Since I can remember, I’ve had a passion for the wilderness and adventure. I’ve learned my trade everywhere, from the rock faces of the Himalaya to the wilds of South America and Europe. My vision is simple, to connect more people to the awesome power of the great outdoors.
John is an avid traveler, hiker, and RVer. Moreover, it seems like he knows everything when it comes to fishing and hunting: his father started sharing all the tips and tricks he knew when John was a kid. No wonder we trust his opinion every time a new article is being created.
Last updated: October 25, 2021
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Are you looking for an excellent sit-on-top kayak? This used to be an obscure type of watercraft but has gained more popularity in recent times. Many people now prefer them as they offer more space and are great for having fun with friends, family, or even using them for fishing. Since many are interested in the best sit-on-top kayaks, we have taken the time to review some of the top-rated options.
Choosing the right kayak, whether you are a beginner or an expert, can be a hard task since there are just so many options on the market. In this post, we consider the main features and benefits of our top picks. We considered factors like the number of seats, weight capacity, length, width, kayak weight, and warranty when choosing these models. Do you want to learn more? Continue reading, and you will find more details about what makes the best sit-on-top kayak!
"This is a lightweight, durable, and stable kayak that makes it easy to paddle on rivers and lakes. It comes at an affordable price and is billed to serve you for several years.1 seat.275 lbs. weight capacity.9’6” x 2’6” size."
"This premium pick is great for anyone looking for a versatile kayak. It has ample storage space, excellent seats and is one of the most durable and stable kayaks you can buy.1 seat.350 lbs. weight capacity.10′ x 2’11” size."
Are you a beginner looking for an excellent kayak for your needs? Then we believe that you will enjoy using this model. The Sentinel 100X comes with several features that make for a top pick.
The Sentinel 100X is built as a recreational kayak and is fitted with a paddle and a premium seat. Therefore, it is an ideal model for starters. The dimensions are enough to provide stability on the water. Sentinel has made this boat in several models, ranging from the angler model to the EXO model. Our pick, though, the Sentinel 100X, is built to be used in large, slow-moving rivers.
The kayak is built to be compact and easy to use on the water. Durability is one of our favorite things about this model as it fights off the knocks and impacts that it will suffer successfully.
What do we love it for? This is a lightweight, durable, and stable kayak that makes it easy to paddle on rivers and lakes. It comes at an affordable price and is billed to serve you for several years.
What were we disappointed with? Although this is a lovely option, it lacks dry storage and holders for the paddle.
For those who want to get a kayak that offers excellent value for money, you cannot go wrong with this model. There is simply so much that you will enjoy after using this kayak.
One of the biggest benefits of the Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak is the portability. Kayaks, especially sit-on models, are not known for their ease of transportation. But this model changes the narrative. It is built to be a highly portable option.
Take, for example, the backpack. The kayak is designed in such a way that the backpack turns into part of your seat when fully assembled. Therefore, you don’t have to fret about stuff like where the carry bag is. It is small, thoughtful designs like this that makes one of the best models on the market. It is made of PVC materials, which is durable. Additionally, you can set it up in a couple of minutes.
Another thing that we love about this model is the stability. Many of the users have reported that the stability is one of the best they have come across, and it comes in handy even for family settings. Whether you are an expert or starter, you will have plenty of fun using this kayak.
Why is it special? This product boasts of great stability and portability. It is easy to use, and all members of the family will have a great time using it.
What are the flaws? While all other parts are perfect, the paddles are sub-par. We recommend getting other paddles.
It might be expensive, but if you are looking for a highly versatile kayak, you certainly will find the Perception Crank 10 an excellent alternative to most of the options you find on the market today. This unique kayak comes in handy in different situations. Thus, you can use it for recreational kayaking or for fishing.
One of our favorite things about this one is that it comes with plenty of storage space. You can, therefore, take along all of your gear without worrying about space. Additionally, the kayak is very stable. You will not worry about that entire load weighing the boat down.
The Perception Crank 10 comes with a hull design that ensures stability. It might not be the fastest model on this list, but it certainly offers exceptional tracking. Also, it is very durable. For instance, the hull of the model is constructed out of high-quality material that is resistant to sunlight and is also leak proof.
Seating is also an impressive feature of this model. You get foot braces that will let you sit better in the kayak. Unlike some other models, we are pleased to discover that this has a pair of rod holders and gear tracks.
What do we love it for? This premium pick is great for anyone looking for a versatile kayak. It has ample storage space, comfortable seats and is one of the most durable and stable kayaks you can buy.
What were we disappointed with? There isn’t a lot to complain about here apart from the higher price.
The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is very similar to the premium pick in terms of versatility. If you are a kayaker that enjoys fishing, then you certainly should add this kayak to your list of potential purchases. It is, in our opinion, the best sit-on kayak that you can buy for fishing. Fishing might take several hours, so you need to be comfortable. Thankfully, the manufacturer has provided just that. The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 comes with one of the most comfortable seats that we have tried.
Apart from that, you also discover that it comes with plenty of storage. You have enough for dry storage and open storage. The icing on the cake is that this option is available at a really good price.
The material of construction is excellent and ensures that you have a kayak that will last for a long time. For instance, the hull is constructed from high-grade HDPE that gives protection from the elements and can hold well when it suffers impacts.
Why did it make our list? This is the best sit-on kayak for fishing. It comes with very comfortable seats and durable construction.
What is not ideal about it? Unfortunately, a few customers received damaged kayaks. So it’s recommended to inspect it right upon delivery.
The Pelican brand is one of the most popular brands that make kayaks today. It has made several lightweight, durable, and compact kayaks over the years, and this Pelican sit-on-top fishing kayak is certainly no exception. Unlike the previous model from the brand that we reviewed, this model is a kayak that is made for fishing. Therefore, several of its features cater to this need. You get, among other things, a large and flat deck that allows you to stand while fishing, and it has a dry storage space compared with the best options we have reviewed so far. With a carrying capacity of up to 325 pounds, this model is built to take your fishing gear with minimal fuss.
The unit has a quick-lock hatch that holds your stuff and can also double as where to store the fish that you catch. Also, there are rod holders at the back of the very comfortable seat. This seat comes with a mechanism that allows you to change between a fishing and a paddling position.
This model is also very durable. It is made of high-grade thermoformed material that ensures a relatively lightweight and highly durable build.
What are our favorite features? This is a fishing kayak that boasts of a thermoformed construction. It has a good carrying capacity and is great for fishing or paddling.
What could be better? The downside is that the seat cushion might be required for those who like to spend the whole day out on the water.
Kayaking is a wholesome, fun activity, but finding the right kayak is not an easy task. There are numerous options on the market, and very few are able to combine stability with speed, comfort, and storage. As such, the Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak tries to do this, and we believe that it is one of the few models that succeed, at least to a reasonable extent.
The kayak is created of high-quality polyethylene. This material is lightweight, durable, and holds up well to abuse. Therefore, it will carry on for several years.
The Lotus is a compact kayak with dimensions smaller than some of those that you’ll find on this list. The dimensions are perfect for a slowly moving river. Moreover, it is easy to handle and is a good choice for beginners. Weighing about 38 pounds, the kayak is easy to take down to the water.
The manufacturer included a tank well that allows you to store your gear and fishing accessories. There are cords that can be tied to keep your gear from tumbling. With this model, there is no worry about sinking as there are handy scupper holes to drain any water that gets into the kayak.
Why are we impressed? This is a great kayak in terms of stability. Beginners will find it to be a good option.
What negatives must you be aware of? This is a slow kayak.
Here, we have a two-person kayak whose dimensions make for a larger model that will meet your kayaking needs. It has a weight capacity of 551 pounds, and if you are looking for a tandem kayak, then this is one of the best options on the market.
As a two-seater, it is important to look at the quality of the seats. Well, our observations reveal that the seats are excellent and comfortable. You can adjust them to seat properly, raising or lowering as needed.
Apart from the kayak, the package includes a pair of paddles and swivel rod holders. You also get adequate storage for your bags and gear.
This is one of our favorite kayaks, and it can accommodate up to three people as a third seat is found in the kayak.
The construction of the kayak also indicates quality. It is made of high-grade plastic that will resist impacts and punctures as well as remain impervious to damage from sunlight. Weighing 77 pounds, it is easy for two people to move.
What are its best features? This is an excellent tandem kayak and is one of the best on the market. It is built to last and comes with handy storage hatches.
What could be improved? While the weight can be handled by two people, 77 pounds is still quite heavy.
This model is from one of the recent brands that have hit the market. The Emotion brand has offers some really cool kayaks, and this model is also one of the best options. Although it is one of the most expensive models from the manufacturer, we believe that it is worth the price.
Unlike other models, it is a longer and wider kayak. The advantage of the increase in dimensions is better stability. It also has a higher carrying capacity since it can carry up to 475 pounds of weight.
You will discover that this model will work well in different water bodies and is one of the most versatile models that we have found. Due to its design and other features, it makes for a good kayak for people of different skill levels.
There is a seating system that you can adjust. You also get a system for mounting accessories successfully.
Why is it special? This unit is fitted with a pair of paddle keepers and offers you enough stability to stand and fish.
What are the flaws? The storage space here is not adequate for many users.
There is a lot to like about this kayak. One of the best things about it is something that Wilderness Systems has always added to the Radar series of kayaks – Tri Power. This means that you can use the kayak via paddling or pedaling. The energy savings on this are enormous.
The kayak is also quite stable due to several factors. First, the unit comes with the company’s technology that will aid acceleration while improving the responsiveness.
Next, this is a versatile and very comfortable kayak. You will find a storage space that is ample for your needs. It also comes with a mounting surface that makes it easy to install your accessories.
Comfort is one of the highlights of this model as the seat comes with an adjustable mechanism.
What are its best features? This is a versatile model with plenty of storage space, increased comfort, and convenience for all users.
What could be improved? We observed that the front hatch of the unit is rather small.
The last model is the Emotion Spitfire 8 Kayak. It is an affordable model that is built to give good performance and stability. As with some of the best products from the brand, there is an ST Performance Hull. Therefore, it is a fast kayak that has good tracking.
You get impressive versatility here as the kayak can be used by kayakers of different ages and skill levels. It has a carrying capacity of 240 pounds, which is relatively low when compared with the other models that we have considered so far on this list.
Made in the USA, this model uses high-grade materials which certainly improve the durability and overall performance. The polyethylene plastic will last for a long time and ensure that you have a unit that is reliable.
Why is it special? This is a compact, lightweight model that offers good stability despite the size. It also ensures impressive tracking and durability.
What are the flaws? This model is primarily for small-sized people. Bigger folks will have a hard time using it.
You might love the models that we have reviewed, or you might be thinking about getting some other models that we have not examined in this post. Either way, you will find this buying guide section useful. Here, we consider some of the essential features that you must check if you are to select the best sit-on-top kayak.
Sit-in vs. sit-on-top kayaks
One of the questions that buyers ask is whether the sit-on-top kayak is actually better than the sit-on types. Before you make a decision on the kayak to buy, it is crucial to know more about the two types. This will help you know whether it will meet your needs or not.
Let us first consider the sit-in kayaks. This type of kayak comes in an enclosed cockpit design. The hull of this type of kayak covers the lower body. Therefore, your arms and torso lie outside the kayak. This type of kayak leaves you low in the water. The major advantage of this design is that you enjoy a greater level of stability and speed.
Nevertheless, there are disadvantages. Most of the drawbacks are seen when you are just starting how to kayak.
Due to their design, it can be difficult to get into this type of kayak. Because it sits so low, it is nearly impossible to get into the kayak when you are in deep water. If you fall out of the kayak while in deep water, you might find it very difficult to get in without mastering certain techniques.
Some of the techniques to get back into the kayak include the Eskimo roll and the Heel hook rescue. If you have this type of kayak and want to keep it dry, you certainly must have a spray deck.
Overall, the sit-in kayak is excellent, but it is far too much trouble, especially if you do not have experience.
The other type of kayak is sit-on-top. This is the focus of our article, and it comes with several advantages.
One of the reasons why this type of kayak is great is because of the ease of use. Due to the design, you will find it simple to find balance. You will not be as low in the water as the sit-in kayak. The main drawback is that you will be exposed to the elements as you have to sit on the kayak while paddling.
Another good thing about this type of kayak is that if you fall out of it while on deep waters, you will find it easier to remount. They remain floatable and do not need a spray deck. If you are just starting to kayaking, you will find this type of kayak very useful.
Additionally, as these are beginner-level kayaks, so to speak, they are less expensive than the other type of kayaks. For example, the Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak is a great example that can be found at an affordable price.
In summary, the advantages of the sit-on-top kayak are:
It is easy to master;
You can get back on it while in deep water;
Made from durable materials;
Does not fill with water.
What to be aware of when picking a sit-on model?
As with other products for swimming and use on water, it does come with its drawbacks. In this section, we consider some of the disadvantages of sit-on-top models.
Open to the elements – This is arguably the biggest peeve of this type of kayak. In fact, depending on the climate of your region, you might even be unsafe in a sit-on-top kayak.
Due to the design of this kayak, you are exposed to the elements. It does not cover any parts of your body. Therefore, you will feel all the cold, wind, water, and all of that. As you paddle, the design means that the contents of the lake or river will end up in the kayak.
If you are kayaking in a warm or hot climate, you might not be too bothered about the cold. But you should keep an eye out for sunburn. So, before you use this kayak, ensure that you have applied sunscreen to the parts of the body that will be exposed.
No Eskimo rolling – Eskimo rolling is a popular technique in kayaking. But due to the build of the sit-on-top kayak, you cannot use this technique. Nevertheless, you won’t likely need it as the kayak is easy to get on after falling off.
Keeping these advantages and drawbacks in mind will certainly help you to decide whether the sit-on-top kayak is for you or you’d rather use the other type of kayak.
How to find the best sit-on-top kayak?
After you have seen that there several advantages to using the sit-on-top kayak, you might have finally decided that it is just the right product for you. With that in mind, what are the features that you should consider before you go for a particular model? In this section, we will check the important features in detail.
One of the crucial things that you should keep in mind when making a buying choice is the location, that is, where you will be doing the most paddling. We suggest that you check out the water bodies that you want to use before you make a buying decision.
Small rivers are some of the faster-moving water bodies. If you are planning to buy a sit-on-top kayak, you should keep in mind that you can only use it in up to Class II currents. Anything higher would be dangerous.
Overall, it can help you learn the river, and it is easier to remount the kayak if you fall off. One of the reasons why sit-on-top kayaks are good for small rivers is that they come with scupper holes. These will drain the water out of the boat, and you don’t have to bother yourself with removing the water.
Keep in mind that a smaller kayak will not give you the stability that you might want, especially if you are a beginner.
Large rivers and lakes
Other locations that you might be thinking about are large rivers and lakes. As we have pointed out earlier, these are not quick moving. Therefore, you will be safe using a sit-on-top kayak on them. These water bodies are excellent for camping, touring, and so on. The models that we have reviewed so far fall into this category. The Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak Sentinel 100X is an example of this type of kayak.
Lakes are ideal paddling locations, and most of the sit-on-top kayaks on the market can be used on lakes.
One of the reasons why many people love using the sit-on-top kayak in this location is that you can place your fishing gear and other gear in the kayak without any stability problems, such as seen with the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak.
Lastly, some coasts offer excellent paddling locations. It is widely regarded to be the limit of a sit-on-top kayak.
Max load capacity
There are different types of kayaks, and the designs affect the carrying capacity of the model. The carrying capacity is majorly dependent on the model that you buy. Some of the types of kayaks in this regard are single-seat sit-on kayaks and tandem models.
The single-seat models cannot carry plenty of weight, but the tandem models surely work to carry more – it can even hold more than two people at once.
If you have a crew, the larger the sit-on kayak is, the better the load capacity will be. The Vanhunks Voyager Deluxe Kayak has an impressive max load limit.
While the model is a major factor, most of the sit-on kayaks that we have considered come with excellent carrying capacities. With a larger capacity comes the ability to take along more of your gear and all necessary things for your trip.
If you head over to the market, you will find some models that are labeled as professional kayaks. These come with a narrow and longer design than your average kayak. This length and width contribute to the faster movement of the kayak.
If the kayak is wider, you will observe that it will be slower on the water. But the advantage of this type of kayak is that it is more stable.
Several of the options that we have reviewed come with a wider and shorter design, such as the Sevylor Quikpak K. Additionally, the smaller crafts are lighter than their bigger counterparts.
Materials and construction
The sit-on kayak is available in a variety of materials. Due to the type of materials, these last for a longer time and remain useful for several years. Some materials are obviously better than others, and in this section, we will consider some of the best materials used in making sit-on kayaks.
Wood is a very useful material and is used in many boats and kayaks. In fact, it is the most popular material used. It is useful due to the floating properties and durability. Wood that is used for kayaks also is treated with fiberglass and coated with other types of waterproof materials.
Wooden kayaks are lighter in weight than other types of materials like fiberglass. But our list doesn’t include any of those models.
Another common material used in making these kayaks is polyethylene. It is an excellent material for several reasons. For one, it is easy to form, paint, and it lasts for a really long time despite frequent use. It is also used in affordable kayaks. The Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak is an example of this type of kayak.
The downside of this type of material is that deformation easily occurs in adverse weather or upon exposure to harsh elements.
This is an excellent material that offers impressive durability. It is resistant to the elements, especially heat, and direct sunlight. The kayaks made from PVC materials are geared towards mobile kayakers. An example is the Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak.
The next thing to consider when buying a sit-on kayak is the seats. A look at the market shows that there are three main types of seats. These are the basic, deluxe, and premium seats.
The three seats differ in quality and price, with the basic seats having the least quality and being the cheapest, while the premium seat is the more comfortable and costliest type of seat, such as with the Perception Crank 10. Check out the model that you are buying to know the type of seats that it is fitted with.
Whether you need help or not depends on the weight of the kayak and the design. Some of these do not have a rim that you can use to get leverage. Nevertheless, it is possible to carry the kayak on your own if it is lightweight.
Transporting a kayak is easy. You can transport it using different methods. If you are transporting with a vehicle, you can use a sports rack, and this is the best way to make sure it is secured and doesn’t take extra space. Proper storage is important and should be done by holding the kayak in slings or webbing.
Whether you are new to kayaking or not, the best sit-on kayak comes with plenty of benefits for you. From our research, we recommend the Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak Sentinel 100X as the top pick. This is a lightweight, durable, and stable kayak that makes it easy to paddle on rivers and lakes. It comes at an affordable price and is billed to serve you for several years.
Next, we have an affordable option for you to check. The Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak boasts of great stability and portability. It is easy to use, and all members of the family will have a great time using it.
Lastly, the Perception Crank 10 is great for anyone looking for a versatile kayak. It has ample storage space, excellent seats and is one of the most durable and stable kayaks you can buy.
With the best sit-on-top kayak, you are sure to get exceptional stability and performance every time you go out on the water. So what are you waiting for? Get a suitable model and enjoy your kayak trips!