12 Best Sit On Top Kayak Reviews 2021 – Which SOT Kayak is Best For You?

best sit on top kayaks

Sometimes, all you need is to spend a sunny day out in the water. Paddling a kayak while enjoying the scenery is unmatched.

Occasionally, you can jump in for a quick swim before getting back in to continue with your trip. Is there a better way to enjoy nature?

But first, you have to get the best sit on top kayak for you and your family.

Since your position is elevated, you will have a better view. It is also easier to get in and out of a SOT when in the water; not to mention the sufficient legroom. Going through hundreds of sit on tops just to find the best sit on top kayak is exhausting. But you don’t have to do that.

Here are 12 of the best sit on top kayaks in the market. Given their outstanding features and quality, you will definitely get one that is perfect for you.

Best Sit On Top Kayaks Compared

Sit On Top Kayak
Length
Weight
Capacity
My rating
1. Perception Tribe 11’5 Sit On Top
1. Perception Tribe 11'5 Sit On Top
11’5
52 lbs
350 lbs
5.0
2. Vibe Skipjack
2. Vibe Skipjack
9′
42 lbs
300 lbs
4.8
3. Perception Pescador Tandem
3. Perception Pescador Tandem
13′
69 lbs
500 lbs
4.6
4. Perception Tribe 9’5
4. Perception Tribe 9'5
9’5
46 lbs
300 lbs
4.5
5. Lifetime Tahoma
5. Lifetime Tahoma
10′
50 lbs
275 lbs
4.4
6. Perception Rambler
6. Perception Rambler
9’6
47 lbs
250 lbs
4.5
7. Lifetime Lotus
7. Lifetime Lotus
8′
38 lbs
250 lbs
4.4
8. Perception Access
8. Perception Access
11’6
55 lbs
300 lbs
4.5
9. Ocean Venus
9. Ocean Venus
9’10
37 lbs
175 lbs
3.9
10. Sundolphin Capri
10. Sundolphin Capri
10′
44 lbs
250 lbs
3.9
11. Sundolphin Camino
11. Sundolphin Camino
8′
40 lbs
225 lbs
3.9
12. Sevylor Quikpak K1 Inflatable Kayak
12. Sevylor Quikpak K1 Inflatable Kayak
8’7
20 lbs
400 lbs
3.9

Best Sit On Top Kayak Reviews

Read on for my reviews of these kayaks:

1. Perception Tribe – Best Sit On Top Kayak

The Perception Tribe sit on top kayak offers versatility and space. The latter is important, especially for taller kayakers.

Build Quality

The Tribe is made using polyethylene. This material offers quality without being too bulky. According to the manufacturer, this kayak will hold just fine in any kind of condition.

Performance

The Perception Tribe sit on top is 11 feet long. While it is not the fastest boat out there, it offers just enough speed for your fishing and recreational trips. It tracks well and is easy to control, even for beginners.

Storage

There are two storage compartments at the front and rear for your gear. Both of them have bungee cords to secure your belongings. You can bring a cooler and add other things. This kayak also has a convenient cup holder.

Design

This SOT kayak is designed to accommodate paddlers of all sizes along with their gear. It has multiple footrest options and an adjustable seatback to ensure that everyone is comfortable. It has a longer hull and a skid plate to make the hull more durable.

The kayak is available in five colors/shades.

Package

The Perception Tribe SOT comes with a skid plate and an adjustable seat. You will have to buy a paddle separately.

Features and Specifications

  • Made with polyethylene
  • Maneuverable
  • Two storage compartments with bungee cords
  • Conveniently located drinks holder
  • Adjustable seatback and multiple footrest options
  • Longer hull with skid plate
  • Comes in five shades/colors
  • Made for paddlers of all sizes
  • Thick padding on seat for comfort
  • Designed for all water conditions
  • Width 11’5 x length 30.25”
  • Weighs 52 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 350 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Beautiful color options
  • Glides and tracks well
  • Plenty of storage
  • Stable
  • No paddle in package

Customer Feedback

We consider the Perception Tribe the best sit on top kayak for a reason. Buyers appreciate the quality of the kayak in general. They love how it glides on the water and gives them an easy time in terms of handling. The legroom and storage are more than enough. Paddlers highly recommend the Perception Tribe sit on top kayak.

Check Price of the Perception Tribe

2. Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 9 Foot Angler and Recreational Sit On Top Kayak

This sit on top kayak is meant for fishing enthusiasts. But that is not all you can do with it. The Vibe Kayaks is ideal for so many water activities.

Build Quality

The Vibe Kayaks Skipjack is made using ultra-durable polyethylene. This is the material used on all quality yaks. It is buoyant, leak-proof and not very heavy.

Performance

Designed with a sleek hull, the Skipjack tracks amazingly and has commendable speed. It moves smoothly regardless of the condition.

Storage

This sit on top kayak is made with storage areas both at the front and rear. They have bungee cords. There is a sealed deck plate complete with a waterproof bag.

Design

The Skipjack is available in four sporty colors: Caribbean blue, Jam berry, moss camo and wildfire. Other than that, it has a comfortable seat with an ergonomic backrest and foot braces. It also comes with a built-in cup holder, flush mounted rod holders and four handles for carrying the boat.

Package

Honestly, the extras on this kayak already make a great package. But still, you get a paddle on top of all that.

Features and Specifications

  • Single-piece polyethylene construction
  • Has a sleek hull design
  • Front and rear storage spaces with bungee cords
  • Sealed deck plate with waterproof bag
  • Comes in four colors
  • Comfortable seat with ergonomic backrest
  • Molded foot braces
  • Four carrying handles
  • In-built cup holder
  • Four fishing rod holders
  • Paddle rest and paddle parks
  • Slip-resistant deck
  • Measures 9’ x 32”
  • Weighs 46 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Four color options
  • Ample storage space
  • Comes with a paddle
  • Leak-proof and durable
  • Seat is not that great

Customer Feedback

According to the customers, the Skipjack is stable and easy to handle. Even pets are comfortable during their first time on a kayak. The quality is commendable. Another thing that users love is the size. They find it comfortable. While most of them are satisfied, some wish the seat was better.

Check Price of the Vibe Skipjack

3. Perception Pescador Tandem Sit On Top Kayak

Sometimes, experiences are better when shared with a loved one. The Perception Pescador makes this possible with its tandem design.

Build Quality

Made with high-density polyethylene and single-piece rotomolded construction, the Pescador is one of the most durable hard-shell kayaks. It is exceptionally impact- and UV-resistant.

Performance

While it is wide enough to facilitate stability, this tandem sit on top kayak has commendable speed. It is long with a streamlined shape that allows it to cruise smoothly.

Storage

The two people paddling in the Pescador kayak will have more than enough space to store their luggage. Storage compartments with bungee cords are located at the front and back. They are easily accessible. The two seats also have storage hatchets in front of them.

Design

You can get this Perception tandem sit on top kayak in two colors: sunset and sea spray. In addition to the two seats, there is another one molded in at the center for your pet or child. Seatbacks and footrests are easily adjustable to suit different heights.

Package

You don’t get anything extra other than the amazing features. You will have to buy paddles separately.

Features and Specifications

  • Made using high-density polyethylene
  • Single-piece rotomolded construction
  • Storage compartments at the front and rear
  • Two storage hatchets
  • Available in two kayaks
  • Molded-in seat at the center
  • Adjustable footrests and backrests
  • Has convenient drink holders
  • Measures 13’ x 34”
  • Weighs 69 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 500 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Ample storage
  • Spacious
  • Sturdy construction
  • Great speed
  • Does not come with paddles

Customer Feedback

Most buyers agree that the Perception Pescador is an amazing tandem kayak. Its performance in the water is outstanding. They like how it glides and its maneuverability. Families are having tons of fun. One user says that it would be nice if it came with accessories.

Check Price of the Perception Pescador

4. Perception Tribe 9’5 Sit On Top Kayak for Recreation

Perception-Tribe-9.5-Sit-on-Top-Kayak

With this particular kayak, you can choose between two designs depending on how you like your seat. Read on for more.

Build Quality

Made with one-piece rotomolded construction and high-density polyethylene, the Tribe offers exceptional durability. It is awesome if you plan on spending a lot of time kayaking.

Performance

It has a cutting-edge design that makes it maneuverable and fast. Unlike some sit on top kayaks, this one has commendable stability and you have a better chance of staying dry.

Storage

You will notice open storage at the front and rear with bungee cords. For a whole day out in the water, you can bring whatever you need and a few extras. There is a drink holder too.

Design

The Perception Tribe is available in two designs: the 2019 cushioned back and the 2020 framed seatback. The latter is advised as ideal for larger paddlers and has features meant for their comfort. The seatback positioning is adjustable and there are several footrest options.

Package

The Tribe does not come with any accessories. All you get is the sit on top kayak and its cool features.

Features and Specifications

  • One-piece rotomolded construction
  • Made with high-density polyethylene
  • Cutting-edge design
  • Open storage at the front and rear
  • Has a drink holder
  • Two different designs available
  • Comes in three colors
  • Adjustable seatback positioning
  • Several footrest positions
  • Features a center hatch with lid and built-in bag
  • Molded-in side handles
  • Measures 9’5 x 31.25”
  • Weighs 46 lbs
  • Weight limit: 300 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Two designs and three colors to choose from
  • Sturdy construction
  • Spacious and comfortable
  • No paddle in the package

Customer Feedback

First of all, users appreciate the dry rides, thanks to the raised bow. According to them, the Perception Tribe is an outstanding kayak. It is stable and tracks well. People find it comfortable and lightweight. There are no negative reviews.

Check Price of the Perception Tribe 9.5

5. Lifetime Tahoma 100 Sit On Top Fishing Holiday Vacation River Lake Kayak

For those that prefer simple designs and plain colors, the Lifetime Tahoma would be a great fit. It is suitable for long solo trips.

Build Quality

This sit on top kayak is made with blow-molded high-density polyethylene. It is impact-resistant and durable. The material also makes it UV-resistant and you can use it with confidence as much as you want.

Performance

A flat bottom enhances stability and is suitable for nervous beginners. Thanks to the deep tracking channels, you can expect the Lifetime Tahoma to move impeccably in water.

Storage

The Tahoma SOT kayak has bungee cords at the front and rear for securing gear. You will find a hatch beneath the deck for storing additional stuff. For a solo trip, there is more than enough storage.

Design

This lime green kayak comes with handles at the front and back for carrying. To maximize comfort, the seat has an adjustable quick-release back. There are several footrest positions to suit kayakers of different heights. The kayak also has a paddle keeper for securing your paddle.

Package

The Lifetime Tahoma kayak comes with a paddle. It is well made just like the kayak and you may not even have to buy another one.

Features and Specifications

  • Made using high-density polyethylene
  • Impact-resistant and UV-protected
  • Has a flat bottom and deep tracking channels
  • Sufficient storage space with bungee cords
  • Carrying handles at the front and rear
  • Seat has a quick-release back
  • Several positions for footrest
  • Comes with a paddle keeper
  • Lime green in color
  • Five-year limited warranty
  • Width 10’ x length 31”
  • Weighs 50 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 275 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Comes with a paddle
  • Outstanding stability
  • Comfortable seat
  • Well-made
  • Only one color to choose from

Customer Feedback

Users are having lots of fun with the Lifetime Tahoma SOT kayak. The most commendable feature has to be its stability. Even with kids jumping on it, they say that it does not flip. Buyers also say that this yak is easy to control and lightweight. There are no negative reviews on the Lifetime Tahoma.

Check Price of the Lifetime Tahoma

6. Perception Rambler Sit On Top Kayak for Recreation

If you are looking for a kayak that will boost your confidence, try the Rambler. Its design and features aim at enhancing stability so you can be adventurous regardless of your skill level.

Build Quality

The Perception Rambler is designed and assembled in the United States. It is made using rotomolded one-piece construction which is both safe and durable. The kayak is rust-, abrasion-, impact- and UV-resistant.

Performance

This sit on top kayak is on the shorter side and that maximizes stability. It also makes it easy to control even when the water is choppy.

Storage

The rear has a large storage space with elastic cordage. Add to that the convenient drink holders. You can stay in the water for as long as you like.

Design

The overall design of the Perception Rambler optimizes comfort. Both the angle and height of the seat back are adjustable for a personalized fit. The footrests are molded for several positions to make sure everyone is comfortable. There are four carry handles.

Package

As is the case with most Perception kayaks, you will not get accessories with this one. But again, the sit on top kayak is worth every coin.

Features and Specifications

  • Made with rotomolded one-piece construction
  • Large rear storage space with bungee cords
  • Convenient drink holders
  • Adjustable seatback
  • Several footrest positions
  • Has four carry handles
  • Available in three colors
  • Lightweight and stable
  • Padded backrest and seat
  • Features multiple scupper holes
  • Roomy cockpit
  • Measures 9’6 x 32”
  • Weighs 47 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 250 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Large storage area
  • Comfortable and spacious
  • Durable and leak-proof
  • Stable
  • Does not come with paddle

Customer Feedback

The most excited users are beginners. They really appreciate the stability. Parents who bought it for their kids also say that it is one of the best kayaks as far as stability is concerned. Everyone else loves the colors, design and how it tracks in the water. There are a few complaints about the seat being cheap.

Check Price of the Perception Rambler

7. Lifetime Lotus Sit On Top Kayak

Lifetime-Lotus-Sit-On-Top-Kayak-with-Paddle

The Lotus is a small kayak with a simple design. It comes in a beautiful design and a solid blue color. Check out some of its amazing features.

Build Quality

The Lifetime Lotus is made with high-density polyethylene resulting in a very sturdy kayak. To prove their confidence in the product, the manufacturer offers a five-year limited warranty.

Performance

This kayak has twin skegs that greatly improve tracking. The hull design is stable and flip-resistant. Because of its length, the Lotus is not that fast—but it is also not annoyingly slow.

Storage

Just behind the seat, there is a large area meant for storing all kinds of gear. It has bungee cords to prevent stuff from falling into the water.

Design

The seat has a quick release back so you can adjust it to your liking. There are several footrest positions so all paddlers can be comfortable. For your paddle, this sit on top kayak has a molded paddle cradle. Lastly, there is a center carry handle to help with transport.

Package

The Lotus comes with an asymmetrical paddle. This is awesome especially if you consider the price.

Features and Specifications

  • Made using high-density polyethylene
  • Has twin skegs
  • Stable and flip-resistant hull design
  • Five-year limited warranty
  • Tankwell storage with bungee cords
  • Seat with quick-release back
  • Several footrest positions
  • Molded paddle cradle
  • Center carry handle
  • T-handles at the front and rear
  • Multi-chine hull
  • Measures 8’ x 30”
  • Weighs 38 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 250 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Comes with a paddle
  • Easy to control
  • Outstanding construction
  • Tracks well
  • A little slow

Customer Feedback

Many users seem to love the size and price. One buyer describes it as a “fun little kayak”. The Lotus is super stable, going by the reviews. The manufacturer was not kidding about it being flip-resistant. Someone tried to flip it. There are complaints about it being slow. However, to get such a stable yak, you have to sacrifice speed.

Check Price of the Lifetime Lotus

8. Perception Kayak Access Sit On Top for Recreation

Perception-Access-Sit-on-Top-Recreational-Kayak

Having a versatile sit on top kayak means that you can do whatever you want at any time. You don’t have to buy a different one for every activity. The Perception Access is ideal for adventurous paddlers.

Build Quality

The Access is made using rotomolded plastic and single-piece construction. It is UV- and abrasion-resistant. Every part is designed and made in the USA.

Performance

With a length of 11’6, this kayak adds a little speed without compromising stability and maneuverability. It would do well as a touring, fishing and recreational kayak.

Storage

Compartments for your gear are molded at the front and back. They have bungee cords to keep everything secure. It also has a center console and fishing rod holders.

Design

The Access is available in five colors/shades: dapper, Déjà vu, sea spray and sunset. It has a leg lifter and high back seat— both molded in. To improve portability, carry handles have been molded in at the front, rear and sides.

Package

While you don’t get a paddle or any other accessory, the Access is an awesome sit on top kayak. You can use it for anything and it is well made.

Features and Specifications

  • Made with rotomolded plastic
  • Single-piece, leak-proof construction
  • Gear compartments at the front and rear
  • Has a center console
  • Integrated fishing rod holders
  • Comes in five colors
  • Molded-in leg lifter and high back seat
  • Multiple carry handles
  • Does not include paddle
  • Skid plate is easily replaceable
  • Superior seat padding
  • Convenient drink holder
  • Measures 11’6 x 31”
  • Weighs 55 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Impeccable construction
  • Stable and fast
  • Four shades available
  • Does not come with paddle

Customer Feedback

Kayakers think that this is a great sit on top kayak for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. It offers both stability and speed. There is enough space to bring your dog along. The only complaint is about the shipping. So the product itself is great.

Check Price of the Perception Access

9. Ocean Kayak Venus 10 One Person Sit On Top Kayak For Women

ocean-kayak-venus-sit-on-top

The Ocean Kayak Venus is designed specifically for women. If comfort is your priority, the Venus may be your solution.

Build Quality

This kayak is made using materials that are both tough and lightweight. The lifetime warranty offered by the manufacturer on the hull proves that this is a quality product.

Performance

The Ocean Venus offers speed, stability and great tracking. It works well when you are riding waves in the ocean, fishing in your favorite river or exploring the local lake.

Storage

There are gear compartments on the bow and stern. The one at the rear is large. Both of them have bungee cords to tie down your belongings.

Design

The seat in the Ocean Kayak Venus is unique with lumbar support. It is made to match the center of gravity of a woman for maximized comfort. The seat is adjustable and breathable. The design also includes a paddle holder and carry handles.

Package

The package only contains the Venus kayak and nothing more.

Features and Specifications

  • Gear compartments at the bow and stern
  • Bungee cords for securing stuff
  • Option for dry storage at the center
  • Unique seat with lumbar support
  • Adjustable and breathable seat
  • Has a paddle holder
  • Four carry handles
  • Available in three colors
  • Hull comes with a lifetime warranty
  • Measures 9’10 x 28”
  • Weighs 37 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 175 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Super comfortable seat
  • Available in three pretty colors
  • Durable construction
  • Does not come with paddle

Customer Feedback

Ladies love it. They say that the design is awesome and the seat comfortable. In the water, the Venus does not give them a hard time. It tracks well and has great speed. Many users cannot get enough and they highly recommend it. There are a few complaints from people who wish that it came with cup holders and a dry storage compartment.

Check Price of the Ocean Venus

10. Sun Dolphin Capri Recreational Sit On Kayak

sun-dolphin-capri-sit-on-top-kayak

The Sun Dolphin Capri sit on top kayak not only has a cool design, but it also offers several fun colors to choose from. There is a color for everyone.

Build Quality

This Kayak from Sun Dolphin is made using rugged heavy-duty polyethylene. It is durable and the manufacturer offers a limited lifetime warranty.

Performance

The size of this kayak makes it maneuverable and easy to control in different situations. Its tracking is commendable and you will love how it responds to paddling.

Storage

The Sun Dolphin Capri has a large area for storing your gear. There is so much that you can put in and you may even have space left. Bungee cords have been put in place to keep your gear secured.

Design

This sit on kayak comes in six beautiful colors: ocean blue, blue, green, pink, red and tangerine. All of them are highly visible in the water. Some of the noticeable features include self-bailing ports, adjustable foot braces, paddle holder, carrying handles and a bottle holder.

Package

The Sun Dolphin Capri does not come with any additional accessories in the package. However, it is affordable.

Features and Specifications

  • Made with rugged heavy-duty polyethylene
  • Huge storage space with bungee cords
  • Available in six colors
  • Comes with self-bailing ports
  • Has adjustable foot braces
  • Features a paddle holder and bottle holder
  • Carry handles for easy transport
  • Suitable for up to class II rapids
  • Seat is adjustable and padded
  • Measures 10’ x 28.5”
  • Weighs 44 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 250 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Many colors to choose from
  • Solid and durable
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Does not come with paddle

Customer Feedback

Paddlers are very pleased with their purchase. Beginners, especially, love that the Sun Dolphin Capri is lightweight and easy to use. It is stable too. Many say that the Sun Dolphin Capri’s performance is phenomenal. One user says that he had to add his own seat. Everyone else seems to be loving this kayak and all its features.

Check Price of the Sundolphin Capri

11. Sun Dolphin Camino SS 8-Foot Sit On Top Kayak

Sun Dolphin kayaks never disappoint. The Camino SS is one of their affordable yet quality products. Stability is one of its main selling points.

Build Quality

The Camino is made using state-of-the-art construction and heavy-duty materials. There is no doubt that you will be using this kayak for a long time.

Performance

As already mentioned, the stability of the Camino is commendable, thanks to the square stern and its length. While it is stable and easy to control, speed is not its strongest suit.

Storage

This sit on top kayak features a paddle holder for when you just want to rest and float. For your luggage, it has a storage compartment with bungee cords.

Design

The stern is not pointed—a feature that enhances stability. You will love sitting on the seat for extended periods. It is adjustable, padded and has a high backrest. There are multiple footrest positions. The Camino comes in three colors: tangerine, red and ocean blue.

Package

This sit on top kayak does not come with a paddle. It is a little disappointing because buying a paddle is a whole process—and it costs money.

Features and Specifications

  • Has a square stern
  • Comes with a paddle holder
  • Storage compartment with bungee cords
  • Adjustable seat with high backrest
  • Multiple footrest positions
  • Available in three colors
  • Roomy cockpit
  • Has a pointed bow
  • Does not come with a paddle
  • Measures 8’ x 30”
  • Weighs 40 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 225 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Very stable
  • Superb construction
  • Three colors to choose from
  • No paddle in the package

Customer Feedback

As the manufacturer promised, the stability of this kayak is impeccable. Users say that it is perfect for recreational paddling. They don’t recommend it to anyone looking for a speed kayak. According to most reviews, the Camino rides low. Some find it bothersome while others are okay.

Check Price of the Sun Dolphin Camino

12. Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak

This last one is an inflatable kayak. Not only is it the most affordable, but it is also portable and comes packed with cool features.

Build Quality

The Quikpak is made using 21-gauge PVC which makes it virtually indestructible. The tarpaulin bottom prevents it from being punctured.

Performance

This kayak is impeccably stable and tracks well in the water. Typically, inflatables are not the fastest, compared to hard shell kayaks. So, unless you are comparing this one with a hard shell, you will love the speed.

Storage

The Sevylor Quikpak has a secure storage area for all your gear and valuables. It is located conveniently so you can always reach it.

Design

There are multiple air chambers. If one gets punctured, the others will still remain inflated. It has an Airtight System that prevents leaking. To make inflation/deflation easier, there are Double Lock valves with two locking points. You can lean back on the backrest and enjoy your trip.

Package

The good thing about most inflatable kayaks is that they come with accessories. This one includes a carry bag, pump and paddle.

Features and Specifications

  • Made with 21-gauge PVC
  • Tarpaulin bottom
  • Secure storage area
  • Has multiple air chambers
  • Airtight System
  • Double Lock valves
  • Backpack system transforms into seat
  • Comfortable backrest
  • Multi-position footrest
  • Comes as a full package
  • Has a drink holder
  • Measures 8.5’ x 36” x 30”
  • Weighs 18 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 400 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Everything is included in the package
  • Lightweight
  • Stable
  • Super durable
  • Little storage space

Customer Feedback

Setting up the Sevylor Quikpak is as easy as it can get. That is according to the users. Many of them appreciate the weight capacity. Heavier paddlers can use it without worries. Kayakers also love the back support. It makes their trips better. There are complaints about the lack of “real storage”. You cannot carry much luggage with this kayak.

Check Price of the Sevylor Quickpak

Conclusion

Choosing a sit on top kayak from the 100s of available models doesn’t have to be hard. The kayak reviews above should help you narrow down your search. 

For most people we recommend the Perception Tribe. It is well-built and glides easily on the water and gives kayakers an easy time in terms of handling. The legroom and storage are more than enough. Click here for more information about the Perception Tribe sit on top kayak.

How to Choose a Sit on Top Kayak

As you have seen, there are several good sit-on-top kayaks. So you still need to narrow down further to find the best sit on top kayak that is perfect for you.

How do you do that?

Here is a comprehensive guide to choosing a sit on top kayak.

What Is a Sit On Top Kayak?

A sit on top kayak is exactly what it sounds like. It does not have an enclosed cockpit. There are footrests and a seat but your body will be fully exposed to the elements.

These kayaks make good recreational yaks and are beginner-friendly.

Sit Inside Vs Sit On Top Kayaks

Which one is better between a sit in kayaks and a sit on tops?

The decision to buy a sit in kayak or a SOT is personal and depends on your preference. But you will make an informed decision when you know their advantages.

A SOT kayak is great for warm weather. You don’t mind getting wet and you can jump in for a swim and get back on freely.

A sit-on-top also makes it easier to bring a child or dog on board. There is enough room.

A sit-inside has its benefits too. One of them is that the enclosed cockpit keeps you from getting wet. This is useful when you are paddling in the ocean or cold weather.

Sit in kayaks also tend to be narrower. While this may not be good for stability, it helps with speed. The narrower the boat, the less the resistance and the higher the speed.

It all comes down to what you prefer and how you intend to use the kayak. For kayaking the open sea or when it is cold, a sit-in is more appropriate.

But for fishing, recreational and warm weather kayaking, you should get a sit-on-top.

Advantages of Sit On Top Kayaks

Why should you consider a SOT kayak? Check out its advantages.

1. Easy to Get On and Off

Since there’s no enclosed cockpit to get inside of, getting on and off is super easy. The process is pretty straightforward. This is one of the things that make sit on tops best for beginners. Besides, they are quite stable too.

If your sit-on-top kayak capsizes, all you have to do is flip it and hop on. Self-rescue is not as complicated with a SOT as it is with a sit-inside.

2. Great Stability

When looking at kayaks, you will notice that sit-in boats are narrower compared to sit-on-top ones.

Width is a huge determinant of stability. Wide kayaks are less likely to wobble or feel tippy. So, generally, SOT kayaks have much better primary stability. This is the stability of a boat when at rest on calm water.

3. Comfort

Not many people like the idea of feeling confined, especially when out on the water. You have less freedom in a sit-in kayak because of the limited space inside the cockpit.

With a sit-on-top kayak, the kayaker can stretch her legs as much as she wants. A more stable model will even allow you to stand and paddle while standing.

4. Room to Carry More Stuff

A typical sit-on-top kayak has two storage wells with bungee cords and a small dry hatch. Some will also have space under the seat for more stuff. You can bring a cooler, a bigger bag, your valuables, and a smaller bag. This is more than most kayakers need.

Many sit-insides won’t have this much room—except maybe the touring kayaks.

Disadvantages of Sit On Top Kayaks

Sit on tops are awesome but not perfect. Here are some of the downsides of sit on top kayaks you may have to deal with.

1. Can Get Cold and Wet

You really can’t stop water from getting into your kayak, especially in the ocean.

This can be quite uncomfortable, more so if the water is cold. It is hard to have fun when you are shivering and freezing.

In a situation like this, you can opt for a sit-in or invest in appropriate clothing.

2. Sun Exposure

In a sit-inside kayak, your lower body is protected from the sun. If you wear a long-sleeved shirt and a hat, you will be fine.

But with a sit on top kayak, you will be completely exposed. And considering that sit on tops are mostly used in warm weather, it is unlikely that you will be fully covered. So apply sunscreen generously and keep reapplying. Also, get a hat to protect your face and head. 

3. Slower

Since SOTs are wider, they tend to be slower compared to sit-in kayaks.

This explains why most touring and sea kayaks are sit-ins. Manufacturers can get away with making them super narrow which helps with speed.

What Things to Consider When Buying A Sit On Top Kayak

The following factors should guide you in choosing the best sit on top kayak for your and your families’ needs.

Take a look.

a. Build Quality

Most sit on top kayaks are built using polyethylene.

It is one of the most durable hardshell kayak materials. It flexes on impact and this prevents it from being damaged easily. The downside is that it can be heavy.

The construction can be single-, double- or triple-layer. Single-layer polyethylene is cheaper and durable. It is also lighter.

Triple-layer and double-layer kayaks are heavier but tougher and more durable.

Finding sit-on-top kayaks made using fiberglass and carbon fiber will be difficult. These materials are excellent when it comes to performance—carbon fiber being the best. But they are more expensive and don’t handle impact as well as polyethylene.

For durable inflatable sit-on-top kayaks, look for those made using rugged PVC, Nitrilon, or Hypalon.

Nitrilon and Hypalon are resistant to UV rays, unlike PVC, but they are heavier. However, you can find a UV-treated PVC kayak.  

b. Performance

Imagine having to sit in an uncomfortable kayak for hours. You are seated in an awkward position, your back hurts, your leg(s) probably keeps falling asleep and you just want to get out. Sounds torturous, doesn’t it?

Comfort is extremely important when kayaking. You could be out there for a while and you want to enjoy every minute of it.

For maximum comfort, choose the right size kayak. Ensure that the seat has sufficient padding and that the backrest offers firm support.

While SOTs are not the fastest kayak types, you can still get a model that glides decently. If speed is a priority for you, go for a longer and narrower boat.

But understand that you may lose maneuverability, especially if you are a smaller kayaker or beginner. Longer kayaks can be difficult to steer.

Transporting or portaging boats is not a walk in the park. Since most SOTs are made using polyethylene, the heaviest kayak material, you won’t have an easy time. You can buy a smaller kayak because it will most likely be lighter. Alternatively, go the inflatable way.

c. Storage

As already mentioned, sit-on-top kayaks have storage options. But it all comes down to specific models. Some, like the Lifetime Lotus, have just one storage well at the front or back and that’s it.

A kayak like that would be ideal for a paddler who doesn’t spend much time on the water. They will only need water, snacks, and a few essentials.

If, however, your trips last for hours or you are an angler, you will require more storage room. The Vibe Kayaks Skipjack, for instance, has two storage wells and a dry hatch. It also comes with four flush mount rod holders.

Are your kayak trips typically long or short? Do you plan to bring lots of gear? Your answers to these questions should guide you when checking out kayaks.

d. Design

Sit-on-top kayaks come with foot braces or molded footrests. If it has foot braces, make sure they are adjustable. If it comes with footrests, there should be multiple positions.

You will also appreciate a seating system with an adjustable backrest. You may get tired of sitting in an upright position and you will want to lean back.

Other features to look out for include grab handles for easy carrying, paddle holder, and cup holder.

e. Package

You can’t go kayaking with a kayak only. You need a paddle too. And in the case of an inflatable, you will also require a pump and bag for the yak.

Kayaks aren’t cheap and neither are these accessories. Luckily, some manufacturers include them in the package so you won’t have to buy them. Others don’t. It is up to you to pick the option that is best for your budget.

Sit On Top Kayak FAQs

Q: What Is a Sit On Top Kayak?

A: A sit-on-top is an open kayak with a molded depression for a cockpit. So as the name implies, the paddler sits on top, not inside a cockpit.

Q: Are Sit On Top Kayaks More Stable?

A: Yes. SOTs are generally more stable because they are wider than many of the sit-in models.

Q: How to Get onto a Sit-On-Top Kayak?

A: Drag the kayak out into shallow water and stand on its side. Use your hands to steady the kayak as you sit. Next, pull your legs into the kayak. It’s that simple! 

See the video below.

Q: How to Stay Dry in a Sit On Top Kayak?

A: Find a kayak with a raised chair, or one that allows you to adjust the height of the seat. This way, you won’t get wet when the scupper holes let water into the kayak.

Alternatively, install scupper plugs. The holes won’t let water in. (They also won’t let it out so use your own judgment).

Another way to stay dry is by paddling low and gently. When making a paddle stroke, use a lower angle—that is, don’t hold your paddle vertically. Otherwise, water from the upper blade will drip down onto you.

Lastly, you can wear a drysuit if you are determined to stay dry.

Q: How to Get Back On a Sit-On-Top Kayak?

A: Getting back on a sit-on-top is relatively easy. But you should first take lessons and practice before going out into the water.

Here is a video that explains the steps perfectly.

Q: How to Carry a Sit On Top Kayak by Yourself?

A: The best way to carry a sit-on-top kayak by yourself is by using a kayak trailer. Kayaks can be heavy and a trailer makes the task easier. You can also use a carry strap. But this would be ideal for lighter yaks. You don’t want to injure your shoulder.

Q: How to Store a Sit On Top Kayak?

A: First, clean the kayak and let it dry.

You can either build your own kayak rack or buy one. If you store the kayak outside, you should also buy a tarp to protect it from the elements.

Another alternative is to store the kayak leaning on a wall, either in an upright position (on its stern) or on its side. But know that it can get a dent on the part it is resting on. So you may want to check on it every once in a while.

Q: Are Sit On Top Kayaks Good for Rivers?

A: Yes. Sit on top kayaks can handle rivers pretty well. But if you will be doing whitewater kayaking, get a SOT that is designed specifically for whitewater.