When it comes to buying a kayak, you might have come across two primary kayaks styles: sit-in kayak and sit-on kayak. I understand it is quite confusing for some people to find the best one for their needs. There’re distinct benefits and drawbacks to both sit-in and sit-on kayaks.

This is the first decision that you have to consider when purchasing a kayak. But, the fact is the decision of getting a sit-in or sit-on kayak is based mainly on personal preference although there’re a few factors that you must know. However, to get started, let us talk about the differences between both models.

Which’s Better: Sit-in or Sit-on Kayak?

Sit-In vs Sit-On Kayak

It will be tough to know what one will make an improved choice for the recreational paddlers: whether a sit-in or sit-on kayak. Because both have got their strengths & weaknesses, so, it is very important that you think about when, where, and how you want to use the kayak. This can help you to focus on a category good for you.

Coming to our question which one is better for you? A Sit-in kayak will be better for rough and cold water or when you do not have to get wet. On the other hand, sit-on will be better for the beginners, summer & for having fun. The Sit-in kayak option is best for surfing, touring, and paddling at long distances. Whereas sit-on-top kayak will be better for cooling off, learning, and getting in or out of the kayak.

If you are buying the kayak for the first time, then you have to take into account the differences between both these kayak choices out there. Let us go ahead and look in more detail that will give you a clear picture of which kayak style fits your requirements for the level and type of kayaking you plan to do.

Length of Boat

If you have decided you go with a sit-on kayak and sit-in kayak, you will need to decide the kayak length. For the first rule, the longer and wider the kayak highly efficient it will travel.

The bigger kayak can be stable, but slow. But, most of the sit-on kayaks are used for recreational” kayaks because of their size and ultra-solid.


Whether you’re a beginner or experienced kayaker, you may find that a sit-on kayak will be safer than a sit-in kayak. Suppose the kayak that you’re using capsizes, then you can reenter it & continue paddling.

In the meantime, if the sit-in kayak tips out and fills water in the cockpit, then it will become very difficult to turn this around, and flush out the water or climb back.

Material and Weight

Most of the kayaks come with a durable shell made from strong plastic that can last for a very long time and does not need any kind of maintenance. There’re kayaks that are made from composite materials such as fibreglass, carbon, and Kevlar.

They will make them much lighter. But, the drawback is they cannot withstand punishment really well. They will cost you more.

Sit-In Kayak Benefits

Sit-ins kayaks provide several benefits and are good for plenty of reasons. However, here are some main highlights to look at:

  • Good storage space – Most of the sit-in kayaks provide boaters with lots of dry storage compartments designed in the hulls.
  • Simple to manoeuvre – Just turn your sit-in kayak over a proverbial dime, it makes the best choice in busy bays and harbours.
  • Best for long-distance travel – You may log miles as these boats can move swiftly when you have mastered the art of paddling.

Sit-In Kayak Drawbacks 

Besides all the plus things, sit-in kayaks aren’t a perfect vessel for somebody. So, here are some reasons why you must look at the sit-on kayak instead:

  • Tough to launch – Providing you have a dock, or dedicated launch for kayak, to get down in sit-in kayaks will be tough than just hopping it over. Launching from the beach needs wading out ways, whereas dropping in from the river bank a bigger boat poses a certain risk to ending up in a drink.
  • Fewer tandem options – Whereas there is the tandem sit-in option, but there are lesser options than with the sit-on kayaks.
  • Not good for fishing – The cockpit of sit-in kayak’s limits the range of motion required for right casting or reeling. And not to mention they are not conducive for storing fishing rods & tackle boxes.

Sit-On Kayak Benefits 

A sit-on kayak is ideal for people who are looking for enjoyment from different types of aquatic activities, particularly with your buddy.

  • Good for fishing – A sit-on kayak will allow the best range of motion during trolling, casting, and reeling. Most of the sit-on kayaks are moulded for the anglers and have rod holders, which do most of their work. Accessible for kayak fishing will be various angler kayaks.
  • Simple customization – Most of the good sit-on kayaks are modified as per your needs and wants, with accessory mounts especially for fishing poles, cameras and GPS devices, rudders, and motors.
  • Perfect for two or more people – The sit-on kayaks will support a good amount of weight, with several rated safe for over 500 and more pounds, hence they are best for tandem use.

Sit-On Kayak Drawbacks

Though sit-on kayaks are the best option for many people, some people might find it tough. With plenty of benefits, there are a few cons that we will look at below.

  • Not good in the rough water conditions – It is not possible to run whitewater with a sit-on kayak. Actually, even light ocean chop and river currents will make the paddler atop their sit-on kayak second-guess their choice of the vessel in such conditions.
  • Limited storage space – Even a decent size sit-on yak has one or two storage hatches, however, they are usually a fraction of the dry storage size given in the sit-in kayak.
  • Heavy outside water – It is a struggle to move pedal yak from side of your house to driveway, and lift it on a car rack. While sit-in kayak is simple to carry and launch, without putting much pressure.

Final Words

As mentioned, both sit-in and sit-on kayak designs have benefits and drawbacks over each other. Consequently, sit-on yaks are favored by beginning paddlers & even kayak fishermen looking for the kayak with a high degree of stability for the short-range excursions while, sit-in yak designs are favored by advanced and intermediate paddlers who are searching for the fast kayak for a long rage paddling, longer camping trips, as well as expedition paddling.

Thus, when selecting the kayak, it’s important that you identify your purpose for a kayak and purchase a sit-on or sit-in kayak design as per the purpose you are planning to use this kayak quite often.

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