10 Best Sit-On-Top Kayaks – Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Are you a looking for a great kayak fishing experience and want to truly experience everything the water has to offer? Are you having difficulty finding the perfect Kayak for yourself? If yes, then no need to worry as we have got you covered with the perfect option: a sit-on-top kayak.

Kayaking is a highly popular water activity; you are truly able to experience the motion of the water and it’s the perfect way to relax and let loose. 

A kayak is a great means of truly exploring the waters. They are quite a small and personal vessel and that is one of the main factors that lead to people preferring kayaks over boats. Nowadays, more and more people have discovered the joy of fishing from kayaks; this has totally changed the dynamic of fishing as people are able to reach very tight and narrow spaces full of schools of fish where it wasn’t possible to reach via a boat.

Types of Sit-On-Top Kayaks

There are a lot of options in the market ranging from different types, shapes, and sizes. We will tell you all you need to know about sit-on-top kayaks and other options available in the market so that you can get a better understanding of all the variants out there.

Sit-On Top Kayaks:

Sit-on-top kayaks are one of the most common types of kayak that you can find in the market. As the name implies, you are seated on top of the kayak and are reinforced with a seat and cushioning. This type is usually for recreational purposes and for fishing as well and is designed for milder waters because harsh waters may cause you to fall off. You truly feel the water when you have a sit-on-top kayak as every drop of water splashes hits you.

In this type of kayak, your legs are always uncovered – this means that you can easily disembark and climb back on the kayak if you need to go for a swim in the water and easily get back on it afterwards. These are also made for fishermen who just want to fish with extra mobility. You are also able to just hang your legs off the kayak and you can add an extra layer of peace when fishing.

Sit-Inside Kayaks:

As you can figure out form the name, this type of kayak has an enclosed seating arrangement. You are able to keep your legs covered and dry. Sit-inside kayaks help keep you dry and warm, which is a great feature for places with cold water bodies and for places with shorter seasons. You also have the option of attaching a skirt to cover the cockpit that will help keep you even drier and warmer than usual.

These are also one of the most popular types of fishing kayaks. The sit-inside kayaks are made for more harsh water conditions, and you can take them to rough rivers and faster waters. These kayaks also increase the overall level of mobility and stability due to you being well seated.

Pedal Kayaks:

Pedal kayaks are not that common and are often expensive compared to their normal paddle controlled counterpart; but that does not mean that they don’t have their advantages. A pedal powered kayak frees your hands and adds extra mobility as you can easily fish and move at the same time – this will also prevent your hands from getting sore.

With a pedal powered kayak, you are able to truly explore the water. However, you should keep in mind that they are not suitable for shallow waters as the propeller connected to the bottom might scrape the surface bed of the water and get damaged. You might have difficulty transporting these types of kayaks as well, so that is a thing to keep in mind.

Powered and Motor Compatible Kayaks:

Powered and Motor Compatible Kayaks let you attach a motor to power your kayak; this will save you a lot of time from getting place to place. You can power your way through one spot to another without paddling and using your feet. You are able to use the motor in reverse as well.

When going for a motor powered kayak, just note that you will have the extra expense of purchasing a compatible motor as well as the cost of maintenance required for said motor. Just think of a motor powered kayak as a smaller, more mobile and compact motor boat.

What to Look for When Buying a Sit-On-Top Kayak

Before you look into buying a new sit-on-top kayak, you need to consider a few factors beforehand. These will help you make an informed decision so that you can purchase the perfect kayak for yourself without having any regrets and issues afterwards.


This all depends if you are on a certain budget constraints or it is to be considered if you are looking for the best option out there irrespective of the tag price. There are a lot of sit-on-top kayaks available in the market that are very expensive and are only famous due to their brand image. This may mean that the brand provides top quality build material and a great experience but may also mean that the brand makes overrated products that are only famous due to their hype.

You need to fully research what type of kayak you want because you might be misguided into buying an overpriced kayak that will not provide satisfactory results. If you have financial constraints, then you need to set your budget. After that, you need to filter out all the remaining options. You need to see all the reviews, ratings, and company background because these are the things that will give you an idea about the kayak.

Sometimes, you can spend a lot less to get the experience you need; there may be some overpriced features that you may not need and that you can let go off to save some money. When buying a new kayak, you need to get the best value for your money.

Sometimes, spending a little more money can get you a great kayak that will last for a long time and will save you money in the long run. If you only look at the price factor, however, you might end up buying a low quality product that you might have to replace after a short period of usage. Be sure to spend your money wisely by making an informed decision.


There are a lot of kayaks in the market with variations in length. The main options in the market range from 10 feet to 12 feet in length. These variations can make your decision making process quite difficult.

A general rule of thumb is that you need to get a kayak that is at least 10 feet in length if you are an adult. A longer sized kayak will have better stability and will track better or, in other words, will go straight across the water.

Maximum Weight Capacity:

When choosing a kayak for yourself, you need to consider the total weight that you are going to be putting on the kayak. If you are going to be taking gear, fishing equipment and other goods along with you on the kayak, then you need to factor in their total weight as well. Just get a kayak that has a maximum weight capacity that is at least 100 lbs. more than the total weight of you and your gear.


If you are opting for a paddle controlled kayak, then you need to get a good quality paddle as that is what gets you to your desired location; if it breaks, you will probably be left stranded somewhere. There are two main things to consider when getting a paddle, which are its length and weight.

You need to get an appropriately sized paddle as a wrong sized one will either cause the kayak to zigzag or might have you bending to a side to paddle. You have to get a paddle that is built according to your height. Secondly, you need to get a paddle that is not too heavy and not too light in order to provide the proper propulsion. One thing to note is that you shouldn’t be cheap while buying your paddle but also shouldn’t overspend.


This feature is most important while fishing as you want to be very stable while fishing. You need to choose a kayak that will remain in place when you try to make movements, such as getting things from your storage compartments or just casting a line. Be sure to get a kayak that will not tip over with the slightest change in weight displacement.


If you are purchasing a kayak, you need to figure out how you are going to transport the kayak. If you buy a large sized kayak that is quite heavy and you don’t have a proper plan to carry and transport it, then you have basically wasted your money. Many kayaks have handles and slits inbuilt to make it easy for you to carry it around.

If you are choosing an inflatable kayak, then you can just deflate it and put in on your back but, if you are looking at a normal kayak, you can transport it via a car and trolley and then carry it with your hands to the location you want to go to. This is a very important, but mostly overlooked, factor that needs to be considered before making a purchase.


You will find that there is a huge array of sit-on-top designs available when you are looking at kayaks. These variations in designs have their own benefits and drawbacks and are suited for different purposes as well. In order to know what you want, you need to know what is available first:

  • Seating options: Basically, there are two seating options available. If you are riding and fishing alone, then a single seat kayak will be perfect for you. If you prefer fishing or going out to the water with another person, then a two-seater kayak will be a better alternative.
  • Inflatable or Solid: An inflatable kayak is rated for lighter and more recreational use. A solid construction kayak, on the other hand, needs storage space and is also a hassle to carry around but is more durable and can be used for fishing without any problem.
  • Storage: You need to select a kayak that has plenty of storage space. There are a lot of options with storage on board but they are either in wells or reinforced trays for your gear and equipment. A well design keeps your valuables dry but takes up space, whereas an open storage design makes use of space but tends to get your stuff wet.


When choosing the perfect beginner kayak for yourself, you need to consider how long you are going to be sitting in the kayak. You need to purchase a sit-on-top kayak that you can use for hours without a break and without experiencing any discomfort. The kayak should have proper padded and cushioned seats and, if there is also a lumbar and back rest support present, then that is also an added bonus.  Just be sure that you buy a kayak that is comfortable and safe to sit in for hours on end.

How Were They Tested?

When I gathered the top picks, I went through various testing methods in order to know which one was a great addition to the list. There were multiple factors to be considered when I was testing these sit-on-top kayaks:

  • If it is designed for stability for rough and harsh water conditions or for flat stable waters
  • Whether these kayaks are even comfortable to sit in for hours on end and if they provide sufficient support and reinforcement
  • If you are able to enter and disembark the kayak without any problem
  • Is a comfortable seat present with room for you to stretch your legs?
  • Does it have an anti-bailing feature to stop the kayak from sinking?
  • If you are able to move as fast as you want in these kayaks
  • What is the storage capacity of these kayaks and whether I am able to fit in gear, equipment etc.
  • The warranty and company coverage offered with the kayak
  • Whether the kayak feels stable when on a flat water surface

Top 10 Best Sit-On-Top Kayaks

Kayaking can be quite a blood pumping and adrenaline packed activity as well. Choosing the best kayak for yourself, especially when you are a rookie, can seem like quite a daunting task, but don’t worry as we will provide the perfect selection of sit-on-top kayaks for you and will break down everything you need to know about them.

1. Sun Dolphin Bali SS Sit-On-Top Kayak:

Best Sit-On-Top Kayaks

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The Sun Dolphin Bali SS Sit-On-Top Kayak is a great product. It tracks and paddles with ease and offers great stability while doing so. It measures over 10 feet, which is compact, but also maintains that level of stability and look.

It has a portable accessory carrier or a P.A.C for extra storage, along with a dry storage compartment with shock cord deck rigging. You are easily able to enter the vessel due to its open cockpit design. It has a large seating area which is quite comfortable due to the added protective thigh pads, adjustable foot braces, and paddle holder to make fishing easier. 


  • Storage available for essential gear and supplies.
  • Made from high quality plastic rated for buoyancy.
  • Equipped with comfortable seats for long usage.
  • Can be easily transported due to its portable build and design.


  • Tracking issues due to compact design.
  • Lack of included paddle.


All in all, if you are in the market for a mid-sized kayak to enjoy your evening trip to the lake or to an adventure packed weekend at the river, the Sun Dolphin Bali SS Sit-On-Top Kayak will be a great option for you. This kayak gives you a wonderful experience and is a great pick for someone who just wants to have fun without any complications.

2. Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak:

Lifetime Lotus

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This is another kayak from Lifetime. The 8 ft. Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak is the perfect length for adults, providing convenient transportation and storage options. Its compact design will easily let it fit inside the average apartment or home closet, and the flat back end allows the kayak to stand upright.

The optional add-on items transform the standard Lotus into the “do-it-all” kayak. It also includes a hard adjustable backrest for added comfort. From paddling and fishing, to surfing and even sailing, the Lotus kayak is perfect for your outdoor adventure.


  • Lightweight design allows for easy transportation.
  • Seat back allows for great lumbar and back support.
  • Rider is able to easily climb back on to the kayak.
  • Rated as highly durable and rugged.
  • Multiple footrest options available for all sizes.


  • No covered storage space available to store your valuables.
  • May have some stability issues due to smaller form factor.


If you are looking for a beginner kayak, then the Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak is a viable option for you. Although the small form factor may not be as stable as bigger models, it is perfect for you to use without any sort of hindrances. 

3. Ocean Kayak Malibu Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak:

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two

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This popular sit-on-top kayak is perfect for an affordable family adventure. Enjoy the sun and surf with a friend or a furry companion with the kayak’s three seating positions, which supports solo, tandem, or tandem paddling with a child or pet. A pair of Comfort Plus seats provides four-way adjustability, generating custom fit and greater slip prevention over molded seats and great comfort.

The Ocean Kayak Malibu Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak’s perfectly crafted overlapping foot wells allow center-seated paddlers to settle in and brace their feet comfortably. The open sit-on-top hull makes it easy to get on and off the kayak, and includes a pair of molded-in handles and skid plate for easy transportation. It has a maximum weight capacity of 425 pounds and measures 12 feet long and 34 inches wide. 


  • Can seat up to two people at once.
  • Made from heavy duty materials for added durability.
  • Easy to get on and off.
  • Seating is comfortable and rated for long usage without discomfort.


  • No storage space present.
  • Lack of included paddles.


Whether you are looking for a two person kayak or a portable one, the Ocean Kayak Malibu Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak checks all the boxes. Overall, this is a great pick for anyone who wants to experience the waves with a partner comfortably.

4. Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak:

Ocean Kayak Frenzy

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Offering big fun in a compact hull, the Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak is a versatile choice for adventures on the water. This kayak is very responsive, stable, and playful both while surfing and not. Ocean Kayak’s renowned Tri-Form hull combines primary and secondary stability, with a long center keel to keep you going straight.

Its durable, four-way-adjustable Comfort Plus seat supports all-day paddling with comfort for any body type. You are able to store gear, food, and other items using the stern tank well with removable bungees and a bow deck bungee. Easily carry the Frenzy from boat to water using the molded-in side handles and bow and stern carrying handles. It is around 9 feet in length and weighs 43 pounds for easy transport on a car top. This kayak has a maximum weight capacity of 275 to 325 pounds.


  • Very stable design.
  • Self-bailing feature allows for greater reliability in open water.
  • High quality HDPE build increases durability.
  • Comfortable seat for greater back support.


  • Not rated for extreme conditions and is only recommended for flat water.
  • Lack of storage to keep valuables dry and safe.


Overall, the Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak is a great kayak which is not only portable but also space saving. This is a perfect pick for anyone who is looking to buy a kayak for recreational purposes and wants all the bells and whistles that go with it. If you are looking for a nice evening out on the lake and a great fishing experience, then this is a great option for you.

5. Lifetime Tamarack Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak:

Lifetime Tamarack Angler

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The Lifetime Tamarack Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak comes with front and rear shock cords, two 6-inch storage hatches in the rear and center, two flush mounted fishing pole holders, one top mount rod holder, a paddle cradle with shock cord, and front and rear T-handles. This is a sit-on-top kayak that has a comfortable padded seat backrest for your long paddling and fishing adventures. It is designed for extreme safety and stability, and has a stable flat bottom with deep tracking channels and stability chine rails.

The kayak is constructed of blow-molded high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which makes it durable, UV-protected, and impact resistant. The 52-pound design and front and rear carry handles make it easy to transport to and from the water. With its fishing rod holders, shock cord straps, multiple footrest positions, and two 6-inch center compartments, this kayak has plenty of extras to enhance your paddling and fishing experience. The 120-inch adult kayak has a 275 lbs. weight capacity and comes in an attractive olive green color.


  • Comfortable seat, suitable for long usage.
  • Durable build due to HDPE material.
  • Easy to transport and carry around.
  • Fishing rod holders and assist inbuilt for a better fishing experience.
  • Very stable design.


  • No storage well for keeping valuables dry.
  • Lack of paddle adds to the overall cost.


The Lifetime Tamarack Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak is a complete package. It is a great option for fishermen because of its great seat and extras. It can also be used for recreational purposes, which makes it an overall great option.

6. Perception Tribe 9.5 Sit-On-Top Kayak:

Perception Tribe

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The Perception Tribe 9.5 Sit-On-Top Kayak accommodates one person and behaves well in flat water. Its tri hull and long center keel couple to provide both primary and secondary stability to the kayak and allow you to keep going straight. 

This kayak has a comfortable, four way adjustable seat with ample padding. You are able to store your items and supplies in the stern tank well with removable and bow deck bungees. The molded side handles allow you to easily carry the kayak around. It measures about 9 feet in length and weighs 43 pounds with a maximum weight capacity of 325 pounds.


  • Very stable design due to presence of long center keel and tri-form hull.
  • You can easily carry it around without a problem.
  • Able to fit most adults of different heights and weights.
  • Very comfortable padded seat which is recommended for long time usage.
  • Lightweight build makes it portable and easy to transport via vehicle.


  • Seat tends to get wet during usage.
  • Does not come with a paddle.
  • No spare compartment to keep your gear and supplies dry.


If you’re in the market for a kayak that is well built and suitable for recreational purposes, you should check out the Perception Tribe 9.5 Sit-On-Top Kayak. This kayak’s portability and great seat make it stand out amongst the rest.

7. Emotion Spitfire Sit-On-Top Kayak:

Emotion Spitfire

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The Emotion Spitfire Sit-On-Top Kayak comes with a padded backrest and bottom pad, along with self-bailing scupper holes, rear tank well with cargo net cover for storage, bow storage area with bungee cords, paddle keeper, luggage handles on the bow and stern, a 8-inch locking hatch, and molded-in foot wells and side carry handles. 

It is a blow-molded construction sit-on-top kayak. It is 9 feet long and has the stability and performance of a smaller kayak, with added features and upgrades. The extra length, compared to more compact models, adds speed and tracking while maintaining excellent stability. This kayak is equipped with a new CRS + UltraLite Seat. The 9 feet kayak has a 350 lbs. maximum weight capacity and comes in an orange color. 


  • Perfect for kids to start their kayaking journey.
  • Can be easily transported due to its small and lightweight size.
  • Multiple foot rest options available, compatible with most passengers.
  • Very stable design for increased safety.
  • Comes with a very comfortable and cushioned seat.


  • Lightweight design might negatively impact tracking.
  • Orange color can seem quite intrusive .
  • Gear will get wet due to lack of dry storage well.


If you are looking for a reliable and high quality beginner kayak, then this is a great pick for you. The Emotion Spitfire Sit-On-Top Kayak provides great portability and design so that you can truly explore the waters. It might not have the best tracking but it makes up for that in other aspects, which makes this a viable option for everyone.

8. Perception Rambler 13.5 Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak:

Perception Rambler

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The Perception Rambler 13.5 Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak is one of the best options out there and is another great pick from Perception. It is a full size 12 feet kayak that offers great stability and reliability as well. The longer length is due to its being a two-seater kayak. It has plenty of leg room, a roomy molded-in seat, and lets you easily get in and out. You can either use it to fish or to have a great time at the lake in the evening. It comes equipped with a storage area with tie downs for a cooler and other gear. 

If you have kids or a dog onboard, then you can seat them in the additional molded-in center seat. It has multiple footrest options for passengers of all sizes. It comes equipped with a removable padded seat and backrest, which is also adjustable and adds to the comfort and durability. The Perception Rambler 13.5 measures at 13 feet 6 inches in length and 34 inches in width. It has a maximum weight capacity of 550 lbs. and weighs just over 78 lbs.


  • Multiple seating options onboard.
  • Storage compartment in the deck of the kayak to secure gear and coolers.
  • Well-built and sturdy design.
  • Fully adjustable seat allows for better comfort.
  • Easy to disembark and embark.


  • The length is not suitable for most people.
  • Doesn’t come with paddles.


The Perception Rambler 13.5 Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak is a viable option for any avid fisherman or for someone who just wants to relax and enjoy the water with their partner. It has a great design and the look is also quite unique. Although the large form factor is not suited for everyone, it is a perfect fit for those who are compatible with its size. You would have to spend some amount on a paddle but, other than that, you won’t be disappointed if you go with this kayak.

9. Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak:

Riot Kayaks Escape

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The Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak is designed for fishing-minded kayakers, is equipped with features for serious anglers, and is great for general recreational users as well. The combination of stability and performance with an excellent load capacity will keep you well provisioned and properly organized. This is the perfect boat for all fishing environments and recreational activities.

This kayak is loaded with features as it includes a sit-on-top high back chair design, adjustable sliding foot braces, pilot rudder system, anchor trolley system, front hatch with dual- density hatch cover, and an integrated console with a molded-in cup holder as well. This kayak also features a total of 24-inch deck plates, 2 paddle hooks, 1 adjustable rod holder, 2 front and 2 rear flush mount rod holder, rear deck shock cord storage, 2 rubber handles, drain plug, and scupper plugs. The pilot rudder is light and strong with a profiled blade as it is made from glass-reinforced plastic.

This kayak maintains the low-windage openwork design, the vibration-dampening rubberized V-block, and the oval pulleys that has made their Pilot rudder system well known for its smooth and fluid movements. The mounted rod holder rotates 360 degrees and adjusts vertically for precise placement. The standard rod holder has a rear saddle that accepts all types of rod and reel combinations. A large, smooth swivel locking ring prevents rod loss and the vertical swivel movement allows for easy rod positioning.


  • Easy to transport and is very portable.
  • 360 degree rod holder is an added convenience.
  • Is extremely stable and well built.
  • Space for storage and protection is available.
  • Seating is well padded.


  • Plastic is a bit on the thinner side.
  • Floatation is not great.
  • The seat cushioning is not satisfactory and is a bit uncomfortable at times.


All in all, the Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak is a great pick if you are looking for a great kayak for your fishing needs. Its handy features let you have a great time while out on the water. This is a great pick for people who just want it for recreational purposes, as it provides all the necessary comfort and features for a smooth sail.

10. Perception Pescador 10 Sit-On-Top Kayak:

Perception Pescador 10

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The Perception Pescador 10 Sit-On-Top Kayak is a large functional kayak that packs a punch. It offers a lot, all in a great package. It provides a very stable and efficient ride that is further aided with the comfortable seat. The seat comes equipped with a thick ventilated padding for added support.

It has a one-piece construction, which allows it to be leak-proof. It also comes equipped with built-in buoyancy for maximum safety and reliability. The open cockpit design of the kayak is designed so that taller paddlers are more comfortable and have a lot of room to stretch their legs.

You can use it for both fishing and recreational purposes. If you want a place to hold your refreshments, then the kayak comes with a drink holder for your ease. The optimized design and light construction allows you to easily carry it around.

The Perception Pescador 10 Sit-On-Top Kayak comes with a large rear storage and front storage well to keep your valuables safe while out on the water, as well as a dual rod holder for added convenience during fishing. The kayak weighs around 57 lbs. and has a maximum seating capacity of 325 lbs. it measures at 10 feet 6 inches in length and 32 inches in width.


  • Comfortable seating for long hours.
  • Plenty of storage.
  • Safe and solid design due to one piece construction.
  • All rounder .
  • Easy to carry around .


  • Seat tends to break under stress.
  • Storage tray is a bit smaller than others.
  • Unconventional color scheme.


The Perception Pescador 10 Sit-On-Top Kayak is a great option for anyone who is looking for a well-built kayak that they are able to use for either recreational or fishing purposes. It provides great value for money and is one of the best ones around. The great build quality, leak-proof design, and good stability on the water are some of the features that make it stand out amongst the rest.


All these picks are great options if you are looking to purchase a sit-on-top kayak. They are all well-built and will provide great stability. They are also from great companies that value customers and will not disappoint you.

I have presented a variety of sit-on-top kayaks with unique aspects so that you can figure out what the best option for you is. Hopefully, my top 10 list has helped narrow down your decision and will make the process easier for you. Just be sure to properly research and look at the buying guide to get a better idea of what to get, so you can then make an informed decision.


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