Best Sit-On-Top Kayaks
Kayaking itself can be a fantastic way to enjoy the true beauty of the outside world. However, the kayak you use can make all the difference in the world. Today, we want to place the focus on sit on top kayaks, as opposed to sitting in kayaks.
Though both styles have their advantages, many of you may prefer the concept of being free as opposed to feeling like you are confined. Either way, sit on top kayaks are a great choice, but you also need to know what it takes to buy one that you will be satisfied with.
It is okay to be a little selfish here as you do need to buy based on your needs. With the help of this guide, the hope is that this will be made much easier for you.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 6.5 hrs of research
It can hold up to 350 pounds
It performs wonderfully on the water
There is plenty of storage space available
Our Top Picks for the Best Sit on Top Kayaks
1. Wilderness Systems Angler Kayak
It can hold up to 350 pounds
It performs wonderfully on the water
There is plenty of storage space available
It can be tough to mount GoPro cameras
If you do not mind spending a little extra money then you can buy one of the best sit on top kayaks out there, period. Not only is this solidly built but its performance on the water is second to none.Read more
This model is known for its versatility and maneuverability, so it is no surprise to see it land on the top of this list. Of course, one user did note that this wanted to shift slightly to the right for them.
At 63 pounds in weight and over 12 feet in length, let’s say that this is not the most accessible kayak to haul around back and forth with you.
In addition to the fact that the Keepers Foot Brace System will keep you steady while you are riding, this also comes with a very comfortable and relaxing seat.
While the gradient sides make mounting a GoPro quite tricky, the build quality of this model is excellent. This is thanks to the polyethylene material that was utilized. For the record, this can hold up to 350 pounds of weight.
There is a ton of storage space available for you to use in this thing. There are multiple storage hatches and also gear storage pockets that you can utilize.
While you will pay top dollar for this sucker, it is more than worth it. That is if you want a sit on top kayak that is built exceptionally well, performs at a high level and is incredibly comfortable.
2. Emotion Spitfire
It is lightweight in its design
There are self-bailing scupper holes built-in
Plenty of storage space is available
It can be easy to tip over
The integrated grips are not the best
In spite of how well-designed the Spitfire is (as it does land high on this list), its lower center of gravity does make it a little too easy to tip over. The hull design, though, does provide great stability.Read more
Indeed, the lower center of gravity does complicate things for you. Then again, the hull design, as noted, is optimized to produce a stable ride (though this does seem a bit contradictory).
The molded-in hand grips that are implemented are not the easiest to work with. Then again, the Spitfire only weighs 45 pounds, which is much lighter than other models.
First off, there are molded-in freedom footwells that add to the comfort of this model. Of course, the ultralight seat is also a nice feature that emphasizes comfort.
As with many other sit on top kayaks, this was engineered with high-density polyethylene. This polymer has also been made to be UV-resistant to combat the sun. All in all, this can hold up to 350 pounds.
Beneath the deck, there is a storage hatch for added storage. Additionally, there is a tank well in the rear which sports a cargo net for security.
Even though you can say that there are some flaws to this design, you can’t argue with the overall results. Some may feel this is too high, though, and that is fair.
3. Scubapro Old Town Twister
The backseat is pretty darn comfortable
It is optimized for portability
Backed by a lifetime warranty
The speed is only decent
What separates this design from the rest of the pack is the emphasis on comfort. Not only is the seat contoured for your convenience but the molded-in backrest is also super comfortable.Read more
Being designed with a single-layer hull that is designed to maneuver with ease, this is ideal for all types of ponds, lakes, waves, and rivers.
The Old Town Twister clocks in at 46 pounds in total weight, which is not too bad. In addition to this, there are molded-in handles that have been integrated into the sides.
As noted, this is truly a design that is optimized for comfort. The combination of the contoured seat and molded-in backrest make things very comfortable for you.
Even though this is only made with a single-layer polyethylene hull, this is a rock-solid design. The Old Town Twister will be able to take some abuse and keep coming back for more.
The large tank well that is built-in has also been equipped with bungee cords. This provides you with a convenient way to tag along with some food and other items.
In spite of the semi-decent speed of the Old Town Twister, it is easy to maneuver and is not too hard to transport. It is also a rock-solid design so that always helps.
4. Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin
The load capacity is quite impressive
Built with comfort handles
It is equipped with a comfortable seat
It can be hard to find a compatible J-Rack carrier
The dry storage struggles to stay dry
In regard to pure performance, there may not be a better option on the market for you. Indeed, the Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin is fast, nimble, and incredibly stable.Read more
First off, this is a kayak that is going to track smoothly over all types of waters. Secondly, its hull is optimized for speed and agility which makes this incredibly satisfying to operate.
Though the sharp edges along the bottom will make it harder to find a compatible J-Rack carrier for this bad boy, it is equipped with four Phantom Grip handles. Oh, and the entire kayak weighs 57 pounds.
Thanks to the ventilated Hero seat (that also happens to be dual-position), comfort is not going to be an issue when riding in this. In fact, many users adore the seat more than any other feature.
The performance-crafted polyethylene construction of this kayak allows it to support up to 375 pounds of total weight (not just yours).
Oh yeah, this is also designed for fishermen. It is equipped with tackle tray holders, a rear storage area, waterproof cargo bags and much more. But, the “dry storage” area will struggle to keep your items dry.
Really, the best word to describe this sit on top kayak is impressive. Even if you are not planning on doing any fishing, you can still get excellent use out of it.
5. Ocean Kayak Frenzy
There is a lifetime warranty for the hull
It is very efficient in its stabilization
Storage space is available
The seat is a little too straight
Not the best for larger users
For larger riders, this can be one of the most uncomfortable sit on top kayaks out there. It is designed for one person, for the record, but is more optimized for smaller to medium-sized users.Read more
The Tri-Form hull is what makes this kayak so efficient at what it does. This combines both primary and secondary stability with a large center keel. This keel will keep you going straight.
At nine feet in length, 43 pounds in weight, and with molded-in side handles for carrying, this is one of the most portable sit on top kayaks on this list.
Though the Comfort Plus seat is adjustable in four different ways, it still sits up pretty straight. Also, due to the narrow cockpit area, this is not exactly comfortable for larger riders.
Not only is this rated to hold up to 325 pounds of weight but a lifetime warranty backs the hull.
The bungees are removable, and they can allow you to secure your gear to the kayak. For the record, yes, there is room to store your goods in the stern.
In spite of the comfort issues that some users will have with this kayak, it is as stable as it gets and is also highly portable. Oh yeah, it is also built extremely well, so there is that.
6. Perception Pescador Sit on Top Kayak
The skid plate can easily be replaced
Maximum storage space is available
Excellent buoyancy and stability
It does not come with a paddle
One user did not like the performance
For all your fishermen out there, you should be extremely compelled to buy this kayak. After all, it is loaded with maximum storage space for all your gear and essentials.Read more
On top of the built-in stability and buoyancy, the hull is fast and efficient and allows you to stay on course very well. Then again, there was one buyer who did feel the stability could have been better.
Sure, the 57-pound frame is quite large. But, what is nice is the skid plate is easily replaceable. So, you can drag this kayak on the ground without worrying about damage.
This comes with a well-designed seat that zonal sports mesh for enhanced airflow (which is gentle on hotter days). Additionally, the place itself shifts back and forth so you can find the most optimal position for your needs.
Because this base has been made with high-density polyethylene, it is resistant to both UV rays and several impacts. Also, it can support up to 325 pounds.
Yep, this is ideal for fishing because of all its space. It sports both rear and extensive open storage areas. And, yes, bungee cords are also provided for you.
Even though you will need to supply your paddle, you really can’t go wrong with this model. Heck, also if you have no interest in fishing, it can still be incredible for you.
7. Sundolphin Sit on Top Kayak
It is offered in different colors
It is lightweight
There is plenty of storage space
It can be somewhat hard to control
For those of you who are wondering, the market for affordable and high-quality sit on top kayaks is more limited. But, as can be seen with this option, you can more than certainly find them.Read more
Overall, it seems that this will track and paddle well in the water. However, it is worth pointing out that one specific reviewer did have a lot of trouble controlling it.
The built-in carrying handle and the lightweight core of this kayak make it somewhat simple to transport back and forth.
In addition to the comfortable seat that is provided to you, this also features protective thigh pads. Oh, and adjustable foot braces are also included.
As with so many of the other best sit on top kayaks, this has been engineered with high-density polyethylene. This makes this kayak rugged and resistant to UV rays from the sun.
The portable accessory carrier can be used as extra storage if you want. Also, a dry storage compartment is built-in for your convenience.
For a kayak at this price range, it is difficult to be too upset about what you get. While not elite in its performance, it is extremely well-built and easily portable.
8. Lifetime Tioga Kayak
Comes in a pack of two
Backed by a five-year warranty
Both the kayaks are incredibly stable
Your bottom is sure to get wet
In addition to the fact that this sit on top kayak is well-designed, to begin with, you receive an extra one with your purchase. Oh yeah, you also receive two paddles, which is a nice bonus.Read more
The Tioga itself is a kayak that was designed with stability in mind. In addition to the deep hull tracking channels, this is also equipped with stability chine rails. Good luck tipping this over on accident.
While this is still a substantial piece of equipment to haul around (50 pounds), the integrated front and rear T-handles do make things much easier for you.
The comfortable seatback couples with the multiple footrest positions to create a design that is, for the most part, quite suitable.
To make this UV-resistant and also resistant to impacts, it has been engineered from high-density polyethylene. As for weight capacity, this sucker can handle up to 275 pounds.
There are rear and front cord straps and also a six-inch storage compartment in the rear. While there is not a ton of room for storage, there is at least some.
What is more astounding here; the design of the Tioga or the fact that you get two of them with your purchase? Either way, this is a win-win.
9. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
The bright yellow color optimizes visibility
It comes with additional accessories
It can be deflated for transport
The seat provides minimal support
Does not perform like traditional sit on top kayaks
You may notice that this kayak is noticeably cheaper than the other ones. Well, part of the reason why is the Explorer K2 is inflatable in its design. But, it can still be considered a sit on top kayak.Read more
Without question, this is optimized to be used in smaller bodies of water. For the record, there is a removable skeg that adds directional stability. However, as others have noted, this acts more like a rubber raft than a top-end kayak.
The reason why inflatable kayaks are so popular is due to their portable nature. After all, you can fully deflate this model and fold it into your trunk.
The included seats do not offer much support that much is for sure. Each chair is adjustable, though, and does come with a backrest.
Being made with rugged vinyl, this is not a cheaply made kayak. It can also support up to 400 pounds (though, do note that this is a two-person model).
There is little to no storage space for you to work within this kayak. It is fair to say that for some of you, this will be somewhat of an issue.
This is a superb choice if you have no realistic means of transporting a giant sit on top kayak. But, this will not perform as well as polyethylene kayaks.
10. Lifetime Two-Person Kayak
It can seat multiple people
It can function well with only one person
The shock cord straps are nice to have
Not the most comfortable option out there
It can be bulky to paddle
Not all sit on top kayaks are only designed to work with one user. Take this model as a great example as it can actually be used by one person or two.Read more
The hull design was engineered to help keep this stable. However, it can be a little tricky to keep this in a straight line.
There is a handle that is built into the side of this kayak. In addition to this, the kayak itself weighs in at 60 pounds (which is a little heavier than others on this list).
While the seats are not good enough to be deemed comfortable, the multiple footrest positions that can be achieved will be appreciated by many of you.
A few buyers have had longevity issues with this model. But, for the record, it is capable of supporting up to 500 pounds of weight.
To secure some of your looser items, this does come with shock cord straps that you can utilize.
For some of you, this will not be the most overly-impressive sit on top kayak out there. It can be a great option, however, if you want to paddle with a buddy.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Choosing the model you want will come down to how you want it to perform, quite frankly.
The beauty about sit on top kayaks is the fact that all of them will perform just a little differently. But how do you pick between them? Well, what you need to do is understand several different features and aspects that go into dictating performance.
First and foremost, think about the stability you want. Shorter and broader kayaks will be more stable in the water. Then again, most of you paddlers out there will be able to stabilize yourself with ease on any kayak. And, short and wide kayaks tend to sacrifice speed.
So, if you want top-end speed, then you will want to shoot for more extended and narrower sit on top kayaks. Oh yeah, and when it comes to easy turning, built-in skegs or rudders (which are just drop-down fins) can help with that.
Of course, you also need to understand that hulls (which are the main body) can come in different shapes, and each of them performs a little differently.
For example, rounded hulls will offer you enhanced speed, flat shells are optimized for stability and maneuverability, and v-shaped hulls will cut better in the water. The hull shape you want comes down to your preferences.
Most kayaks will be heavy but you will need to transport them if you want to use them.
Kayaking is one of those activities that you typically will not be able to do in your backyard. Due to this, you will need to account for actually transporting your brand new model. With that in mind, you will want to keep a few factors in mind when going to buy one.
For starters, most sit on top kayaks will range anywhere from 40 to 60 pounds in weight. The difference between 40 and 60 pounds, though, is quite significant. Oh yeah, and some kayaks will be well over 10 feet in length, while others will be shorter and less awkward to transport.
Past the physical size of the kayak, you also need to pay attention to the handles. Most models will at least come with grab handles at the front. However, others will also implement molded-in hand grips that you can utilize. Either way, the better the handles are designed, the easier the kayak will be to move.
Lastly, if the model you go with is designed with a skid plate that can easily be replaced, then it can be used to your advantage. The skid plate will protect the bottom of the kayak from damage. So, in other words, it makes it possible for you to drag your kayak instead of carrying it.
The last thing you want is to ride in a kayak that is uncomfortable, right?
You better believe that this next section will be of the utmost importance to every one of you. After all, who wants to paddle in an uncomfortable kayak for six hours? The answer is pretty much no one.
To start, you will want to assess the design of the seat itself. If you want a padded seat with optimal support, there are options for you. Then again, if you plan to kayak in the summer, you may also want a ventilated seat for enhanced breathability. Oh, and the best seats will be adjustable to accommodate different users.
Speaking of adjustability, also ensure that there are multiple footrest positions available. Okay, so this is not mandatory, but it is a feature that many of you will appreciate. The reason being is you do not want to feel cramped inside your kayak for several hours.
Then again, this is more of a problem with a sit-in kayak. But, more prominent folks can still feel cramped inside some sit on top kayaks if there is not enough room inside.
Most models will be built well and with high-density polyethylene. But, they will have different weight capacities.
Look, most kayaks will not crumble and fall apart when they encounter rougher waters. But, with that said, it still does not mean that you can overlook this section. First and foremost, you need to ensure that the model you buy will hold your weight safely.
Most adult models will be able to support at least 300 pounds. However, you need to keep in mind that this will typically be the load capacity. So, any gear you bring will count toward this total weight. Oh yeah, and some sit on top kayaks will be designed for more than one person (and these will typically be able to handle 450 to 550 pounds).
As for construction, the most common material is high-density polyethylene. Polyethylene itself is simply a synthetic resin, and it is regarded as one of the most common plastics in the world. High-density polyethylene, which is what you want to look for, is rugged and robust.
Sit on top kayaks made with this resin will not be affected by higher temperatures, will remain strong and durable year after year, and will not be damaged by impacts very easily.
This section is all about the storage capabilities that you need from the kayak you buy.
When it comes down to it, you need to buy a kayak that is optimized for your needs. As obvious as that sounds, it fits for this section. After all, nobody can tell you how much storage space you will need. The real questions are, why are you going kayaking and how long are you going for?
If you are going to be doing some fishing, you may want room for all your accessories. In this sense, having a tank well (which is just the on-deck storage area) and storage hatch can be beneficial. Of course, the same goes for all-day kayaking trips even without fishing.
If you want snacks, drinks, and some of your other essentials, you will need the necessary cargo space to accommodate those things. Additionally, most sit on top kayaks will come with bungee cords. These can be used to help secure some of your items. For example, they can be a great way to tie down a personal cooler to your kayak.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
What you need to know is that not all models will perform in the same manner. When you talk about performance regarding sit on top kayaks, you are talking about speed, stability, maneuverability, and those types of attributes. Different design features and aspects of a particular model can significantly change all three of these characteristics.
Unless you want to buy an inflatable sit on top kayak (which is not a wrong choice), you will need to emphasis this section. Even though you may think all models will be cumbersome, some are heavier and more awkward than others. Some of the most important factors to consider are the size, weight, and implemented handles of any given model.
Wow, how vital is this section? We do not need to tell you that paddling in a comfortable kayak will be a much more enjoyable experience for you. It is pretty much common sense. But, what you need to know is everyone has different preferences when it comes to comfortability. One person may feel a specific model is comfortable, while another person may believe that the same model to be unbearable.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What is the difference between fiberglass and polyethylene?
The reason this question is being asked, for the record, is some models will sport fiberglass hulls. While fiberglass is stiffer than polyethylene and therefore more rigid, it is also more brittle upon impact. And, polyethylene itself is not precisely flexible (in the right way).
Polyethylene is the perfect balance of durable, reliable, lightweight, and rigid. Hence, it is why polyethylene hulls are arguably the most preferred by users.
q: What are some advantages to these kayaks?
As opposed to a sit-in kayak, a sit on the top model does not require you to sit inside physically. This you know already but what are some advantages of this design choice? First off, this type of vessel can be seen as a safer alternative.
When you think about it, you are not trapped inside when you sit on one. With sit-in kayaks, you are trapped inside. While you can still get out, it makes things stressful if you tip over in the water. Another advantage is the fact that sit on top kayaks are not quite as restricting as other kayaks.
q: Is any training required?
Kayaking itself is not a challenging activity. Do not be overly concerned with tipping over as granted you are not messing around; it should not be an issue for you.
To answer this question directly, training will not be required. If you are apprehensive about it, however, you can start kayaking in calmer, more substantial bodies of water to get the concept down. But, before long, you may want to challenge yourself to spike the entertainment.
q: Are sit on top kayaks good for rivers?
Yes, they can be, but it does depend on the specific design. As you can guess about rivers, your path is going to be much narrower. When you kayak in lakes and oceans, you will have all the room in the world. But, this will not be the case going down rivers.
So, if you want to be able to maneuver with ease, you will probably want to look for shorter kayaks. The improved speed you get from more extended models will not do much good when you need to dodge obstacles left and right.
q: How will they handle rougher waters?
The same question that was just answered is similar to this one. Much like the previous question, specific designs will handle rougher waters just fine. The key will be stability. A narrower vessel will require more effort to stay balanced if it is rocking in the water.
Of course, kayaks that can create a little extra lift will also be preferred for rougher waters. This can allow them to remain buoyant, which will, in turn, keep you from getting a bath.
q: Will you get tired of them?
It depends on how much passion you have for kayaking. That aside, some sit on top kayaks are quite versatile in their design. And, this can allow you to kayak in different ways when you go out. Sure, kayaking down the same river or in the same lake all the time is probably going to become dull.
It is like golfing the same golf course every week. Eventually, you will want something fresh. Either way, you do need to think about how much use you will get out of your brand new kayak. Remember, some models can be pretty darn expensive.