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Best Sit-on-Top Kayak Reviews 2020

Sit-on-top kayak differs from a traditional kayak mainly in terms of its design. Unlike the usual ‘cockpit’, in which the user is sort of cocooned with the kayak shell, the sit-on-top kayak features a completely open top. This open-top design makes it much easier to enter/exit the kayak. It’s for people who will most likely have to be mobile on their kayaks, such as fishermen, surfers, and divers.

As with other kayak variants, the sit-on-top kayak is available on the market in many shapes and sizes. They’re built with the same open-top principle but with different approaches that ultimately define the kind of experience the customer gets. We tried to find the best sit-on-top kayak on the market and chose the models that stand out in terms of price, quality, and versatility.

Best Features of a Sit-On-Top Kayak

While there are different types of kayaks in the market, sit-on-top kayaks are a popular kind and for good reasons. That includes the price range, versatility, comfort, and safety. On top of that, it can be customized, has a greater carrying capacity, and comes along with other special features.

Affordability

two persons in kayak

No one wants to break their bank while buying a kayak, and with sit-on-top kayaks, you don’t need to. There are several options available in the price range from low to high, so you can pick the most budget-friendly option for yourself. Sit-on-top kayaks are made of low-cost plastic which is why they are cheaper. But you also need to remember that an expensive kayak does not automatically mean that it is the better option. Just make sure to set a price range in your mind before you go looking for options.

Portability

Getting the kayak to and from the water is something that must not be a hassle. And that is why it is important that your kayak should be lightweight and easy to carry. Many sit-on-top kayaks also come with carrying handles which make transporting kayaks a lot easier. So before you purchase a kayak, be mindful of these small features that can make your kayaking experience a lot more convenient and hassle-free!

Comfort

man relaxing in kayak

When you start paddling, it’s only a matter of a few rides before you become a kayaking addict! You’ll eventually start spending long hours in your kayak, which means comfort is a top priority. You should have a molded-in seat which is well shaped for back support. There should be an additional cushion or padding, and backrest. In fact, some kayaks even allow you to remove their seat and replace it with a more comfortable seat if needed.

Carrying Capacity

There are some sit-on-top kayaks with a single-seat for solo paddlers, and tandem kayaks for two-person. If you opt for a larger model, you can even take a pet or kids along for a ride. In fact, that’s why the bigger the size, the better it is because you don’t need to worry about who to take along. However, it can be a bit of a struggle if you plan on paddling solo, but we have a model that accommodates this, which we have reviewed below. If you’re interested in options of kayaks so that you can bring your dog along, we’ve reviewed the best options for those too.

Storage Space

Whether you’re going out paddling for a full day, or fishing, you want to carry all your equipment with you. You never know what you might need in the water, and you don’t want to be coming back to the shore for it. The best thing is that sit on top kayaks offer abundant storage options, as in the kayaks we have reviewed below. Just make sure that your kayak can carry anything you might want to take along on your trip.

girl standing in kayak

Versatility

You never know which waters you might be taking your kayak out on, so it’s a good idea to pick one that can handle all types of waters. Sit-on-top kayaks can be used for a range of activities such as fishing, camping, scuba diving or touring. Some kayaks can handle both calm and rough water very well, so you don’t need to worry about handling waves.

Special Features

Sit-on-top kayaks are packed with features to make your rides as smooth and enjoyable as possible. This makes them more comfortable and easy to use. These kayaks offer gear storage, rudder and scupper holes. These scupper holes prevent the kayak from taking on water and can be found in the tank well, footwell, and cockpit areas.

Best Sit-On-Top Kayak 2020

Perception R15 Pescador 12.0 – Best Sit-on-top Kayak for Beginners

Perception R15 Pescadors 120 Kayak

 

Pros Cons
Cross-chest cinch harness & comfort  Can be too bulky to wear in warm weather
Ventilated Shoulders More suitable for flatwater conditions
Low profile provides most movement
Low profile provides most movement
Large-zippered pockets

The Perception R15 Pescador 12.0 kayak is a high quality, a well-made kayak that is sold at a bargain basement price. The main reason for this is that the Pescador 12.0 is merely a rebadged version of the more-expensive Wilderness Systems Tarpon kayak.

The Pescador 120 is highly recommended by critics and beginner kayakers alike. The affordable price of this kayak means that it can be bought by first-timers without much thought of losing money. However, due to the high quality of the kayak, many of the buyers simply do not feel the need to upgrade to a more expensive model.

The Pescador also makes for a terrific fishing kayak. It is 12 feet long and 28 inches wide, with the hull shape designed for a mix of speed, tracking and most importantly, stability. It is rated as one of the best fishing kayak under 1000

The kayak is also quite accommodating, with two fishing rod holders and ample cargo space for storing all of your fishing gear in the bow hatch, stern and center day hatches. The perception kayak family has also some of the best kayaks for dogs because of space and stability.

Pros

  • The Pescador is highly praised for its versatility in water. Because of its dimensions, the kayak is fast and maneuverable. But it also stable enough for its users to enjoy angling in complete confidence. This means it is equally at home in tight rivers as well as calm and relaxing waters.
  • In fact, this kayak is regularly recommended as the best sit on top kayak money can buy at its suggested price. The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120, the kayak that underpins it, was considered to be one of the best kayaks available in its time. And now, thanks to some clever re-badging, it is available as the Pescador 120 at about half the price. This is essentially a much more expensive kayak with a cheap price tag because of the label it wears.
  • The Pescador is rated for 350 pounds of carrying capacity, so there’s plenty of room for cargo and fishing gear you take with you on your kayaking journey. This makes it an ideal kayak for fishermen and picnickers who’re looking to have a fun time in the water.
  • The Pescador, as its name implies, is designed with fishermen in mind. Its ample cargo space coupled with its stability in water makes it an excellent fishing kayak.
  • That’s not to say however that this is a one-trick pony. Thanks to the general performance of this kayak in the water, any kayaker will reap the benefits of its versatility. Recreational kayakers can enjoy the cargo space of this kayak.
  • What’s more, buyers who acquired this kayak simply as a cheap backup in case their main kayak failed, found the Pescador to be much superior in many cases.

Cons

  • The weight of this kayak cannot be ignored. At nearly 65 pounds, this isn’t exactly a huge block of lead but you will need another pair of hands to carry it around.

Conclusion

The Perception Pescador is very hard to pass up as an ideal recommendation to anyone looking for a sit-on-top kayak. Its mix of affordability and performance is very tempting and quite unmatched by competing models. If you want something reliable, cheap and with relatively good water manners, the Pescador is the way to go.

One thing to remember is that the Pescador should not be seen as just a fishing kayak. It is a great fit for just about anyone looking to buy a great sit-on-top kayak at a price that’s hard to beat.

Malibu Kayaks X-Factor Kayak – Best Fishing Sit-on-top Kayak

Malibu Kayaks X-Factor Fish and Dive Package Kayak

 

Pros Cons
Great stability Difficult to transport
Good tracking ability Heavy
Extra cargo space
Self drainage through center hatch
Good speed

The Malibu Kayak’s X- Factor is popular amongst seasoned paddlers who are into fishing. The kayak is full of features and has been built for stability. It is a fishing kayak so it has ample cargo space. The length of the kayak is 14 feet and 4 inches and the width is 32 inches with a depth of 12 inches.

The construction of the hull is done for stability and at the same time, the kayak has awesome tracking performance. The paddlers we spoke with shared that it tracks well. You can use this kayak in comfortable rivers, calm lakes and also in medium level rough waters.

The kayak has good space that enables the kayakers to store their fishing and camping gear safely. The front of the kayak features a gator hatch that provides dry and safe storage of items. The center hatch is equipped with self-draining trays that help in storing live bait.

Pros

  • The X Factor is a stable kayak. It is so stable that you can stand on the casting platform easily and you won’t disturb the balance of the kayak. This is impressive for the fishing enthusiasts as they need such kind of stability when fishing.
  • Buyers shared that the kayak tracks well and has good speed. Considering both aforementioned factors, this a certainly a versatile option. The ability to stand on the kayak is commendable. The kayak also cuts through waters and the maneuverability is also impressive.
  • The extra cargo space has been applauded by the owners of this kayak. They praise the model because they can carry a good number of items, and different gear with them on the kayak expedition. They don’t have to think much about which gear to take with them. They just enjoy their fishing. The storage space in this kayak allows you to organize the storage of your gear.
  • The center hatch that is self-draining is a famous feature of this kayak in the fishing community. Paddlers share that they can keep their drinks cold.
  • The kayak has been highly-rated by veterans and beginners. The stability of the kayak helps the beginners to learn kayaking. The build quality is great which means that you can keep this kayak for a long period of time.

Cons

  • The kayak is a bit heavy and some paddlers complained that it is not easy to transport. That is the only main drawback of X- factor – though that ensures stability. If you can transport this kayak, you can let go of the weight factor when making a decision.

Conclusion

Majority of the owners rate this kayak 5 stars or at least 4 stars. We also rate this kayak quite high because of the value proposition – performance, stability, and affordability.  Also if you are a beginner looking for a kayak, you can consider this model. For fishing pros, hands down this is an excellent choice.

Ocean Kayak Frenzy

Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

 

Pros Cons
Affordable Poor speed in calm water
Stable Difficult to paddle for longer distances
Easy to maneuver Snug fit for bigger paddlers
High standard of quality
Good for beginners
The Frenzy is made by one of the oldest names in the kayak industry – Ocean Kayak. They’re famous for their durable and colorful kayaks that are very lightweight. The Frenzy is pitched as a beginner’s kayak by the company, but experienced kayakers say it’s a great fit for them as well.

The Frenzy has been designed for tracking, maneuverability, and stability in mind. At 9 feet long and 31 inches wide, it is best suited for the unpredictable waters of the ocean. That said, however, owners say that the Frenzy is quite an admirable performer in lakes and rivers as well.

The 43-pound heavy body of the Frenzy is made possible through the use of lightweight polyethylene material. Its lightness shouldn’t be equated to a lack of ruggedness however, as it is built to a very sturdy standard.

The Frenzy is basically a bare-bones kayak built with performance and weight (or lack of it) in mind. There are no storage hatches or cubby holes to dry-store your gear. That makes it unsuitable for campers and anglers who might want to carry their gear in a secure and dry place.

Pros

  • One area where the Ocean Frenzy truly shines is affordability. This well-built kayak is priced much lower than competing models offering the same levels of quality and features.
  • Not only does its price make it a great choice for budding kayakers, but the shape of the kayak itself makes it a very easy kayak to learn on. It’s been designed for stability first, and beginners can take advantage of this and really learn. Its stable nature makes it highly forgiving, which is an essential trait to have in a kayak whose buyer majority will be first-timers. In fact, owners say that tipping this kayak is a task in itself. However, despite this stability, it is not a cumbersome kayak by any means. It is much easier to maneuver than competing wide-body ocean models.
  • The Frenzy has been designed for stability which is required in ocean waters. However, that does not equate to poor handling in calmer waters. If you want to experiment in both oceans and lakes/rivers, the Frenzy offers a serious proposition with its versatile characteristics. Bear in mind though that if you’re buying a kayak for use in lakes and rivers only, it would be a good idea to invest in a kayak with a thinner hull shape. The Frenzy’s stability will simply be of no use in calm waters. It is a kayak for buyers who want to experiment with different types of water bodies.
  • The Amazon buyer reviews section also reveals that the Frenzy is constructed to a very high standard. Buyers noted that the Frenzy survived collisions that would otherwise damage a kayak irreparably. The Frenzy has been known to survive encounters with sharp rocks and gravel without any damage to its body.

Cons

  • We’ve previously stressed on how stable a kayak the Frenzy is. So it’s unfortunate that that is also the reason for its biggest drawback – its speed in calmer water.
  • Due to its wide dimensions, it requires extra effort to paddle and is thus not suitable for drawn-out sessions in the water.
  • Despite the dimensions of the kayak, bigger individuals report that the Frenzy is definitely a snug fit.

Conclusion

The Frenzy is a safe investment as far as kayaks go. It isn’t particularly fast but that is exactly the reason why it is such a great beginner’s kayak. The economical price of this kayak only further broadens its appeal for first-timers. We can say that it is the best sit-on-top kayak for beginners.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Kayak

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Kayak

 

Pros Cons
Comfortable adjustable seat Poor speed
Custom mount electronics Heavy so difficult to transport
Adjustable footrests Less foot room if standing
Durable No paddles
Rugged design

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon Kayak is a compact kayak with a single seat. However, it still offers plenty of features for adventure-seeking riders. The boat is strong and can handle a versatility of waters such as surf, whitewater, and long-haul paddling excursions.

The kayak has some key features that make it a good purchase, such as stable body shape, and the range of colors it is available in it. It may be considered small for overnight camping trips, but it is capable of carrying gear for a long day of paddling. It has plenty of storage options such as the twin waterproof storage areas and rear storage area with security bungees.

It is also designed to keep comfort in mind, such as the adjustable footrests, and a molded and padded seat, which comes with a removable backrest and cushion. Furthermore, it is convenient in terms of portability because It has four carrying handles. It also ensures that no water is taken by being equipped with six scupper plugs, so you don’t have to worry about taking your kayak out on rough waters.

The kayak is also stable due to its pointed nose and wide-body design, which also enhances its speed performance. This kayak is perfect if you’re looking for a recreational kayak.

Pros

  •  The kayak’s design is well thought out, as it sports all the right features, especially for fishermen. It has a comfortable adjustable seat, adjustable foot braces, and the cockpit is also well-designed. This means you can not only enjoy a day of fishing but also have your accessories handy.
  • It has several handy features but also makes accessorizing very easy. You can custom mount your electronics anywhere along with the Slide Trax rails or even mount it on the center console.
  • The kayak is built to last. So you don’t need to worry about having to replace it any time soon. The rugged design ensures that this purchase lasts you a life that compensates the price of the kayak.
  • It is suitable for tall and heavy paddlers because of the adjustable seat, width of the kayak, and the adjustable footrests.

Cons

  • It is a shorter kayak, at only 10 ft, which is why it is also slower than the longer kayak models available in the market. For adventure seekers, who love to reach high speeds, this could come as a serious drawback.
  • It is heavy, which makes portability a struggle at times, especially when dragging it along the shore. Thus, transportation is nowhere near easy as compared to its competitors.
  • Foot room might be less when you’re standing in the kayak, so if you plan on standing while reeling fish in, this might not be a comfortable position for you.
  • It does not come with paddles so you have to pay on top of the price of the kayaks, to purchase paddles, that usually come with kayaks.

Eddyline Caribbean 12 Kayak – Fastest Sit-on-top Kayak

Eddyline-Caribbean-12-Sit-On-Top

 

 

Pros Cons
Fast and efficient Less stable
Ample storage space for equipment Difficult to transport
Durable material Difficult to store
Good for long paddling excursions
Narrow hull

The Eddyline Caribbean 12 Sit-On-Top Kayak might be one of the best Sit-on-Top kayaks that you can purchase. However, the price factor might be an issue. This kayak is longer than the average SOT kayaks which makes it faster, more efficient, and easier to paddle over long distances.

It sports some key features such as its V-shaped hull which improves speed by reducing water resistance and an in-built keg to improve tracking capabilities so that the kayak can take a straight line in the water. It also has a molded-in the high back seat with padding for extra comfort, along with adjustable footrests so that you don’t need to worry about your body getting sore during a full day.

The kayak offers plenty of storage space with two waterproof storage areas to ensure your equipment and gear remains dry. It also has a large rear storage area with security bungees. It also comes with handy features such as carrying handles, two molded and two straps, as well as built-in paddle holders. You can also install custom electronics such as GPS, action camera, and Bluetooth speaker, etc, by mounting it on the accessory rail.

It is an excellent choice for multi-day camping trips, and also if you plan on staying in calm waters for the most part of your trips. Its length and narrow beam allowing it to cut easily through the water. On the contrary, it does not offer the same stability as the shorter models so you might want to reconsider if you plan on using it on rough waters.

Pros

  • The kayak is fast and efficient if you plan on going for longer paddling excursions. If you plan on taking out your kayak for a full day, this might be the best kayak for you.
  • You don’t need to worry about storage space for your equipment: this kayak has enough of it! You also don’t need to worry about what equipment to take along with you because you’ll have everything you could need on a full-day trip.
  • It is made from Carbonlite ABS plastic which makes it durable so replacement won’t be an issue any time soon after purchase.

Cons

  • Due to its length, the kayak is less stable than the wider, shorter kayaks. So it might not be the best option for rough waters. This limits your water options to calm and slow-moving waters.
  • The length of the kayak is 12-feet, which makes portability and storage of the kayak a struggle.

Conclusion

The Eddyline Caribbean 12 Sit-On-Top Kayak would be an excellent purchase for you if you plan on covering large distances. However, if you’re an adrenaline junkie, this might not be the best option for you.

Perception Tribe 11.5  Kayak -Most Stable Sit-on-top Kayak

Perception Tribe 11.5

 

Pros Cons
Easy to paddle No sealed storage space
Easy to maneuver No extra features
Brilliant stability
Comfortable
Compact

If you’re looking for a compact sit-on-top kayak, it doesn’t get more compact than the Perception tribe 11.5 Sit-On-Top Kayak. It is 11 feet long, and a medium-sized kayak that comes in a simple molded design. This makes the kayak sturdy so that it can withstand rough waters, and the best part is that it also won’t cost you a leg! So in short, this is a reasonably-priced kayak that you can load on the roof-rack of your car and drive to the shore.

Some of the notable features that this kayak offers include twin open storage areas with security bungees. It also has four built-in carry handles which make it easy to carry along the shore. The durability of the kayak is high because of its skid plate on the bottom of the hull which can easily be replaced.

The Perception tribe 11.5 Sit-On-Top Kayak is also supplied with a two-piece aluminum paddle. It has a molded high backed seat that has padding for comfort. There are multi-position molded footrests that also make sure your legs don’t get sore during long trips

Another key feature of this bot is that there is nothing to break or shake loose on the boat if you take it into whitewater because it has very few bolt-on parts

With very few bolt-on parts, there is nothing much to break on this boat. Nor is there anything to shake loose if you venture out into the waves or whitewater. It doesn’t have much in the way of luxuries, but that’s not what the Perception Tribe Sit-On-Top Kayak is about. This is not a touring kayak, and it’s not really big enough for long-distance cruising. But, for no-frills fun, this boat is a winner.

Pros

  • This is great for beginners as it is easy to paddle and maneuver. Even if you don’t have a great paddling technique, it is a responsive kayak. The usability is excellent and most suited to flat waters, however, users have tested it in various conditions and are satisfied with their performance.
  • The kayak has brilliant primary stability due to its wide and flat hull, making it impossible to tip over during standard use. This also makes getting in and out of the kayak much easier. This stability is very important for beginners who have to overcome fear.
  • Comfort is perhaps the biggest plus point of the kayak and this has a lot to do with the thick padded EVA foam. Furthermore, it comes with molded-in footrests and multiple positions. The seat can even be adjusted by height.

Cons

  • There are no sealed storage spaces in this kayak which might be a problem because there is no safe space for you to put your personal belongings such as mobile phones, wallets, and keys, etc.
  • This kayak isn’t packed with features, so you might end up feeling like you’re not getting enough for the price you’re paying. You’ll need to set aside extra money for any add one you might need to purchase to accessorize your kayak.

Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak – Best Inflatable Sit-on-top Kayak

 

Pros Cons
Portable Easily punctured
Little set-up time Structure not robust
Good for lightweight paddlers Little storage space with 2 paddlers
Affordable
Packed with features

Sit-on-top kayaks normally have one common problem: transportation and storage. This is where Sevylor Quikpak K1 helps because of its an inflatable kayak so it can be carried to inaccessible water bodies easily. There are some key features of this boat, such as the multi air chamber design. It also has double lock valves to prevent accidental deflation. The kayak also has a 21-gauge puncture and abrasion-resistant PVC construction. It also consists of a pump, backpack, and double-bladed paddle.

This sit-on-top kayak is portable which helps apartment dwellers for whom carrying and storage are easier. It is no the most stable or rugged kayak however but it is a good pick for occasional use on calm waters.

Pros

  • Portability makes this a great kayak – It is just so light and easy to carry!
  • It’s an inflatable boat but there is little set-up time so you don’t need to worry about the hassle or delays
  • This kayak is the perfect pick for smaller and light-weight paddlers
  • If you’re tight on budget, this won’t be too heavy on your wallet
  • It comes with everything that you need on the waters.

Cons

  • Being an inflatable boat, it could get punctured on rocks
  • Its structure is such that it is not very robust and not well-suited to rough waters
  • It offers lower stability as compared to rigid sit-on rocks

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Kayak – Best Tandem Sit-on-top Kayak

 

Pros Cons
Designed for solo paddling too Low speed
Lightweight Little storage space with 2 paddlers
Portable
Great tracking ability
Stable

This is the perfect sit-on-top kayak for one person. It is a tandem sit-on-top kayak that can be paddled solo very easily, by removing one of the seats. The 12-foot kayak is not particularly long for a tandem kayak and does not have much space for gear. However, if you require a higher load capacity or extra space for gear, you might want to consider the XL option. It is quite stable for a sit-on-top kayak as it is 34 inches at its finest. So getting in and out of the kayak is no trouble at all.

There are three sets of footwells in the kayak so a seat can be added in the center of the boat. This makes paddling solo a breeze. The seats are comfortable and adjustable, which is a huge plus point for tall people. The Ocean Kayak Malibu Kayak is a long-lasting and well-performing kayak. In fact, if you take proper care of it, it can last for decades, so you won’t need to worry about replacing this kayak any time soon.

For paddlers who are heavier, the XL version is a great option, it is a half f0ot longer, and also has about 100 lbs more capacity than the Malibu Two. Two persons can easily carry the kayak with the help of carrying handles at the bow and stern.

Pros

  • This kayak may be designed to carry two people, but Ocean Kayak ensured that it can also be handled solo. Reconfiguring the seats and putting a solo paddler in the center of the kayak is a great option, and makes the kayak a wonderful option for people who might love tagging a friend along occasionally.
  • The portability of the kayak makes it great for tandem or solo use because of how light-weight it is.
  • The kayak has great tracking ability for its size which means it’s perfect for solo riders easily.
  • It tracks really well for its size so it’s good to know you can use it solo with no problems.

Cons

  • This kayak is particularly slower than other sit-on-top kayaks which already do not have high top speeds. However, its stability makes up for it which is a huge bonus for new paddlers.
  • If the kayak is carrying two paddlers it has little to no storage space, with barely enough room for even a dry bag, but the XL model has slightly more space if paddlers plan on bringing extra gear or a friend.

Overall, the boat exceeds the expectations of a regular tandem kayak and the feature of converting it from tandem to solo makes it a perfect option. It is a versatile boat which can be taken out on waters for long hours.

Why you should get a sit-on-top kayak?

man on kayak

The best sit-on-top kayak keeps most of the benefits of the traditional kayak but comes at a much lower price due to its simpler construction and use of cheap but sturdy materials.

A sit-on-top kayak is also a great option for beginners. Because the kayaker’s legs are on the body rather than inside it, users do not have to learn any complicated and time-consuming self-rescue techniques in case the kayak decides to tip into the water. If you know how to swim you’re good to go. The stable nature of these kayaks also suits beginners as they don’t usually have their paddling up to the mark. The sit-on-top is stable so any mistakes the beginner user might make are easily forgiven.

Some of the sit-on-top kayaks also offer a lot of cargo space, which makes them ideal for campers and fishermen. Plus, because these are very stable, fishermen love them because they can angle more confidently without having to worry about the kayak tipping over.

Which sit-on-top kayak is best for you?

There are a variety of sit-on-top kayaks available today and it depends on the user to choose which one is best. For ocean waters, you want a kayak that has a wide hull and a small body. This helps in faster waters because kayak has a stable design. If you want to go for long kayaking sessions in relaxed waters, consider buying a thin and long sit-on-top kayak.

 

If you want to read more about other kayaks, click here

Michael Holding
 

Michael is an outdoor adventurer and a kayaking enthusiast who loves to share his experiences with others. He is the Chief Editor at XgearHub.

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Best Kayak Reviews & Comparisons 2017 - Buyer's Guide - August 30, 2017

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