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.

Standout Picks

Wilderness Systems Angler Kayak
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.
Amazon Link
Emotion Spitfire sit on top kayaks
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.
Amazon Link
$345.57
Scubapro Old Town Twister sit on top kayaks
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.
Amazon Link
Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin sit on top kayaks
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.
Amazon Link
Ocean Kayak Frenzy sit on top kayaks
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.
Amazon Link
Perception Pescador Sit on Top Kayak
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.
Amazon Link
Sundolphin Sit on Top Kayak
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.
Amazon Link
Lifetime Tioga Kayak
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.
Amazon Link
$398.00
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
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.
Amazon Link
$149.84
Lifetime Two-Person Kayak
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.
Amazon Link
$1,289.00

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Effectiveness

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.

Portability

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.

Comfort

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.

Durability

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.

Features

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.

Our Top Picks for the Best Sit on Top Kayaks

1. Wilderness Systems Angler Kayak

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Wilderness Systems Angler Kayak
Amazon Link

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

Performance

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.

Portability

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.

Comfort

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.

Build Quality

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.

Storage

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.

Overall

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.

Amazon Link

2. Emotion Spitfire

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$345.57
Emotion Spitfire sit on top kayaks
Amazon Link

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

Performance

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).

Portability

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.

Comfort

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.

Build Quality

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.

Storage

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.

Overall

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.

Amazon Link
$345.57

3. Scubapro Old Town Twister

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Scubapro Old Town Twister sit on top kayaks
Amazon Link

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

Performance

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.

Portability

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.

Comfort

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.

Build Quality

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.

Storage

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.

Overall

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.

Amazon Link

4. Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin sit on top kayaks
Amazon Link

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

Performance

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.

Portability

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.

Comfort

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.

Build Quality

The performance-crafted polyethylene construction of this kayak allows it to support up to 375 pounds of total weight (not just yours).

Storage

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.

Overall

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.

Amazon Link

5. Ocean Kayak Frenzy

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Ocean Kayak Frenzy sit on top kayaks
Amazon Link

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

Performance

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.

Portability

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.

Comfort

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.

Build Quality

Not only is this rated to hold up to 325 pounds of weight but a lifetime warranty backs the hull.

Storage

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.

Overall

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.

Amazon Link

6. Perception Pescador Sit on Top Kayak

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Perception Pescador Sit on Top Kayak
Amazon Link

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

Performance

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.

Portability

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.

Comfort

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.

Build Quality

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.

Storage

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.

Overall

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.

Amazon Link

7. Sundolphin Sit on Top Kayak

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Sundolphin Sit on Top Kayak
Amazon Link

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

Performance

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.

Portability

The built-in carrying handle and the lightweight core of this kayak make it somewhat simple to transport back and forth.

Comfort

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.

Build Quality

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.

Storage

The portable accessory carrier can be used as extra storage if you want. Also, a dry storage compartment is built-in for your convenience.

Overall

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.

Amazon Link

8. Lifetime Tioga Kayak

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$398.00
Lifetime Tioga Kayak
Amazon Link

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

Performance

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.

Portability

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.

Comfort

The comfortable seatback couples with the multiple footrest positions to create a design that is, for the most part, quite suitable.

Build Quality

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.

Storage

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.

Overall

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.

Amazon Link
$398.00

9. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$149.84
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
Amazon Link

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

Performance

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.

Portability

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.

Comfort

The included seats do not offer much support that much is for sure. Each chair is adjustable, though, and does come with a backrest.

Build Quality

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).

Storage

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.

Overall

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.

Amazon Link
$149.84

10. Lifetime Two-Person Kayak

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$1,289.00
Lifetime Two-Person Kayak
Amazon Link

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

Performance

The hull design was engineered to help keep this stable. However, it can be a little tricky to keep this in a straight line.

Portability

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).

Comfort

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.

Build Quality

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.

Storage

To secure some of your looser items, this does come with shock cord straps that you can utilize.

Overall

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.

Amazon Link
$1,289.00

Sources

  1. Site Staff, Frequently Asked Questions about Kayaks, Factsheet
  2. Site Staff, Best Sit On Top Kayak, Review
  3. Site Staff, Best Sit Top Kayaks, Review
  4. Site Staff, Best Sit On Top Kayak, Review