HomeTypes of kayaksWhat is Sit On Top kayak?

What is Sit On Top kayak?

Sit-On-Top vs. Sit-In Kayaks: A Comprehensive Guide


Sit on Top Kayak – Choosing the right kayak can significantly enhance your paddling experience. Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a beginner, the decision between a sit-on-top and a sit-in kayak can be challenging. This guide will provide a detailed comparison to help you make an informed decision.

What is a Sit-On-Top Kayak?

A sit-on-top kayak is a type of kayak where the paddler sits on top of the kayak deck, rather than inside a cockpit. They are typically made from a molded plastic shell and are popular for recreational kayaking, fishing, and diving due to their stability and ease of entry and exit.

Benefits of Using a Sit-On-Top Kayak:

  • Easy to get on and off
  • Stable and less likely to capsize
  • Self-bailing (they have small holes, called scupper holes, that allow water to drain out)

Ideal Conditions for Sit-On-Top Kayaks:

  • Warm weather and water conditions
  • Flat water paddling like lakes and calm seas

What is a Sit-In Kayak?

A sit-in kayak features an enclosed cockpit in which the paddler sits. They are often preferred by paddlers who venture into cooler water conditions or who prefer a more traditional paddling style.

Benefits of Using a Sit-In Kayak:

  • Better control and maneuverability
  • Protection from the elements
  • Potential for greater speed due to sleek design

Ideal Conditions for Sit-In Kayaks:

  • Cold weather and water conditions
  • Moving water including rivers and seas

Sit-On-Top vs. Sit-In Kayaks: A Comparative Analysis

Performance Comparison

Sit-in kayaks generally offer better performance due to their design. The lower center of gravity allows for a narrower, more streamlined design, which can make them faster and more efficient to paddle. Sit-on-top kayaks, on the other hand, are typically wider and slower, but they offer greater stability, which can be an advantage for fishing or diving.

Stability Comparison

Sit-on-top kayaks are designed with a wider hull for stability, making them an excellent choice for beginners, anglers, or anyone who prefers a more stable ride. Sit-in kayaks, while less stable, offer better secondary stability and perform better in choppy water or when making sharp turns.

Comfort Comparison

Comfort can be subjective and depends on personal preference. Sit-on-top kayaks offer more freedom to move around, stretch, and change seating positions. Sit-in kayaks can feel more snug and may offer better back support, which can be beneficial on long paddling trips.

How to Choose Between a Sit-On-Top and a Sit-In Kayak

Choosing between a sit-on-top and a sit-in kayak depends on several factors:

  • Type of Paddling: If you’re into recreational paddling, fishing, or diving, a sit-on-top kayak may be the best choice. If you’re into touring, sea kayaking, or whitewater kayaking, a sit-in kayak may be more suitable.
  • Weather and Water Conditions: Sit-on-top kayaks are great for warm conditions, while sit-in kayaks are better for cold conditions.
  • Personal Comfort and Preference: Some people find sit-on-top kayaks more comfortable, while others prefer the snug fit of a sit-in kayak.

Safety Considerations for Sit-On-Top and Sit-In Kayaks

Regardless of the type of kayak, safety should always be a priority. Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD), know your paddling skills and limitations, and use common sense. Sit-on-top kayaks are generally considered safer for beginners as they are more stable and easier to exit and re-enter if capsized.

Portability of Sit-On-Top vs. Sit-In Kayaks

Sit-in kayaks are typically lighter than sit-on-top kayaks, making them easier to transport. However, the best kayak for you will ultimately depend on your specific needs and circumstances.


Whether you choose a sit-on-top or a sit-in kayak, the most important thing is to find a kayak that fits your needs and paddling style. Both types have their advantages, and both can provide a great paddling experience. Happy paddling!


  1. Are sit-on-top kayaks more stable? Yes, sit-on-top kayaks are generally more stable due to their wider hull.
  2. Are sit-in kayaks faster? Yes, sit-in kayaks are typically faster due to their sleek, narrow design.
  3. Which type of kayak is better for beginners? Sit-on-top kayaks are often recommended for beginners due to their stability and ease of use.
  4. Which type of kayak is better for fishing? Sit-on-top kayaks are popular for fishing because of their stability and the ability to move around more freely.
  5. Can you use a sit-in kayak in the ocean? Yes, but it’s recommended to use a sea kayak, which is a type of sit-in kayak designed for ocean use.


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