Ultimate Review of The Best Sit on Top Kayaks in 2020

Nothing much beats a day out on the water kayaking in the heat of summer.

In a kayak, you get an up-close and personal view of the surrounding aquatic habitat and have the freedom to paddle where large boats can’t reach. Plus, without a noisy engine in tow, you always have a better shot at scoping out wildlife or landing a prized catch.

However, if you’ve ever been out on the water for an extended period in a closed-style kayak, you may have realized it isn’t always the most comfortable situation to be in for a longer time.

You might feel cramped and are likely to notice your feet or legs feeling tingly with pins and needles.

Now, before you decide kayaking isn’t right for you, you should know that there’s an alternative that lets you enjoy every second in the water without that cramped feeling.

Enter the best sit on top kayaks.

Also known as SOT, the best sit on top kayaks are considered the most user-friendly yaks, thanks to their open deck design.

Unlike their closed counterparts, SOT kayaks offer plenty of wiggle room, while the open deck design allows easy entry and exit without risking falling into the water.

The SOT kayaks are also an inspiring option for beginners and nervous kayakers because they’re wider, thus offering greater stability.

Now, whether you need a true touring SOT kayak or something smaller to paddle on your local pond, our best sit on top kayak review will present you with the best choices on the market.

And if you’re interested in what makes a sit on top kayak great, our comprehensive buying guide will answer all your questions.

Table of Contents

Quick Comparison Table!

Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10 ft

4.8

4.8/5

Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak

4.6

4.6/5

Ocean Kayak Frenzy

4.5

4.5/5

Tamarack Angler 100

4.3

4.3/5

Lifetime 10 Foot Tandem Kayak

4.0

4/5

The Best Sit on Top Kayaks For The Money

The Best Sit on Top Kayaks For The Money

#1 Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10 ft – EDITOR’S CHOICE

4.7/5
4.2/5
4.8/5

Finding a good kayak that won’t break the bank can be a real struggle. But if you look into it closely, you’re bound to come across the Sun Dolphin Bali, a practical sit on top kayak that lets you get on the water without paying the earth.

While it might not offer the bells and whistles of premium options, it’s a great entry-level option for beginners and kids, offering everything they would need for starting their kayaking experience.

But, is it the right option for you? We’ve given it the once over to check out its main features and help you decide if it’s the right one for you.

Features and Benefits

Build quality

Build quality is an essential element of a kayak, and, fortunately, the Sun Dolphin Bali doesn’t fail in this department.

The kayak utilizes high-density polyethylene reinforced with Fortiflex material on the shell.

This material blend is unique to the Sun Dolphin as it helps strengthen the hull and protect it from harsh elements like salt, water debris, and water ruggedness.

Besides the physical toughness, the material is also UV-resistant; a benefit that makes this a go-to option for long trips on sunny days.

Comfort

When it comes to performance, this yak a couple of things to make your day in the water more comfortable.

For instance, the adjustable foot braces, which slide easily into position to suit your leg length, promote greater stability on the water.

The seat is also molded into the yak’s hull, though it features a padded seat back for greater comfort even after extended use.

We also love the spacious seating area, and with the width of the yak at 30 inches, you should have plenty of wiggle room.

Performance

The Bali, with a hull length of just 10 feet, is easy to maneuver through the water. The short, wide profile also helps with control and stability in the choppy waters, which is vital for beginners who’re not used to paddling a kayak.

The hull’s unique rocker design also helps with stability, and users are happy at how the kayak tracks and cuts through the water with ease.

And coming in at only 44 pounds, it is lightweight too, and this might help with paddling. However, the lightness is also an inconvenience if the wind picks up, as you might find it more challenging to stay on course.

Storage

The Sun Dolphin doesn’t lack storage space.

It comes with rear dry storage, keeping your valuables protected from the water and elements. On the sides, you’ll also find two mesh compartments so you can easily reach out to your favorite items.

The bungee cords ensure you can hold everything you need safely for your camping trip, while the paddle and rod holders neatly provide an occasional hands-free operation.

Pros

Cons

#2 Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak – Best Inflatable Kayak

4.6/5
4.3/5
4.6/5

When shopping for a good sit on top kayak, the biggest issue is the ease of storage and transportation, but this is not a problem with the Sevylor Quikpak.

This kayak is a pretty lightweight option, allowing you to quickly deflate and fold it into a bag. It also comes with handles offering great convenience when lifting your yak in and out of the water.

Of course, as with any inflatable, it’s normal to be concerned with the practicality of the Sevylor Quikpak, but, rest assured, this boat has everything in place for a fantastic performance.

Features and Benefits

Build quality

Durability is always the biggest concern with an inflatable, but there is no need to worry with the Sevylor Quikpak.

This boat utilizes 21-gauge PVC, which can withstand frequent usage, strain, and exposure on lakes and slow-moving rivers.

The tarpaulin bottom also offers extra protection against scraping and bumping over submerged obstacles so you don’t have to worry when riding across sharp rocks or tree branches.

Multiple chamber design

To prevent similar problems to the Titanic, this boat comes with multiple air chambers and a clever, unique design mitigating the impact of puncture wounds.

If the kayak gets punctured on your journey, only the air chamber with the puncture loses air and deflates. The rest of the boat’s chambers remain intact and inflated, meaning it’s possible to stay afloat even with a puncture.

Comfort

Comfort should be the least of your concerns when riding on an air-filled boat.

The foam seat and backrest on the Sevylor Quikpak offer unmatched support, helping prevent the mid-journey backaches of some kayak seats.

Additionally, the multi-level footrests offer excellent leg comfort, regardless of your height.

Overall, the Sevylor Quikpak is the perfect inflatable kayak, allowing you to sit back, stretch out, and relax while floating over the water.

Performance

One of the issues we had with this kayak is the on-water performance.

If you’re looking for a kayak with on-water capabilities, it would be best if you looked at the Sun Dolphin.

Don’t get me wrong. If you’re simply looking to have a casual day with friends just floating around, the Sevylor Quikpak is as good a choice as any.

However, if you need something with notable paddling performance, the Sevylor Quikpak might disappoint you.

The skegs on this boat are small, and not enough to make the boat track, meaning you’ll certainly be buffeted by windy conditions.

Ease of set-up

The Sevylor Quikpak K1 probably gets part of its name from the clever backpack system used for carrying the deflated kayak and using it as a seat.

This option is also easy to set up, with the manufacturer claiming it takes less than seven minutes to have it ready.

Accessories

We didn’t expect the Sevylor Quikpak to come with a ton of accessories or even storage for its price.

Surprisingly, this option comes with a powerful hand pump and two paddles. The back of the carry bag also unfolds to form the seat and backrest offering convenient and spacious seating.

Plus, the Sevylor Quikpak has a generous weight capacity of 400 pounds, making it excellent for overweight users who want to exercise.

Pros

Cons

#3 Ocean Kayak Frenzy – Best Recreational Kayak

4.4/5
4.5/5
4.5/5

Whether you want to go for a light paddle, explore local coves, do some casual fishing, or simply swimming, there’s no better way than with a recreational kayak.

There are plenty of these on the market, but if you’re looking for an all-around option which beginners can use with ease, you can’t go wrong with the Ocean Kayak Frenzy.

Ideally suited for flatter waters, including mild rivers, the Ocean Kayak Frenzy is a casual kayaker’s delight.

Features and Benefits

Build quality

Paddlers agree the Ocean Kayak Frenzy is a tough little kayak. The high-density polyethylene, a standard material for kayaks, is reliable and doesn’t show any signs of damage even after hitting rocks and other obstacles.

It’s also a rust-free option, eliminating wear and tear when not being used for a while.

And that’s not all, there’s more.

Unlike metal-based options, the polyethylene on the Ocean Kayak Frenzy doesn’t require any maintenance, and you won’t have to worry about it deteriorating if kept unused for extended periods.

Comfort

The folks at Ocean Kayak have hit the nail on the head when it comes to overall comfort.

The adjustable Comfort Plus seats are adequately padded, allowing you to kayak for hours on end without experiencing back fatigue.

Additionally, the multiple molded-in footwells offer the perfect sitting position, tailored for your height.

Overall, the Ocean Kayak Frenzy is a joy to use, and won’t tire you out even when used for extended sessions.

Performance

Our biggest concerns about speed and performance melted away once we got onto the water.

This kayak tracks superbly for being so short, even when taking large and long strokes.

It’s also super-fast with some effort, though, of course, we accept it can’t match the speed of a long touring kayak.

At 31′ wide, the Ocean Kayak Frenzy has fantastic stability, and you’ll never have the feeling that you could flip over on this kayak.

The breadth helps with stability even in bigger waves and enhances the yak’s overall responsiveness.

Nevertheless, the biggest contributor to stability is the tri-form hull design, which improves tracking and steadiness even in choppy waters.

Weight and weight capacity

At nine feet long and weighing 43 pounds, moving the Ocean Kayak Frenzy is simple. The carrying handles at both the bow and stern ends help with easy lifting.

The Ocean Kayak Frenzy also comes with a generous weight capacity of 325 pounds, sufficient to hold average-sized adults and leave extra space for kayaking gear.

Accessories

Like a genuine premium option, the Ocean Kayak Frenzy comes with a host of handy accessories to make your kayaking experience more enjoyable.

The cup holders let you kick back and relax when taking a breather from paddling, while the scupper holder will stop the kayak from flooding from water coming in over the deck.

Pros

Cons

#4 Tamarack Angler 100 – Best for Fishing

4.3/5
4.5/5
4.3/5

If we were to pick a multi-purpose kayak, the Tamarack Angler 100 would fit the bill as it works well in a host of different situations.

It can be used in rivers, lakes, and backyard ponds. It’s equally good at racking up miles as acting as a fishing kayak.

Features and Benefits

Build quality

A standout feature on this kayak is the level of durability.

Despite being a relatively affordable kayak, it doesn’t cut corners with durability; the high-density polyethylene offers excellent strength.

The material also safeguards the kayak against UV rays, and generally, you won’t have to be concerned with dings, peeling, or even distortion to the vessel.

And that’s not all.

The kayak feature chain rails help control and enhance stability, offering the perfect balance between maneuverability and tracking.

Comfort

If I had to dock a point or two, it would be because of the seating. While the seats are relatively comfortable, they become less so the longer you stay out on the water.

Additionally, while the two-part seat features an adjustable back, several anglers complained it wasn’t very comfortable.

Understandably, it’s easy to see why the Tamarack Angler keeps its price low.

Performance

Performance isn’t the best, and in terms of stability, the Tamarack falls in the mid-range.

While you certainly won’t flip over, it’s best if you don’t move around too much while standing up.

Most of the stability is the result of the chine rails and the larger than wide dimensions.

When it comes to manoeuvrability, the Tamarack Angler 100 is easy to pilot, turning on a dime, and most anglers reported that it tracked well.

Best for fishing

The Tamarack Angler 100 is built for fishing and it’s easy to see why from the accessories.

It comes with two types of rod holders- both flush and top-mounted- that are already attached.

And measuring around ten feet long it not only means it’s easy to fit into the kayak comfortably, but it leaves plenty of storage space.

Pros

Cons

#5 Lifetime 10 Foot Tandem Kayak – Best for Two People

4.2/5
4.6/5
4/5

The 10 ft. Lifetime Sport Fisher is one of the most versatile fishing kayaks on the market. The comfortable, tiered seating allows for the kayak to be comfortably paddled by one or two people, and can even carry a third, smaller passenger in the middle seat.  

Features and Benefits

Build quality

The Lifetime Sport Fisher is made from Roto-molded polyethylene and the paddles are of molded polymer and aircraft-grade aluminum. 

It can be used in rivers, lakes, and backyard ponds. It’s equally good at racking up miles as acting as a fishing kayak. 

Comfort

The yak comes with two kayak paddles, and two padded backrests which can be moved to any of the three seating positions. The tunnel hull design can manage a 500lb weight capacity and it’s incredibly stable.

Performance
The 10 ft. Lifetime Sport Fisher’s hull design provides ultra-stability and great tracking. The yak features front and rear molded paddle cradle and paddle clips on both sides.

Fishing

The Lifetime 10 foot tandem kayak has three, flush-mounted fishing rod holders, and a six inch hatch for added storage access beneath the deck. It is also designed to accept the Lifetime Power Mate motor mount accessory (sold separately) making it possible to add an electric trolling motor to your kayak.

Pros

Cons

Best Sit On Top Kayak Buying Guide

Best Sit On Top Kayak Buying Guide

With plenty of options to consider, choosing the right SOT kayak for your needs can be a bit daunting.

To help with the selection, we’ve whittled down a comprehensive buying guide, outlining the crucial factors to consider before your next purchase.

But before I share the tips with you, let’s look at the different types of sit on top kayaks.

Types of sit on top kayaks

There are many different types of kayaks, but here we shall only focus on the four popular types;

Surf kayaks are designed for riding the ocean surf.

They’re characterized by a short, wide design for stability and have many curves on the hull.

Though they’re great at surfing, they tend to be slow on flat water.

Recreational

Recreational sit on kayaks are made for general use and tend to be good all-rounders.

They don’t necessarily excel at anything but are more suited to flat water than surf.

Touring

Touring SOTs are designed for longer trips and come with plenty of storage for supplies to last a day or two.

They’re fairly long and track well through the water.

Scuba

SOTs made for scuba divers are stable enough to stand up to waves and slightly choppy water.

While scuba kayaks don’t need a lot of storage space, they should feature an area big enough to carry a diving cylinder.

How to choose the best SOT kayak

Once you’ve identified the purpose of kayak you need to suit your activity, the next consideration is picking an option with the right features.

Here are some of the features to consider when making a sit on top kayak purchase;

Build quality/ material

The two major types of kayak build materials are inflatable and hard shell.

Inflatables have their obvious challenges, but are inexpensive and portable. They might be a fantastic option for those with smaller cars or if you need your roof rack for other items.

For the hard shell, there are several types, notably composite and polyethylene. Here, you’ve the option of going with carbon, graphite, glass composite, or Kevlar.

Your choice will depend on your purpose, the intended water type, and the overall cost.

Kayak size and passengers

When choosing a SOT kayak, you need to consider the length and width of the vessel.

For instance, if you plan to bring a partner or your child with you, a tandem kayak would serve best.

If you plan to go fishing, a sit on top kayak with extra space would help.

The plus-sized user would also want to have a kayak with more room for themselves and their gear, so a larger SOT kayak would be a great choice.

Weight capacity

Another point of concern is the weight capacity of the kayak.

The weight capacity refers to the amount of weight a kayak can effectively hold without compromising its performance.

Ideally, tandem kayaks have the highest weight allowance, with some exceeding 600 pounds.

Hull & seat design

If you plan to spend long hours on the water, you need to pick a comfortable seat. Those searching for a SOT kayak for transportation or exercise should opt for a more robust, hardened seat.

At the same time, consider the hull design. California hulls are known for their stability, speed, and are cited for performance. On the other hand, Chine hulls are available in soft, hard, or hybrid.

The soft chine gives your yak a cylindrical shape and is suited for speed. Hard chines are chunky and come in handy when stability is needed, while hybrids or multi-chines sit somewhere between the two.

Speed and propulsion

Speed is a personal choice and here you can either use a foot pedal or arm paddles for propulsion.

For maximum speed, arm paddling is the better option as it offers better control when navigating and turning.

Wrap Up: Our Choice

WRAP UP OUR CHOICE

All the features offered by sit on top kayaks are fantastic, especially where their performance is concerned.

But, if we were to select one option, we would recommend the Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10 ft.

It’s a practical solution for anglers as it’s equipped with a myriad of features.

First, it sports a durable shell that isn’t compromised by the ruggedness of mother nature, the elements, or rough handling.

It’s also a comfortable option, with its padded seats and adjustable foot braces that help make the overall angling experience a joy.

More importantly, this boat strikes a balance between performance and cost. It’s one of the budget-friendly SOT kayaks, which doesn’t sacrifice performance, offering real value for money.

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