Best Sit on Top Kayak

The Ocean Kayak Malibu is our pick for the best sit on top kayak, which has a weight rating of up to 425 lbs. it has room or up to 3 people due to the three-seating position and it spans 12 feet.

Our step-up pick is the Ocean Kayak Expedition and it has a vibrant yellow color for better visibility while on the water. Made with food braces, it has room for up to 3 people (1 child).

The budget pick is the Sun Dolphin Camino and it measures 8 feet long and has enough storage compartments. There are also foot wells as well as a high backrest for convenience.

A Little Background

There are many kinds of kayaks out there based on the way they are designed, and such is the sit on top as well as the sit in. Both of these types of boats have their differences when it comes down to how you should sit on them. In addition to these types, there can also be various materials that can make up this kind of boat.

For instance, fiberglass is a very popular type of material that is commonly found on boats and similar ocean and water vehicles. There are other variants of manmade boats such as those made of ABS material or polyethylene and others. They are specifically treated and bonded so that they make the boat durable yet easy to steer. It is important that any boat is light enough to float over water.

Seats that are used for boats can also vary in material. For instance, there are inflatable seats that are made for easy packing, while there are those made from closed cell foam and other foam types. The importance of having a comfortable seat is because it will make you feel less strained when paddling.

They can come in different colors and materials. The color can signify visibility when you are in the water. Most vibrant and reflective colors such as yellow, orange and bright green can be seen on these types of boats. For the color to be fade resistant, they should have a special coating that eagerly resists the UV rays of the sun and other weather disturbances when you are on the boat itself.

Getting in the boat can feel awkward for some at first, but they will definitely feel better afterwards. Using this kind of boat requires some balancing skills or else you might tip over. It is important that you practice on shallow water first to get the feel of the boat before you go on ahead and use it for really deeper adventures.

A sit on top kayak is a kind of boat that is used for those who want to get the benefits of a canoe and a kayak at the same time due to its open design. They are most likely to give you breathability but may also get you wet, and this is why they have drain or scupper holes. This makes them more likely to be used by those who find it hard to use a sit in.

How We Picked

When you want to choose the best sit on top kayak, you may need to consider the following criteria in making your decision:

Material used: you can choose from composite, wood or inflatable materials for this kind of boat. Composite or plastic and especially fiberglass is one of the most common materials that are used for making this kind of boat and other types of boats. Wood ones are rare, but they can be aesthetically pleasing for some reason. Inflatable ones can also be sit on tops in most cases, so you should pick the right material for your needs.

Portability: there are special types that are foldable and inflatable and there are also some that have less weight. Portability is important for any person who wants to go fishing or touring from one spot to another, so that you will be able to store it however you want.

Number of paddlers: it is important to know how many paddlers will use your boat. Some can go for up to 3 paddlers and more while most can be just 1 to 2 paddlers. The number of paddlers can be different for various models and some can also have a seating arrangement that can be reversed or re-arranged for you to customize it depending on your needs – whether you want to go solo or with another person.

Including a rudder or skeg: most sit on tops can include a rudder or a skeg as well for added navigation and tracking capabilities. While it is not the main basis of the tracking capability of a boat, it is also important to help stabilize the boat as you move it or paddle it across any open water.

Seat material: you can choose from either foam, plastic or inflatable material for the seating of this boat. Foam is very good for durability and comfort but they can be heavy to carry around. Inflatable ones tend to be rock hard at times but they are easy to carry elsewhere due to the light weight.

Color: while most people don’t think color is important, it is – for emergency purposes. If you get lost in the middle of the sea, your boat can be more visible to others if you do get something that has a more vibrant color that stands out, such as yellows, oranges, reds and greens.

Storage: you should also consider a good amount of storage compartment for your needs. A bigger storage for the hatch is needed if you want to spend an overnight trip or tour along with your boat. If you just need some short trips then a smaller cargo size will be okay.

Intended purpose: it depends upon your needs as to which kind of boat style you want and what you will be using it for. Some can be used for fishing and others can be used for simply touring. There are also others that are mostly for working out in the open water so they don’t really need a lot of coverage.

Our Pick

As our top pick, the Ocean Kayak Malibu can fit up to 3 people (1 child and 2 adults) and has a total length of 12 feet. There are three possible seating positions and it has a bright color that is easily visible while on the water. The boat weighs 57 lbs and can accept up to 425 lbs of weight.

Flaws but Not Dealbrakers

While not a deal breaker, the Ocean Kayak Malibu can be a bit heavy, but that is expected on most tandems anyway.

Step-up Pick

As our step-up pick, the Ocean Kayak Expedition is a highly visible boat that spans up to 16 feet and can fit 2 adults and 1 child. The foot braces have been fitted properly and the whole boat is made for touring or weekend trips. There are also paddle keepers and carry handles for convenience.

Budget Pick

The Sun Dolphin Camino is our budget pick, which has good stability due to the square shaped stern. It has foot wells and a lot of room for storage. The backrest is high enough for adding support while you keep on paddling on the large and open style cockpit.

Best Sit-on-top Kayak for Recreational Purposes

The Riot Kayks Escape is great for those who need it for recreational purposes. It sits 12 feet across and is great for flat water. It also comes with a cup holder for drinks and 2 rod holders for added convenience. The boat weighs 55 lbs only.

Best Sit-on-top Kayak for Kids

The Lifetime Youth Wave is great for kids, spanning up to 6 feet across and has a weight capacity of 130 lbs. it is great for kids 5 years old and above to teach them how to paddle with a kayak. It has molded finger handles on both sides and has a 5-year warranty.

Best Sit-on-top Kayak for Solo Paddling

For solo expeditions, the Apollo Solo Red is a good choice with a good length of 8 feet. It can also be converted into a tandem boat in case you have the necessary seats for it. The front section measures 55 inches across.

Best Sit-on-top Kayak for Tandem Paddling

For 2 people, the Perception Pescador 13.0T is good for tandem paddling and uses a comfortable seating system for longer trips. The footwells ensure comfort due to the molding and it also has holders for the paddles when not in use.

Best Sit-on-top Kayak for Women

For women, the Ocean Kayak Venus is a nice pick with 9 feet of length and a weight rating of up to 175 lbs. it has a hybrid design and has a hatch that measures 6 inches. There are two colors to choose from for this model.

Best Sit-on-top Kayak for Fishing

For your fishing needs, the Lifetime Sport Fisher is great for its UV protection construction that is good for the midday sun. it has 3 pole holders, 2 backrests that are padded and 2 paddles for easy paddling. It can take up to 500 lbs and 3 persons at a time.

Best Sit-on-top Kayak that is Lightweight to Carry

The Ocean Kayak Caper has a molded seat and is also great for fishing. It is also very lightweight to carry by yourself from your car to the lake or river and it has a good hatch size for storing your favorite items.

The Competition

Other sit on tops did not get included in this list because they lacked good tracking and they also did not have a lot of durable materials in making them. They also had some issues on the paddles and some parts of the boat.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the various kinds of kayaks to choose from?

A: There exists many kinds of kayaks depending on how they are supposed to be used, such as the following:

The touring boat is the one that is ideal for a good tracking, so it is great for those who are new to paddling this kind of boat. They may look like those that are meant for the ocean, but they are more suited for still bodies of water and for longer distances. They are usually sit on top and only have a s ingle sealed bulkhead. They are comfortable for sitting for very long periods of time.

The recreational boat is much more beginner friendly and are the ones that you will most likely see when you are going through any rental fleets. They are very accommodating, very simple to steer and paddle and are also very good with their tracking. Unlike the touring one, this one focuses more on speed so it might not be as comfortable as the touring one, since the recreational one is meant for shorter periods of time paddling.

The sea boat is the type that is more often used by the professional. In open water, anything can happen so it can be a little more dangerous to use this kind of boat over the sea. Their design is usually much more durable than with regular boats and have a total of two sealed bulkheads. They have better aerodynamics because they are supposed to face the ocean waves, which are more difficult than regular waves of rivers.

The whitewater boat is the one that is used for rapids and other really tough bodies of water, such as whitewater rivers, creeks, streams and the like. They are supposed to be durable enough and help you feel safe. They are mostly used by those who are more skilled to balance this kind of boat and therefore pose many danger to those who are not very good at it yet.

The sport boat is specifically used for competitive purposes or even for hobby paddling, such as with fishing. Most of them can also be used for excursions due to their unique design and durability. They can also be used for scuba diving because some of them have large enough sizes to carry scuba gear. There are also others that are slimmer and are most likely used for sporting events that involve using this kind of boat and going through rapids.

The sit on top is a kind of boat of this variant that is used for most recreational purposes. They are different from a sit in variant because of the lack of constraining structure, making it a lot easier to balance and to get on and off, even from the water. This kind of boat is slowly gaining reputation and is most likely preferred by those who can’t really find it easy to get on a sit in variant.

The surf variant is much like a surfboard but it works like a kayak that is situated in the ocean. It is a combination of both surfing and paddling so you can use it as a great activity for the summer, provided that you are aware of the risks and you know how to manage your balance. Those who are into surfing can make use of these kinds of boats for their surfing activity.

Q: What are the differences between a sit on top and a sit in?

A: These two types of kayaks can have their similarities and their differences, as defined by the following:


Sit on Top

Sit In

Skill level

The sit on top is better for the beginners because they are very stable to handle. If you are a first time paddler then this should be your choice.

They are much better for those with some experience with sit on tops and other boats, because they can be hard to handle.

Getting wet

You will most likely get wet with a sit on top because it is not enclosed. There are scupper holes, however, to make it easier for you to drain your boat.

It does not have scupper holes, but the structure makes this kind of boat safe against getting filled with water while you are paddling.


The storage compartment for this kind of boat can be more susceptible to getting wet due to the open design.

Due to the close design, you will less likely get wet because you can store your gear inside the boat’s hatch.

Balance and stability

The stability and the balance of the sit on top kind of boat is pretty good and this is why most beginners are more suited for them.

The balance and stability of this kind of boat can be hard so it is only recommended for those with prior experience with boats.


The structure of the sit on top is similar to that of a canoe, in which you just sit on top of it without much cover from the water around you.

The structure of the sit in is like your typical image of a kayak, in which the cockpit is inside the boat for you to feel safer and drier.

Cockpit and seating

You sit over the boat because of its open design.

You sit inside the boat because of its closed design.


It offers more breathability in the long run because of its open design, which allows the person to get more fresh air.

If you get wet, you will get drier less quicker because of its closed design, which also makes getting in the boat such a difficult task.

Getting in and out of the boat

It is easier to get back to this boat if you have capsized or turned over because of its open design.

Because of the closed design, getting in and out of this kind of boat can be difficult unless you go back to the shore or to the dock.

Q: What are the different kinds of materials that are used to making this boat type?

A: To make this boat type, you may have different kinds of materials into making it, such as with the following:

Polyethylene is one of the most popular and earliest types of materials that are used for boats like this. They are also called rotomolded boats because of their manufacturing process. They also mostly have a rudder or skeg and they are mostly made with a mold. Here are their pros and cons:



·         They are very durable when it comes down to getting into rough seas, whitewater and the like.

·         They are also very cheap to purchase due to their availability.

·         They can be very prone to oil-canning due to the UV ray protection potentially eating it away or worse.

·         They may be slower compared to other boats due to their material.

·         Heavier boats tend to be harder to paddle as well.

Composite is one of the most preferred by the professionals due to the great increase in speed. Because they tend to be lighter in weight, they are the best for when you want an easy to maneuver kind of boat. They are mostly made out of fiberglass, which is known to be durable and lightweight. Here are their pros and cons:



·         They have a good sense of speed due to the lightweight material.

·         They can also be easily repaired when it comes down to some scratches.

·         They are easier to steer than polyethylene due to their material design.

·         They can be much more expensive compared to other materials that can make up this kind of boat.

·         They are not as durable as polyethylene due to the stiffness in design.

Wood is another kind of boat making material that is very pleasing in terms of its design. They are mostly made by craftsmen or can be homemade as a DIY project. They are not very popular compared to the above mentioned types of materials. Here are their pros and cons:



·         They can be a fun project to build by yourself or with other people in your house.

·         Some are DIY kits and can be done with your own customization preferences.

·         They look very aesthetically pleasing overall.

·         They can also be very lightweight when it comes down to going over the water.

·         If you don’t know how to make your own boat, this can be a problem, as labor costs can be pricier than other types of boats of a different material.

·         There can be some cosmetic blemishes that appear because they are hand-made and no two models can be alike.

Thermoform or ABS plastic is another popular type of boat material, in which both the hull and the deck are constructed separately. They are also made with acrylic that is glossy on the top to coat them properly. They are also usually made of impact-resistant material so they are pretty durable. There are many pros and cons to them as well:



·         They are very durable and can withstand some heavy use.

·         They also look good due to the shiny look and finish.

·         They have a lighter weight so they are not bulky to carry onto the boating site.

·         They are pretty affordable for those who are just into the sport or hobby.

·         They can be slightly slower than your average composite or fiberglass.

·         They can still degrade with their finish if it is not maintained properly.

Q: What are the different hull materials that can be used for this kind of boat?

A: The hull is the underside of your boat and different materials can be used to make it, such as the following:

Rotomolded polyethylene is known to be very durable, despite its heaviness. It is a good choice if you want a very sturdy boat to paddle with. This is also a cheaper type of hull makes a good defense against the waves of the ocean and some middle range whitewater as well. If you want to spend less for a boat then this is the hull material is for you.

Thermoformed or polycarbonate is a good choice for those who want a lighter option. This is usually made of ABS material and is usually impact resistant as well. They also do not cost a lot of bucks compared to other materials but they may not be very fast compared to fiberglass and other materials for this kind of boat.

Fiberglass is a kind of material that is best suited for speed because of its lightweight material build and its quality stiffness. It is mostly used by boats all over the world, although it can cost you some bucks because of how it is made. Nonetheless, if you want the best kind of performance for this kind of boat then you may be better off with this kind of material.

Kevlar is the more expensive option compared to fiberglass. Usually, to protect it from damage, gelcoat is used to cover it up. Make sure that the Kevlar has a coating that is very light so that it will not sacrifice the overall speed of the boat.

Wood is mostly used for those who want to DIY their own boat. Unlike those that are made from plastics and the like, wood gives off a natural feel and are usually handmade. If you want something that is unique and rustic and has a significant amount of lightweight speed then wood is for you. Take note that they may not be as identical as each other with manufacturing.

Inflatable and folding materials can also be found on most of these kinds of boats. If you want something that is made to move from one place to another without causing less fuel mileage to your car or vehicle, you can count on any inflatable boat with a hull construction that is easy to keep into your backpack or car trunk.

Q: What are the different kinds of paddling events that I can do with this kind of boat?

A: If you want to be able to use this boat then there are many activities that you can do, whether competitive or just for recreational purposes, such as the following:

Surf kayaking – you are basically surfing on a kayak with this kind of event.

Ocean racing – you make a race with this kind of boat with someone else.

Sea kayaking – this is done in the ocean and can be done solo or with other people.

Flatwater recreation – this is basically you going down the water to relax and paddle as you wish.

Freestyle – this involves various acrobatic tricks while you are in the water, such as a hole or a wave.

Slalom – this is a kind of white water competition that involves suspended obstacles and racing.

Sprint racing – this is done on calm or still water and is a simple race.

Sailing – you simply attach a sail to your boat in order to sail across the ocean.

Marathon racing – this one is usually done on longer courses, such as on rivers and the like.

Wildwater – this one is mostly done by expert athletes and should be able to manage grade 4 rapids.

Q: What are the health benefits of this boating sport and hobby?

A: If you do this kind of boating hobby or sport, you are bound for the many benefits, such as the following:

·         It’s good exercise for your back.

·         You will definitely make your arm muscles stronger.

·         It is a good core exercise as well.

·         For those looking for a good cardio activity outdoors, this is a good one.

·         You will also feel more relaxed due to the breathtaking view of nature.

Q: What are the different muscles that are used for this kind of boat activity?

A: When you engage on this kind of boat activity, your muscles get activated, specifically the following:

Triceps – this is located near your upper arm, near the back. Your triceps get activated when you flex your elbow. Forward strokes also help exercise this part of your arms.

Biceps – this is located on your upper arm. They are practiced and exercised well while paddling because they are in your forearms. It takes a lot of bicep strength in order to muster a lot of paddling activities, especially for overnight touring.

Rotator cuff – this is a set of muscles located near the shoulder joints. Because of the rotations and the paddling of your shoulders, the rotator cuff is greatly exercised for strength, but you should also be careful so that you don’t injure it badly.

Lats – also called the latissimus dorsi, these are also known as the broad back muscles. They are strengthened in this kind of boating activity because of the rolls and high braces.

Traps – also known as the trapezius, these are a known muscle group that make use of upper, middle and lower fibers. With each roll and forward stroke, these muscles get activated and strengthened.

Rhomboids – these are found near the spinal column and are divided into major and more. They are moved because of the forward stroke that you make on the boat.

Q: What are the mental and emotional benefits of kayaking?

A: Physical benefits are not the only things that you can get – you can also obtain the following mental and emotional benefits:

·         It helps you to relax your mind from stress.

·         It adds challenge to your thinking skills.

·         It helps you to interact with other people.

·         It brings you a sense of inner peace.

·         Those with anxiety or depression can feel a little better.

·         Kids will find it a great activity for the summer while bonding with their parents and family.

·         It’s a good hobby that you can do in your senior years to keep you mentally stable and active.

Q: What are the different parts of this kind of boat?

A: There are many important parts of this boat that you should know about before you go off and ride or paddle one, such as the following:

The cockpit is the place where your seat goes – it is where you sit down and paddle.

The seat is placed in the cockpit. If you have a sit on top version, it sits higher.

The cockpit rim is the border around the cockpit.

The deck is the front part of the boat that is on the top.

The bow is simply the front of the whole boat.

The stern is simply the back of the whole boat.

The rudder is an optional part of the boat that can help with tracking.

The grab handle sits in front of the bow of your boat.

The drain plug is found on most sit on top versions and in some sit in versions to drain your boat.

The foot brace is where you place your feet. In sit in versions, they are inside your boat.

The hatch is your storage compartment cover to keep your items dry, especially in sit in types.

The bungee shock cords or the deck lines are cords that are in the front of the paddler on the deck.

The hull is the underside of the boat that is usually made of quality material.

The bulkhead is an optional part of most of these boats that keep the water away from the storage area.

The hip pads give the paddler more movement from side to side and control.

The perimeter lifelines are found in some of these boats for you to enable you to grab the boat from the body of water in case of emergency.

Q: How does an inflatable one compare with a solid one?

A: Both types of kayaks can have their pros and cons depending on various criteria and aspects, as with the following:





They can be less stable due to the lack of weight.

They tend to be more stable and can be easier to maneuver.


They may not be that fast compared to solid ones.

They are more stable and hence they can be faster.


May require a lot of maintenance, especially if you get it punctured.

Only requires some cleaning and minor maintenance.


They tend to be more portable because of their ease of inflation and deflation.

You have to sacrifice the top part of your vehicle to carry it to the next lake or river.


Some of them may not be sea worthy due to their material quality and puncture possibility.

Solid ones are more seaworthy because of their durable material.


They need to be inflated first before you get them to the open water.

They are already there and all you need to do is to put them on the water – no need for inflation or anything else.

Q: What should I bring when I’m going on a boat trip with this kind of boat?

A: For you to be completely ready for going with this kind of boat, you should bring the following:

·         Outdoor clothing that is comfortable for you, even if in layers

·         Waterproof clothing, especially for socks, shoes and sandals

·         Wet gear bag or plastic for your supplies

·         An extra change of clothes and socks

·         Jackets and coats for rainstorm or unexpected cold weather

·         Sun protection gear, such as sunglasses, hat, sun block and a towel

·         Water bottle and drinking water

·         First aid kit for when you or someone else gets hurt or injured

In addition to that, these are the things that a tour guide or excursion agency may provide you, if not, you need to provide yourself:

·         Personal floatation device or any buoyancy vest

·         Map for you to navigate, or a GPS device

·         Miscellaneous emergency gear

Q: What are some of the best places in the world to go on an expedition to?

A: There are many awesome places out there that you can go to for a really awesome expedition, such as the following parts of the world:

Baja Peninsula – located in Mexico, this one is great for sightseeing aquatic animals like dolphins and sea lions. They are great for beginners and also features snorkeling packages. You can also potentially meet blue whales along the way.

Torres del Paine National Park – located in Chile, most people go here because of the Patagonia. It is one of the most seasoned places to go on a vacation due to the really cool cobalt blue lakes and glaciers. They can also be great for those who want to hike after they go on a boat trip.

Milford Sound – this one is located in New Zealand and is greatly associated with famous and breathtaking views and sights of the green peaks that is Milford Sound, considered as one of the wonders of the world. They are great for paddling while feeling relaxed with the beautiful and majestic sceneries around you.

Vancouver Island – if you’re in Canada then you should be proud that you have a nice site to brag about. Located here are mostly cool orcas that may go alongside your boat while you are paddling – which is really motivating! It’s best to go from June to October to see more of these gentle giants roam around the island. Other aquatic animals like humpback whales and dolphins (white sided) can also be seen here.

Na Pali Coast – located in Hawaii, this is a go-to place for those who want to go in the tropics and meet a dolphin or shark or two. The really majestic coastline makes it really awesome to go on a boating adventure to, and the green cliffs are definitely IG-worthy. There are also cascading waterfalls along the way, by which you can enjoy with family and friends, or by yourself.

Hebrides – if you’re in Scotland then this is the place to go (or even if you’re in other parts of the UK). It is well suited for beginners in the sport or hobby and the majestic clear waters make it a really awesome place to go on a boat trip with. Uist and Barra are some of the most intriguingly beautiful islands you might encounter along the way.

Dalmatian Coast – if you are in Europe then there’s actually more than just Italy, Spain or Greece with coastlines. Croatia is a great place to explore, and the Dalmatian Coast is one to post for your social media accounts.

Q: How much calories do I burn on the average with this activity?

A: Depending on how intense your boating activity is, you can burn much more calories, as stated in the chart below:

125 lbs

283 calories per hour

150 lbs

340 calories per hour

200 lbs

454 calories per hour

Q: What safety tips should I keep in mind in order to travel safely in this boat?

A: In order to stay safe while you are boating, you need to consider the following safety tips:

·         You should insulate yourself from the cold water and the cold weather.

·         Make sure you wear your lifejacket or personal floatation device all the time.

·         It helps if you take a swimming or boating course for you to save your life or someone else’s life.

·         Make sure you adhere to the rules of the body of water and the governing agency.

·         Consider bringing first aid kits and emergency supplies.

·         Know your limits and always land ashore if you think you can’t handle it anymore.

Q: What should I wear when paddling?

A: Consider wearing clothing that are comfortable and it is important to dress in layers, because cold water is always an issue for your body and for your health and safety.  If you think that the water is really cold, consider going for a dry suit or adding a spray skirt for your boat.

Q: How is riding this boat on a river different from riding on the sea or ocean?

A: Boating to the sea is different from just going to the river because of the following:

·         Paddling can be tougher while you are at sea because the water is usually not rapidly running.

·         Going to the sea is much more dangerous but much more exciting.

·         You need to maintain a certain level of fitness if you are going to the sea.

Q: Why are they better than canoes?

A: There are many advantages of this kind of boat over canoes, such as the following:

·         They can be much faster because they have two blade ends.

·         They are much more maneuverable compared to canoes.

·         Because of their sit in design, they can keep you drier better.

·         They can also be great for whitewater conditions.

Q: What is weathercocking?

A: Weathercocking is a type of event that happens when the flow of the water becomes separated near the rear or stern of the boat. This can be counteracted with the use of a rudder or skeg, that is mostly installed in a lot of boats out there.

Q: What are scupper holes and what are they used for in a sit on top model?

A: The scupper hole is used to easily drain the sit on top model. Because they tend to get more water compared to other models, they will most likely need to be drained more often, and hence the scupper hole is needed.

Q: How do I convert a regular into one that is for fishing?

A: All you need are the following properties for it to be made for fishing:

·         Paddle holders

·         Rod holders

·         Anchor system

·         Trolling motor

·         Better storage system

Wrapping It Up

Overall Ocean Kayak Malibu is our pick for the best sit on top kayak due to its large capacity, reasonable length and good weight rating.