fbpx Clicky

Sit on Top vs Sit inside Kayak : Which One is Better?

Sit on top vs sit inside kayak

What’s the difference between a sit on top kayak vs a sit inside kayak? Which one is better for you? In this blog post, we’ll tell you all you need to know about these types of kayaks so that you can decide which ones are best for your needs.

A lot of people don’t know that there are two main styles of kayaks: sit on top and sit inside. Sit on top boats usually have a deck around them with an opening in the middle, while sit inside have no deck or any other openings in the boat at all. The two types offer different pros and cons, but which one will work best for you depends mainly on the type of water conditions each type would be most suited to.

What is a sit-inside kayak?

What is a sit-inside kayak?

A sit-inside kayak is a type of kayak with no deck and no openings in the boat, making it more custom for ocean conditions. Inside the boat, there are usually two moulded seats where the paddlers sit to steer the kayak. Since this design keeps water out of the cockpit entirely, it allows you to stay dry inside the boat while still allowing for excellent stability. These days, many people who use sit inside kayaks also attach an inflatable flotation to their kayak to ensure safety.

Sit-in kayaks are ideal if you want a dryer ride or just prefer sitting in your boat because of how it makes you feel as opposed to paddling and standing up like most other types of kayaks allow you to do. They’re great for ocean conditions and very stable since they have a lot more room for water that can keep the vessel afloat when capsized than sit on top boats would have. You’ll need some practice before using these boats; however, since there is no deck or openings where your feet will be, you need to know how to roll the kayak properly to get back on top.

These kayaks are ideal for use in lakes, oceans, and other safe water conditions.

What are sit on top kayaks?

What are sit on top kayaks?

Sit on top kayaks are different from sit inside in that they have a deck all around the boat and an opening through which your legs can go to get you into and out of the water. Since there is no opening for your feet like some boats, they’re also much more stable than other types of kayaks because they have such a broad base area since you can stand up in them as well.

This makes sit on top kayaks great for fishing (since you can access your equipment easily), but not so great if it’s rough outside since water will get into the cockpit faster when capsized. This makes sit on tops best suited for lake waters instead of ocean or river conditions where high waves may make it harder to stay upright.

These kayaks are best suited for calm waters, but as long as you’re in a position to stand up when capsized, you’ll find that the boat can be very stable.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Sit On Top Kayak

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Sit On Top Kayak
  • Sitting on top kayaks are usually more stable, while sit insides are more customisable.
  • Sit on tops are generally easier to get in and out of. Some boats allow you to do it by simply sitting down where your legs automatically go through the opening at the bottom. When using a sit inside, however, you may need to put your feet into the proper position before laying back so that they don’t get caught under you when getting back into the boat.
  • Since there is a lot less space in a sit inside kayak than what’s available with a sit on top, some people find them harder to control and manoeuvre around since there isn’t as much room for error or momentum needs be. On the other hand, some people prefer to sit insides since they can customise them precisely for their body and liking.
  • Sit on tops are more prone to be tossed around by the wind and waves.
  • When sitting in a sit on top kayak, you get a comprehensive view of the water which can be good if you’re looking for something nearby that may have been submerged in the water like a lost fishing hook or equipment or even just want to search the area itself. However, this may also mean that it’s harder to concentrate on watching your direction when paddling since there’s so much going on at once with every bit of change happening in front of you.
  • Sit-on-tops are the most user-friendly.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Sit inside Kayaks

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Sit inside Kayaks
  • Sit insides are more customisable, while sitting on top kayaks are easier to get in and out of
  • You sit inside a sit inside kayak, or you can stand up to paddle around, which is not as ideal for ocean conditions but is better if you’re in a lake or river.
  • Since there’s more space available with all the hatches that allow you to customise your gear, it’s also easier to put things away so that they don’t end up in the way. This may be less convenient when needing something urgently since everything isn’t always within reach.
  • In addition, some people find the feel of paddling more comfortable if they can stand up and have a greater range of movement, like being able to easily stay upright without having to lean a certain way or even be able to stretch their legs out more. On the other hand, some people prefer sitting in kayaks if they’re feeling tired since it generally offers a more comfortable position and is less tiring while still allowing you to paddle around when needed.
  • Sit insides tend to be more stable against the wind and waves.
  • This means that sit insides are better for ocean conditions than sit on top kayaks, which are better in calmer waters.
  • It’s important to know, though that, just because a boat may seem like it’s easier to handle, this doesn’t mean you should venture into ocean waters unless you have experience handling stronger waves or your boat has been proven safe for rough waters. You also want to make sure that you have someone with you who has experience handling ocean conditions.



There are several things to consider here.

  • First, if your primary concern is safety, then sit-in may not be as safe as sit-on-top because the centre of gravity is closer to the bottom of the hull. Because sit-inside kayaks have a significantly lower centre of gravity, they are also generally much more narrow than most sit-on-top kayak designs. If you’re concerned about this, sit-on-top might be safer.
  • Second, sit-on-tops tend to be heavier than sit-ins, making them harder to paddle fast over long distances.
  • Third, sit-ons usually come equipped with spray skirts (skirts that prevent water from getting in when you’re on the water). In terms of comfort, sit-ons are harder to get out of.

If you’re looking for something really stable, then sit-in might not be your best bet. Sit-ons tend to be much sturdier because their weight distribution is spread out over a larger area. They offer greater control as well. If you want maximum stability, go sit on top!

If we were comparing only these two types of boats, I’d say sit-in would win hands down. But if we’re talking about all kinds of kayaks, then sit-on-tops come out ahead because they offer greater versatility. Sit-ins don’t work well as fishing kayaks, but they do OK as general-purpose touring kayaks. They also handle very well in rough conditions like waves and wind.

Choose the one that’s best suited for your needs, whether it’s having easy access to get in and out while paddling in calmer waters or a more customised fit for you regardless of what situation you’re in.

You’ll also need to consider which features appeal to you most, like how accessible extra equipment is with both types, but also how much storage space there is available when making your decision on which kayak is right for you.

Finally, always keep safety as a top priority no matter what you decide. Do some research about the different boats that are out there before deciding on one so that you know exactly what to look out for involving safety features.



The fundamentals of boat design are the same for sit-on-top and sit-inside kayaks. You can get a good idea of how a boat will perform by paying attention to three main factors: length, width, and rocker. 

The basic shape of any kayak is dictated by its intended use. Sit-in kayaks tend to be narrow because their cockpit provides space for two paddlers. They’re designed to carry one person comfortably while providing enough room for another if needed. This means there’s not much room inside the cockpit, so designers must find ways to maximise storage capacity.

Sit-on-tops are generally wide because they provide ample seating area for multiple passengers. A wider cockpit offers plenty of room for storage. Many sit-on-tops have a low rear end, called a rocker, in order to help them track well and cut through waves easily.

Length varies greatly depending on the type of water you’ll be paddling. A typical length is 12 feet, but longer kayaks are available for those who want more speed or greater capacity.

Inflatable kayaks are typically shorter than traditional hard-hull kayaks because they’re designed to offer lightweight craft that provides the same functionality as a boat with a hard hull at a much lower cost while still providing good stability and performance.

Width usually ranges between 28 inches and 46 inches. Widths can vary even further due to the different rockers and styles of kayaks. A wider hull increases stability making a boat easier to paddle for beginners.



The contour of your kayak refers to the shape of its cross-section. The advantage of a low profile is that it helps boats glide through the water quickly and efficiently while providing more storage capacity since there’s no need to make room for extra buoyancy in the hull. Low profiled boats also tend to be faster than other boats due to less drag from the water as they move forward, but this benefit comes at the cost of reduced overall stability. In rough conditions, especially when new to paddling, low profilers are better suited for people who have plenty of experience on the water or just want a faster, more sporty boat.

On the other end of the spectrum are high-profile hulls with a lot of built-in buoyancy and are designed to maximise flotation. They’re wider than low profilers, so they provide better stability for longer trips. High profile boats also perform better in rougher water because they catch waves quickly and handle them much easier than their counterparts. However, despite being more stable, it’s harder to go fast in these types of kayaks because there’s less drag on the water as you move forward.



Tour and white water kayaks are typically much more expensive than the average recreational SOT kayak. While sit-on-top kayaks generally are less expensive, there are exceptions to the rule, and fishermen’s kayaks are a great example of this. High-end costs can range from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the construction, materials, size, capacity, and comfort features. These models are typically less expensive than the average recreational kayak, but they are not the same type of kayak they are accustomed to using.



The Long narrow kayak is faster than the Small wide kayak, regardless of whether it is a sit-out or sit-on-top model. If the design becomes too long, the drag on the hull begins to cancel out some of the acceleration provided by the longer design.

If you want a versatile recreational kayak that can move several feet in length with less effort, you should start at about 12 feet. A significantly longer kayak would have fewer speed gains and would be more challenging to manoeuvre.

Onboard Storage and Space

Onboard Storage and Space

SOT kayaks have an open deck with dedicated well tanks, a tiedown area, and waterproof hatches on some of them. The large bulkhead compartment on SIK’s canoes maximises storage underneath the deck. A SOT, like a Fish Finder Battery or a GPS-equipped Kayak, is an excellent fishing tool. With a minimum of about 10 square feet under the boat, you can carry a cooler, wet gear bag and extra fishing equipment in several locations. The best feature is that these storage spaces are watertight, so they will not fill up if the kayaks take on water.

Sit-in kayaks are the preferred choice for long trips because they can easily accommodate tents or camping gear under the deck. The onboard floor space and storage options will also vary significantly based on the type of kayak you buy.

If both types of kayaks had the same deadweight, they would be equally fast and agile. The high water line and wider hull shape allow a SIT-IN kayak to have more storage capacity than a SOT. This provides space for camping gear or supplies that can be carried for multi-day trips.

With a SIK, you can easily paddle around the coast or enjoy extended tours over several days with camping gear and fishing equipment. You can even bring along extra passengers for longer excursions!

Sea Kayaks vs Recreational Kayaks

Sea Kayaks vs Recreational Kayaks

Sit-in-side kayaks are classified as either recreational or touring kayaks. Recreational boats are larger, shorter, and have a larger cockpit. Because touring or ocean kayaks are longer and narrower, they are much faster. They also have a thigh hook and a knee cup, which give you much more control over the boat’s crest. If speed is not a priority, choose a shorter kayak that is lighter and more comfortable to use. This tourer is more lightweight and easier to get out of. It also has a smaller cockpit, making it easier to get in and out of the boat. The smaller cockpit also allows you to handle the boat better.

One way to determine if a kayak is right for you is by measuring your leg length. If your legs are longer than your torso, a touring or ocean kayak will be more suitable for you.


FAQS Sit on top vs sit inside kayak

What are the different names for sit on top and sit in kayaks?

Sit-on-top kayak: this is a generic term used to describe these types of boats.

Rigid Kayaks: this is another name for sit on top or sit-in kayaks, and it refers to the fact that they have a hard shell.

Inflatable Kayaks: inflatable boats are smaller than rigid ones, but they provide the same functionality and are much more affordable. Paddlers can store them more efficiently as well since they’re so lightweight. They come with better tracking features than rigid hulls, such as an independent air chamber system (ICC), which helps keep your boat moving straight and provides additional safety in case you hit something underwater, like a rock or log Softshell Kayaks.

What are open deck and closed deck kayaks? Open deck kayaks have an opening between the cockpit and the water. This reduces drag, which helps you go faster as you paddle your boat, but it can also increase your chances of getting wet if you capsize since water will immediately flow through the hole and into the cockpit. Open decks aren’t recommended for beginners because they aren’t as stable as closed decks. Advanced paddlers will love it, though!

Closed deck kayaks are much more beginner-friendly than open deck ones. They’re also a lot safer because, in case of any spills or capsizes, water won’t flow into the hull through any holes located around its perimeter. This type of kayak is usually equipped with self draining scupper holes that allow water to drain out to prevent swamping and reduce drag when you move forward.

You can use your feet to keep the boat steady and prevent it from tipping over if you get in trouble while on open deck kayaks, but closed deck ones are too narrow for that.

Conclusion: Which one is better?

To really determine which kind of sit on top vs sit inside kayak is right for you depends on what conditions you’ll be using it in most. If you plan on spending most of your time in lakes and rivers where there won’t be too much risk of strong winds or rough ocean waters, then a traditional sit-in kayak would probably work best since they have more room for dry storage and places to keep your gear secure. However, if your primary use will be on open water with high waves and little chance of calm weather, then a sit on top could be the right fit for you.

The most important thing to consider when deciding between a sea kayak vs a recreational kayak is how you’ll be using it. If speed and control are your primary concerns, you may want to go with an ocean kayak for better tracking. However, if comfort and storage capacity are more important to you than speed or manoeuvrability, a touring boat would work well no matter what kind of water conditions you have in mind.

Sharing is caring!

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

A bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

Related Posts

Subscribe To Our NewsLetter!

Scroll to Top