Recreational water sports such as swimming, sailing, water skiing, and kayaking are very popular during the summer. Among all these activities, kayaking is a universal favorite in groups of families and friends. While it can be a fun and carefree activity that can be enjoyed by people of all fitness levels, kayaking can also be highly competitive for those who are hard-core sports enthusiasts.
One of the factors that made kayaks more accessible to people is the availability of user-friendly designs such as the sit on top kayaks. Traditional kayaks have decks that enclose a paddler’s legs while sit on top kayaks have open spaces for the seat and the paddlers legs.
Top 8 Best Sit-On-Top Kayaks
There are various types and models of kayaks that can cater to different needs. If you know what you need, finding the right boat becomes easier.
Best Complete Kayak Set
This Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC RA220 has a complete set of tools that can give you the needed equipment to complete the ultimate kayaking adventure. It has a total of four storage areas. The three watertight compartments are perfect for storing gadgets and other essential belongings. The fourth storage container contains a bungee tie-down system that you can use for securing massive gears or necessities such as an icebox or a large bag filled with additional needed equipment.
Because of the angler feature, this kayak helps you maximize your kayaking trip by using your hands for other tasks without the worry of tipping over. This product makes everything easier, allowing one-person activities and a 450-pound capacity for all needed items.
- Product Dimensions: 148 x 32 x 12 inches; 20 pounds
- Shipping Weight: 70 pounds
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 450 pounds
- Hull Weight: 68 pounds
- Hull Length: 138 inches (11 feet, 6 inches)
- Added Accessories: foot pedal-operated rudder, rod holders, watertight storage spaces
- The user has complete rudder control without the need for paddle steering.
- Rod holders are perfect for holding fishing poles and keeping lines in the water.
- 100% stability.
- Waterproof storage for big and small essential items.
- Multiple draining ports to avoid water accumulation.
- The seat is not movable.
- The model doesn’t have a pedal propeller system.
Best in Safety and Stability
The Tamarack Angler Kayak is built explicitly for long paddling and distances. This kayak has UV protection and resists against water impact. Even in high impact activities, the stable flat bottom of the boat will keep you from falling over. Transport also becomes more manageable because of the rear carry handles, two fishing rod holders, and many footrest positions. These combined features will give you comfort and ease of use, thus contributing to overall stability.
- Product Dimensions: 120 x 31 x 14 inches
- Shipping Weight: 116 pounds
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 275 pounds
- Material: high-density polyethylene (HDPE)
- There are fishing rod holders, with one being adjustable according to your preference.
- Shock cords placed in the front and rear ends; there is a smooth paddling transport experience.
- Many footrest positions available for various sizes.
- Adjustable padded seatback.
- There are two hatches below the deck for added storage.
- Paddle keeper stores the paddle to the kayak.
- Paddling becomes a more relaxed and more convenient task.
- The kayak is watertight, not waterproof.
Best for Fishermen
Specially designed for the fishermen population, the Sun Dolphin Boss 12 aims to cater to the features needed, such as stability, sturdiness, and all-around features. This kayak is highly durable, lightweight, and easy to carry. It also has adjustable foot braces, a padded seat, and multiple rod holders.
- Product Dimensions: 147.5 x 33.1 x 13 inches
- Weight: 78.1 pounds
- Shipping Weight: 104 pounds
- The hull design has a flat and stable platform.
- Both front and rear sides are large enough to accommodate buckets or crates.
- There are paddle holders and carry handles.
- Additional non slip pads and stand up strap for security.
- It has a fold-down seat that allows dual positions for user comfort.
- There are no built-in cup holders.
- The user cannot add foot pedal propellers.
Best in Functionality
The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is another product that caters to those who like to go fishing while kayaking. This kayak has a high-quality performance, 100% stability, and is lightweight, which allows you to have excellent overall fishing experience. It doesn’t feel fragile even over rocks and gravel. Its functionality and comfort are the best features of the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100.
- Product Dimensions: 120 x 31 x 14.1 inches
- Weight: 56.5 pounds
- Material: high-density polyethylene (HDPE)
- Additional Accessories: one adult black paddle, paddle keeper
- Multiple positions available for different footrest positions.
- Two built-in fishing rod holders.
- There are front and rear shock cord straps.
- There is a built-in deep hull.
- There are t-handles in both front and rear end for better and easier transport.
- The package has no paddles included.
- The scupper plugs are also not included.
Best in Value
If you are a first-time sit on top kayaking paddler, the Perception Rambler 9.5 is a perfect choice. Aside from the variety of designs, this kayak is lightweight and short, which contributes to overall stability. You can use this in rivers and lakes, ocean bays, and for light surfing. Overall, with its low price point, the Perception Rambler 9.5 caters to the young at heart and it even has a drink holder for leisure moments.
- Product Dimensions: 114 x 32 x 13.1 inches
- Weight:47 pounds
- Length: 9’6”
- Width: 32”
- Maximum Capacity: 250 pounds
- There is a large cockpit with ergonomic support and many footrest options for overall comfort.
- Easy to maneuver, enter, and control.
- Steady flooring.
- There is leak-proof, built-in buoyancy for additional safety and security.
- The boat has many scupper holes for a drier boat floor and a more refreshing paddling experience.
- Built-in handles for a more comfortable carry and transport.
- Padded seats make the ride comfortable and bearable.
- No paddle included.
Best for Recreational Use
The Sun Dolphin Bali SS is the perfect product to use for river and lake activities, with its ability to withstand water pressure and occasional rocks. This kayak is lightweight and easy to carry for all types of water adventures. The features of this sit-on-top recreational kayak cater to the overall comfort and stability of the paddler.
- Product Dimensions: 120 x 30 x 11 inches
- Weight: 44 pounds
- Material: high-density polyethylene (HDPE)
- Extra storage room and a large cockpit for essential items.
- Built-in rod handles and paddle holders
- Foot braces are adjustable and movable according to the user’s preferences.
- The Sun Dolphin Bali SS allows a convenient and easy way to ride the kayak.
- There are no foot pedals, only adjustable foot stops.
Best in Durability
The Lifetime Tioga Sit-On-Top Kayak has a fun, lime green color that’s easy to see. For durability, it has a stable and firm boat bottom and chine rails partnered with high-quality blow-molded high-density polyethylene material. Thanks to its impact-resistant feature, you are sure to enjoy using the Lifetime Tioga Kayak in any high-impact water activity, be it on the river, sea, or ocean.
- Product Dimensions: 120 x 31 x 14 inches
- Weight: 56.5 pounds
- Material: UV-protected high-density polyethylene (HDPE)
- Additional Accessories: 2 kayak paddles
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 275 pounds
- There are deep hulls plus a stable boat bottom that ensures stability.
- Built-in T-handles in both front and rear ends for easy to carry feature.
- Footrests cater to various paddler sizes.
- There is a placement of shock cords at the front and rear sides of the tandem kayak.
- The seat is hard plastic which may become uncomfortable after long periods of kayaking.
Best in Weight
The weight of the kayak is one of the most critical things to consider, especially if you plan to go on paddling trips alone. The Sevylor Quikpak K1, which is only around 19 pounds, takes the prize when it comes to being lightweight. This kayak is inflatable and has a carry-on backpack that can be easily transformed into a seat. One of the best features of the Sevylor Quikpak is that there are three air chambers positioned at different areas of the kayak so that even if the boat gets punctured, it won’t deflate.
- Product Dimensions: 103 x 36 x 30 inches
- Weight: 19.2 pounds
- Material: PVC
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 400 pounds
- Easy 5-minute setup.
- Multiple air chambers ensure that it stays inflated even if one is punctured.
- Multi-position footrest for a comfortable position.
- Highly durable PVC material.
- Not for high-impact activities, for flat water kayaking only.
- The air pump that comes with this kayak is large and bulky.
- The paddle that comes with it is not very durable.
Among all the kayaks available in the market, aspiring and professional kayakers should always be 100% thorough in making decisions. Remember that purchasing the best kayak is an investment whether you are a beginner or a professional.
Sit-On-Top Versus Sit-Inside Kayak
For many years, choosing between a sit-on-top kayak and a sit-inside kayak has been a dilemma for a lot of kayakers, especially for first-timers. Although the right choice depends on several factors, preferences and other activities you want to do while kayaking, knowing what each type is plus their pros and cons will help you decide before buying one.
Also called SOTs, sit on top kayaks are becoming popular among both enthusiasts and beginners alike. With this type of kayak, a person sits above the deck. There is no inside space to access, except for openings in the hull for storage. Every feature is on the outside of the kayak, from the seat back up to the footwells.
Many prefer using SOTs during warm seasons or while vacationing in a tropical country because unlike standard kayak models, the paddler sits in the open where it is cooler. However, it does not have a deck area that stops water from getting the paddler wet. If you want a less wet paddling experience, scupper plugs are available, which covers the built-in drain holes in a sit on top kayak. The scupper holes act as a drain for the incoming water inside the kayak. Once you place plugs on the scupper holes, it stops the draining of water as well as the entry.
Advantages of SOT kayaks
Allows a range of motions
A sit on top kayak is perfect for fishing activities because it allows a wide range of motions. It is also sturdy when a fisher casts, trolls, and reels. Most SOT kayaks are for anglers with additional rod holders that are already built in.
Easier to board
You will have an easier time boarding a sit on top kayak. Even if you choose to go for a swim and return to the kayak, you can quickly reenter the vessel without difficulty.
You can easily customize a sit on top kayak depending on your needs or preferences. You can install GPS, wilderness systems, cameras, rudders, and many more. There is also an option of rudder and pedal installations, which can improve the ride overall. Rudders help your kayak gain speed, give you more control over paddling, and offer an excellent workout along the way.
High weight capacity
The design of a sit-on-top kayak can carry heavy weights, even as much as 500 lbs. These are perfect for groups of families or friends.
Also called SIK, a sit-inside type is the traditional and basic model of the classic kayak. This model has a cockpit wherein the paddler goes inside and places his or her legs under the deck. Some designs allow paddlers to position the knees on the sides of the hull to achieve a stronger paddling position or stroke.
Sit-inside kayaks are commonly used during the cold weather because it allows the paddler to use a skirt, which is a cloth that stretches along the cockpit rim and closes the hull’s inside. This mechanism lessens the splashing of water on the person’s legs.
Unfortunately, when a sit-inside kayak tips or flips over while you’re using it, it can take a very long time for you to recover or reenter the boat. You would have to bring the kayak to shore and remove the water before you’re able to ride it again.
Advantages of SIK
Easy to maneuver
Sit in kayaks are easy to maneuver because they are lightweight.
Capable of swifter movements
These kayaks are excellent for short-distance travel or touring due to swift movements once you’ve mastered your paddling skills.
Bigger storage area
There are additional storage compartments that are built inside the hulls.
Sit in kayaks are stable, especially once you’ve learned how to properly balance a boat. So although it can be a difficult task to fix a tipped-over kayak, sit in kayaks do not easily tip over.
Is a Sit-On-Top Kayak Better?
Sit on top and sit inside kayaks have their advantages and benefits. Deciding which one is better for you depends on your needs and preferences. If you are a beginner or a fishing enthusiast that traverses short-range distances, then a sit-in kayak is good for you. On the other hand, if you plan on using the kayak for activities set in the ocean or for long distance touring, then a sit on top kayak is a better choice.
Ultimately, choosing the best kayak should depend on the following factors:
- The purpose of buying the boat
- The weight and height of the paddler
- The paddler’s level of expertise (beginner or professional)
- How often and how long the paddlers will use the kayak.
Which Kayak is More Stable?
Generally speaking, a sit on top kayak possesses a higher center of gravity compared to sit-inside kayaks. Sit on tops are broader and have an increased degree of initial or primary stability, which is why they are used more often as recreational kayaks. Also, a sit on top kayak provides you with the option of draining water through scupper holes and its closed hull design contributes to its unsinkable feature. Overall, sit-on-top kayaks are more stable compared to sit-inside types.
Do SOT Kayaks Flip Over Easily?
No. SOTs have flat hulls, which make it more difficult to flip over. The design of a sit-on-top kayak allows you to use your legs to stabilize the boat through foot supports on both sides. The foot supports help you find a more comfortable position, thus having more stability and less wobbling.
What to Wear When on a Kayak
Kayaking has the same clothing requirements as hiking. The attire for kayaking should have versatility, comfort, and durability to be able to protect and allow you to move freely. However, your clothes should also depend on weather conditions.
- Wear a PFD (personal flotation device) at all times.
- Bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and gloves for additional protection.
- Use a wetsuit or a drysuit, depending on the water temperature.
- Layer your clothes.
- Choose clothes made of UPF-rated fabrics for additional protection from the sun, aside from applying sunscreen.
- Do not wear any clothing made of cotton because it is highly absorbent and takes a long time to dry. Instead, use clothing made of polyester or quick-drying nylon. Wool clothing is also a good option because it insulates when wet.
- Choose clothes that make you feel comfortable and allow you to move freely.
- Select clothing with fabrics that can withstand abrasion and protect your skin from water pressure, sand, or other rough materials.
- For emergencies, use clothing with zippers made of rugged plastics so that they are easy to remove when needed.
- Avoid using slippers, sandals, or any footwear that’s not secure as these might fall off.
- Use waterproof socks, especially in cold conditions.
What to Look for in SOT Kayaks
There are many things to consider when buying a kayak. The best sit-on-top kayak will always depend on your needs and preferences.
Most manufacturers use roto-molded polyethylene as the kayak’s material. For better UV protection and lighter weight, it’s best to choose a kayak made of high-density polyethylene.
A kayak with a wide beam ensures more stability, ease of use, and is easier to board.
All SOT kayaks have footwell molds that help the user achieve a comfortable position. Make sure to try and sit on the boat to test it out thoroughly.
A rudder is a blade at the stern of a kayak. It can pivot from side to side and helps keep your kayak straight. only necessary if you wish to achieve a better stroke. If you plan to take your kayak on open water or other bodies of water that has a lot of wind, waves, and currents, a rudder will help in keeping your kayak straight.
Kayak paddles comes in different lengths, materials, blade size and shape, and shaft type. The right paddle length depends on the length of your kayak.
Check that the kayak has adequate storage space for the items you plan to bring. A watertight compartment will ensure that your valuables are always kept dry.
Seats are accessories for some kayaks. Make sure to inquire whether the product has an installed backseat or not.
Longer SOTs are faster than the short length ones. However, short kayaks are always lighter and more comfortable to carry.
Care and Storage of Your Kayak
Taking proper care and storage of your kayak will help keep it in top condition and improve its longevity. If you have an inflatable or folding kayak, storing it is easy and convenient, as you only need to fold the boat and place it in a bag. However, if you own a hard-shell type, you will need to exercise more vigilance in its care and storage.
What to Avoid
You will need to store and use your kayak in ideal conditions to make sure it stays in good shape. Avoid extreme conditions that will shorten the life of your kayak.
Make sure to place the kayak far from any equipment that can emit extreme heat, as it may cause the melting of the hull materials.
Aside from the intense heat your kayak will be under when left in direct sunlight for a long time, the UV rays can also cause discoloration and brittleness.
Although the damage is not as severe as that of extreme heat, repeated freezing and thawing can damage the kayak over time, especially if your kayak is made of fiberglass.
Even if your kayak is constantly exposed to moisture, it does not mean it is okay to keep it wet at all times. Hull materials are at risk for degradation if consistently exposed to moisture from snow and rain. Remember to rinse your kayak using clean water and to let it dry before storing it.
How to Store
The best way to store your kayak is indoors. If you have adequate space such as a garage or a shed, storage is somehow secure because the roof already primarily protects the kayak from outside elements.
In general, you should never place the kayak directly on the floor as it might cause hull deformations when stored for a long time. Additionally, dirt and moisture from the ground can contribute to product degradation.
Place it on a rack
You can make a rack or buy one from the local hardware store. Make sure to protect the boat’s hull by getting a stand that supports the kayak’s sides. You may also use a rack that positions the kayak so that the hull side is on top.
Hang it from the ceiling
Hanging the boat from a ceiling is a great way to store it as well as create more space. Suspension systems are readily available in local hardware stores. On the other hand, webbing traps can also be an alternative. The proper position when hanging a kayak from the ceiling is with the hull facing the ceiling.
Finding indoor storage for your kayak is not always possible. If you live in an area with no extra storage space such as condominiums or apartments, then you’d probably have to find an outdoor spot instead.
When considering outdoor storage always take note of the following:
- Choose a shaded area for UV and heat protection.
- If there are no shaded areas, use weather-resistant tarps and put them over the hull.
- When using a tarp, make sure to suspend it above the hull, because direct contact may help promote fungus and mold growth.
- During the rainy season, ensure that the tarp doesn’t collect rainwater to avoid the deformation of the boat.
Kayak Storage Tips
Whether you choose to keep the boat indoors or outdoors, on a rack or suspended from a ceiling, there are general practices that will help in storing your kayak properly.
- When you hang the kayak, never use the grab loops because it bends the boat. Opt for wider straps to tie on the body instead.
- Use fresh water to wash away residue, dirt, or sand before storing it away. Make sure to clean the boat, foot braces, rudder, and rudder cables.
- Avoid using chemicals or solvents for cleaning. Use mild soap and water to wash the boat several times a year.
- Ensure proper weight distribution on the rack or straps to avoid deforming the boat.
- Reduce strap pressure because it can also contribute to the deformation of the kayak in the long run.
- Use a UV-protection spray for hard-shelled kayaks.
- Take care of other accessories such as paddles, skirts, and float bags. When you clean the boat, make sure to include all equipment.
- Don’t store the kayak in a hard-to-access place.
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