Best Sit On Top Kayaks Buying Guide and Reviews

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After heavily researching ten different kayaks, I found the Old Town Sportsman Kayak to be the best overall pick. 

This comfort pick was rated the best sit on top kayak because of its stability and the additional accessories that can be added to it. However, as an outdoor enthusiast myself, I know that every kayaker is different – some kayakers may need a more budget-friendly kayak, while others are searching for something with more storage space. 

If you’re not sure where to start for finding the best sit on top kayak, take a look at the top ten options I’ve compiled below in this sit on top kayak review. 

Best of the Best: My Top Kayak Reviews

Yes, I’ve finally come to the moment you’ve been waiting for. My sit on top kayak reviews of the top recreational kayaks. Before we jump in on the sit on top, I need you to think about a thing or four.

  • On what type of water will you be paddling: seacoast, rivers, lakes?
  • What weight capacity do you think you need for your kayaks? 
  • What kind of material is best as your choice will impact pricing?
  • What is your kayak’s budget?
  • What kind of size and shape works for your handling and storage space?
  • What kind of kayaking experience are you looking for (sports or relaxing)?

I looked at a variety of other factors for review of these 1-person sit on top kayak models. Length, depth, width, seats, cockpit size, scupper holes, skid plate, storage hatch, paddle holders, and more were all scrutinized. I factored in features like tracking fins, skegs, and rudders. 

I even looked at a few sit-in kayaks. I took into account drainage holes, storage options, the seat, width, stability, hull design, and a heck of a lot of conditions you don’t even need to worry about.

In the end, I came up with these ten sit on kayaks:

  1. OldTown Sportsman 120 – (Best Overall)
  2. Wilderness Systems ATAK 140 – (Best for Customization)
  3. Ocean Kayak Frenzy – (Best Small Pick)
  4. Vibe Sea Ghost 130 – (Storage Pick)
  5. Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10’ Kayak – (Lightweight Pick)
  6. Perception Pescador 10 – (Best for Maneuverability) 
  7. Pelican Sentinel – (Best for Durability)
  8. Crescent Litetackle Kayak – (Perfomance Pick)
  9. Emotion Spitfire 9 – (Recreational Pick)
  10. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 – (Stability Pick)

1. Best Kayak for Comfort: Old Town Sportsman 120

Old Town Sportsman Kayak
4.5/5

Features

  • Manufacturer: Old Town Store
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 82 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
  • Boarding Capacity: 1

Construction

With premium adjustable seating, the Old Town Sportsman 120 kayak is built for comfort – there are built-in cup holders for those long fishing trips, a custom tackle box, and a universal transducer mount for your fish finder

Stability

The double-U hull design of this kayak ensures that it quietly glides through the water, and provides a stable platform for you to stand up or sit down while you fish. 

On-Water Performance

As far as performance goes, the Old Town Sportsman 120 does perform relatively well. It has the stability of a heavier kayak, but it balances and speeds through the water like a much more lightweight kayak. 

Storage Room Onboard

This kayak is accessory-ready with a mount for easy installation of your fish finder, and room for storing your own tackle box. 

How Does it Compare?

The extra weight of the Old Town Sportsman 120 does make it a little harder to transport than some of these other options, but it does have more room for accessories – including two built-in accessory tracks. 

What Customers Think

What many buyers appreciate about this kayak is just how comfortable it is. They can position the seat high or low, and they like the extra layer of mesh that prevents chafing or sweating on those all-day fishing trips. 

Pros

  • The foam deck pads on the kayak make it anti-slip 
  • Comes with a custom tackle box and transducer mount
  • You can remove the seat for easier transport
  • Foot braces make it more comfortable to paddle

Cons

  • There’s only around 418 pounds of usable weight capacity
  • There’s only two rod holders

 

2. Best Kayak for Customization: Wilderness Systems ATAK 140

WS ATAK 140 Kayak

>>Check Price on Austin Kayak<<

4.5/5

Features

  • Manufacturer: Wilderness Systems
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 86 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 550 pounds
  • Boarding Capacity: 1

Construction

The Wilderness Systems ATAK 140 SOT kayak has an open design that makes it easy for frequent anglers and kayakers to customize the kayak as they wish. The durable polyethylene material is also high-quality, and allows this kayak to handle a variety of weather and water conditions. 

Stability

The open design of the kayak also means that you can comfortably stand up in or walk around in without worrying that you’re going to slip. Not to mention, the deck has several non-slip pads to decrease the fall risk even more. 

On-Water Performance

Unlike some SOT kayaks, the Wilderness Systems ATAK 140 SOT kayak doesn’t just perform well in calm waters – the low-profile deck makes it easier to paddle through wind and navigate in choppy waters.

Storage Room Onboard

The Wilderness Systems ATAK 140 sit on top kayak does have quite a bit of storage with multiple compartments located throughout the kayak rather than in just one or two hatches. 

How Does it Compare?

This kayak handles choppy waters better than some of the other options in this article, and features more storage space as well. For beginner anglers and kayakers, the Wilderness Systems ATAK 140 may be a little intimidating. 

What Customers Think

Many buyers and paddlers find that this kayak is more than just stable – it’s also extremely comfortable to paddle in, and has a detail-oriented, thoughtful design. It also tracks very straight in the water, although the turnability on the kayak isn’t always great. 

Pros

  • Storage space is located throughout the hull 
  • The seat is extremely comfortable and adjustable
  • The kayak tracks very straight
  • There are multiple mounting tracks for more customization

Cons

    • Turnability isn’t great
    • The seat may get jammed when you try to adjust it

 

3. Best Small Sit on Top: Ocean Kayak Frenzy

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

4/5

Features

  • Manufacturer: Ocean Kayak
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 43 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 275–325 pounds
  • Boarding Capacity: 1

Construction

The kayak comes outfitted with a skid plate, Comfort Plus seat, and hard plastic side carry handles, as well as on the bow and stern. You can get an optional six-inch hatch. The Ocean Kayak experience is compact but manages a comfortable width.

Stability 

Unlike some kayaks, it’s easily carried by one person, and the small size enhances the boat’s stability when you’re out on the water. 

On-Water Performance

The Ocean Kayak Frenzy sit on makes easy work of transport on tight rivers, surf, and flatwater. The experience is enhanced by the short length, which heightens maneuverability, and the built-in keel.

Storage Room Onboard

You’ll find a large storage area in the stern tank. There’s room for rod holders, gear tracks, and your life jacket. The hull design makes management easy on and off the water. 

How Does it Compare?

This kayaking option is great for beginners, kids, and like me, kids at heart. While it may not compare well to kayaks meant for multiple people, it does extremely well as a smaller sit on top kayak. 

What Customers Think

Fishing kayakers find the Ocean Kayak Frenzy the comfortable seating a top benefit. It provides cushioning and support for those long journeys with paddling. Kayaking enthusiasts appreciate the footwells, molded for a nice paddling.

Pros

  • Good for beginners to get their sea legs on swells, slow rivers, fishing, surfing, and more
  • Easy to reach cup holder
  • Adjustable padded seat
  • Footwells may help make paddling easier

Cons

  • Tracking can be unreliable, which makes it a challenge to transverse harsh conditions
  • Not the kayak for the very tall or heavy
  • Kayak’s not very fast

 

4. Best for Storage Space: Vibe Sea Ghost 130

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

4/5

Features

  • Manufacturer: Vibe Kayaks
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 75 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 550 pounds
  • Boarding Capacity: 1

Construction

Made with crafted and rotomolded polyethylene, the Vibe Sea Ghost 130 has a construction that’s reminiscent of a pontoon boat. The stealth hull design also means this kayak performs quieter on the water as well. 

Stability

If you prefer to stand in your kayak rather than sit, you may appreciate the Vibe Sea Ghost 130 – with a slip-resistant deck platform, you’re less likely to fall, and the kayak is engineered to remain stable (regardless of your position). 

On-Water Performance

This kayak may not be the fastest option on this list, but it does offer a great balance between stability and speed. So, while you may not win the race, you’re unlikely to tip over or fall off – even if you’re paddling through rough waters. 

Storage Room Onboard

One of the biggest features that sets this kayak apart from the competition is its ample storage space. Not only does it include a large center console, a rear tank, rear hatch, and front oval hatch, but with over 500 pounds of weight capacity, you should be able to haul around anything you need without worrying about the weight limit. 

How Does it Compare?

While this kayak isn’t quite as lightweight as other options, it does have a much larger weight capacity than many of the kayaks on this list. If you’re someone who needs a little extra room or storage space, this is an ideal pick. 

What Customers Think

Buyers tend to appreciate the extra weight capacity and storage space, but installing the rudder deployment system may be tricky since the manufacturer doesn’t include a lot of instructions. 

Pros

  • Plenty of storage space
  • A great pick for people that need the extra room
  • The seat is ventilated
  • The kayak is quieter than some others

Cons

  • The front oval hatch may not be completely watertight
  • Installing the rudder or rudder deployment system may be challenging

 

5. Best Lightweight Pick: Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10’ Kayak

 

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

4/5

Features

  • Manufacturer: Sun Dolphin
  • Material: Fortiflex Polyethylene
  • Weight: 44 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 395 pounds
  • Boarding Capacity: 1

Construction

The seat is a nice plush fabric and there’s additional support via adjustable foot braces. The Sun Dolphin Bali 10′ kayaks have easy carry handles for convenient transport.

Stability 

The Sun Dolphin Bali is incredibly lightweight and manages comfortable stability, which makes it a great overall option for beginners and intermediate kayakers alike. 

On-Water Performance

Its design is suitable for small bodies of water, such as a lake or river and will make a nice recreational kayak to putter around in. 

Storage Room Onboard

One feature I especially appreciate is the open tank, which lends itself to more storage space if you need it. If you’ve got a long day’s trip on the agenda, the open tank expands for an additional storage area.

How Does it Compare?

Not only is this kayak more lightweight than a lot of other popular kayak options, but its ample storage space and good stability makes it the best lightweight pick on this list. 

What Customers Think

Many traditional anglers have found comfort in kayak fishing, using this model in particular.

Buyers feel like these kayaks get them sufficient exercise and muscle mass. They love the fact that paddling works the upper arms and core. Many like how they can customize the kayak easily, such as replacing the seat for added support.

There are some comments about the stability of the scupper holes as they may take in water if the kayak leans too far to one side.

Pros

  • Large and comfortable seating area with adjustable padded seat
  • Lightweight for easy travel
  • Includes an open tank which you can use for more storage

Cons

  • Tracking can be unreliable, making it a challenge to transverse harsh conditions

 

6. Best Kayak for Maneuverability: Perception Pescador 10

Pescador 10

>>Check Price on REI<<

4/5

Features

  • Manufacturer: REI Co Op
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 57 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 325 pounds
  • Boarding Capacity: 1

Construction

This sit on top kayak is designed to suit anyone. With adjustable, padded seating and adjustable foot braces, you’ll be kayaking in comfort whether you’re on a short relaxing trip on the lake, or spending the day out fishing. It’s also got a molded-in drink holder to add to it’s comfort level. 

Stability

The Perception Pescador 10 is exceptionally sturdy and stable, ensuring smooth sailing (or, kayaking) throughout your trip.

On-Water Performance

This kayak is very lightweight and is shorter in length than others, so you get increased maneuverability on the water.

Storage Room Onboard

Despite its shorter length, the Perception Pescador 10 doesn’t sacrifice on storage. Its 325 lb. capacity means that there is ample room for you and all your gear. Plus, you can secure your gear at the stern’s gear well with its shock cord.

How Does it Compare?

This kayak is on the shorter and lighter side compared to the other kayaks on this list, making it very easy to transport, especially with its molded-in carry handles. Even so, you still get plenty of storage space. 

What Customers Think

Customers appreciate the ease with which the Perception Pescador 10 adapts to fit them. Additionally, buyers enjoy how easy it is to maneuver on the water and comfortably, at that.

Pros

  • Lightweight and easy to transport
  • Great maneuverability on the water
  • Very comfortable to sit on for long periods 
  • Ample storage space

Cons

  • Less weight capacity than other kayaks

 

7. Best Kayak for Durability: Pelican Sentinel

 

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

4/5

Features

  • Manufacturer: Pelican
  • Material: RAM-X (triple-layer polyethylene)
  • Weight: 42 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 275
  • Boarding Capacity: 1

Construction

While the Pelican Sentinel uses polyethylene like many sit on top kayaks, it’s not just regular polyethylene – Pelican uses their patented RAM-X polyethylene with triple-layer high-molecular weight. This means the Pelican has a high-quality construction that’s built for years of regular use in rough waters. 

Stability

Stability is a key advantage of this kayak, and what it lacks in speed, the Pelican Sentinel makes up for in how stable it is on the water.

On-Water Performance

The Pelican Sentinel works well for tracking on the water, so if you want to cover long distances without a ton of force, this is an ideal option. 

Storage Room Onboard

There’s a storage platform for you to place your gear or tackle box as well as bungee cords to ensure they stay in the kayak while you’re on the water. 

How Does it Compare?

The Pelican Sentinel isn’t quite as speedy as some of the other kayaks listed here, but it does have an extremely stable platform and doesn’t take quite as much force to paddle. 

What Customers Think

Buyers find that the Pelican Sentinel uses extremely high-quality material, especially for a kayak within this price range. They also like the bungee cords, which is a feature that a lot of other recreational kayaks don’t automatically include. 

However, there are a few hooks located near the paddles, which can make it a little too easy to cut your hand. 

Pros

  • Doesn’t take a ton of force to paddle
  • Includes bungee cords with the kayak
  • Easy to load and unload for transport
  • Very durable

Cons

  • Some of these kayaks may ship with holes in them 
  • Doesn’t come with a paddle included

 

8. Best Kayak for Performance: Crescent Litetackle Kayak

>>Check Price on Austin Kayak<<

3.5/5

Features

  • Manufacturer: Crescent Kayaks
  • Material: Resin
  • Weight: 75 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 450 pounds
  • Boarding Capacity: 1

Construction

The Crescent LiteTackle Kayak utilizes a patented hull design that keeps it moving in the water, and it’s made from durable, high-quality resin that shouldn’t damage easily. 

Stability

Not only does the Crescent LiteTackle Kayak have a stable design that lets you stand up, but it doesn’t sacrifice speed for stability. 

On-Water Performance

Not all kayaks perform as well on the water as the Crescent LiteTackle does – the simple, refined design makes it speedy, and allows it to cut through the water easily. 

Storage Room Onboard

The LiteTackle comes with one large storage compartment as well as a large tankwell for you to store a cooler or crate in. 

How Does it Compare?

As far as performance goes, the Crescent LiteTackle outperforms many of the top-rated kayaks you’ll find on the market – although it does lack in weight capacity. 

What Customers Think

Many people appreciate how easily the LiteTackle cuts through rough waters, and the large tankwell. The cockpit allows you to store a cooler up to fifty-five pounds, which is a major plus for buyers that spend hours or longer on the water. 

Pros

 

  • Performs extremely well
  • Simple and functional design that’s easy to store
  • Easy to customize
  • Stable but speedy on the water

Cons

  • Doesn’t have as much storage space as some kayaks
  • May not be a great choice for bigger people or anyone with a ton of gear

 

9. Best Kayak for Recreational Use: Emotion Spitfire 9

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

3.5/5

Features

  • Manufacturer: eMotion 
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 45 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 350 pounds
  • Boarding Capacity: 1

Construction

The polyethylene construction of the eMotion Spitfire 9 doesn’t just make it durable – it also makes it resistant to UV rays as well. The design of the hull also makes this an ideal choice for tracking, so you shouldn’t be afraid to cover longer distances.

Stability

While it’s tested on flat water, the Spitfire has enough stability to handle even the rough, salty waters of the ocean if need be. 

On-Water Performance

As lightweight as this kayak is, it performs well in the water with decent tracking, and you shouldn’t have a problem handling choppy or rough waters. 

Storage Room Onboard

Along with a storage hatch beneath the seat, there’s also a rear tankwell and cargo net lacing for keeping your gear safe while you’re out on the water. 

How Does it Compare?

With only 350 pounds of weight capacity for a paddler, the Spitfire may not be well-suited for bigger people or lots of gear like some of these kayaks are – but it is one of the most lightweight kayaks on this list. 

What Customers Think

While customers like how well this kayak handles in a variety of water conditions, they do find that the handles on the side of the kayak are hard to grip, and make it tricky to transport. 

Pros

  • Performs well in choppy water or waves
  • It’s easy to get in or out of the kayak
  • It’s extremely lightweight
  • The seatback is comfortable and easy to adjust

Cons

  • The handles aren’t very useful
  • It doesn’t track as well as some kayaks

 

10. Best Kayak for Stability: Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

3/5

Features

  • Manufacturer: Lifetime 
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 52 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 275 pounds
  • Boarding Capacity: 1

Construction

The stable flat bottom construction on the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 makes it easy to move around the kayak, and helps ensure you won’t lose your balance if you decide to fish standing up. 

Stability

While the flat bottom does make this kayak more stable on the water for a paddler, the sharp bow still makes it ideal for speed or tracking. 

On-Water Performance

For a sit on top kayak, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 does track pretty well, and it even includes a tracking skeg for straight paddling. 

Storage Room Onboard

Along with two storage hatches for placing your gear as a paddler, there’s multiple footrest positions so that you can sit comfortably, and a spacious padded seat. 

How Does it Compare?

Compared to some of the other kayaks listed above, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is well-suited for beginner or novice anglers rather than experienced kayakers. 

What Customers Think

While most buyers find that you won’t get anything fancy with this kayak, they do like the simple, functional design of the Tamarack Angler. They also appreciate how stable it is, especially when they’re trying to move around on the water. 

Pros

  • The flat bottom of this sit on top kayak makes it stable on rivers or lakes
  • A great choice for beginners
  • There are multiple places to rest your feet
  • Functional and simple construction for a sit on top fishing kayak or sit-in kayak

Cons

  • Doesn’t include as many accessories as some kayaks do

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of SOT kayaks

Sit on Top Kayaks by lake

Sit on top kayaks have plenty of benefits, but they come with a few cons too – here’s what you can expect if you purchase one. 

Advantages

Some of the advantages that come with a sit on top kayak include: 

  • They’re very user-friendly
  • They tend to be more stable
  • They have scupper holes, which allows water to drain out
  • They’re usually much easier to get on and off of

Disadvantages

Some of the disadvantages that come with a sit on top kayak include:

  • The stability of sit on top kayaks can sometimes come at the sacrifice of speed
  • You’ll more than likely get wet while you paddle 

Sit On Top Kayak Buying Guide

Even if you know what some of the best sit on top kayaks are, that doesn’t mean you know which one is the best sit on top kayak for you. Here are some of the features and factors you’ll want to consider before you buy. 

Where are You Kayaking?

Sit on top kayaks are generally stable, but some are more stable than others. If you’re only looking for a recreational sit on top kayak for calm, easy waters – like a lake – having an extremely stable kayak may not be your top priority. 

However, if you plan to take your kayak out on the river or even the ocean, you’re going to want something that doesn’t easily tip over, and likely something that offers more back support. 

It’s not always easy to tell which kayaks are more stable, but balanced sit on top kayaks tend to have flatter, wider bottoms.

What Are You Using it For? 

What you’re planning to use the kayak for can also affect your final choice – many people end up using their kayaks for fishing, diving, or just recreational use. 

Fishing

If you’re planning to do a lot of fishing – especially standing up – you’ll want a kayak that prioritizes a stable foundation, and features an anti-slip surface. 

Diving

Sit on top kayaks tend to be a great choice for diving since they offer more stability, and usually more room to store your gear. For a kayak that will do well diving, look for anything that’s more stable and plenty of storage space – if you can find a kayak that includes a molded tank or bungee cords to secure your gear, you’ll be in good shape.

Recreational Use

For recreational use, you’ll want a kayak that handles even choppy waters well, and won’t become unstable when you encounter a little bit of wind. A sharp bow or a tracking skeg can sometimes be a sign that a sit on top kayak tracks well. 

Tandem vs. Solo Use

While many sit on top kayaks feature a single-person design, they may be stable enough to handle tandem use – you’ll just need to find a sit on top kayak with a two-person boarding capacity, and a large weight capacity. 

Material Quality

While material can vary for sit on top kayaks, many of them use high-quality polyethylene, which is UV-resistant and durable enough to withstand regular use. 

Maximum Capacity

Most kayaks have a maximum weight capacity that ranges anywhere from 250 to 550 pounds. Depending on how it’s listed, you may also need to subtract the weight of the kayak from that weight capacity. 

For instance, if a kayak is 50 pounds with a maximum capacity of 250 pounds, then the kayak may only have an actual capacity of 200 pounds. 

Cargo Room

Regardless of what you plan to use it for, you’ll need some cargo room to store your gear. Look out for kayaks that have multiple storage hatches or even bungee cords for securing your gear onto the kayak. You may also want to check to see if the manufacturer lists the storage compartments as watertight or waterproof. 

How Length and Width Come into the Equation

Generally, the longer the kayak is, the faster it’s going to go. However, shorter kayaks tend to be easier to maneuver, even if you are sacrificing speed. As for width, wider kayaks will be easier to board, and more stable in the water. 

Accessories and Potential Add-Ons

Some kayaks tend to be easier to customize than others. If you want to use a fish finder while you paddle, you’ll want to look for a kayak that has a mount for one. The same goes for rod holders – some kayaks have multiple rod holders or add-ons for you to personalize the kayak.

FAQ’s

Still have questions about sit on top kayaks? Here’s what else you need to know. 

What is the Most Stable Sit on Top Kayak on the List?

While every kayak on this list could be considered stable, the one that excels in this category is the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 – with its wider, flat bottom, it’s much easier for anglers to board the kayak as well as navigate around it without worrying about it falling over. 

Which is Better: a Sit-in or Sit on top Kayak?

Both sit on top and sit-in kayaks have their pros and cons, but the biggest difference between the two is that sit-in kayaks are enclosed while sit on tops are not. Ultimately, the “better” choice depends on what you plan to use the kayak for. 

Sit on top kayaks tend to be better for newer paddlers as well as warm environments or if you’re planning to go diving. Sit-in kayaks, however, may work better if you’re on cooler water, or if you need to stay dry while you paddle. 

What’s the Difference Between a Cheap and Expensive Sit on Top Kayak?

Although expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better, a higher price tag can mean that your SOT kayak comes with more accessories, storage space, or customization options. In comparison, a cheap sit on top kayak may have a simpler design, and lack some of the bells-and-whistles that luxurious sit on top kayaks do. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for the best sit on top kayak to help you navigate on lakes or rivers, the options above are a great place to start – especially my best overall pick: the Sun Dolphin Bali SS Kayak. The Sun Dolphin Bali comes with plenty of storage room, and tends to be a great choice for both experienced and beginner anglers. 

But, if you’re looking for specific features in the best sit on top kayak, like good tracking or stability, there are kayaks listed above for those as well.

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