Somewhere between a traditional kayak and a paddleboard, sit-on-tops are a popular and freeing type of boat. With a shallow molded-in cockpit rather than a hollowed-out hull, these sink-resistance boats are a favorite amongst everyone from fishermen to daytrippers. While myths may have it that sit-on-tops don’t have a lot of storage, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Bulkheads and bungee-laden recesses make most models capable of carrying coolers, fishing tackle, and much more. The relatively flat surface of these boats also makes them an ideal place for molded-in cup holders, fish rod mounts, and gear mounts. If that is not enough to send tickles of curiosity down your spine, most sit-on-top’s comfortable seating and expert maneuverability should be.
As such, we are happy to bring you our top five sit-on-top kayaks along with a detailed rundown of what makes us so enthusiastic about sot kayaks. If you share in our excitement all things that float, read along to discover the convenience and comfort of these recreational kayaks.
The Best Sit On Top Kayaks go as Follows:
- Ocean Kayak Caper Classic One-Person Recreational Sit-On-Top Kayak
- Perception Kayak Tribe Sit On Top Kayak
- Perception Pescador Sit On Top Kayak
- Brooklyn Kayak Company Tandem
- Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100
Sit On Top Kayak Reviews
Here are some reviews of what we feel are a mix of both the best recreational sit on top and fishing kayaks.
1. Ocean Kayak Caper Classic One-Person Recreational Sit-On-Top Kayak
Manufacturers often cut corners when it comes to creating affordable recreational kayaks, but that’s not the case with the Caper. This reliable sit-on-top kayak boasts a spacious cockpit, an adjustable seat, and a well-balanced hull. With excellent tracking and a fast graceful glide, it’s easy to see why Ocean Kayak takes so much pride in this product. It’s a popular 11-footer with more waterproof storage than most day trippers would know what to do with. As a matter of fact, it’s the type of boat you board from sunrise to sunset.
Maneuverability isn’t an issue in the Caper. This stunning sunburst kayak boasts a proprietary Tri-Form hull that provides unrelenting stability on the water. Its spacious seating area is easy to access and can accommodate boaters up to 325 pounds. Nevertheless, the boat is relatively small and easy to handle. While most would only consider taking a sit-on-top kayak out for day trips, the boats Click Seal bow hatch provides ample waterproof storage below the deck. Not only that, but a rear well with bungees and an integrated cup holder give boaters easier-than-ever access to their gear.
With your feet free to stretch out above the surface, long voyages are more tolerable. As such, many customers say that the Caper has enabled them to spend more time out at sea. Of course, molded side handles and bow/stern toggles make island pit stops and beachside picnics an obvious choice. Ocean Kayak has even incorporated a right-side paddle holder.
If extended comfort is on your mind, you’ll be happy to learn that the Caper features a Comfort Plus seat. It boasts a thick, padded bottom an adjustable backrest. Like most sit-on-top kayaks, the Caper is also incredibly easy to use. As a matter of fact, its closed off hull prevents it from taking on water. Whether you’re bound for the river or the lake, few boats are more consistent and reliable than the Caper.
- Easy to transport
- Sealed bow hatch
- Additional bungee storage and cup holder
- Padded seat with adjustable backrest
- Bets Sit On Top Kayak for the Ocean
2. Perception Kayak Tribe Sit-On-Top for Recreation
Yet another solid sit-on-top kayak, the Perception Recreational Kayak is great for everything from quick trips down the river to extended tours. This cool tri-colored boat has a spacious seating area with an ergonomic seat cushion and an adjustable backrest. Meanwhile, integrated footrest notches enable comfortable positioning for kayakers of all sizes.
We found that everything came easy with the Perception Tribe. For one, the boat’s integrated side handles make it easy to mount it on top of a vehicle. What’s more, a recessed cup holder gives you easy access to your favorite boating beverage by enabling you to secure it directly between your legs. What’s more, the sit-on-top boat offers a wide range of onboard storage to help you stow away your favorite gear.
While there are no waterproof bunkers, there is a recessed well with overhead bungee cords on both the stern and the bow. The boat is just over 9 feet long, making it easy for most paddlers to dig into a cooler or gear bag without bringing the boat into shore. While the Tribe may make boaters more susceptible to splashes, it’s nearly impossible to sink. As such, it’s a great boat for beginners and children who are skeptical about heading into the deep end.
The Tribe is an excellent example of Perception’s exceptional manufacturing standards. The boat’s sleek hull makes both tracking and turning easy to master. Meanwhile, its wide center offers ample stability in moving water. The boat itself is made from high-density polyethylene. With a seemingly impenetrable exterior, you’ll want to take this water warrior everywhere you go.
- Great for tracking and turning
- UV- and abrasion-resistant hull
- Replaceable skid plate
- Ample onboard storage with stretchy bungee straps
- Padded seat with adjustable backrest
- Multiple foot restsettings
- Integrate cupholder
- No Waterproof Bunkers
3. Perception Pescador Sit-On-Top Kayak for Recreation & Fishing
This affordable sit-on-top kayak is offered expert-level navigation in all sorts of water. Wet exits are super easy to recover from with no hull to fill up. Yet, the cockpit feels anything put small. As a matter of fact, the recreation watercraft features ample passenger and storage space.
A large hinged storage bunker in the bow provides ample space for belongings that need to stay dry. Meanwhile, open-sided storage in the rear provides easy access to things like coolers and fishing tackle. Of course, bungee straps prevent anything important from floating away.
The proprietary Comfort Seating has earned its name. A thick pad prevents paddlers legs from going numb. Meanwhile, an adjustable backrest enables comfortable lounging during extended tours. There are even a molded cup holder and built-in gear tracks where you can store a hydrating beverage and a few aftermarket accessories. Not to mention, molded-on footrest notches offer comfort to paddlers of all sizes.>
Preception backs all of their products with a generous 5-year limited warranty. In fact, the Tribe is built to last. It even has a replaceable skid plate that enables you to drag the boat without destroying its hull. While this boat is best suited for lakes and streams, we’d be willing to our chances by bringing it along on an ocean surf adventure.
- Molded and below-the-hull storage
- Paddle attachment and cup holder
- Proprietary Comfort Seating system
- Adjustable seat back and multiple footrest positions
- 5-year warranty
- Excellent tracking capabilities
- Small and lightweight
- Side handles are difficult to grip
4. Brooklyn Kayak Company 12-Foot 2-inch Tandem Sit-On-Top Kayak
We wouldn’t feel right completing our sit-on-top kayak list without adding at least one tandem boat into the mix. Of course, it wasn’t difficult to choose Brooklyn Kayak Company’s 12-foot tandem kayak. This fully equipped boat comes with four flush-mount fishing rod holders plus two more adjustable rod holders, enabling comfortable hands-free angling atop a boat. It also offers ample watertight storage as well as comfortable seating. Not to mention, this particular model comes with a pair of aluminum paddles and two adjustable padded seats.
Still, one of the neatest things about this boat often goes unnoticed to the naked eye. In fact, the center recess serves as a third insert-free seating option for when you and your fellow paddler rescue that lonesome island stow away or want to bring a powerful third paddler along for the ride. With two easy-access waterproof bunkers and even more bungee-laden topside storage, there’s enough room for a large cooler and even more boating gear.
Mooring the boat is super easy too. There are four carry handles on the sides of the boat. Nevertheless, the 68-pound sit-on-top can be carried by two reasonably strong adults. The dense yet lightweight polyethylene hull makes for easy vehicle-mounting and overland transportation. With a hefty 440-pound weight capacity, this boat is perfect for spending a day with friends.
- Two to three-person capacity
- 440-pound weight capacity
- Six onboard fishing rod holders
- Two waterproof bunkers with flip-up latches
- Padded seats with adjustable backrests
- 12-foot 2-inch hull
- Abrasion and UV-resistant polyethylene hull
- Third seat is not compatible with an insert
5. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
Looking for a neutral-colored sit-on-top kayak that’s designed with fishing in mind? Lifetime’s Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak is a single seater with three fishing rod holders and plenty of cargo space for all your fishing gear. Its solid khaki-colored hull is made from UV-protected polyethylene, ensuring that it won’t show signs of wear after a few full days in the sun. While the same can’t be said for potential passengers, we’re fairly confident that the boat’s adjustable footrests, padded backrest, and dense foam seat pad will make long fishing sessions well worth a potential sun blister or two.
Despite the boat’s low price tag, it’s extremely well engineered. In fact, it boasts two side-by-side chines that promote exceptional stability. While we wouldn’t recommend standing up to cast, the prospect isn’t completely out of the question. On top of that, the hull has an integrated skeg for better overall tracking. On top of that, it features six drainage holes to prevent deck-side water accumulation. It’s flip-resistant design and easy mounting make this sit-on-top kayak a great choice for beginner boaters.
While sit-on-top kayaks aren’t known to have massive amounts of cargo compartments, most customers agree that the Lifetime Tamarack has a generous amount of onboard storage. In fact, there are two easy-to-access 6-inch long storage compartments with waterproof hatches. What’s more, front and rear shock cords make it possible to load the boat up with even more gear. On top of that, the kayak boasts three rod holders, one of which is top mounted while the other two are flush mounted.
Overall, customers seem pleasantly surprised by the Lifetime Tamarak. Many say that the boat outperforms others in its price class, offer boaters ample control in all sorts of waters. Many customers have also expressed that they were satisfied with Lifetime’s responsive and caring customer service department. Better yet, few expressed a need to cash in on the company’s generous 5-year warranty.
- Three integrated fishing rods holders
- UV-resistant polyethylene
- Padded seat and adjustable backrest
- Paddle Keeper
- Stability chines
- Front and rear handles for carrying
- One of the best sit on top kayaks for beginners
- Seat can get uncomfortable for long periods of time
- Not the Best Standing Kayak
- Not Particularly fast on the water
Best Sit On Top Kayak Buying Guide
There’s a lot to consider when purchasing a sit-on-top kayak, which is why we’ve broken our kayak buying guide into digestible tidbits. To start things off, it’s important to think about your intended use. In other words, consider where you plan to float your kayak, how far you intend to take it, and what type of activities you’ll be doing. While the question may sound a bit cryptic, its on par with the boundless possibilities of sit-on-kayaks.
Sit-on-top kayaks can be used everywhere from sedentary ponds to coastal surf. Of course, size and design are huge factors when it comes to how well a sit-on-top kayak fairs in different bodies of water.
Streams and Rivers:
Most sit-on-tops fair well in slow-moving streams and rivers. However, increased water movement makes it more difficult to steady and direct a watercraft. As such, it’s important to choose a sit-on-top that has a wide and well-balanced hull.
Quiet lakes offer a serene backdrop for a sit-on-top kayak. Of course, if motorboats and jet skis make up the majority of floaters, it may be best to leave your one-man floatation device at home.
Sit-on-top kayaks offer a premium way to navigate light surf and tepid waters. Since may feature integrated fishing rod holders, they are also extremely popular vessels for saltwater fishing. With that said, shorter sit-on-tops are preferred for bobbing atop tidal waters.
In terms of material makeup, most kayaks are made from lightweight, durable plastics. Most companies offer proprietary composites as well as different grades of plastic.
Polyethylene is probably the most common type of plastic used to make kayaks. Most kayaks are made from high-density polyethylene, which is moderately stiff, durable, and lightweight. It’s considered UV- and abrasion-resistant, making it a popular choice for outdoor equipment.
ABS is yet another popular polymer used in the construction of sit-on-top boats. BBS is super strong, impact-resistant, and shiny. It tends to be a bit pricier than polyethylene.
While it’s not uncommon to see inflatable and wooden kayaks, most sit-on-tops are made from some sort of plastic. Since the entire hull of a sit-on-top needs to be closed off, it makes sense that most manufacturers would use a material that could be seamlessly melded together.
Shape and Design
Most sit-on-top kayaks are relatively short and wide. Their hulls tend to boast shallow arches with a subtle “V” to improve tracking. Some have well-defined dual chines for increased stability, while others lack a noticeable transition from the center of the boat to the sides.
Sit-on-tops tend to be 12 feet or shorter. With that said, sit-in kayaks can be as long as 17 feet. shorter sit-on-tops tend to be easier to navigate, especially when it comes to making abrupt turns. However, their weight displacement also makes them slower than their sit-in counterparts. What’s more, short recreational sit-on-tops also tend to boast less cargo space.
While many amateur boaters don’t consider it, a boat’s weight should be an extremely important buying consideration. This couldn’t be truer than when it comes to one-man boats, such as sit-on-top kayaks. Most sit-on-top boats weigh around 40 to 50 pounds. Meanwhile, multi-person boats weigh between 60 and 70 pounds. The weight of a boat typically determines how easy it is to mount on top of a vehicle.
Before you come around to purchasing a particular kayak, you’ll want to make sure that it is suitable for your body shape and size. Most sit-on-tops have generous weight limits, with many as high as 300 or so pounds. Most boats also have seats with adjustable backrests. Not to mention, most have a variety of molded-on footrests that enable passengers to find a position that is suitable for their height.
On sit-on-top kayaks, the cockpit is the recessed area that makes up the majority of the topside. Sit-on-top cockpits vary dramatically between manufacturers, though there are certainly a few elements that all of them share.
For starters, most sit-on-tops feature a seat insert. These seat inserts usually consist of a small black pad and an adjustable backrest. For the most part, these inserts are designed to take the edge off of elongated contact with hard plastic. Many sit-on-tops also feature integrated notched footrests. While these are designed to provide a space where paddlers can idle their legs, the biggest joy of sit-on-tops comes from the lack of low body restriction.
Since the majority of a sit-on-tops hollow hull is untouched, many manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to carve out clever accessory holders and add-ons. For example, many sit-on-top kayaks feature integrated cup holders and fishing rod supports. Since sit-on-tops have earned a reputation one of the more recreational one-man boats, their add-on amenities are favored by fans.
When it comes to Stand Up fishing kayaks it’s a whole different ball game. Fishing Kayaks have a lot of different add ons that you can clip onto your kayak. some things include fish finders, rod holders, deck mounts, pop up tackle boxes and much more.
Kayaks feature two types of cargo holds, including waterproof hatches and deckside bungees. Hatches are small doors that lead to sanctioned-off cargo spaces below the deck. They typically boast waterproof or splash-resistant seals that help keep the contents inside dry. Most hatches are located in the centers of the hull and bow. Paddlers use them to store everything from picnic supplies to overnight gear. Naturally, their protective seal also makes them a good place for a cell phone or a wallet.
Many manufacturers also utilize bungee deck lines. Thes topside storage spaces feature slightly recessed areas of the deck with crisscrossed cords running over it. Deck line is great for storing waterproof gear, including electronics (in waterproof cases), emergency gear, and food. With that said, adding bulk items to the top of your boat can destabilize the craft. Therefore, you should always make sure exterior storage doesn’t interfere with your ability to paddle.
Rudders and Skegs
If you were to flip over several different sit-on-top kayaks, you’d notice that the there are a wide range of hull features to choose from. Many boats have a noticeable spine, or ridge, that runs from the stern to the bow. This is called the keel, and it helps paddlers to track, or travel in a straight line. Rudders or skegs are two other types of fins that are often added to the back of a sit-on-top to aid in a paddler’s tracking. Keep in mind that skegs drop down, while rudders flip down.
Most sit-on-tops also boast a couple of front and rear scupper holes. These drainage points prevent water from accumulating on the deck. However, they also allow water to splash up and wet paddlers. As a result, sit-on-top kayakers don’t always manage to stay very dry.
A paddle holder is a kayak accessory that you don’t want to be without. Most paddle holders consist of a mall universal clip on the right or left side of the boat. Paddlers can clip in their paddle when they want their hands free for eating, picture taking, and much more. More importantly, a paddle clip prevents a kayaker’s only method of propulsion from sinking to the bottom of the ocean or floating away.
It’s important to look at the overall shape and size of a sit-on-top kayak. Models range from short and stubby to long and slender. Kayaks designed for ocean surf tend to be small. Their surfboard-like design makes it easy for them to bob up and down on the water, but it isn’t ideal for tracking.
On the other hand, some sit-on-tops are designed for touring. They tend to be much longer and narrower. They typically boast more cargo space, as touring paddlers tend to head out for longer periods of time. These boats may also have a skeg or rudder for even more improved tracking and turning.
Some kayaks are marked by their obvious onboard accessories. For example, fishing kayaks tend to have onboard rod holders and a spot for a cooler or tackle box.
Keep in mind that most of the kayaks on our top five list are recreational models. Recreation kayaks have a midrange height and width. Recreational kayaks can be used in all sorts of waterways, including rivers, lakes, and surf. However, their low-key designs make them preferable for day use rather than lengthy downriver expeditions.
Finally, it is not uncommon to see tandem kayaks. These boats are a bit longer and heavier than traditional one-man crafts. Of course, they also have multiple seats. While kayaking with friends or family can fun, multiperson boats are far more difficult to steer and accelerate.
Stability: Are Sit On Top Kayaks More Stable?
A short answer ususally, yes. They provide more primary stability which means that the kayak feels stable when you are initially sitting on it. Sit on Top Kayaks have become the favored vessel for fisherman because of this. so much so that many people even stand up on their sit on top kayaks to cast!
Apart from maneuverability, one of the most important boat factors is stability. The stability of a sit-on-top kayak is determined by the shape and size of the hull. Most paddlers find it easier to balance on wide hulls. While sit-on-tops don’t have a tendency to flip to over, a stable kayak will give newbies comfort as they navigate tight turns.
Since stability is also altered by the body mass of a paddler, it’s always a good idea to physically test out a kayak before purchasing it. Keep in mind that recreational kayaks tend to be extremely stable yet, as a result, more difficult to navigate. Meanwhile, performance kayaks tend to be wobbly and take some getting used to.
Mnny kayakers fail to think about how they will transport their boats. Most choose to mount their vessels on top of a vehicle roof rack or trailer. Molded-in side handles provide a means for tying down a craft. What’s more, side handles and front/rear toggles enable boaters to carry their kayak over dry land.
Of course, many people set out on one-man voyages. In such cases, dragging a boat on a kayak cart is ultimately necessary. Many manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to protect a boat against these detrimental actions by added replaceable skids on the bottom of the hull.
Kayaks range in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. As a rule of thumb, most pricier boats tend to feature premium accessories and be made from high-quality materials. Nevertheless, you can land yourself a well-built sit-on-top kayak for around $500 to $600.
The Benefits of Sit-on-Top Kayaks
Are you wondering if there are any benefits to choosing a sit-on-top over a sit-in? We’ll break down the pros and cons to help you get the best idea of what kayak is right for you.
Easy Ons and Offs
One of the coolest things about sit-on-tops is that you can make a wet exit in the middle of the water and then climb right back into your cockpit. In fact, many people treat their sit-on-tops like mobile rafts from which they can dive and swim. This is definitely not the case with sit-ins, which require a dry landing for a remount. As such, sit-on-tops are often the preferred kayak of beginner boaters.
Many people enjoy the freedom of movement allowed by a sit-on-top. With your legs and knees out in the open, cramps and numbness are far less likely. Not only that, but boaters can opt to swing there lower extremities over the edge of the boat for a more leisurely and immersive experience. Since no one is a fan of striped tans, sit-on-tops are also the preferred boat for individuals looking to get a had to toe bronze.
One with the Water
Many kayakers love the opportunity to be closer to the water. While splashing isn’t encouraged with sit-in kayaks, its an essential part of any sit-on-top experience. In fact, integrated drainage holes prevent these types of kayaks from accumulating any on deck water.
You will Get Wet
If you’re someone who prefers to stay bone dry, then sit-on-top kayaking may not be for you. The wet nature of these open-air boats makes them a preferred option in warm climates. Of course, if frigid water temperatures and whipping wind are an everyday occurrence in your neck of the woods, it’s probably best to bundle up and climb inside the recessed cockpit of a sit-in.
At Floating Authority, we take sun protection seriously. When it comes to sit-on-top kayaking full-body exposure to the sun is a reality. We recommend a hearty SPF cream, protective clothing, and a hat. However, if you are extremely fair or vulnerable to the sun, sit-on-tops may not be your best option.
Nothing says freedom like floating down the river in a sit-on-top. These recreational sit-on-tops are popular for touring waterways, float fishing, and more. The best part is that you don’t need to be an expert paddler to navigate one of these bulbous boats. In fact, their closed hulls and simple cockpits make them super safe and easy to maintain. We certainly hope you enjoyed our rundown on sit-on-top kayaks and had the pleasure of exploring our top picks. Don’t forget to keep calm and float on!