As you may or may not know, sit on top kayaks are different from conventional kayaks. When using a conventional kayak, one would normally sit “inside” the boat – the edges of the kayak would be higher than the legs. However, with a sit on top kayak, the paddler quite literally sits on top!

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It’s important to know that kayak types differ and that you should ensure you’re purchasing the correct kayak for the water activity that you’re planning on taking part in. For example, you should absolutely not purchase a sit on top kayak if you’re planning on white-water riding since they are simply not secure enough.

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at the various advantages and disadvantages that sit on top kayaks can offer. We’ll also take a look at our favorite sit on top kayaks from various different categories.

Would A Sit On Top Kayak Suit Me?

Both sit inside and sit-on-top kayaks can be bought in either single or double rider sizes – more commonly known as tandem and solo. Both can also be purchased as either a traditional hard-shell kayak or indeed a still durable inflatable kayak. If you’re considering purchasing an inflatable sit on top kayak or are unsure about what they have to offer, please be sure to check out our comprehensive guide on the best inflatable kayaks too.

Before purchasing a sit on top kayak, it’s important to know that there are some differences between sit-on-top and sit-inside aside kayaks that you should be aware of. As you have probably guessed, the most considerable difference between the two is that you sit inside one and not the other. The sit-inside kayak has an area called the “cockpit.” The cockpit refers to the inside area of the boat that you can rest your legs, as well as store any equipment that you might need whilst you’re out on the water. Sit-inside kayaks are more suited to rougher waters such as fast-moving rivers than their sit-on-top counterparts are. This is due to the fact that sit inside kayaks tend to be deeper, and are therefore more stable. It’s also possible to connect a spray skirt to the top of the sit-inside kayak that means you can be kept dry when the water becomes rougher.

Based on this information, let’s take a quick look at a couple of the advantages and disadvantages of sit on top kayaks.


They Are The Easiest To Use

A sit on top kayak is far more suited to a beginner user than a sit-inside alternative is. They are far easier to get into and get out of due to them not having any tall sides, and they feel far more like you’re out on the open as opposed to being lodged inside a boat.

They Don’t Flood

Due to the very nature of sit on top kayaks, it’s far more likely that water is going to end up inside the boat. In order to deal with this, all sit on top kayaks are fitted with drainage points that are referred to as “scupper holes” When the boat becomes too loaded with water, the water simply drains straight through these points and you don’t need to worry about emptying it yourself. On the other hand, if you get water into a sit-inside kayak that doesn’t have drainage points, you can find that there’s a bit of a problem that will get worse pretty quickly!

They’re Easy To Jump In And Out Of

One of the largest advantages of a sit on top kayak is the fact that they are so easy to jump in and out of – this makes them especially suitable for more leisurely paddlers who might like to jump out for a swim in the warmer weather. They’re also great for older children that would like to do the same.

Much Nicer For Warm Weather

If you’re a fair-weather kayaker, the sit on top kayak will most likely be perfectly suited to your needs It means that you can be right on top of the boat, fully out in the open air and with the ability to get in and out of the water at your leisure. They are a more free-feeling experience than the more enclosed sit-inside kayak.


You Will Get Wet

Just as when the slogan “you will get wet” is seen at theme parks, ride goers have mixed reactions. The case is the same with sit on top kayaking. If you don’t mind getting a bit wet whilst you’re out on the water, then you won’t be at all bothered by the sit on top kayak. However, if you would rather stay dry, a sit-inside kayak might be better worth your time looking for.

What Sit On Top Kayaks Do We Think Are Best?

As we’ve previously said, sit on top kayaks are available in a number of variations. They come in both hard shell and inflatable variants, as well as in solo and tandem sizes. We’ve selected one from a few

Sun Dolphin Bali SS Sit On Top Kayak – The Best Leisurely Sit On Top Kayak

In terms of price, there’s nothing to be sniffed at with the Sun Dolphin Bali SS. At just under $350, there’s a lot of kayak to be had for your money.

At just over 10 feet in length, this boat isn’t too short that it’s slow, nor too long that it’s uncontrollable and hard to balance. It’s nice and wide whilst retaining a good length, meaning that it’s easy to get up to a respectable speed and keep it there without too much effort.

The seating area of the Bali SS is very generous, with plenty of room for your legs to stretch out. The edges of the boat that comes into contact with your knees are padded too for extra support on those longer days –  a very nice touch indeed.

The Bali SS is a great choice if you’re a beginner too – it’s fitted with tracks that increase the stability of the boat. At only 44 pounds in weight, it’s a very easy kayak to move around too.

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Perception Pescador Sit On Top – The Best 2 Person Sit On Top Kayak

If you’re looking for a sit on top kayak that you can get two people on comfortably, then the Perception Pescador is the way to go. The Pescador is 13 feet in length, and therefore accommodates two people sitting down more than comfortably. On the other hand, if you’d like to go out on your own with a lot of equipment, this boat’s a great way to do so too!

Even though the Pescador only weighs in at 69 pounds, it’s capable of carrying up to 500 pounds in weight. To make things even better, as well as having room for two people there is another space towards the hull of the boat too that can comfortably accommodate a smaller child or dog.

The seats that are in the Pescador are quite unique. Using molded rubber, the bottom of the seats can adjust to the shape of your body to allow for maximum comfort. Due to the length of the kayak, it excels in storage space and speed too – there’s plenty of space for storing your items towards the hull and stern of the boat, and the length makes for a tandem sit on top kayak that’s very one of the fastest available.

Another fact that makes the Pescador really stand out is how durable it’s known for being. When you’re spending quite a sum of money on a kayak, it’s important that you’re not buying something that’s not going to stand up to the test of time. The high level of durability that the Pescador boasts is achieved by the process of rotational molding, combined with the extremely dense polyethylene that’s used to make it. Before it takes its shape, the boat starts off as one piece of material in the manufacturing process before it is rotationally molded. This means that the material retains its highest strength possible, and is all-around far more durable than it would be had it been put together from multiple pieces.

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Sevylor Quikpak K1 – The Best Inflatable Sit On Top Kayak

Sometimes, an inflatable kayak can be a fantastic option. They’re great in many respects and offer a number of advantages in terms of usage that traditional hard-shell kayaks simply cannot. For example, they can be packed into a tiny space when not being used, are lightweight, and are extremely easy to carry and transport. If you’d like to know more about inflatable kayaks and what they can offer, have a look at our guide on the best inflatable kayaks for more information.

So, the Sevylor Quikpak K1 – what do we love about it? We should say, what do we not love about it? It’s small, packs into a tiny space, is durable, and is extremely inexpensive.

The Sevylor Quikpak K1 is the ultimate portable and lightweight kayak, It’s so portable that it actually packs away into a backpack that it comes provided ith. The backpack has all of the equipment that you might need to get out on the water in less than 10 minutes.

It’s very durable too, being constructed from thick PVC tarpaulin material. The Quikpak K1 is also made up of three different air chambers, meaning that if you happen to get a puncture, the rest of the boat will stay afloat and you’ll have a better chance of getting you and your gear back to dry land.

At just over eight feet in length and 18 pounds in weight, there really is no other kayak other than this one that truly is the definition of a portable boat! Furthermore, it’s able to take up to 400 pounds of load – truly astonishing for a kayak that fits into a backpack and weighs no more than 18 pounds.

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Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 – Great If You’re Looking For Some Extra Storage Space

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 is a perfect boat if you’re looking for something that’s got a little more room. This boat boasts a fantastic amount of storage space.

Towards the rear of the boat, there’s an extremely large storage compartment that can be used for anything that you’d like to secure with the provided bungee cords – it’s a great compartment for tents, collapsible chairs, and similar items. There’s also another more out of the way storage compartment in the middle of the kayak closer to the seat that would be better for more valuable items, as well as those that you would like to be able to access quickly and more easily.

The seat that’s fitted into the Tarpon is raised ever so slightly from the ground, as well as being padded and fully adjustable. All of these features that might seem small at this stage make a great difference when you’re out on the water for extended periods of time.

There are tracks mounted onto the side of the kayak that you can attach equipment too as well, making the boat that but more versatile.

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Emotion Spitfire Sit On Top Kayak – Modestly Priced Hard-shell

If you’re in the market for a hard-shell sit on top kayak and aren’t out to spend a lot of money, the Emotion Spitfire could be a great option for you. It’s not a large kayak, at only 9 feet in length and 45 pounds in weight.

Whether you’re an experienced kayaker or a novice, the Emotion Spitfire is a lovely little boat to use. It’s got an extremely lightweight yet comfortable seat and has plenty of storage – both wet and dry.

When you’re out on the water in Spitfire, you can sit back and relax using the paddle rests that are built into the boat too. Overall, the Spitfire is really quite a comfortable place to be.

When you’re out using the Spitfire, venturing onto rougher and faster flowing waters is not recommended. This is due to the stability of the boat – whilst stable and safe on still waters, it’s not designed to be used in fast-flowing waters.

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Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit On Top Kayak – The Best Of The Rest

The Ocean Kayak Frenzy is very much a loved kayak by many, and not without good reason either! It’s a fantastic sit on top kayak that can serve well in a number of different water situations – it’s very versatile indeed.

For all types of users, the Frenzy makes a great choice. It’s very stable due to its wide design and it is great to guide around the water. It’s a boat that’s so easy to have a lot of fun on!

The padded seat that’s fitted in the Frenzy can be removed as and when you’d like and is fully adjustable to allow you to get into your most comfortable position.

It’s not a difficult kayak to move around – it weighs in at just 43 pounds, and is only 9 feet long.

Taking a longer day trip in the Frenzy is no big deal either – it’s got more than enough space for storage and both the front and rear of the boat. To make things even better, it even comes with a lifetime warranty.

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