No matter whether you are a beginner kayaker, paddling for fun, or angler, sit-on-top (SOT) kayak has several benefits over the traditional kayak. Most people prefer them since they give good space and are best for having a lot of fun with family, friends, or going out fishing. As many people today are interested in buying SOT kayaks, we will check out some top-rated Sit On Top kayak options in this post.

Selecting the best kayak will be a tough task no matter whether you’re an expert or beginner, as there’re plenty of options available in the market. We will check out some primary features and pros and cons of our best picks. We have considered various factors like the number of seats, width, length, weight capacity, warranty, and other things when selecting these models. 

Without wasting any time, let us check out some important features for these best sit on top (SOT) kayaks. Plus, we will outline many useful criteria that can help you find the top kayak as per your needs.

Things to Consider Before Buying A Kayak 

Before getting in the complete descriptions of the best sit on top kayaks, you must first know what you must look for in the fast kayak. This buying guide will help to examine how some kayak features and specifications can contribute to the kayak’s speed on the water, and how these factors will impact various other features of the kayak’s performance.

Kayak Stability and Hulls

Are you the type of person who does not like when a canoe or kayak begins wobbling below you? The stability of a kayak plays an important role in how safe you feel when out on the water. Luckily, sitting on top types are the highly stable types of recreational kayaks that you will find!

  • Flat hull types are quite popular among the SOT kayaks. The boats have got fantastic stability when it is flat on the water. Tip this up on an edge, but, and they might lose it!
  • Pontoon hull types are a bit more stable than flat hulls and are perfect for kayak anglers. It is another famous hull shape that you must consider for SOT kayaks.
  • Rounded & V hulls are manoeuvrable and have got better speed compared to the pontoon and flat hulls. But, they are a bit more squirrelly while getting in/out or sitting still.

Kayak Dimensions

Once you head out to buy the right kayak, you may find a few models that will be labelled as professional kayaks. They come with a long and narrow design than an average kayak. This width and length contribute to the faster movement of a kayak.

Kayak Length

A good kayak roundup has to tip its hat toward the kayak lengths and you will get kayaks in the lengths from 6’ – 14’ and even more.

  • Short kayaks are agile. They are best for agile river paddling like whitewater and other nimble application.
  • Long kayaks will be quite efficient in paddling straight. The longer kayaks generally tend to have much better stability and room for gear. Often they are selected for the long paddling days or kayak anglers that want enough room for stability and tackle on the open water.

Also Read: What Size Kayak Do I Need?

Kayak Material

There are different materials used for constructing kayaks, but the common is ABS and polyethene. Polyethene is inexpensive and durable, however, it is heavier than ABS & susceptible to UV degradation with time. Besides ABS is best used in high-end kayaks as it’s stronger, lighter, and durable, but a bit expensive.

Kayak Load Capacity

There’re different kinds of kayaks, and designs that affect the carrying capacity of a model. Carrying capacity is mainly dependent on the model you buy. Some kayaks types are the single-seat SOT kayaks & tandem models. Single-seat kayak models can’t carry lots of weight, however, tandem models definitely work to carry a bit more –and will hold two or more people at one time.

Kayak Seats

Another important thing that you must consider while buying a sit-on-top kayak is its seats. A close look will show that there are three kinds of seats. And these are premium, deluxe, and basic seats. These three seats vary in price and quality, with basic seats having the least quality and cheapest ones, whereas premium seat is a highly comfortable and expensive kind of seat. Check out various models that you’re buying and know the kind of seats fitted in it.

Find the Best Type of Sit-on-Top Kayak

Just like the sit-in type, the SOT kayak will have different hull designs. These hull characteristics on various SOT kayak kinds are made to make every specific type of boat more appropriate to the specific uses and environments. There’re various sit-on-top types for doing various activities and environments. Some common activities that kayaks are been used include:

  • Kayak surfing.
  • Whitewater rapid riding.
  • Recreational boating.
  • Fishing.
  • Ocean touring.

There are the types of kayaks designed specifically for these activities mentioned. Thus, the kind of SOT kayak that is good for you may depend on the type of activity that you are planning to use this for.

Also Read: Sit-In vs Sit-On Kayak – Know the Difference Before Buying One

Benefits of Sit-on-Top Kayaks

Simple to get in/out 

Quite different from sit-in kayak models, where you need to fit in the tight cockpit, you may easily step on and off your sit-on-top craft. It is also good for paddling with children who like to swim, play, and jump out there.

Stay Cool in Summer

If you are out on a hot day, you will be glad that you are not enclosed in the covered cockpit. Sit-on-Top kayaks help you to stay cool in the open air. Ensure you bring sun cream.

Better Stability

Sit-on-top kayak models are made mainly for recreational use for fishing and flat water. For this reason, they’re wider than various other models – to offer good primary stability. Remember that they do not generally have very good secondary stability. The majority of the kayak models aren’t meant for rough water.

Quite Affordable

As most of the sot kayaks have very simple designs and are made from inexpensive materials, they generally tend to be much more affordable and long-lasting.

Comfortable

A sit-on-top kayak model features open seats and huge spaces where you may easily stretch your legs and stand up. Specially made for the people who find the enclosed cockpits a little constricting will definitely love this freedom of movement offered by SOT kayak models.

7 Best Sit On Top Kayaks in 2023

Best Sit On Top Kayaks

1. Pelican Sentinel

Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak

Pelican Sentinel 100X kayak is made mainly for fishing purposes. But, it means that this kayak is a bit wider than other designs out there so that it can offer better stability for beginners. It can also be used on the calm and flat waters like you will find on the nearby lakes, protected bays, and slow-moving rivers. This kayak measures 9’6 inches long, 30 inches wide, and weighs just 44 pounds.

It is a bit lighter weight and makes it very simple to transport across the water easily and it includes a total of 4 handles (2 on its bow and stern and 2 on its gunwales) that will make carrying with the partner a breeze. Pelican Sentinel 100X boasts a multi-chine bottom hull, which offers better stability.

Specs & Features:

  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Type: Sit On Top
  • Weight: 43 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lbs.
  • Material: Ram X materials

Pros:

  • Simple to manoeuvre
  • Lightweight
  • Best for beginners
  • Highly durable

Cons:

  • Dry storage missing
  • No rod holders

2. Lifetime Lotus

Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak

The Lifetime Lotus 8’ is the smallest and lightest kayak on the list, and it is a highly portable SOT kayak around. This said it is well-suited for the lighter and smaller kayakers as its max weight capacity is around 250 lbs. This kayak features a unique design, which offers better speed, manoeuvring, as well as control.

The kayak sports a vast bungee storage area in its tail and integrated dry storage below its seat. Additionally, this has got moulded footrests, integrated paddle holders and toggles at its nose & behind the kayak seat.

The Lifetime Lotus 8’ is an amazing recreational SOT kayak that is quite portable and well-suited for the lighter and smaller kayakers and even travellers. The recreational SOT kayak is very lightweight and perfect for travellers. This has a dynamic shape, which makes it manoeuvrable and fast.

Specs & Features:

  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Type: Sit On Top
  • Weight: 36.5 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 250 lbs.
  • Material: High-Density Polyethylene

Pros:

  • Super lightweight and making this kayak best for travel.
  • Stable, comfortable and supportive.

Cons:

  • Kayak has a low weight capacity.
  • No handles.

3. Emotion Spitfire

Emotion Spitfire Sit-On-Top Kayak

Emotion Spitfire 9’ is made to glide on the flat water effortlessly whereas offering kayakers the spacious and comfortable kayak to cruise over. It is one best SOT kayaks that features a bit rocker that improves manoeuvrability and defined keel and maintains kayak’s tracking.

This blow-moulded polyethylene making creates a strong hull that will withstand blows and knocks. In addition, Spitfire provides better storage compared to the conventional SOT kayak, with 2 open storage at the nose and tail and a storage hatch below its seat for better access.

The Emotion Spitfire 9’ is a perfect SOT kayak for the kayakers who are looking for an affordable kayak with unique functions and a reliable hull. The best and highly affordable SOT flatwater kayaks available in the market, this kayak is best for the entire family.

Specs & Features:

  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Type: Sit On Top
  • Weight: 45 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 350 lbs.
  • Material: Blow-molded Polyethylene

Pros:

  • Stable and safe.
  • Plenty of storage for SOT.
  • Lightweight & handles for portability.

Cons:

  • Tracking is limited.

4. Perception Hi Life

Perception Hi Life 11 | Sit on Top Kayak

Perception Hi Life 11’ is sitting on top and stand up kayak paddleboard. With such type of kayak, you will get the best of both worlds and offers a lot of fun for riders of various levels and ages. Its versatility is highly reflected in its higher rate.

Made to be a part kayak and stand-up paddleboard, Perception Hi-Life kayak gives the best experience for anyone who likes kayaking and SUP. This Hi-Life kayak can also be used when sitting and is stable and comfortable when in the kayak mode. This can be used when standing up as well as becoming manoeuvrable but losing stability. 

Perception Hi-Life is comfortable and durable. Its foam deck padding offers a better level of support and comfort for paddling, whereas the upright seat lets you feel supported when kayaking. This kayak makes an amazing impression with kayakers and also comes in a flurry of various colour choices.

Specs & Features:

  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Type: Sit On Top
  • Weight: 55 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 280 lbs.
  • Material: Polyethylene

Pros:

  • Kayak and SUP hybrid.
  • Amazing customization options.
  • Comes with a cooler to take drinks and snacks.
  • Great storage possibilities

Cons:

  • Not very stable and does not handle waves nicely.
  • Tracking is average. 

5. Sun Dolphin Bali

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10-Foot Sit-on top Kayak

Made for small water bodies like rivers and lakes, the Sun Dolphin Bali kayak is quite a comfortable and stable SOT kayak. This kayak is very simple to paddle, irrespective of the skill level, and comes well-equipped with a plush comfortable seat.

This is one best option for solo paddlers who are looking for a reliable, simple-to-transport and compact craft. This is made for everyday comfort and fun, and for various fishing trips since it is well-equipped with 2 flush mounts, a swivel fishing holder, storage spaces, and a portable accessory. This is the best great choice for the moderate rivers and lakes.

This kayak seating area includes adjustable foot braces that offer extra support to the paddler. Its open tank expands and gives extra storage if you plan for a long trip. There’re carrying handles for easy and convenient transportation. Ultimately, the Sun Dolphin Bali kayak is a simple to use -and highly comfortable kayak for kayakers who are totally new to this sport.   

Specs & Features:

  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Type: Sit On Top
  • Weight: 44 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 395 lbs.
  • Material: Fortiflex Polyethylene

Pros:

  • The seating area is big and comfortable 
  • Adjustable padded seat.
  • Lightweight 
  • Best for long travel

Cons:

  • Kayak tracking is unreliable

6. Ocean Kayak Malibu

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

This tandem kayak is best for spending a little time with your family or friend in the water as they are made for one or more people. They generally tend to be much faster and more stable than single-person kayaks, thus you may get much farther than you would go. You just cannot undervalue the camaraderie and fun in the joint activities.

The model is ideal for paddlers who are looking to explore the quiet lakes and rivers. This roomy 2 person cockpit makes the best kayak models to have a lot of fun with friends and family.

This craft offers lots of space to stretch the legs. It provides better stability. A rockered shape makes this very simple to turn, whereas a deep skeg helps in keeping the straight track. There’re two-deck riggings in the bow & stern to secure the gear.

Specs & Features:

  • Person Capacity: 2
  • Type: Sit on Top
  • Weight: 68 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 500 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene

Pros:

  • Comes with a limited warranty
  • Comfortable cockpit with seatbacks 
  • Lots of storage 
  • Simple to carry & transport
  • The capacity of 2 people
  • Made from tough material 
  • Abrasion-resistant & durable

Cons:

  • Comfort and seatbacks are bought separately without any extra cost.

7. Wilderness Systems Tarpon

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105

Wilderness Systems Tarpon is the best choice for beginners who want to make the bigger investment in the kayak that will last long. It is one super comfortable and highly durable choice that can give you versatility and explore various types of kayak recreation once you get the experience.

This kayak measures around 12’ long and 35” wide, and weighs 86 pounds once empty. The extra weight makes it tough to transport to/from the water, however, it means better stability when you are paddling. The kayak has a maximum capacity of over 400 pounds, hence it has the ability to hold you and a wide range of your favourite kayaking gear.

The large and closed storage hatch offers dry storage in case you begin to get into overnight adventures. Another best feature of the kayak is the raised aluminium frame. The seat offers you a higher vantage point to observe obstacles found on the water and spot fish in case you get in any sport of the tactical kayak that is angling down its road!

Specs & Features:

  • Person Capacity: 2
  • Type: Sit on Top
  • Weight: 68 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 500 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene

Pros:

  • Dry storage
  • Comfortable seat
  • Stable
  • Accessory rails

Cons:

  • Not fast

FAQs

Do sit on top kayaks help in staying dry?

No. These types of kayaks are best, but one downside is you certainly can get wet when using this type of kayak. You will be exposed to elements and various other things because of its design of sit-on-top type.

What is a sit-on-top kayak used for?

These kayaks are generally used for recreational purposes, and their stability makes them the best choice for beginners. They’re very simple to get in and off and offers a wide area to stay comfortable and cool on a hot day. These kayaks have lots of storage space thus they are perfect to load the cooler as well as tackle for fishing.

Are sit-on-top kayaks safe?

These kayaks are safe if paddled with the right technique. However, it is very significant to stay clipped at the boat every time during the use for security reasons. As they do not have bulkheads and compartments, water will be taken easily on the side from swells, waves, and capsizing. This often happens when a typical SOT kayak inverts in these waves.

How quick is sit on top kayak?

Speed in this type of kayak generally depends upon the experience of a paddler and water environment. Generally, sit on top type won’t perform and sit-inside kayak, however, the longer kayak (over 10 feet) may have better speed.

Final Thoughts

Suppose you are new to the kayaking sport, sitting on top is a perfect choice for you to begin with than sit-in kayak. Providing you are not kayaking in the frigid waters, sit on top kayaks are the better option because of the inherent stability, ease to get in and out, and transportability.

If your goal is to stay fit and work out, any kayak can perform this task wonderfully. The slow-moving kayak requires better paddling effort and is best for you. Suppose you are planning the event or race, you must consider the streamlined and speedy kayak instead.

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