Sit On Top Kayaks
If you already know what you’re looking for in a sit on top kayak and just want to compare makes and models, scroll down to the comparison table below. If you’re not sure what to look for in a sit on top kayak, then read the following sections.
How To Choose the Best Sit On Top Kayak For You
The most common considerations when choosing a sit on top kayak include the type of kayaking you plan to do (including solo vs. tandem), the amount and type of cargo you expect to carry, transportation and storage, and cost.
Type of Kayaking
Sit on top kayaks are available in a very wide range of designs, so the first thing you should determine is the type of paddling you expect to do. If you just plan to paddle flat water on your local lakes and rivers, then you probably want a sit on top kayak of medium length and width. All else being equal, a longer kayak is faster but is also harder to turn. Narrower kayaks will also tend to be faster, but wider kayaks will generally be more stable. “Rocker” is another thing to consider, and refers to the amount that the bow and stern are turned up. When viewed from the side, a kayak with a lot of rocker looks more like a banana and a kayak with little rocker would look more like a straight log. More rocker means more maneuverability but less rocker means better tracking (easier to go straight). For recreational paddling, pick something in between.
Solo vs. Tandem
If you plan to have a partner for most of your outings and like the idea of sharing one kayak, a tandem sit on top kayak may be perfect. However, sometimes it’s nice to have your own boat so you can explore that little cove that your partner would rather skip. While you can paddle a tandem by yourself, it can be somewhat of a challenge to maneuver because you’re not sitting in the middle of the boat.
One of the great joys of recreational kayaking is being able to take along some of the comforts of home to enjoy during your outing. These might include your favorite beverages, lunch and snacks, some comfortable chairs for those breaks on shore, and of course your dog. So think about what you want to carry with you when deciding what type of sit on top kayak to buy, but keep in mind that large amounts of heavy cargo will slow you down considerably.
Transportation and Storage
The primary transportation-related thing to consider is the weight of the kayak. Slight differences in kayak weight will be unnoticeable when you’re on the water, so if you expect to always have help to lift your kayak onto and off of your vehicle, then weight probably shouldn’t be much of a factor when choosing a sit on top kayak. However, if you plan to paddle by yourself but can’t lift your kayak onto your vehicle, you’re not going to get much paddling done. Obviously the longer and wider your sit on top kayak is, the more challenging it will be to store. If you have very limited storage space (e.g., you live in an apartment), one alternative to consider would be an inflatable kayak. See the Inflatable Kayaks page for more information.
Since sit on top kayaks vary greatly in design and intended use, they also vary greatly in price. While cost is usually an important factor for most of us, it should definitely take a back seat to the other considerations discussed above. If the kayak you want isn’t in your budget right now, consider getting a less expensive sit on top kayak to start with even it means you may have to stick to less exciting waters. It’s better to paddle any kayak than to not paddle at all.
The Best Sit On Top Kayaks
Tips: Click on a product name for more information. Then click on the Comparison tab to find the best price.
Make and Model Length Width Weight Rudder or Skeg Price
Wilderness Systems Commander 120 Sit-On-Top Kayak 12' 30" 60 lbs. Neither $999
Delta Kayaks Catfish 12.5 Sit-On-Top Kayak with Rudder 12' 6" 27" 49 lbs. Catamaran-style hull provides excellent tracking $1450
Hurricane Phoenix 120 Sit-On-Top Kayak 11' 6" 28" 40 lbs. Neither $900
Native Watercraft Manta Ray 11 Sit-on-Top Kayak 10' 10" 30" 56 lbs. Neither $749
Native Watercraft Manta Ray 12 Sit-on-Top Kayak 12' 2" 30" 64 lbs. Neither $829
Perception Tribe 11.5 Kayak 11' 5" 30.25" 62 lbs. Neither $595