If you’ve ever been to a sauna you know that it isn’t exactly top-level comfort to sit inside for 20 minutes. While treated wood is naturally resistant to heat and moisture, it is quite hard on the body. This is why people often use headrests and backrests to help their bodies relax better. Finding the best sauna backrest, however, can be a bit tricky since there are a few things that you need to consider before finding the right one for you.
Backrests can differ from each other by the type of wood they are made of, their curvature and design, how portable and easy to use they are, and most importantly – how big their price tag is. This is why I’ve dedicated this guide to showing you some of the top models for this year and pointing out their pros and cons. Further down the guide, we will also go through all the features that define a good sauna backrest.
Sauna Backrests Comparison Chart
|Product||Wood Type||Set of Two||Comfort||Rating|
|HSE Cedar Backrest||Cedar||No|
|JNH Lifestyles 2SBR1||Oak||Yes|
|Dynamic Canadian Backrest||Hemlock Wood||Yes|
|Radiant Saunas SA5059||Canadian Hemlock||Yes|
|Radiant Saunas SA5024||Canadian Hemlock||No|
Best Overall – HSE Cedar S-Shape Sauna Backrest
The HSE S-Shaped Sauna backrest has been one of the top models for quite some time now and there are a few good reasons for that. First of all, using Cedar, HSE made sure that their backrest really has the capabilities to stand the test of time. Cedar is very long-lasting and is extremely efficient when it comes to heating up and cooling down. What this means is, that the backrest won’t heat up as quickly as the rest of the sauna and will be relatively cool to the touch even in a fully heated up sauna. While this is great for your skin, it also improves its long-term durability. It is a great addition to any infrared sauna and can be put directly above the heater and let you stay near it without being uncomfortable. It is also surprisingly large, with 20.5 x 13.75 inches as dimensions. The only two downsides here is that it doesn’t come as a set of two and is quite expensive on its own, especially compared to other models.
- Ergonomic S-shaped design
- Made of Canadian red cedar
- Has a natural scent to it
- Looks great with its distinct color
- Resistant to heat, moisture, and bacteria
- Perfect for IR saunas
- Very expensive
- Isn’t a set of 2
Most Ergonomic – JNH Lifestyles 2SBR1 Ergonomic S-Shape Backrest
Where the JNH lifestyles 2SBR2 Backrests excel is their ergonomic design. They are slightly more curved than the HSE Backrest and come as a set of two. Unfortunately, that is as far as their advantages go compared to the HSE model. Still, they are a great bang for the buck and fit perfectly in JNH saunas which are quite common nowadays. the natural Oak wood is well-crafted and durable enough for all types of saunas. It heats up quicker than Cedar-made backrests but is a good budget alternative, along with Hemlock. Again, if you are looking for two decently priced, ergonomic backrests that fit most saunas, these are a solid choice.
- Very well-priced
- Highly ergonomic design
- Come as a pack of two
- Made out of Oakwood
- Fit JNH saunas really well
- Heat up too fast
- Aren’t as good looking as some Cedar-made models
- The horizontal intervals can be too large for some people to get comfortable
Best Value – Dynamic Canadian Hemlock Sauna Backrest
The Dynamic Saunas Canadian Hemlock Sauna Backrest is one of the best deals out there currently. It has a nicely shaped form with an S-curved. In terms of looks, it has a natural darker tone partially contributed to the natural hemlock wood used in it. The wood also makes the backrest fairly durable and long-lasting even under the extra sauna heat. The finish is natural and leaves no stains which is always a good thing to have. Another benefit is that this comes as a set of two and even then is one of the cheaper options out there. One of my main issues with this set is that it can get a bit slippery when wet, which can seriously impact comfort.
- Bargain price
- Set of two
- Natural Canadian hemlock wood
- Great tones and natural finish
- Leaves no stains
- Good ergonomic design
- Slippery when wet
- Backrests do not stay in place well
Best Set of 2 – Radiant Saunas SA5059 Universal Sauna Backrest
Similar to the Dynamic Sauna Backrest, the Radiant Saunas SA5059 Universal Sauna Backrests give most sets a run for their money. This set of two backrests is great for any type of sauna and are one of the larger sets on this list. The bargain price combined with the decent durability of the Canadian hemlock wood makes this a decent alternative for people looking for a lighter-coloured backrest. There is no assembly required with this package as the backrests come ready to use. One of the major downsides is that the curvature isn’t good enough for most people and some people report poor build quality in either one or both of the backrests.
- Good fit for most saunas
- Big dimensions
- Set of two
- Canadian hemlock wood
- Not ergonomic enough for some people
- The light coloring is a major downside for some people
- Build quality can feel flimsy
Best Kit – Radiant Saunas SA5024 Deluxe Sauna Accessory Kit
Last but definitely not least is yet another set from Radiant Saunas. The Radiant Saunas SA5024 Deluxe Sauna Accessory Kit is one of the best options if you want to get all the needed accessories for your sauna’s interior at once. The set includes a backrest, leg rest, a magazine rack, and a wooden holder that can fit essential oil cups and other small accessories. The whole set is light-colored and well-sanded so its smooth. Its items are decently sized and fit most saunas, even though some people will prefer the darker natural tones of Cedar. still, the Canadian hemlock guarantees long-lasting quality and durability of these accessories. The major downside here is the price but once you get through that you get to equip your sauna with everything it needs to make you feel relaxed and comfortable!
- Has everything your sauna needs for added comfort
- Has a smooth texture to it
- Durable hemlock wood
- Fits any sauna
- Very expensive
- Comes with only one backrest
- Very light-colored
Sauna Backrests Buyer’s Guide
While some good infrared saunas come with a set of backrests in the package, often times we need to get one ourselves. But are sauna backrests really necessary for a good sauna experience and what exactly do they bring to the table? Let’s answer all those questions now and see how to choose the right backrest for you…
Benefits of using backrests in your sauna
There are a few very important upsides to using backrests in your sauna. This is also valid for any other accessory which is used to make your body feel better either when you’re sitting down or laying on the sauna bench. There are footrests, backrests, headrests, all made out of various trims of wood and all serving a specific purpose.
One of the major benefits a good backrest will offer you is the ergonomically designed comfort they bring with them. Granted, they aren’t all as curved and comfortable to lean back on but compared to the flat sauna wall, anything is a significant improvement. Having your back in a more natural position during your sauna session will also allow you to relax better. This is very important if you are in the habit of meditating during those 20-30 minutes.
Apart from the comfort, sauna backrests (and all other sauna accessories for that matter) offer a significant visual improvement to your sauna. Whether it is an indoor or an outdoor one, any type of extra wooden furniture will make things cosier and more pleasant to the eye.
Things to consider before buying
There are a surprisingly large number of things you need to take into consideration when you’re choosing a backrest for your sauna. If a product checks all the boxes for you, it will most likely stick around in your sauna for quite some time, so it is rather important to take your time and choose the right one for you.
- Design & Shape
- Return policies
- Additional accessories
Another thing that is often overlooked is the number of backrests you get. Since most of the models on today’s market are made for single usage, make sure you get as many as you need to accommodate your friends and/or family if you are all using the sauna often. Most of the models I’ve reviewed are sets of 2 but some are singles so make sure you check that before getting one. Now, let’s take a look at each of those aspects and see how much they should weigh in your final decision.
Design & Shape
In terms of the design and shape of the backrest, there are a few options. While some saunas come with built-in backrests which often lay directly on top of the infrared heater to give you better exposure, most backrests are quite different. Most backrests out there are quite portable and easy to move around. They are also ergonomic in their design, by having an S-shaped flex to them. This flex is made to follow the curvatures of our spine and make the stay in the sauna more comfortable.
Other backrests are wedge-shaped since that shape allows for greater versatility and compatibility with different sauna interiors. Still, backrests that are shaped to universally fit most back curvatures are the safest pick if you want comfort.
When you are looking at the design also pay attention to the size of the backrest. A small backrest might be good for women or kids but if you’re an adult male, you might want to get one with bigger dimensions. This is why you must always have a look at those, especially so if you’re shopping online and can’t try the backrests before buying them.
If you want to learn how long to stay in your sauna at a time, head over to my full article on the topic!
As much as people give importance to the shape of sauna backrests, I think the materials used in it define it better. A solid backrest made out of quality woods will last you longer, feel better on your skin, and even might look better. Furthermore, some wood types are more suitable for traditional saunas, while others perform better in infrared models. Some types are great for all kinds of saunas, though, so we need to define which are the universally good backrest materials.
Cedar and Hemlock are quite good and are usually a more budget-oriented option. While they are good for all types of saunas, they are the cheaper alternative to wood types such as Oak. If you aren’t on a tight budget, I strongly suggesting getting an Oak backrest. Oak looks good and is a great addition to any sauna interior. It is also quite durable and long-lasting, especially if treated properly.
Comfort really relies on the shape of the backrest. All backrests are wooden, so don’t expect a cushioned experience but, as I said earlier, S-shaped models really add to the experience by allowing you to rest your whole body on them and relax.
Durability is a major factor when it comes to anything you put inside the sauna. The heat inside combined with the moderate moisture are tough on any material, especially after being exposed to it for long durations. How well the backrest takes heat depends primarily on the wood type. Oak is actually quite heat-resistant and won’t heat up as quickly as Cedar, for instance. This means that it will be easier on your skin and will last longer due to the smaller temperature fluctuations in it.
While most backrests are priced relatively the same, there are some more expensive models. The biggest factor when it comes to pricing is the type of wood, how big the backrest is, and whether it comes as a set of 2 or has additional accessories. There are some backrests which cost as much as other sets of 2. Of course, the more expensive the better, but if you are shopping for all of your sauna accessories in bulk, it might be a good idea to keep an eye on that price tag otherwise you can easily go overboard.
This might seem a weird thing to mention here but there is a good reason behind it. Since you’re shopping online, there is a good chance that you’ve never seen or touched the said backrest. If it isn’t comfortable to you that might be money down the drain for nothing unless the company accepts returns. If the company offers refunds it is even better. Once again, pay attention to the size and make sure you can fit that in your sauna and be comfortable on it at the same time.
Whether you have an indoor or outdoor sauna, getting all the needed accessories will greatly enhance the experience and look of it. That being said, it is a good idea to look for some sauna sets which include backrests in them. In fact, the last set I reviewed (The Radiant Saunas SA5024) is exactly that. It comes with leg rests, backrests, headrest, and other accessories that can greatly improve the time you spend inside your sauna. There is even a small wooden holder that can be used for essential oil aromatherapy in your sauna.
Now, let’s answer some of the most common questions people have regarding this topic…
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need a backrest in my sauna?
In theory, you don’t really need one. You can stay inside your sauna even without having anywhere to lay down or put your back against. Still, backrests, headrests, and footrests add to the overall comfort and are a good accessory to have if you want to fully relax and not just stay sitting down on the hard wooden bench in the extreme heat.
How should I clean my sauna backrest?
As with everything else inside your sauna, you start by cleaning your backrest with warm water and gentle, pH-neutral soap. Then, clean it a second time using warm water only. That should do the job. For some antibacterial treatment of the inside of your sauna, you can use essential oil mixtures which have antibacterial properties.
What are the best materials for a sauna backrest?
There are three types of wood which are most commonly used in modern backrests. Those are Oak, Cedar and Hemlock. Canadian Hemlock is quite common and very long-lasting while cheap but Oak still remains the best material for wooden sauna accessories.
If you are out on the market to find the best sauna backrests, it might seem like a hard choice at first but after you understand the important features you need to look for it will no longer be a hard choice. Depending on your budget, try looking for Set of 2 backrests preferably made out of Oak. Cedar and Hemlock are also resistant enough to be used in all types of saunas. If you are looking to kill a few birds with one stone, opt for complete sauna sets which include backrests, headrests, footrests, and other handy accessories.