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Best Sit On Top Kayaks – The Best Seat In The Water, Is On Top!

Best Sit On Top Kayaks

As the name suggests, a sit on top kayak is where you sit on top as opposed to being inside an enclosed cockpit.  This gives the paddler some significant advantages over traditional kayaks, especially if you are new to the sport of kayaking.

We have trawled the net to find the best sit-on top kayak to suit your comfort, level, and pocket.

To make things a little simpler we have broken our top pics into four categories: Best Sit-On-Top, Best Fishing, Best Pedal, Best Tandem

Top Picks: Sit On Top Kayaks (SOT- Kayaks)

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Our List Of Best Sit On Top Kayaks


Best Sit On Top Kayaks

ORU Foldable Kayak Beach LT - Best Overall SOT

As you may expect, you pay for what you get. This kayak, although being at the upper end of the price range, is well worth it. 

It is made of very durable and hard-wearing material, and can be easily folded and stored. Currently, the ORU range consists of three models, the ORU Beach LT forming their base model. 

If you are not familiar with inflatable kayaks, the initial setup can be a process. 

But once you have it down the setup and pack down time gets shorter.

The cockpit is snug, and although it may first appear that water can get in, its far from the truth.

The design does an incredible job of keeping water out.

This is a great yak for those who want the tracking, speed and durability of a hard shell kayak, but need something that can fit into a cupboard

  • Weight Capacity: 136 kg (300 lbs)
  • Material: High Density UV resistant Polyethylene
  • Length: 3.65 cm (12 ft)
  • Width: 71 cm (28 inches)
  • Weight: 11.33 kg (25 lbs)

What we like

  • This craft is lightweight, and easy to store
  • Its compact design does not compromise stability or durability
  • Its disassembly is very intuitive and can be done very quickly.
  • A great yak for those new to kayaking as well as for those looking to progress to more advanced waters.

What we don't like

  • Assembly, although well documented can prove a challenge for the first few times you use the yak.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 - Best Value

This Kayak may be classed as a fishing kayak, but with its, speed, maneuverability, and stability, it's capable of so much more. 

It is a good choice for the beginner, or those who enjoy the tranquil lakes, estuaries, and recreational kayaking.

The Tarpon also comes in a style suited specifically for anglers. This variety also has built in fishing rod holders

  • Weight Capacity: 159 kg (350 lbs)
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Length: 3.73 m (2.3 ft)
  • Width: 76 cm (30 inches)
  • Weight: 29 kg (64 lbs)

What we like

  • Good speed and highly maneuverable
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Generous storage
  • Many users have remarked positively on this kayaks sturdiness and stability

What we don't like

  • For the larger paddler, this yak is not designed for long distance travel, or for sitting in for large periods of time.
  • Storage compartments can leak
  • Not suitable for choppy or rough water

ifetimeTamarack Angler - Best Budget 

Let’s face it when you read “best budget”, you really see “poor quality”.  NOT THIS TIME!!

The Tamarack is one of the few kayaks that has managed to keep its price low, without making significant compromises in the way of quality.  

While its stability is not as good as the higher end kayaks, it certainly wont cause you to feel insecure.  

This is a great kayak for lake paddling, fishing, or exploring.  

It is not designed to be handled in rough conditions and certainly not the kayak you want to be in for long trekking expeditions. 

  • Weight Capacity: 124 kg (275 lbs)
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Length: 3.04 m (10 ft)
  • Width: 79 cm (31 inches)
  • Weight: 23.5 kg (52 lbs)

What we like

  • Storage at either end
  • Paddle cradle with a bungee cord to secure in place
  • Padded seats
  • Built in fishing rod holders

What we don't like

  • Not designed with the heavier paddler in mind.
  • Not suitable for more turbulent conditions or wave riding

Best Sit On Top Fishing Kayaks

Below is our selection of the best overall sit-on top kayaks for fishing.  For other fishing kayak reviews checkout ​Best Inflatable Fishing Kayaks​​​

Vibes Yellowfin 100 - Best Fishing Option

If you are after a stable sit on top fishing kayak, you can't go wrong.

This model's hull is quite wide and with its short length it provides a great platform for fishing, whether sitting or standing.   

The yellowfin makes a great starter kayak for beginners as well as kids.

This units manoeuvrable.  Despite being small it can support the heavier kayaks and all tackle.  

  • Weight Capacity: 170 kg (375 lbs)
  • Material: High Density Polyethylene
  • Length: 3.04 m (10 ft)
  • Width: 81.28 cm ( 32 inches)
  • Weight: 25 kg (57 lbs)

What we like

  • 4 fishing rod holders are built into the yak
  • The stability is superb
  • Has Two sealable storage compartments
  • Adjustable mesh seat i

What we don't like

  • Not the best choice for rougher waters or rapids
  • Some users have reported that water can sometimes enter the compartments

Vibes Sea Ghost 130 Angler Kayak

No matter if you are just starting out, or an expert angler, the the Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 will provide you with a lot of options.

It's been designed cleverly with the user in mind.  It's stability, central storage console, along with two hatches, make this unit perfect for any fishing trip. 

  • Weight Capacity: 249.47 kg (550 lbs)
  • Material: High Density Polyethylene
  • Length: 3.96 m (13 ft)
  • Width: 84 cm ( 33 inches)
  • Weight: 35 kg (75 lbs)

What we like

  • Very good stability
  • Very comfortable seating
  • Comes with two fishing rod holders

What we don't like

  • A little on the heavy side

Airhead Montana 2-Person Kayak

This is a nice light weight kayak that is capable of accommodating two anglers.

This is also a great option for a single person as its very easy to transport.  If you don’t have the space to transport something big and bulky, this could be the solution.

This yak is a fantastic beginner kayak weather starting to fish or even trying your hand at white water rafting.  (Not good for the rougher types of water)

  • Weight Capacity: 226 kg (500 lbs)
  • Material: 840-denier nylon with UV protection
  • Length: 3.65 m (12 ft)
  • Width: 81.28 ( 32 inches)
  • Weight: 16.5 kg (36.3 lbs)

What we like

  • Very light weight and easy to transport
  • Fast inflation

What we don't like

  • Seats ar not totally secure and can be prone to warble

The following Pedal SOT kayaks our selection of the best overall pedal kayaks.  For a more indepth review check out our post on the Best Pedal kayaks

Perception Pescador Pilot 12 - Best Pedal SOT

The Perception Pescador Pilot 12is a great yak for fishing as well as recreational use.

Direction can be easily controlled with one hand leaving your other free to hold a fishing rod or binoculars for bird watching.

The yak has two good storage compartments.  With a mesh cover on the bow there is plenty of on deck storage for all your gear.

If you just want to use the yak with  a paddle instead of the pedal drive, it can be easily removed.  The drive can be lifted up during launch to make it easier.  The pedal drive can be operated by pedalling forward and backwards.

  • Length: 3.81 m (12.5 ft) 
  • Width: 85.5 cm (33.75 in)
  • Weight Capacity: 238 kg (525 lbs)
  • Weight:  38.5 kg (85 lbs)
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Rudder:  Yes

What we like

  • Has 4 fishing rod holders
  • The seat can be fully adjusted
  • Has 3 dry storage compartments
  • Pedal drive can be removed and lifted up

What we don't like

  • Not great for use in rough water
  • The kayak is a little heavy

Old Town Topwater 106 PDL

Old Town Topwater is very stable and great for fishing, no matter if you sit or stand your will have a great platform.  ​

There is a specific place for the storage of tackle boxes or coolers.  The yak has a special transducer mount comparable with most fish finders.

The yak is smooth and very quick in the water thanks to its hull.  The design makes it very manoeuvrable and has a tight turning circle.

  • Length: 3.23 m (10.6 ft) 
  • Width: 91.5 cm (36 in)
  • Weight Capacity: 204 kg (450 lbs)
  • Weight: 43 kg (95 lbs)
  • Material: Polyethylene

What we like

  • The seat is designed to be comfortable for the all day fisherman
  • Built-in storage for tackle boxes and molder rod mounts.
  • Universal mount for fish finders
  • Gear tracks to add extra equipment

What we don't like

  • A bit on the heavy side.
  • On the more expensive side

BKC 13'Pedal Drive Fishing Kayak

This pedal kayak is extremely versatile that can be fitted with a trolling motor for fishing or simply when your legs get tired.  The pedal drive is able to be removed if you want to get back to the traditional paddle kayak.  

The yak has a high weight capacity meaning there is plenty of capacity for all your gear and fish you catch along the way.  If you are the larger kayaker you will have plenty of space.

The yak ls design enables it to cut through the water seamlessly and provides a superb turn of speed.  Direction can be controlled by a leaver that controlled the rudder.

  • Length: 3.23 m (13 ft) 
  • Width: 89 cm (35 in)
  • Weight Capacity: 249.5 kg (550 lbs)
  • Weight: 36.2 kg (80 lbs)
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Rudder: Yes

What we like

  • Adjustable and ergonomic seat
  • 3 builtin fishing rod holders.
  • Comes with a paddle
  • Lots of storage
  • Trolling motor can be fitted

What we don't like

  • It does not have scupper holes meaning that most fish finding transducers cant be used easily.
  • The length of this yak means it has quite a large turning circle and can be difficult to negotiate around tight corners.

Below is a snapshot of the best tandem kayaks from our review of the Best Tandem Kayaks

TK219 Tandem Fishing Kayak - Best SOT Tandem 

Despite the technical sounding name, this kayak is very easy to operate.  BKC has been making kayaks since 200.  This kayak is a culmination of all their experience and certainly stand up to the challenge.

This kayak comes fully equipped for anglers and comes with 6 fishing rod holders.  Recreational and fisherman  alike will appreciate the fully adjustable seat which makes it possible to stay put for long periods on the water without back ache.  

The yak has sealed compartments front and back that will keep all your gear dry, whilst still allowing quick access.  Paddles can be easily stored wen not in use by means of strong elastic bungee cords.

Four handles enable the craft to be easily carried to the waters edge and launched.  Its hull is streamlined and enables easy tracking and manoeuvrability in the water.

  • Weight Capacity: 200 kg (440 lbs)
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Length: 3.75 (12.13 ft)
  • Width: 88 cm (35 inches)
  • Weight: 30.84 kg (68 lbs)

What we like

  • Perfect for anglers with 6 holders for fishing rods.  
  • Very durable
  • Lightweight and eay to transport
  • Plenty of storage and adjustable seating

What we don't like

  • Larger paddlers may find this craft imiting

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL

This yak is perfect for two people but can also be handled solo.  With a well designed and streamlined hull, tracking and manoeuvrability are some of this crafts best features.

It is a bit heavy, but can be handled easily by two people.  If you are kayaking solo you can launch the yak easily with a​ kayak cart.  

For  the larger paddler this craft is a great option.  It offers a lot of space and has a lot of extra carying capacity.

  • Weight Capacity: 226.8 kg (440 lbs)
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Length: 4.1 meters (13.4 ft) 
  • Width: 86.4 cm (34 inches)
  • Weight: 30.84 kg (68 lbs)

What we like

  • Extremely stable and durable
  • Able to be paddled by 1 or 2 people
  • Easily customised for comfortable paddling

What we don't like

  • Quite heavy
  • Seat may need replacing for longer trips.  Check out or kayak seat review for options.
  • You may need to get a custom paddle if you need extra reach.

Sit On Top FAQ's

Best Sit On Top Kayaks

Do SOT kayaks Capsize Easily?

All Kayaks can capsize but, SOT's are less likely to capsize than sin in kayaks.

Are Sit On Top Kayaks Safe?

SOT kayaks are safe. As opposed to the sit inside variety, they are difficult to sink and are very stable.
Getting back onto the kayak after a capsize is very easy from the water.

What are scupper holes?

Scupper holes are holes in a sit-on-top kayak that take water on the top of the kayak and drain it way to the body of water you are floating on. These holes ensure that sit-on-top kayaks don’t become waterlogged and keep the seating area dry.

Many kayak carts use the supper holes to secure the kayak to the cart, making the kayak fit snugly and less likely to skip of when hitting a bump on the way to, or from your vehicle.

Are SOT kayaks comfortable?

A SOT Kayak allows a lot more ventilation than the traditional si in kayaks not to mention more space. You are not confined by the sides of the kayak and have more customization. All of this helps to make SOT kayaks very comfortable.

Buyer's Guide for Sit On Top Kayaks

Sit on top builds, give a paddler a greater sense of visibility, as well as excellent ventilation. In the event of a paddler overbalancing, and capsizing, sit on tops are much easier to get back onto than traditional kayaks.

Another significant advantage are scupper holes.

Traditional kayaks need to be bailed out, or have bilge pumps to remove any unwanted water that may have entered the cockpit. The hull of a sit on top kayak is enclosed, allowing for drainage holes, called scuppers, to take away any excess water, without any effort from the paddler.

Sit on top yaks offer more space and ability to move than traditional yaks. This makes them a great choice for fishing, or diving.

Kayak Materiel

Choosing the right material for your kayak is imperative if you wish to enjoy your time on the water.
The material will affect, speed, tracking and manoeuvrability.

The 7 main types of materials for kayaks are:

 - Carbon fibre
 - Fibreglass
 - Wood
 - Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS)
 - Hard plastic
 - Polyethylene
 - Fabric / Kevlar with supporting frame

Kevlar  and Carbon fibre are both light, but quite expensive and are better suited to the more experienced kayaker. Hard plastic is more durable, but comes with the disadvantage of being heavy.

Wood is not really a materiel that is used in modern kayak construction.

ABS and Polyethylene are far more common materials in the lower, and middle ranged kayak models  It has the advantage of being hard wearing, durable and depending on the construction not overly heavy.

Weight Capacity

The weight capacity of the kayak is how much weight a kayak can carry without becoming unmanageable or even sinking.  This is an important number to watch out for.  You will need to add your weight to that of your gear you intend to take. to find the kayak that can accommodate your needs.

If you are only planning to do short trips and don't need a lot of gear, then most kayak models will serve your purpose.  if you are looking to do over night trips or long weekends on the water, you will need to factor in:
Food,and water, sleeping and cooking gear, equipment like binoculars etc.  

Also keep in mind, if you are planning to do any fishing, you will need to leave some weight available for the fish you intend to catch.  

What Size Kayak Is Best?

When choosing the length and width of a kayak you will need to consider the type of kayaking you want to do.  The general rule of thumb is the shorter a kayak the more manoeuvrable.  The wider the kayak the more stability it will have.  

For speed, longer kayaks will be the more obvious choice.

If you intend on doing any white water rafting then shorter length kayaks will be your best bet.

For fishing on lakes and rivers, choosing a kayak that is shorter will give you the stability and manoeuvrability required for negotiating tricky river beds and dense foliage.   Should you wish to stand up and fish from your yak, the wider base will provide a stable platform.

Transporting Your Kayak

If you have a car, you can transport any kayak with the right type of roof rack.   If you don’t have a car then you may want to consider an inflatable kayak. Most varieties come with a carry bag making it easy to transport.

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About the Author Brad Pickering-Dunn

Hey, I'm Brad - the founder and editor of Watercraft Watch. My love for boating is what prompted me to start WatercraftWatch.com – helping people find the right equipment and supplies so they can enjoy their time on the water. I hope you find the articles on the site useful, and share in my love for boating.

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