Best Sit on Top Kayaks – 2021

Best Sit on Top Kayaks – 2021

Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or a novice looking to take to the water for the very first time, its tough to argue that kayaking isn’t a brilliant way to explore Mother Nature at its aquatic best.

Like many other water sports, learning the fundamentals and getting a feel for the type of paddling that you are looking to do is a great place to start. What sort of boat (yes kayaks are referred to as boats or vessels) should you buy? What are the latest features and accessories that you should be factoring in? Do you plan on taking a leisurely paddle on the lake or are you more of an open waters paddler or adrenaline thirsty wave type? Certainly a lot to consider.

To help you make the most informed decision, in this article we will take a look at some of the latest Sit-on-Top (SOT) Kayaks, their Pros & Cons, what to look out for, key buying considerations as well as a handful of recommended boats that are well worth considering.

Various Types of Sit In and Sit on Top Kayaks

Sit-on-Top or Sit-In Kayaks?

Self explanatory really. The more traditional Sit-In Kayaks have an enclosed cockpit which you physically sit inside of whereas a Sit-on-Top Kayak is similar to a paddle board or ski where you are sitting on an unenclosed board. The type of paddling that you intend on doing, your level of paddling proficiency as well as your own personal preferences are important considerations.

To better understand the differences, lets tackle it from a pros and cons perspective.

Sit-on-Top Kayaks

  • Quick and easy on-and-off access
  • Great for beginners to learn on
  • Offer a high degree of stability
  • Self-Bailing (drain holes through core)
  • Greater sense of freedom (less confined)
  • More diversity e.g. surfing
  • Great fun in the sun – take a quick dip
  • Can carry more kit – as no enclosed cockpit, fewer restrictions on what you can carry
  • Typically more durable than sit-in kayaks
  • Highly likely that you will get wet
  • Offer less protection against the elements

Sit-In Kayaks

  • Greater paddling efficiency
  • Provide protection against the elements
  • Better in colder climates
  • Offer more watertight storage options
  • Requires a greater level of skill to master – play it safe and learn the Eskimo Roll
  • Less ability to freely move around
  • Capsizing risk – can fill with water
  • Can feel a little claustrophobic
  • Typically more fragile than Sit-on-Top kayaks
<< Looking for a different perspective? Paddle Board Vs Kayak – Who Wins? >>

Sit-on-Top Kayak Buying Considerations

Top and Profile View of the Eddyline Caribbean 14 Kayak

Let’s drill down a little further and look at some of the key features and buying considerations that you should be taking on board before you part with your $.

Budget – unless you are flush with cash and have deep pockets, do your research so you can get a feel for how far your dollar will stretch. There is a wide variety of SOTs out there and if you’re looking for an entry level option, you really don’t need to break the bank. Consider the style of paddling you’ll be doing as well as any features that you would like and then lock down your number.

Type of SOT Kayak – you will need to make a call on the type of paddling that you intend to do. If you are looking to tackle the surf for instance, shorter, lighter weight, more nimble and responsive kayaks better suit. If fishing is your thing then a wider stable platform makes obvious sense. Accessories, attachment points for rods and mounts as well as sufficient room for coolers and general deck top storage capabilities are of course useful. For sea kayaking greater length and width aid stability and straight line speed and tracking. For general recreational kayaking, you can dial back the features and even move towards the lower priced end of the range as performance will typically not be front of mind.

Features – will you be looking to option up your boat? Having sufficient D-rings, or mounting points for accessories, carry handles, grab handles or a paddle sheath to secure your paddle for when it is not in use, an anchor point for when you are fishing, forward of rear bungee netting, built-in water tight storage capabilities and foot rests are some of the features that you may want to consider when making that buying decision.

Different Features on a SOT Kayak

Specifications – your size, storage capabilities, dimensions, intended use are some of the factors that you will need to consider when you work out what size boat you should be looking at.

The hull design is an important consideration that governs the kayaks overall stability. That is, the primary stability when you first step into the kayak and the secondary stability once you have commenced paddling. Your experience will come into play, but unless you are comfortable and can manage the boat then you’ll have some genuine challenges from the outset.

Different Kayak Hull Designs

While we won’t dive into the hull designs in any detail, examples include a Flat Hull which offers great primary stability well suited for beginners who are looking mainly at flat water recreational paddling. A V-Shaped hull takes on different characteristics in that it is less stable as you entry the boat but has really good straight line paddling capabilities and stability that is well suited to touring and longer distance paddling.

Pontoon, Chine and Rounded hulls are other designs that again offer differing features that are definitely worth considering. Seeking advice from instructors, specialist retailers or even online forums can be particularly useful in this regard.

The vessels weight carrying capability which is normally measured by its volume in litres is also an important specification that you should factor in. While too much volume will obviously give you plenty of buoyancy, it will be sluggish and slow through the water. Conversely, insufficient volume will weigh you down and potentially cause you to capsize or sink your boat so definitely not something to be under estimated.

Materials – kayaks come in an array of different materials ranging from, hard polyethylene moulded plastic, wood, military grade PVC / drop-stitch inflatables, fibreglass, carbon fibre composites and Kevlar. While sit-in kayaks vary in materials type which will impact their weight, performance and cost, the majority of SOTs are made from hard plastic or fibreglass. Hard plastics while heavier, are more affordable and far more durable. Fibreglass is also durable to an extent and whilst being lighter than the plastics, it is typically quite a bit more expensive.

Inflatables have really picked up in popularity over recent years owing to their increased quality and overall versatility i.e. many stand up paddle boards for instance can accommodate optional kayak kits which in essence convert them to a SOT kayak. The constant advances in technology, accessories packages, lighter weight and portability of an inflatable can be a real draw card for recreational paddlers.

Accessories – some are essential and others are simply nice to haves.

  • Paddle – you won’t be getting too far without this one. Fixed length paddles provide greater stiffness and rigidity for deeper more powerful strokes, while adjustable paddles enable you to share it with others who many be a different height. Paddles vary greater in both quality and price and are made from different materials, but if you plan on taking to the water regularly or will be paddling over longer distances, then going for a light-weight carbon or composite material will definitely make your life a lot easier.
  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD) – irrespective of your experience, you really should be wearing a PFD at all times and more so if you are not an experienced paddler or good swimmer. Our Review on PFD’s provides some excellent information and recommendations that you will definitely find useful.
  • Action and Accessories MountsFishing Rod Mounts, GoPro Camera Holders, Cooler Mounts can all be safety secured to your kayak via optional accessories mounts.
  • Anchor – great for fishing or when you simply want to park it and take in the sun.
  • Seats – ensuring that you have a comfortable inbuilt moulded seat with the ability to include a detachable cushion and back support is a must. Not only will it impact your comfort, but it can also have a bearing on your stability and overall performance so definitely not something to overlook.
<< Perhaps Skimboarding is more your speed – Our Beginners Guide is worth a read >>

Recommended Sit-on-Top Kayaks

Affiliate Disclose Statement
As an Amazon Associate, I may earn from Qualifying Commissions
Pelican BASSCREEK 100XP 10’ Fishing Kayak
  • The BASSCREEK is a feature packed kayak that is purpose built for flat water paddling and fishing
  • As a reasonably lightweight boat, the Multi-Chine flat bottom hull design provides a lot of stability and great straight line paddling/tracking
  • The ERGOFIT G2 seating system includes a padded seat cushion with adjustable backrest cushion for support
  • Boat features include: front and rear retractable carry handles, quick-lock forward storage hatch, bungee system, paddle tie down strap, adjustable foot rests, swivel rod holder, 2 additional flush rod mounting points, 6 accessory eyelets and a separate water bottle holder
Pelican BASSCREEK 100XP 10’ Fishing Kayak

Length – 10’ (305 cm)
Width – 30.5” (77.5 cm)
Depth – 16” (40.6 cm
Weight – 51 lbs (23 kg)
Capacity – 325 lbs (147 kg)

Pelican Sentinel 100X 9’5“ Kayak
  • The Sentinel is a shorter more compact general purpose kayak that is well suited to both fishing and recreational paddling
  • Made with a triple-layer high molecular weight polyethylene, the boat is highly durable and includes additional foam within the hull to increase rigidity and stability whilst minimising its overall weight
  • Features include: nose and tail carry handles, a side paddle sheath, rear bungee cargo system, adjustable padded kayak seat as well as a ExoShell 13 litre removable storage compartment which securely attaches to the forward section of the deck
Pelican Sentinel 100X 9’5” Kayak

Length – 9’6” (290 cm)
Width – 30” (76 cm)
Depth – 13.25” (33 cm)
Weight – 42 lbs (19 kg)
Capacity – 275 lbs (125 kg)

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105 Kayak
  • Available in 4 striking colour schemes, the U.S. designed and manufactured updated Tarpon 105 is a mid-sized boat that strikes a brilliant balance between multi-discipline paddling offering quality straight line tracking, stability, comfort and speed
  • This feature packed vessel includes: an adjustable Phase 3 air Pro seating system; large rear storage well for coolers, fishing equipment and camping gear; a secure front dry storage hatch; rigid nose and tail carry handles; adjustable foot brace system; forward bungee cargo netting; SlideTrax accessory rails; Magnate magnetic water bottle strap system; removable dry storage box; compact storage trays; stern tankwell with cargo net; replaceable skid plate
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105 Kayak


Length – 10’6” (320 cm)
Width – 32” (81 cm)
Depth – 15.25” (39 cm)
Weight – 55 lbs (25 kg)
Capacity – 325 lbs (147 kg)

Perception Kayaks Tribe 9‘5“
  • The Tribe 9’5” is a U.S designed and manufactured SOT kayak best suited for beginner to intermediate paddlers
  • Also available in 11’5” (solo) and 13’5” (tandem) sizes, the Tribe is great for flat water recreational paddling although still handles well in coastal waters or mild surf conditions
  • Key features, some of which have been upgraded for this model include: the new adjustable framed seat back and padded seat; moulded knee / thigh areas for added comfort; integrated footrests to accommodate paddlers of different sizes; forward and rear tankwell storage with bungee netting; centre storage hatch; integrated accessories mount; in-built scupper drainage holes; contoured side, nose and tail carry handles
Perception Kayaks Tribe 9’5”


Length – 9’5” (287 cm)
Width – 31.25” (79 cm)
Depth – 12.8” (32 cm)
Weight – 46 lbs (21 kg)
Capacity – 300 lbs (136 kg)

Zupapa 10’ Inflatable SUP with Kayak Conversion Kit
  • A quality entry level inflatable stand up paddle board with full kayak conversation kit
  • Offers the full versatility of a paddle board for recreational stand up paddling or SUP yoga and fishing with quick and easy kayak conversion
  • Made from a heavy-duty durable military grade PVC material with drop-stitch core, the board is highly rigid making for a very stable and buoyant paddling surface
  • This inflatable SUP package is feature packed and includes: a 4-piece floatable fully adjustable twin bladed paddle; EVA deck traction pad; Velcro paddle sleeve; kayak conversion kit including foot rest; tri-fin configuration; Bravo dual-action pump & car air pump adapter; coiled ankle leash; shoulder strap; light-weight backpack and repair kit
Zupapa 10’ Inflatable SUP with Kayak Conversation Kit


Length – 10’ (305 cm)
Width – 30” (76 cm)
Depth – 6” (15 cm)
Weight – 20.7 lbs (9.4 kg)
Capacity – 330 lbs (150 kg)

We hope you found the above summary useful.

Whether you’re the sit-in type or the sit on top type, any excuse to take to the water on your favourite yak is always a great excuse.

We would welcome your thoughts and love to start a conversation so please feel free to leave your comments below and we will get back to you.

Until then, stay safe and get wet.

2 thoughts on “Best Sit on Top Kayaks – 2021”

  1. Hey,

    The niece and nephew would love one of these. Still can’t really travel O.S but the weather is getting so much better here in the UK so will be heading south for holidays this summer. Will check out some of these kayaks but some good info so thanks for sharing.

    All the best,


    • Good to hear from you again Tom. Europe is starting to slowly open up again so looking forward to taking to the water a little more myself. Let me know how you go and happy to chat if needed.

      All the best – Jason.


Leave a Comment