9 Best Sit-On-Top Kayaks For 2020
We know that buying a sit-on-top kayak is no small task. It’s a big decision to make, especially considering the many options and factors that go into the purchase. So, to make the process a bit simpler for you, we did the work and created a guide of everything you’ll need to know about buying a sit-on-top kayak. We’ve even compiled a list of our top nine choices for the best sit-on-top kayaks for 2019. If you want to learn how to kayak then check out our guide Learn How to Kayak.
Best Sit On Top Kayaks
3 Waters Kayaks Big Fish 105 Fishing Kayak
With the combination of comfort, stability, and performance, the 3 Waters Kayaks Big Fish 105 is a great SOT fishing kayak for all skill levels. This kayak is short, measuring 10 ft 6 in long and 33.5 in wide, but it has an extremely stable hull that allows for the angler to stand comfortably on the platform. It also has four seat positions that provide for a comfortable experience.: high, low, reclined and flipped away.
The 3 Waters Kayaks Big Fish 105 is equipped with an integrated bow, stern, and side carry handles, a removable sonar pod, a bungee tank well at the bow and stern, two molded-in rod holders, and two pairs of accessory tracks. Best of all, it’s relatively inexpensive, placing it on the top of our list of the top SOT kayaks.
Old Town Topwater 106 PDL Kayak
The Old Town Topwater is one of the best sit-on-top fishing kayaks on the market. Its DoubleU Hull provides for the perfect combination of performance and stability, with a wide-enough platform to stand. The Old Town Topwater features on-board tackle and rod management, a universal transducer mount, and a slide-lock seating system that allows for the angler to slide forward or back to accommodate for length. It measures 10 ft 6 in long and 36 in wide.
This is a great choice for a professional angler that’s looking for a high-quality fishing kayak, and the price reflects that. It’s on the more expensive side of the scale, so it may not be the best choice for beginners. But if you’re looking for one of the best fishing kayaks available, this is the one.
Bonafide SS127 Sit on Top Fishing Kayak
The Bonafide SS127 sit-on-top fishing kayak was, according to Bonafide, designed by anglers for anglers. Its stable platform, measuring 12 ft 7 in long and 33.75 in wide, offers a comfortable and secure platform, whether standing or sitting. Also, the HiRise™ seating system allows for many positions, but the best thing about the system is that it allows you to sit with your knees bent, providing extra support for your lower back.
The Bonafide SS127 is loaded with accessory mounts and storage space. It features an under the seat junk drawer, DryPod with transducer through-hull scupper, rod tip holders, GearTracs, traction pads, and bow hatch with Doubleheader hinges.
Feelfree Lure 11.5 Kayak
If you’re looking for a SOT fishing kayak that can fit all of your accessories, the Feelfree Lure 11.5 Kayak is the one. Its sonar pod allows for easy installation of fish finders and transducers without needing to drill into the kayak. And if you don’t need a sonar pod or if you just want more space, it can be easily removed.
It features two fishing rod holders, a tracking system, a wheel in the keel, carrying side handles, making it very easy to transport. It also has the Feelfree Gravity Seat, which can be adjusted to a number of heights, earning its reputation as one of the most versatile seats on the market. It measures 34 in wide and 11 ft 6 in long.
The Feelfree Lure 11.5 Kayak is reasonably priced, making it a great choice for all fishing anglers, regardless of skill level.
Feelfree Lure II Tandem Kayak
The Feelfree Lure II Tandem Kayak is the same as the Feelfree Lure 11.5 Kayak (the one we just reviewed), but with two seats. So, if you’re in the market for a top-quality, tandem sit-on-top fishing kayak, this is the one for you!
Ocean Kayak Malibu 2XL Tandem Kayak
For those days that you want to bring your family, friend or a significant other out on the ocean waters, do so with the Ocean Kayak Malibu 2XL Tandem Kayak. This kayak may not be the best choice for professionals given that it’s simple, but for beginners and recreational anglers, it’s great. Also, it’s cheap, making it a bang for your buck!
Measuring 13 ft 5 in long and 34 in wide, it has a very stable surface, meaning you won’t have to worry about your partner rocking the boat. It also means that both anglers are able to sit comfortably with ample leg room from both. The Ocean Kayak Malibu 2XL Tandem Kayak features molded-in side carry handles, keel skid plate, and a paddle holder, cargo lashings bow and stern, two Comfort Plus seats, and bow and stern carry handles.
Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Pedal Kayak
The Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Pedal Kayak is a to-the-point fishing kayak. This kayak measures 33.75 in wide and 12 ft 5 in long, making it very stable. It features bow storage pods, bow tank well storage, stern tank well storage, and an adjustable Captain’s Chair.
While the Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Pedal Kayak is a good boat, it’s pretty basic, and unfortunately, the price doesn’t reflect that. It’s priced on the higher side of the market, so, we’re putting it lower on our list.
Feelfree Dorado 125 Kayak with Overdrive Pedal Drive
The Feelfree Dorado 125 Kayak is a SOT kayak unlike any other. The most unique feature of this boat is that it comes with the Overdrive Pedal, a fully integrated electrical system with navigation and cockpit LED lights. Designed for performance and stability, it measures 12 ft 5 in long and 38 in wide. The cathedral tri-hull has two outer pontoons along with a central pontoon with deep channels in between, allowing for maximum performance. It also features a multi-height adjustable High Back Gravity Seat to provide extra back support.
We’re not going to hide it… the Feelfree Dorado 125 Kayak is very expensive. But if you have the extra cash and want to get quite possibly the best SOT kayak for high-performance use, the Feelfree Dorado 125 Kayak is the way to go.
Old Town Predator MK Kayak with Minn-Kota Motor
Like the Feelfree Dorado, the Old Town Predator MK Kayak also has a motor. Named the Minn-Kota Motor, this 45 lb variable thrust motor keeps you right on the fish throughout your entire excursion. Measuring 13 ft 2 in long and 36 in wide, it features completely hands-free navigation and trolling, the Element seating system with three positions for traveling, fishing, and standing up, the slip-resistant Exo-Ridge deck, side-mounted paddle storage, dual tackle holders, dual-tip rod holders at the bow, side-mounted retainer bungees, molded paddle rest, removable mounting plates, and a large bow hatch with the Click Seal.
This SOT kayak is the ultimate fishing kayak, and like the Feelfree Dorado, it’s very expensive. But again, you pay for what you get… and with the Old Town Predator MK, you get quality! For more reviews be sure to check out our other kayak reviews.
Sit-On-Top Kayak Buyer’s Guide
Advantages of Sit-On-Top Kayaks vs. Sit-Inside Kayaks
The first decision you’ll need to make when buying a kayak is the type. There are two general types: sit-on-top kayaks, or SOTs, and sit-inside kayaks. Sit-on-top kayaks have, as the name suggests, the paddler sitting on the surface of the boat. They are the more popular type because they’re very user-friendly, making them great for beginners.
On the other hand, sit-inside kayaks have the paddler sitting inside the boat, in an enclosed cockpit. These are great for protecting you from the elements, such as cold water and wind, but are more prone to capsizing and more difficult to perform a self-rescue in the event that it does.
There are a number of advantages of sit-on-top kayaks, but the main ones are versatility, comfort, capsizing and self-rescuing, self-bailing, and stability.
Sit-on-top kayaks are highly versatile. They can be used for touring, surfing, fishing, camping, scuba diving, and nearly every other on-water activity you can imagine.
Because paddlers are sitting on top of the kayak, rather than inside as is with sit-inside kayaks, it provides for a more comfortable experience. Whether you’re tall or short, you’ll be able to sit comfortably on the kayak and enjoy your experience.
Capsizing and Self-Rescuing
In the event of a capsize, paddlers generally feel less confined or trapped when in situations as such. Also, SOTs are easier to get into after capsizing because the paddler doesn’t need to re-enter into a deep cockpit. They simply just need to get back on top of the boat.
Unlike sit-inside kayaks, sit-on-top kayaks have small holes called scupper holes. These holes allow for water to drain out from the kayak, preventing the kayak from filling up with water. So, there’s no need to worry if water splashes into the boat.
SOT kayaks also have a significantly higher center of gravity than sit-inside kayaks do, making them more stable. Some (not all) are even stable enough for you to stand on them. Unlike sit-inside kayaks, SOTs have an enclosed hull, making it much less susceptible to sinking. This makes it a more comfortable experience for beginners. They’re generally wider than sit-inside kayaks as well, which also provides for more stability.
Sit-On-Top Kayak Size and Weight
As a general rule of thumb, the shorter and wider the kayak, the slower and more stable it is. The longer and more narrow it is, the faster and less stable it will be. Also, the shorter the kayak, the lighter it is, simply due to the fact that there is less boat. SOT kayaks can range from 30 pounds to 60 pounds, depending on the materials they’re made from.
The size and weight of sit-on-top kayaks will ultimately vary depending on the activity they will be used for. For more information on how to choose your kayak, visit our guide How to Choose a Kayak.
These are designed to ride on top of the ocean’s waves in the surf zone. They have a flat planing hull and may sometimes have fins. They also have hard rails around the outside of the boat for tight turns while carving the waves.
Surf kayaks are generally shorter, as speed is not their main purpose. Lengths can range from 7 ft to 9 ft, and measure around 25 in wide.
Fishing kayaks are designed for steady riding on slow-moving water, such as lakes or calm rivers. Their lengths can range significantly, from 8 ft to 16 ft, and average at around 30 in wide.
Because touring kayaks are designed to cover long distances, they require greater speed ability, and as we mentioned before, the longer and narrower the kayak, the faster it is. So, touring kayaks average around 14 ft to 17 ft long and around 29 in wide.
Most kayaks, regardless of the type, are usually made from glass composites, or mixtures of carbon fiber, Kevlar, and fiberglass, or rotomolded plastic. They also have a hard shell, usually made from durable plastics like polyethylene, that are able to withstand wear and tear which leads to a longer life.
Seat Positions and Comfort
As mentioned before, because the paddler is sitting on top of the kayak rather than inside the cockpit, as is with sit-inside kayaks, SOT kayaks tend to be the more comfortable of the two.
The downside of sit-on-top kayaks is that not all boats come with seats. Yes, some do, but it ultimately depends on the specific kayak you’re looking to purchase.
In general, the taller the seat back, the more supported your back will be, but also the more restricted you will be when paddling due to a limited ability to twist your torso. On the contrary, the shorter the seat back, the less back support you’ll receive but a greater range of motion.
How to Choose the Best Sit-On-Top Kayak
When searching for that perfect sit-on-top kayak, there are a few things you should take into consideration.
What style of riding will you be doing?
As mentioned before, sit-on-top kayaks vary depending on the style of riding you will be doing, and the length and width make a difference.
For touring and camping, choose one that is long and narrow. Even though it’ll be a bit less stable, they’re better for long distances as they allow for greater speed and maneuverability. For surfing, choose a kayak that is shorter to allow for more stability as you carve the waves. For fishing, the length of the kayak is not too important, however, you’ll want one that is wide enough to provide for a stable platform for you to stand on.
Purchasing a kayak is a big decision, and regardless of the type, you’ll likely be spending a good amount of money. Sit-on-top kayaks can range from a few hundred to a few thousand. So, before purchasing one, consider your price range.
Another factor to consider when purchasing a SOT kayak is the accessories it comes with. Because you’re likely traveling long distances when touring, look for one with enough room to store things you’ll need for the day, such as water, food, and supplies. The same goes for fishing– you’ll want one that has enough storage space for your bait, tackle, rods, etc. And for surfing, you want one that has rails around the outside to allow for riding and carving the waves steadily and smoothly. You may even want one that has fins, but that’s optional.