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Sit On Top Kayak Buyers Guide

No two kayaks are the same, and there is a significant difference between their performance. There are two types of kayaks. Even if you narrow it down to sit on top kayak, you have a lot to consider. It can be a daunting task to choose the right sit on top kayak.

Therefore, this guide will help you learn every essential point about sit on top kayak to help you with a buying decision. Furthermore, you will find some tips to help you personalize the decision for a better choice. This guide covers some common questions, as well.

Before you get into the entire ‘how to buy a sit on top kayak,’ it's vital for you to learn about what makes it the right choice. Therefore, you will find some reason and explanation about sit on top kayak and how to distinguish it from other kayaks in the market.

What is a sit on top kayak?

There are two types of kayaks available in the market, there are sit-in Kayaks and sit on top kayaks. On the surface, both of them seem similar, and there isn’t much to differentiate about them. They both have decks, hulls, bows, and sterns. You will find deck lines or bungees and grab loops or rudders in both of them.

However, the critical difference is in their seating style. Sit-in kayaks have more of a cockpit-like style for more secure seating and better protection against the water. Sit on top kayaks are broader than sit-in kayaks and more user-friendly. In other words, a sit on top kayak is an excellent choice for anyone, especially beginners.

If you don’t like the confinement of the cockpit that could feel restrictive, a sit on top will be more of your choice. It is easy to take your seat in sit on top kayaks, and you can get out just as conveniently. More importantly, sit on tops work remarkably well in warm weather. They have a self-bailing design to drain the water.

A sit on top is so user-friendly that even kids can use it without any problem. However, there’s a single drawback to a sit on top kayak. You are most likely to get wet with no way of preventing it. That’s why these are not great for the colder climate, as you will end up getting yourself wet regardless of how much you try not to.

Another drawback is the speed and acceleration. The narrower the kayak is, the faster it will be, but also more challenging to balance with the stability. So if you’re not a performance-oriented kayak user who’s just looking for some fun, a sit on top kayak might be an excellent choice for you. It is more stable with a little less speed.

Reasons to buy a sit on top kayak.

Once you understand the distinctive features between sit on top and sit-in kayaks, it is about time to look into some of the reasons to use a kayak. If you ever wonder ‘is sit on top kayak worth it?’ or ‘Do I need a sit on top kayak?’ Then these reasons should be sufficient in clarifying your doubt.

Great recreational choice

A sit on top kayak is very user-friendly and highly stable. It's a great choice if you want to enjoy kayaking instead of traveling distance and touring. More importantly, as these are highly stable, almost anyone can use it to enjoy the activity.

By sacrificing a little speed and performance, you can have a lot of fun with these boats.

An affordable range

Many kayak models are available in low-cost plastic and fiberglass choices that make it a cost-effective option. It is easier to maintain and repair; the upkeep cost is a bare minimum. There are indeed premium-grade materials available, as well.

However, if you’re looking to have affordable models, there are many durable yet feasible options available in the market.

A multi-purpose choice

Today, kayaks are prevalent in a wide range of activities. People prefer to use kayak for fishing, camping, scuba diving, and even touring. There are many enthralling activities like ocean surfing and racing that you can partake with a kayak.

However, a sit on top kayak is more stable and makes all of these activities fun to have. If you’re not a professional kayak user and seek some fun, then it is a versatile choice to have. With a single kayak, you can do so many activities.

The best comfort

A sit on top kayak is the most comfortable option available in kayak models. It is not composite or restrictive, and you can move freely as you use it. You can get out or sit in easier, and there is apt air circulation for breathability.

If you don’t like confined spaces or constriction, or if you’re a larger person (in size), then a sit on top kayak is the best choice. You can still enjoy all of the activities that a sit on top kayak would offer without compromising your comfort.

Better safety option

Sit-on-top kayaks are for beginners or a variety of users that are not well-trained or skilled in kayak or ways of the water. Therefore, most of these models have proper safety measures, including rudders and bungee rings, to keep yourself fastened to the boat.

In case your kayak flips over in the water, you will have an easier time getting out of it than a sit-in kayak. That alone makes it a significantly better choice than sit-in kayaks. If you want to use a kayak, apart from their stability safely, sit on top of kayaks is the safest option.

Easy to customize

If you decide to purchase a kayak and want to customize it, there are many ways to get it done. Even if you choose a beginner’s sit on top kayak, you can customize it according to your skillset and use it as you go. This flexibility of customization certainly makes sit on top kayak a more stable investment.

Factors to consider when buying sit on top kayak

Now you’re ready to buy a kayak. It’s about time to get into consideration for a kayak. This guide won’t break it down into specifications like durability, quality of material, and such. Those are according to the price you pay.

We are helping you simplify the process of choosing the right sit on top kayak that meets your individual requirement. So let’s start with:

The purpose of the kayak

How do you intend on using your sit on top kayak? Is it for scuba diving, touring, camping or fishing? There are many uses to a kayak. It would be a good idea first to simplify the use of the kayak. It can help you understand the specifications and features to look for. Here’s a brief overview:

Surfing kayaks

A surfing kayak tends to be the shortest of all models available. These are great for cruising or riding the surf of the ocean. Similarly, you will find them easy to rock but to challenge to use on flat waters.

For fishing

You can indeed use almost any kayak for fishing. However, if you choose to look for in sit on top kayaks for fishing specifically, you will find many that have a specific range of features. For instance, many fishing kayaks come with a rod holder and storage unit to help you store your bait and equipment.

A general rule of thumb to get a fishing kayak is to find the one with a little more scalability. There’s an ‘angler mode’ for these types of kayaks.

Scuba diving kayaks

Yes! Kayaks are becoming a popular choice among the scuba divers, especially as it is an eco-friendly choice. In a scuba diving sit on top kayak, you have to look for added capacity. A kayak with a bigger hatch could be a great choice.

It should have an apt storage option for your scuba diving gear. Similarly, a cargo well or tank well kayak would be a better choice to provide proper scuba diving leisure.

Use for touring

A sit-in kayak would indeed be a much better choice for touring. However, some people prefer to enjoy a slow or calm kayak experience with enough time to spare. If that’s the case, a sit on a top kayak could work wonders for you.

All you need is a heavy-duty kayak with enough storage space to help you with movements or to keep your snacks and other belongings. This would make it easier for you to have the right kayak. A sleek or longer kayak would also help you with the process of touring.

For the adventurer in you

If you aim to satiate the adventurer spirit in you, then the right choice would be to focus on the durability of the kayak. A highly durable and long-lasting kayak is more critical in these segments. It should be comfortable for you to move and stable. White waters and other activities would require this type of kayak.

To meet your fitness goals.

Are you looking for a kayak as a way to exercise? Then you’re most likely going to use a kayak regularly. This requires you to have a stable kayak that is slower than other kayaks in the option. Ergo, you can get a broader kayak that would require excessive paddling than efficient ones.

The added paddling activity would make you lose some calories and work the cardiovascular spectrum.

Single or Tandem sit on top kayak.

Now the second most important consideration is to understand the space requirement of your kayak. For that, you have to consider how many people will use the kayak at a single time.

Are you looking to enjoy kayaking with your spouse? Or do you have a pet or a child you want to carry along? Both of these would have a different requirement. Let’s take a better look:

Single Kayak

As the name suggests, a single kayak is for one person to sit, paddle, and steer around. It is generally shorter and occupies less space. A single person will be able to lift it and carry it around. Thus, it is portable-friendly as well.

However, they usually have enough seating space for a single person with paddles. Therefore, you’d have to buy exactly the type that fits your shape and size. For others, it could be uncomfortable to use.

Often, these kayaks have extra hatch or storage space that can alternatively work as a seat option for a child or a pet, comfortably. If you don’t want to spend on a semi-tandem and don’t plan on packing much in your kayak, this would work efficiently.


A semi-tandem is quite similar to a single kayak but with a little extra space for seating of a pet or a child. This makes it easier for you to store your belongings and also carry your bundle of joy on a trip.

A semi-tandem sit on a top kayak could also be a great option if you have the occasional need to have more storage space while kayaking. However, it can't house a full-grown adult in the seats at all. So, a semi-tandem won't work as a short-cut to get the leisure of Tandem for two people.


A tandem kayak usually has space for two people to sit, there are longer ones with up to three occupancies, but by default, there's a two-people kayak. Both of the seats have apt space and individual paddles for the duo to work together.

If you seek to enjoy kayaking with a friend, date, or partner, this is the right choice. It isn't necessary for the second person to always paddle. Therefore, you can also take an older person with you if you want them to enjoy kayaking.

The hull of your kayak

A kayak’s hull can have a significant impact on stability. The stability will impact the overall performance you can get from a kayak. The hull affects both primary and secondary stability.

The primary or initial stability determines the kayak’s stability to get in and out of the boat. The secondary strength is when you start paddling and moving around in your kayak. Both of these depend on the hull design of your kayak.

Flat hull

This is a perfect choice for flatwater travels. A flat hull offers remarkable stability, especially for beginners. Most of the recreational kayaks would have this type of hull. It provides fantastic initial stability for the kayak.

Rounded hull

If you want more secondary stability, a rounded hull is a better choice. You will have an easier time paddling and increasing speed.

Pontoon hull

If you want the stability of a flat hull and rounded hull combined, then a pontoon hull could be a great choice. These don’t provide you much speed or acceleration, but the stability is impeccable.

V-shaped hull

To have a V-shaped hull, you need to have some practice in using a kayak. It requires a little balancing but proves to be a great choice if speed is your requirement. Most of the touring hulls use it.

Choosing the right type of kayak

There are two categories of kayaks sit-in and sit on top kayak, as you know. However, there are also some innovations in their models. Thus, you find some unique kayaks to meet specific requirements.

This is a quick guide to help you choose the right ‘model type’ of a kayak to meet your specific requirements. Here is a brief overview of each of these types:

Foldable kayak

A foldable kayak is an excellent choice if you live in an apartment or a house that doesn’t have too much space. It can fold for easy storage and portability. You can carry it almost anywhere you like.

While it is not the most durable material, it is still a well-versed choice for those who seek to conserve space and want a portable-friendly kayak.

Inflatable kayak

It is an alternative to a foldable kayak. Now, inflatable kayaks can be durable and pretty good performers, but they are still not as good as a stable material kayak. Therefore, these are great if you are traveling a short distance.

Most of the inflatable kayaks are great for beginners or kids. However, some models can help you get a reinforced and stable base to travel a distance. Regardless, these are not as great as a standard kayak.

Pedal-powered kayak

If you don’t like the conventional paddles to move your kayak, you might like the ease of pedal-powered kayaks. These are more identical to the paddle-supported boats. You will find a rudder with hand level control for steering. However, you can’t expect them to provide you as much speed as the conventional kayaks.

It is more stable, and since you're using the power of your legs, it can be significantly great for long-duration performance. However, these require more maintenance and care for upkeep. These are not suitable for sharp turns or in the waters with too many obstacles, props, and such.

Specifications to consider

By now, you would know exactly what type of sit on top kayak do you need. Now, as you are ready to buy one, it’s time for you to pay a quick look at these specifications. These are more like the final determining choices for your kayak.

Weight capacity

There’s no way for you to overlook the weight capacity. If you go higher than the intended weight capacity, you’re exposing yourself to the dangers of the water. The kayak may not work right, or it may end up flipping in the water.

Therefore, you should always get a kayak with the right weight capacity. As a general rule, it is a better idea to get a kayak with a higher weight capacity than your initial weight. You might have to store some items, so this would provide apt flexibility in those regards.

Material composition

Plastic, fiberglass, and carbon are three different materials available for a kayak. There are two categories of plastic, the standard polyethylene or ABS plastic. If you are looking for a cost-effective kayak, you will use it once in a while; polyethylene might do the job.

ABS plastic is more resistant to elements like UV rays of the sun. However, fiberglass and carbon have a significant jump in the cost. Fiberglass is still cheaper than carbon and can be considered if you are going to use a kayak frequently. Carbon should be the choice for those who want a premium-grade and performance-oriented kayak.

Size and dimensions

A longer kayak would be faster and pick up speed, but it will be harder to make turns as efficiently. Shorter is better if you're looking for more maneuverability.

If you have long legs, then a deeper hull would be better; a shallow hull is better against winds. Proper cockpit size would help you get in or out faster and sit comfortably.

FAQs: Best Sit On Top Kayaks

Q: Is there a difference between sea kayak and touring kayak?

A: Touring kayaks are smaller than sea kayak and tend to be more portable-friendly. However, a sea kayak is a full-fledged kayak with proper rudders and skegs to help you with the steering. They have exceptional weight support and tend to have apt storage.

Q: Are skeg and rudder a vital part of a kayak?

A: A skeg or rudder is the type of fin found in a kayak that prevents external factors from affecting you too much. In simple words, a skeg is a drop-down fin that would balance the kayak and prevent winds from flipping you. Meanwhile, a rudder is a more adaptive fin that allows you to set its direction for well-versed protection against external factors like winds.

Q: Does the speed of the kayak matter?

A: Kayaks are meant to be fast and more speed means more exciting adventure. However, while the speed of the kayaks matter, stability should matter more if you’re looking for recreational activities. Apart from that, kayaks are built for speed and to have an enthralling experience.

For sea, touring, or to go against the changing elements in nature, a kayak needs to be fast.


Kayak boats are rapidly gaining popularity due to their versatility. From water sports enthusiasts to campers and adventurers, it is becoming a popular choice. Brands are competing against each other to provide you high-grade kayaks at the feasible range.

Make sure always to take a trial of the kayak before you choose it. It would be a great idea to determine the frequency of the use. How often do you plan on using your kayak? This question will further help you get the right to sit on top kayak for you. / - © Copyright 2020