Kayaking

10 Best Sit-On-Top Kayaks of 2021

Best Sit On Top Kayaks

Photo: Pelican

Sit on top kayaks have the same hull shape as traditional sit-in kayaks but their seats are placed higher, usually above a raised molded section on the deck.

This design is more comfortable because you are not confined to them and it's easy to hop in & out. It also gives you better visibility because you sit at a higher vantage point.

Other than that, the vessels are very handy to use during the warm months because the raised seat allows air to flow through your legs.

That said, if you want to enjoy these benefits, we have reviewed 10 of the best sit-on-top kayaks in the market. Read through and take your pick!

10 Best Sit-On-Top Kayaks – Review

IMAGE

PRODUCT

FEATURES

Pelican Basscreek 100xp Angler

1. Pelican Basscreek 100xp Angler (Best Overall)

  • Multiple storage spaces
  • A cushioned seat, adjustable backrest & footrests
  • Stable twin-arched multi-chine hull
Emotion Spitfire

2. Emotion Spitfire (Best Budget)

  • Economical
  • UV-protected high-density polyethylene construction
  • Waterproof storage hatch
Intex Explorer K2

3. Intex Explorer K2 (Best Inflatable)

  • Puncture-resistant with 3 separate air chambers
  • Includes a pump, a repair patch & two oars
  • Lightweight (30.6 lbs.)
Lifetime Triton Angler 100

4. Lifetime Triton Angler 100 (Best for Whitewater)

  • Rigid & stable 31-inch-wide hull
  • Built-in skeg
  • Self-bailing scupper holes
Lifetime Tioga

5. Lifetime Tioga (Best 2-Piece Set)

  • 2-kayak set with paddles
  • UV-protected high-density polyethylene construction
  • Storage hatch
Perception Kayaks Pescador Pilot 12

6. Perception Kayaks Pescador Pilot 12 (Best Pedal-Driven)

  • Removable pedal drive system
  • Fishfinder consoles & 4 fishing rod holders
  • One-handed rudder control with 360º turning
Lifetime Lotus

7. Lifetime Lotus (Best Compact)

  • Easy to transport
  • 2-piece set with paddles
  • UV-protected high-density polyethylene construction
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100

8. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 (Stable)

  • A wide, flat hull with a sharp bow & skeg
  • 6-inch rear & center hatches
  • Top-mount & two flush-mount fishing rod holders
Perception Kayaks Rambler 13.5

9. Perception Kayaks Rambler 13.5 (Longest)

  • Long 13 ft. 6 in. hull
  • High 550-lb weight capacity
  • One-piece leak-proof design with built-in buoyancy
Perception Kayaks Tribe 9.5

10. Perception Kayaks Tribe 9.5 (Comfortable)

  • Padded seat & an adjustable framed backrest
  • Molded knee/thigh areas
  • Multiple footrests

PRODUCT

1. Pelican Basscreek 100xp Angler

(Best Overall)

Pelican Basscreek 100xp Angler
  • Multiple storage spaces
  • A cushioned seat, adjustable backrest & footrests
  • Stable twin-arched multi-chine hull

2. Emotion Spitfire

(Best Budget)

Emotion Spitfire
  • Economical
  • UV-protected high-density polyethylene construction
  • Waterproof storage hatch

3. Intex Explorer K2

(Best Inflatable)

Intex Explorer K2
  • Puncture-resistant with 3 separate air chambers
  • Includes a pump, a repair patch & two oars
  • Lightweight (30.6 lbs.)

4. Lifetime Triton Angler 100

(Best for Whitewater)

Lifetime Triton Angler 100
  • Rigid & stable 31-inch-wide hull
  • Built-in skeg
  • Self-bailing scupper holes

5. Lifetime Tioga

(Best 2-Piece Set)

Lifetime Tioga
  • 2-kayak set with paddles
  • UV-protected high-density polyethylene construction
  • Storage hatch

6. Perception Kayaks Pescador Pilot 12

(Best Pedal-Driven)

Perception Kayaks Pescador Pilot 12
  • Removable pedal drive system
  • Fishfinder consoles & 4 fishing rod holders
  • One-handed rudder control with 360º turning

7. Lifetime Lotus

(Best Compact)

Lifetime Lotus
  • Easy to transport
  • 2-piece set with paddles
  • UV-protected high-density polyethylene construction

8. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100

(Stable)

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100
  • A wide, flat hull with a sharp bow & skeg
  • 6-inch rear & center hatches
  • Top-mount & two flush-mount fishing rod holders

9. Perception Kayaks Rambler 13.5

(Longest)

Perception Kayaks Rambler 13.5
  • Long 13 ft. 6 in. hull
  • High 550-lb weight capacity
  • One-piece leak-proof design with built-in buoyancy

10. Perception Kayaks Tribe 9.5

(Comfortable)

Perception Kayaks Tribe 9.5
  • Padded seat & an adjustable framed backrest
  • Molded knee/thigh areas
  • Multiple footrests

1. Best Overall Sit-On-Top Kayak: Pelican Basscreek 100xp Angler

Pelican Basscreek 100xp Angler

Photo: Pelican

  • Length: 10 ft.
  • Weight Capacity: 325 lbs.
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 50 lbs.

The Pelican Basscreek 100xp Angler is our best overall sit-on-top kayak because it is practical, comfortable, stable, has fishing accessories, and can be used by beginners to experts.

Practicality is incorporated by having multiple storage spaces. They include a front quick-lock hatch, a 4-inch dry hatch with a storage bag for keeping items like phones, a storage platform at the rear with bungee cords, and a bottle holder. These help you to keep your stuff organized.

As for comfort, the boat features an Ergofit G2 seating system, which has a padded cushioned seat and a backrest cushion that is adjustable for optimal back support. The footrests are also adjustable and have secure foot bracing mechanisms for holding your feet comfortably.

Pelican is known for optimizing their crafts for hydrodynamic efficiency and this one is no different. Combined with a twin-arched multi-chine hull, this ensures you get excellent stability while only spanning 30.5 inches wide.

This stability comes in very handy when fishing because it prevents you from tipping over when casting or reeling in. That said, the kayak is fitted with a swivel rod holder plus multiple accessory eyelets to attach extra fishing gear.

Other than that, the unit is ideal for all kinds of users because it offers excellent tracking and agility. You also get a durable high molecular weight polyethylene construction that is coated in an olive camo color that befits the outdoors.

The only problem is that no paddles are included with the boat. However, you can get these separately at an affordable price.

Pros:

  • Multiple storage spaces
  • Cushioned seat with an adjustable backrest
  • Adjustable footrests with secure foot bracing
  • Stable twin-arched multi-chine hull
  • Swivel rod holder plus multiple accessory eyelets

Cons:

  • No paddles

2. Best Budget Sit-On-Top Kayak: Emotion Spitfire

Emotion Spitfire

Photo: Emotion

  • Length: 9 ft.
  • Weight Capacity: 350 lbs.
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 45 lbs.

This watercraft packs in a lot of features at a bargain. It is built using UV-protected high-density polyethylene, which ensures maximum durability.

A waterproof storage hatch is built beneath the deck to keep delicate items like cellphones while net lacing at the front and rear enable you to tie down non-delicate cargo.

Self-bailing scupper holes ensure you remain dry inside by draining water from the cockpit and tank well while a built-in CRS seat gives you a comfortable resting place. There is also a padded backrest and this is adjustable for perfect back support.

The boat is relatively lightweight because it weighs only 45 lbs. and despite this, it can carry up to 350 lbs., which is very impressive. That said, it has front and rear handles for easy carrying to the lake.

On the downside, no paddles are included. Also, the kayak is quite short and it lacks a skeg. This makes tracking very difficult and therefore, you should only use it on calm, slow-moving waters.

Pros:

  • Reasonably priced
  • UV-protected high-density polyethylene construction
  • Waterproof storage hatch
  • Self-bailing scupper holes
  • Comfortable CRS seat and padded backrest

Cons:

  • No paddles
  • Not ideal for whitewater kayaking

3. Best Inflatable Sit-On-Top Kayak: Intex Explorer K2

Intex Explorer K2

Photo: Intex

  • Length: 10 ft. 3 in
  • Weight Capacity: 400 lbs.
  • Material: Vinyl
  • Weight: 30.6 lbs.

If you prefer the inflatable kayak type, we recommend Intex’s Explorer K2. The unit is durably built using heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl material and has 3 separate air chambers that ensure you remain buoyant in case of puncturing.

You also get a rigid & comfortable inflatable I-beam floor and Boston valves for quick inflation/deflation. Included in the set is a high-output air pump for puffing the boat up, a repair patch for mending punctures, two aluminum paddles, and a carry bag.

The boat has a 400-lb weight capacity and can carry 2 people on its inflatable seats, which have adjustable backrests. Despite this, it is the most lightweight sit-on-top kayak in this review because it weighs only 30.6 lbs. This makes it very easy to transport.

A removable skeg is included for better tracking performance but there are no pockets, hatches, or storage platforms for organizing your gear/items. Also, you don’t get multiple footrest positions to keep your feet comfortable.

More Detailed: Click here

Pros:

  • Heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl construction
  • 3 separate air chambers
  • Includes a pump, two oars, a repair patch, and a carry bag
  • Lightweight design with a 2-person capacity
  • Removable skeg for directional stability

Cons:

  • No storage spaces
  • Lacks multiple footrest positions

4. Best Whitewater Sit-On-Top Kayak: Lifetime Triton Angler 100

Lifetime Triton Angler 100

Photo: Lifetime

  • Length: 10 ft.
  • Weight Capacity: 275 lbs.
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 48 lbs.

For whitewater kayaking, we highly recommend Lifetime’s Triton Angler 100 because it has a rigid & stable 31-inch-wide hull plus a built-in skeg for directional stability. This gives you excellent tracking performance, which is ideal for the rough waters.

On top of this, the boat has self-bailing scupper holes, which drain water out from the cockpit and tank well as you navigate on whitewater.

Aside from that, the unit has multiple footrest positions for comfortable foot placement as you sit on the padded seat. There is also an adjustable quick-release backrest for optimal back support.

One adjustable and two flush-mount rod holders are built in to enhance your fishing performance. On the downside, you get a low 275-lb weight capacity and there is no waterproof hatch.

Pros:

  • Rigid & stable 31-inch-wide hull
  • Built-in skeg
  • Self-bailing scupper holes
  • Multiple footrest positions
  • One adjustable & two flush-mount rod holders

Cons:

  • Low weight capacity
  • No hatch

5. Best 2-Piece Sit-On-Top Kayak Set: Lifetime Tioga

Lifetime Tioga

Photo: Lifetime

  • Length: 10 ft.
  • Weight Capacity: 275 lbs.
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 48 lbs.

Instead of buying a sit-on kayak with a 2-person capacity, you can get two separate pieces and Lifetime’s Tioga is the best set to consider. The two kayaks are made using UV-protected high-density polyethylene and have a bright lime color for easy visibility.

Each has its paddle included in the set and there are built-in paddle keepers for storing them onboard.

Front and rear storage compartments with bungee cords enable you to keep loose cargo tied down while a storage hatch at the middle helps to keep your phone and keys safe.

The boat has a stable flat bottom with chine rails and deep tracking channels to give you directional stability. You also get multiple footrest positions, front & rear T-handles for easy transportation, and an adjustable quick-release backrest.

However, the deck seat is not padded and each kayak has a low 275-lb weight capacity.

Pros:

  • 2-kayak set with paddles
  • UV-protected high-density polyethylene construction
  • Front and rear bungee storage compartments
  • Storage hatch
  • Multiple footrest positions

Cons:

  • Non-padded seat
  • Low weight capacity

6. Best Pedal-Driven Sit-On-Top Kayak: Perception Kayaks Pescador Pilot 12

Perception Kayaks Pescador Pilot 12

Photo: Perception Kayaks

  • Length: 12 ft. 5 in.
  • Weight Capacity: 475 lbs.
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 85 lbs.

Perception Kayaks’ Pescador Pilot 12 has the most unique design in our sit-on-top kayak review because it is pedal-driven. The pedal drive system is removable and can be recessed into the hull for zero-draft. This comes in very handy when launching or docking.

The system can also propel the boat in reverse and this design leaves your hands free so that you can fish as you move in any direction. That said, the kayak is fully equipped for fishing because it has fish finder consoles, gear tracks, and 4 molded-in rod holders.

An ergonomic breathable mesh captain’s chair with 2 adjustment levels and a high adjustable backrest keeps you comfortably seated as you pedal. You also get multiple storage spaces (rear, front, and under the seat), a drink holder, and a one-handed rudder control with 360º turning.

A UV, impact & abrasion-resistant high-density polyethylene construction ensures maximum durability while a leak-proof one-piece design with built-in buoyancy assures you of not sinking. The only issues are that these features make the boat heavy and expensive. It is worth the money though.

Pros:

  • Removable pedal drive system
  • Fishfinder consoles, gear tracks, and 4 molded-in rod holders
  • Ergonomic breathable mesh captain’s chair
  • One-handed rudder control with 360º turning
  • Leak-proof one-piece design

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Very expensive

7. Best Compact Sit-On-Top Kayak: Lifetime Lotus

Lifetime Lotus

Photo: Lifetime

  • Length: 8 ft.
  • Weight Capacity: 250 lbs.
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 38 lbs.

Coming in at only 8-ft in length, this kayak is the most compact one in the review. It is also quite lightweight and this makes transportation easy. The Lotus actually comes as a set of 2 kayaks and each has its paddle included in the set.

The pieces are made using UV-protected high-density polyethylene and have tank well storage spaces with bungee cords. On the lower side, the hull has a stable design with multiple chines for stability and twin skegs for excellent tracking.

Multiple footrests on the deck enable you to position your legs comfortably depending on your height while the adjustable backrest gives you optimal back support. You also get scupper holes to drain water out of the cockpit and tank well.

However, you don’t get a padded seat and the boat’s 250-lb weight capacity is very low. If you are too heavy, this is not for you.

Pros:

  • Easy to transport
  • 2-piece set with paddles
  • UV-protected high-density polyethylene construction
  • Multiple chines and twin skegs for stability
  • Adjustable backrest

Cons:

  • Non-padded seat
  • Low weight capacity

8. Stable Sit-On-Top Kayak: Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100

Photo: Lifetime

  • Length: 10 ft.
  • Weight Capacity: 275 lbs.
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 52 lbs.

Lifetime’s Tamarack Angler 100 is characterized by a wide 31-inch hull that has a stable flat bottom, a sharp bow for speed & tracking, and a tracking skeg for directional stability. This design helps you to paddle in a straight line while also preventing you from tipping over.

6-inch rear and center hatches give you enough room to store all your valuables safely while front & rear bungee slots enable you to tie down all loose cargo.

The kayak is designed for fishing because it has a top-mount and two flush-mount fishing rod holders. It also has two water bottle holders and self-bailing scupper holes. On the downside, no paddles are included.

More Detailed: Click here

Pros:

  • A wide, flat hull with a sharp bow and skeg
  • 6-inch rear and center hatches
  • Top-mount and two flush-mount fishing rod holders
  • Self-bailing scupper holes
  • Two water bottle holders

Cons:

  • No paddles

9. Longest Sit-On-Top Kayak: Perception Kayaks Rambler 13.5

Perception Kayaks Rambler 13.5

Photo: Perception Kayaks

  • Length: 13 ft. 6 in.
  • Weight Capacity: 550 lbs.
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 78 lbs.

With its 13 ft. 6 in. long hull, this Rambler is the longest sit-on-top kayak in our review. It can also carry the most weight (550 lbs.) and has two seats to accommodate two people on board. On top of this, you get a mold-in center seat for your kid or dog.

The two main seats are removable and padded for comfort. They have adjustable backrests for holding your back in the best position while multiple footrests make it possible to fit in paddlers of different heights.

A one-piece leak-proof design with built-in buoyancy is assured to keep you afloat at all times. That said, the vessel is built using UV, impact, and abrasion-resistant polyethylene with wear-proof colors and rust-resistant hardware. This makes it ideal for sea kayaking.

At the rear is a large storage-well with bungee cords for securing loose cargo but there is no hatch to keep your valuables and no paddles are included.

Pros:

  • Long 13 ft. 6 in. hull with a mold-in and 2 padded seats
  • High 550-lb weight capacity
  • One-piece leak-proof design with built-in buoyancy
  • UV, impact, and abrasion-resistant polyethylene construction
  • Large rear storage well with bungee cords

Cons:

  • No hatch
  • No paddles

10. Comfortable Sit-On-Top Kayak: Perception Kayaks Tribe 9.5

Perception Kayaks Tribe 9.5

Photo: Perception Kayaks

  • Length: 9 ft. 5 in.
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lbs.
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight: 46 lbs.

Apart from having a cushy padded seat pan and an adjustable framed backrest, the Tribe 9.5 molded knee/thigh areas that support your feet for additional comfort. You also get multiple footrests to help you position your feet comfortably according to your height.

The kayak is equipped with front and rear tank well storages that have bungee cords for tying down loose cargo. A center storage hatch and a built-in drink holder are included for convenience and to help you organize your items.

There are handles on both ends & sides to help in transporting the boat to the water and back to the cart. Scupper holes help to drain water out of the cockpit as you paddle so that you remain buoyant.

However, you don’t get a skeg to help improve tracking. This makes the boat ideal for coastal water with light waves, flat-water lakes, and slow-moving rivers. Also, there are no built-in rod holders.

Pros:

  • Cushy padded seat pan and an adjustable framed backrest
  • Molded knee/thigh areas
  • Multiple footrests
  • Front, rear and side handles
  • Scupper holes for water draining

Cons:

  • Not ideal for whitewater
  • No rod holders

How to Buy the Best Sit On Top Kayaks

How to Buy the Best Sit On Top Kayaks

Photo: Lifetime

1. Purpose

The primary determining factor when choosing a sit-on-top kayak should be your purpose. Some are fitted with rod holders and fish finder consoles for fishing purposes. Others have skegs and deep channels under the hull for better stability on whitewater.

Read More: The Best Fishing Kayaks

There are also recreational kayaks that are designed to be stable and comfortable while for touring purposes, you need ample storage space to pack your supplies. Ultimately, these features should guide you to pick the best vessel that suits your purpose.

2. Kayak Size

A kayak’s length and width measurements have a direct impact on its performance. Long & narrow crafts are generally built for speed while short & wide units are built for stability when maneuvering sharp corners.

That said, large kayaks have an upper hand because they give you more loading space. For instance, the Rambler 13.5 can fit two adults, a kid or pet, and cargo, which makes it very practical for a small family.

3. Weight Capacity

Measured in pounds, the higher the weight capacity, the better because this means you can load more weight to the boat without sinking. This should go hand-in-hand with the seating capacity in which, a kayak with more seats should have a higher weight capacity.

Therefore, the best way to check this is by comparing the weight limit of those that have the same seating capacity. For instance, in the 1-person capacity category, Emotion’s Spitfire can carry the heaviest weight due to its 350-lb capacity.

4. Seats

The best type of kayak seat should be padded for comfort and have an adjustable backrest for better back support. This is very important, especially if you will be spending a lot of time on the water.

5. Stability and Durability

Stability is primarily determined by the boat’s width and the wider the better (a width of at least 30 inches is recommended). Features like skegs, chine rails, and tracking channels are also important for directional stability.

As for durability, most of these kayaks are built using UV, impact, and abrasion-resistant materials. However, Perception Kayaks’ Rambler 13.5 takes it a step further by adding on rust-resistant hardware, which makes it very durable and seaworthy.

6. Kayak Weight

Lastly, you should check the kayak’s weight for portability purposes. Lightweight units are easier to handle, especially when alone.

Apart from weighing only 30.6 lbs., Intex’s Explorer K2 is inflatable, which means you can fold it up after use. This makes it the easiest one to transport.

FAQs

1. Are Sit-On-Top Kayaks More Stable?

This depends on its width. Generally, sit-on-top kayaks are built to be wide enough to counter the high center of gravity caused by your weight on the elevated seat. That said, you should look for at least a 30-inch width for the best stability.

2. How to Carry a Sit-On-Top Kayak by Yourself?

The easiest way is to place it on your shoulder. You can place it here by grabbing one of the side handles while kneeling with one leg extended to the front (90º angle at the knee). Place the kayak on your thigh then grab both handles and flip it over to place it upside down on your shoulders.

3. How to Store a Sit-On-Top Kayak?

The best way to store it is on a kayak storage rack. If the rack is outdoors, cover the kayak with a UV and water-resistant cover to minimize degradation.

Conclusion

As we conclude, we recommend Pelican’s Basscreek 100xp Angler as the best overall sit-on-top kayak because it has everything you need as a beginner or expert. This includes multiple storage spaces, a comfortable seat, fishing features, and a stable hull.

However, if you prefer the portability advantage of inflatable kayaks, you should check out Intex’s Explorer K2. It has a durable puncture-resistant vinyl construction with 3 separate air chambers to guarantee buoyancy.

You can also look at Perception Kayaks’ Pescador Pilot 12 if you like the convenience offered by a hands-free pedal-driven system. This vessel is also heavily equipped for fishing.

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