct selection of stainless-steel grade is instrumental in mitigating corrosion in all marine environments. Materials are further isolated wherever possible by plastic bushings and washers. The seats are designed to be virtually maintenance-free. No lubricants or solvents are required; only soap and water are recommended for washing the seats after marine/saltwater exposure.
It’s a visual indicator of the quality of our materials. Clear hard coat anodization means there is no dye in the process, making it the strongest finish available, and more resistant to fading from UV exposure. The grey color you see is actually the raw aluminum, meaning there are some variations in the metal color. We do offer black anodizing as an option (subject to minimum quantity requirements and longer lead times).
The only test in the public domain to measure suspension seat performance is the method authored by the U.S. Navy. Some fleets around the world have issued their own methods, but the U.S. Navy test is the standard by which we design and test our seats and is the only one that provides complete guidance to testing a seat in the lab. To our knowledge, there is no other published document that provides a structured and robust way to test a marine suspension seat. If you obtain data from seat manufacturers that isn’t being tested to the US Navy standard, consider it with caution.
Shock mitigating decking material can help as a complement to a suspension seat, but it’s not going to be able to provide substantial protection the way a suspension seat can. It comes down to displacement. If you’re in a fast boat and come off the top of a wave and drop a substantial distance and then hit the water, the boat will take a certain amount of time or distance to stop. The hull, typically a deep V with most planing boats, will hit the wave and dig in. That is the part of the motion giving you the big hit. We believe that shock mitigating decks are a part of an overall impact mitigation strategy, but they are not going to reduce enough energy out of a big impact to be completely protected from deck accelerations.

Air Pressure

Setting the air pressure correctly is important to get the optimal level of shock mitigation for the seat weight and occupant size.

With seats that mount on top of the pedestals, the air pressure can be set and adjusted using a hand air pump. There is a guide in the operating manuals to help pinpoint the optimal level of air pressure, but generally when the occupant is seated, the pedestal should land near the Static Limit line, and travel between the Static and Operating lines during operation. In the Mil/Pro collection, see your operating manual for details.
Most shock and seat manufacturers quote their travel as the isolator's full travel from full extension to the full metal on metal compression. However, all isolators have an internal bumper that cannot compress fully to nothing, meaning the actual available stroke is less. In the X4 pedestal, for example, there is a maximum of approximately 4 inches of available stroke. At this point, the internal shock bumper will be compressed halfway. The operating limit line on the pedestal's upper tube represents the point at which the isolator begins to compress its bottoming bumper. It is recommended to tune the pedestal to stay above this limit as much as possible.
The air pressure in the X4 and X8 pedestals are adjustable with a simple hand pump to accommodate different occupant weights. If you’re unsure about which suspension to choose, longer travel rather than shorter will give you a larger range of performance under varying conditions. In general, longer suspension travel is better for a wider range of occupants AND lighter occupants. Here’s why: you can set it at a lower pressure to give more mitigation to the lighter person, and not run the risk of bottoming out when the heavier person is in the seat. You have more travel to work with so lighter and heavier people (or lighter and heavier conditions) will both experience the benefits of suspension.
Our seats do not offer adjustable rebound damping. Shoxs tests all isolators with a dynamometer before installation in the seats to ensure they meet tight damping coefficient tolerances. However, once in the seat, variations in friction of the overall system may affect compression and rebound response. Also the isolator's pressure, while not directly affecting damping coefficients, will impact the compression and rebound response speed. A softer air spring will tend to rebound slower.