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Taking a day out on your sit-on-top kayak, either alone or with a friend, is a wonderful way to spend a day. It is a fantastic way to enjoy the nature that surrounds us and spend some quality time getting a bit of exercise.

Sit-on-top kayaks can provide a wide range of uses out there on the water. Due to their large and stable decks, they can be loaded up with a lot of luggage and taken for long tours.

Best kayak coolers and Camping gear allow you to island hop, or nip from shore to shore for multi-day journeys. Rails, storage space, and adjustable seats make kayak fishing an absolute dream.

No matter what you want to use your SOT kayak for, there is something out there for you. It is a widely loved activity and helps provide an accessible and universal way to pursue an active lifestyle.



Top Pick

Hobie Mirage Pro

  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Item Weight: 144.5 Pounds

Simple & Straightforward

Perception Tribe 11’5”

  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Item Weight: 52 Pounds

Upgraded Version

Pelican Sentinel 9’5”

  • Material: plastic
  • Item Weight: 42 Pounds

Great Versatility

Sun Dolphin Bali 10’

  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Item Weight: 44 Pounds

Best Value

Topwater 120

  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Item Weight: 85 Pounds

Budget Option

Ascend FS12T

  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Item Weight: 77 Pounds

Compact Design

Tribe 9.5

  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Item Weight: 46 Pounds

Best Splurge

Old Town Bigwater

  • Material: Single Layer Polyethylene
  • Item Weight: 122 Pounds

More the Merrier

Ocean Kayak Malibu

  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Item Weight: 68 Pounds

Unmatched Functionality

Lifetime Triton 10’

  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Item Weight: 49 Pounds

10 Best Sit-On-Top Kayaks

If you’re looking for your next kayak purchase, the market can seem a little overwhelming. There are a million different styles, builds, and features to look out for.

If it is your first time looking to buy a sit-on-top kayak, then this list should help you get some idea of what it is you should be looking for. If you’re simply looking for a replacement sit-on-top kayak, then this article will help you narrow down your search.

Let me break down some of the best sit-on-top kayaks. You want to explore lakes, not websites. There should be something for everyone; the avid fisher, the affordable price beginner craft, and the whole family versatile boat.

Read on to find the top kayak for you.

1. Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 360

Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14.0 Kayak

We’re starting off this list with a fishing kayak that is a force to be reckoned with. This is the Ferrari of fishing kayaks that come with all the bells and whistles and has a price tag to match.

This isn’t a casual recreational kayak by any means, but if you need a fishing workhorse, then this is just what you need.

I think the first thing to mention about this kayak is its method of propulsion. Two pedal-driven fins protrude from the bottom of the kayak.

As you push your feet around, they power the boat either forward or backward through the water, reducing the need for paddling. This is a much less invasive way to move through the water and will do a lot to not disturb fish.

All around the deck of the stable platform of the fishing kayak runs a rail providing mounting points for all sorts of equipment. Fishing rod holders, a fish finder, or even a cup holder can be mounted to this cleverly designed, ridged rail. All the options for extra gear make this a top choice for kayak anglers.

best sit on top kayaks

The comfortable seat of the sit-on-top kayak has excellent lumbar support and a fully adjustable position. For a long day out on the water, you want to make sure you’re set in ultimate comfort.

Storage space is always a concern on hunting kayaks. The Hobie comes along with a lot of gear, such as bait, nets, and spare hooks and lines. The Hobie Mirage Pro offers ample storage space. This sit-on-top kayak features a front and center storage hatch to keep everything you may need dry and safe.


  • Length – 13′ 8″
  • Width – 38″
  • Weight – 55 kg
  • Capacity – 272 kg
  • Construction – Rotomolded Polyethylene

Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 360

The Price of “Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 360 ” varies, so check the latest price at

2. Perception Tribe 11’5”

Recreational kayaking doesn’t need to be overly complicated and can be enjoyed without a plethora of gear tracks and extra storage.

If you just want to enjoy a simple day out on your local flat water with a sit-on-top kayak that you can throw on your small car, then this may be the best sit-on-top kayak for you.

Most kayakers don’t need the whole world from their sit-on-top kayak and are simply happy paddling in a comfortable seat with a stable kayak under their bums. The Perception Tribe is a great kayak for just this.

It is made for recreational use for beginners and intermediate paddlers alike.

The wide-open cockpit makes for easy access and exit, making learning how to get in and out of the water much easier. The Perception Tribe provides excellent stability and is the perfect sit-on-top kayak for someone looking to learn and improve their confidence on the water.

sit on kayak

Well-storage is provided on the front and rear of the Perception Tribe kayak, and the wells are supported with bungee cords. This won’t be waterproof but will be perfect for anything already in a waterproof kayaking dry bag.

The center of the boat has a small dry storage for small things like a phone or keys, this also features a cup holder.


  • Length – 11′ 5″
  • Width – 30″
  • Weight – 23 kg
  • Capacity – 160 kg
  • Construction – UV-resistant roto-molded high-tech polymer

Perception Tribe 11’5”

The Price of “Perception Tribe 11’5” varies, so check the latest price at

3. Pelican Sentinel 9’5”

Pelican Sentinel 9’5”

The Pelican Sentinel is a shorter and slightly upgraded version of the previous recreational sit-on-top kayak. It has a few extra features and some improved technology intended to make this a sit-on-top kayak that can be enjoyed by all.

It has a remarkably high weight capacity for its size and weight and is still considered an affordable sit-on-top kayak.

Large rear storage is provided on the Pelican Sentinel, with a large area supported by bungee straps. The well storage comes with a 13l box that can be loaded up at home and simply thrown into the sit-on-top kayak when you’re ready to set off.

This is in addition to the same front well and center storage hatch that comes on the previous model.

An upgraded comfortable seat is attached to the Pelican Sentinel. Its padded seat is fully adjustable and provides high back support and strong lumbar support throughout. The multiple choices of molded footrests make this a kayak that can be enjoyed by all heights of paddlers.

lightweight sit on top kayak

The high-density polyethylene used in the construction of the hull provides great stability and exceptional durability, which is something you’re going to want to keep an eye out for as a beginner.

As you use either of the two carry handles on the hull, you will inevitably drag it over rocks and stones.


  • Length – 9′ 6″
  • Width – 19″
  • Weight – 20 kg
  • Capacity – 125 kg
  • Construction – High-density polyethylene

Pelican Sentinel 9’5”

The Price of “Pelican Sentinel 9’5” varies, so check the latest price at

4. Sun Dolphin Bali 10’

Sun Dolphin Bali 10’

Ten feet of durable, stable, and dry storage make up the Sun Dolphin Bali. It is a great kayak that provides easy access and a number of other great features you would want to see from the best sit-on-top kayaks.

The Sun Dolphin Bali comes with a large rear storage area that can be removed for easy access to everything you have stowed. You can fill it at home and easily bring it to your sit-on-top kayak when you want to cast it off.

The adjustable foot braces work to ensure that no matter your height, you can find the perfect rowing position. The adjustable seat can be moved backward and forward to further accommodate a comfortable paddling position.

best sit on kayaks

A paddle holder runs across the front of the deck, just in front of the seat. This allows the Sun Dolphin Bali to be used as a fishing kayak, keeping your hands free from rods and bait. The versatile sit-on-top kayak is perfect for many water-bourne uses.


  • Length – 10′
  • Width – 29.5″
  • Weight – 20 kg
  • Capacity – 112 kg
  • Construction – UV-stabilized Fortiflex® High-Density Polyethylene

Sun Dolphin Bali 10’

The Price of “Sun Dolphin Bali 10’” varies, so check the latest price at

5. Topwater 120

Topwater 120

If you take your kayak fishing seriously, then the Topwater fishing kayak is an excellent choice for you. Coming in at a significantly lower price than the Hobie model, it still provides a lot of fantastic sit-on-top kayak features that set it apart from the crowd and make it worth every penny.

One of the things you may immediately notice about the Topwater kayak is the large hull design. It leaves a lot more room for the high-capacity storage hatch at the front and plenty of gear.

When you’re out hunting or fishing, you want as much room for bait boxes and other fishing features as possible.

The hull design features accessory tracks and gear tracks along the sides of the cockpit. They contain flush-mounted rod holders and a universal transducer mount to make fishing as easy as possible whilst out on the open bodies of water.

recreational kayak sit on top

The three flush mount rod holders are on either side of the seat and at the front for a full range of access.

The Topwater has an incredibly comfortable seat with breathable mesh throughout. This keeps the breeze coming even on the hottest days. The adjustable seat has a high and low positioning.


  • Length – 12′
  • Width – 36″
  • Weight – 48 kg
  • Capacity – 226 kg
  • Construction – Single Layer Polyethylene

Topwater 120

The Price of “Topwater 120 ” varies, so check the latest price at

6. Ascend FS12T

Extremely stable and spacious are words often used to describe the Ascend FS12T. The less-than-catchy name doesn’t give away the subtly hidden features of this high-quality sit-on-top kayak.

It is a hardworking craft that is perfect as a recreational sit-on-top kayak or for kayak fishing as and when you need it.

The Ascend has quite a unique hull design in that it puts its seating position quite far back on the deck and places the dashboard and built-in cooler right in the middle of the boat. This allows for superior stability even whilst standing on the deck.

It makes the Ascend range suitable for sea kayaks as well as flat-water recreational sit-on-top kayaks.

lightweight kayak sit on top

Although this is a budget fishing kayak, it still comes with a very high-quality seat. This seat can be easily removed from the sit-on-top’s body to be taken out for a camping trip or just to relax during long trips.

Despite being a longer kayak, the maximum weight capacity isn’t that impressive compared to others in its size class. A lot of the other sit-on-tops we have looked at can muster a lot more speed than this too. It is a plodding but stable design.


  • Length – 12′
  • Width – 31″
  • Weight – 34 kg
  • Capacity – 160 kg
  • Construction – Polyethylene

Ascend FS12T

The Price of “Ascend FS12T” varies, so check the latest price at

7. Tribe 9.5

This is simply a shorter model of the previously reviewed Perception Tribe. It is two feet shorter but features a lot of the same things as the earlier review.

It is a widely popular sit-on-top kayak that provides everything you need for a very reasonable price. If you’re looking for a recreational sit-on-top kayak or ocean kayak, the Tribe range may be the perfect sit-on-top kayak for you.

The molded footrests sit at multiple different distances from the seat pad, accommodating multiple sizes of paddler. The padded seat isn’t adjustable, but the backrest position can be changed and folded down for easier storage and transportation.

light weight sit on top kayak

Just like its bigger brother, the 9’5″ model comes with deep well storage at the front and rear of the sit-on-top kayak’s deck. They are secured with bungee straps to keep your fishing equipment and everything else locked down, even in choppy waters.


  • Length – 9’5″
  • Width – 31.5″
  • Weight – 20 kg
  • Capacity – 135 kg
  • Construction – One-piece roto-molded high-tech polymer

Tribe 9.5

The Price of “Tribe 9.5” varies, so check the latest price at

8. Old Town Bigwater PDL


Old Town has brought another range of premium fishing sit-on-top kayaks to the market with the Bigwater PDL. They are focused on the fishing market, and they know exactly how to satisfy the customer.

All the bells and whistles you could possibly want for a successful day on the water are included in this pricey sit-on-top kayak.

Another innovative paddling system has been integrated into the deck of the Bigwater. With adjustable foot braces, the kayak is propelled through the water with an instantly reversible prop that sits under the water.

A rudder, rather than the usually integrated skeg, on the back can adjust the angle of the boat, making this a perfect sit-on-top kayak for silently cruising up to schools of fish.

All around the kayak are places to connect extras, such as water bottle holder straps, fishing pole connectors, and many other wilderness systems to track and catch prey. This would be just at home on the river as being used as an ocean fishing kayak.

lightweight sit on top kayaks

The weight capacity provided by the large body of the sit-on-top kayak hull can accommodate a large weight capacity. This allows for a lot of freedom to the cargo you can bring along; you could even bring your pet if you wanted some company whilst out and about.


  • Length – 12’2″
  • Width – 36″
  • Weight – 55 kg
  • Capacity – 226 kg
  • Construction – Single Layer Polyethylene

Old Town Bigwater PDL

The Price of “Old Town Bigwater PDL” varies, so check the latest price at

9. Ocean Kayak Malibu Two

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two

Why paddle alone when you can take two paddlers along for the ride? The Ocean Kayak Malibu is designed with the ability to have two sit and paddle as a tandem.

Sit-on-top kayaks are a great way to enjoy the water together, so why not pop a loved one in there with you and not only share the experience but also the effort of paddling?

The ability to add another kayak seat to the Kayak Malibu Two does take away from some of the storage of the rear hatch, but it still has enough for small amounts of luggage. The hull length is remarkably long, so if you’re planning on sailing solo, you’ll have bags of room.

An addition of another rider adds secondary stability improving overall safety. The second set of paddles will help you level out the boat even in choppy waters. The two of you can keep your sit-on-top kayak steady together.

lightweight kayaks sit on top

Due to its large size, the weight capacity of the vessel is nice and high. You’ll be wanting this if you’re planning on bringing a passenger and luggage; you don’t want to be too low in the water.


  • Length – 13’4″
  • Width – 34″
  • Weight – 30 kg
  • Capacity – 226 kg
  • Construction – Polyethylene

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two

The Price of “Ocean Kayak Malibu Two” varies, so check the latest price at

10. Lifetime Triton 10’

Function over form is the name of the game with the Lifetime Triton. It is built to track beautifully, provides rod holders, has adequate storage, and fits any size of paddler. Lifetime makes sit-on-top kayaks that do everything they need to for a fair price.

Overlapping foot wells and an adjustable padded seat make this kayak suitable for all riders, big and small. The best sit-on-top kayaks need to be able to be ridden by anyone.

The hinged seat can adjust to your preferred angle to provide the lumbar support you need while out and about.

The small boat is built for one person and maybe a little extra gear. It doesn’t have the highest weight capacity but can still support the average-sized rider and maybe a dog to boot. A bungee-strapped rear well storage is enough for a little extra carrying capacity.

most comfortable kayaks

The hull is made from durable materials, and the addition of a skid plate will help keep it sailing without puncture for even longer. Throughout the base of the solid hull design are self-bailing scupper holes to keep any water out without having to bail or use a kayak water pump.


  • Length – 10′
  • Width – 31″
  • Weight – 22 kg
  • Capacity – 125 kg
  • Construction – Polyethylene

Lifetime Triton 10’

The Price of “Lifetime Triton 10’ ” varies, so check the latest price at

Guide to Finding Your Next Sit on Top Kayak

When looking for your next kayak, it is always best to know exactly what you should be looking for. There are a million designs and uses for SOT kayaks, and you don’t want to end up with a whitewater kayak when what you wanted was a sit-on-top recreational kayak.

Breaking down the different styles and types of kayaks will help you make the decision. You should be able to end up with the best kayak that serves you well in exactly the way you want it. I can explain the lingo so you can shop like a seasoned pro.


Kayaks come in all shapes and sizes, and with this comes a ton of different materials. The most commonly used hard-shell sit-on-top kayaks are polyethylene.

This hard, reinforced plastic is built to be resistant to UV, water degradation, and wear and tear. It is relatively lightweight and can keep you afloat for years with little maintenance.

If you’re going to get yourself the best blow-up kayak, you will most likely be buying something made of PVC and some form of reinforcement. Inflatable kayak designs are often lined with aluminum or even carbon fiber for the more expensive models.

Whatever you buy, ensure it is super lightweight and durable. No matter how careful you are, you’re going to take a few bumps to your boat.


Most recreational kayaks are about 9.5 to 12 feet long. Any longer than this is usually for a specific reason. SUP fishing kayaks that have large amounts of gear and lots of waterproof storage areas may exceed this limit.

Tandem sit-on-top kayaks are often significantly longer than the regular lengths too. They are built to accommodate the extra passenger plus their luggage. A longer boat can be quite difficult to maneuver alone; the extra length creates more sideways drag when in the water.

Some extra-long kayaks will feature a rudder and peddle propulsion to help with the added feet to the front and back.

Weight Capacity

Weight capacity varies greatly with the size of the boat. As a rule, the larger the boat, the bigger the weight capacity. If you’re a heavier rider or know you’ll be bringing a lot of extra weight along, be sure to check the limits of the boat you’re buying.

Being sat too low in the water won’t just make your sit-on-top kayak hard to manipulate in the water but will also increase your chances of capsizing. Taking care to remain inside the manufacturer’s guidelines will be a good way to keep you out of the water.

Sit-on-top kayaks often have very high carrying capacities due to their open design. They sit high on the water and have long and wide hulls. The large surface area provides much more buoyancy than sit-in kayaks. This being said this is at the cost of stability.


One of the biggest benefits of a sit-on-top kayak over a sit-inside option is its large carrying capacity and substantial decks. The open style of kayak lends itself very well to loading up with cargo and taking yourself out on multi-day trips or journeys.

Sit-on-top kayaks don’t have an enclosed cockpit, so you can use the full boat for storage. They can come with closed-off dry areas in the fore and aft of the boat, providing areas to keep electronics, charging packs, and other perishable things.

For everything else, you can use bungee straps to keep all gear secure around the seat at both the front and back.

A number of the more expensive sit-on-top kayaks we have looked at today have inbuilt coolers. These can be used to keep bait fresh, keep your lunch in, or even a nice cold beverage to refresh you after a long day rowing.


Tracking on a long kayak comes down to a few methods. Both have their place, and they are usually down to personal preference.


A rudder is more commonly seen on longer and bigger boats. They are deployed behind the vessel and are moved by hand or foot to help direct the front of the boat in a chosen direction.

Rudders are used on longer kayaks to help with the extra weight of the hull. They are often paired with peddle-propelled systems such as the ones seen on the old town models.

Having a prop or kick-up fins pushing water along the underside of the boat lends itself to having rudder control. When you are using paddles, a rudder loses a lot of its control.

Integrated Skeg

This is the more commonly seen method of keeping your sit-on-top straight and true. This is a fin-style addition to the bottom of a kayak that works in the same way fins on a paddle board or a surfboard does.

It sits in the water and pulls the back of the kayak in a straight line. When riding in fast-moving water, such as a river or the choppy waters of the ocean, a drop-down skeg will keep the boat from drifting off course.


Kayaks come with a ridiculous amount of extras and features to make your day out on the water easier and more pleasurable. From the selection of kayaks we have looked at today, the more expensive fishing kayaks have had the most optional extras.

The fitting rails along the sides of kayaks are made for all sorts of gadgets that make fishing much easier. The most common attachment are rod holders, they simply clip on and can hold multiple rods around the cockpit.

For the more dedicated fisherman, fish finders can also be attached and wired into the waterproof storage. These scan the water beneath the kayak to pick out any particularly large schools.

Most accessories and amenities aren’t necessary for the casual rider, but a few are good to keep an eye out for. Comfortable seats are something your body will thank you for after a long day out on the water, and comfortable adjustable foot braces will make your whole day much easier.

If you’re planning on camping when you pull your boat up to shore, a removable lock dry box that fits in the wells of your craft is a fantastic and often cheap accessory. Not only do they keep your luggage dry, but they can also be securely removed and transported to wherever your camp is.

Answering Your Questions

I’ll tackle the awkward but very common questions now so that you don’t have to trawl the web for them later. You’re welcome!

What Is a Sit-on-top Kayak Used For?

Usually, a SOT is used for casual kayaking. Their shape and design don’t lend themselves to a lot of stability or speed, so much slower and calm kayaking is where they excel.

The large deck space and ability to stand up and move around make them ideal for hunting and fishing. They can also transport all sorts of gear with ease, so if you want to go on a long trip with camping equipment, food coolers, and even friends, they’re perfect.

They are stable under heavy loads and can carry friends and everything else on long slow journeys over calm water and lakes. Just make sure you stay away from waves and white water and as far away from waterfalls as possible.

Should I Wear a Flotation Device?

If you’re out on the water in any capacity, be it surfing, kayaking, or powerboating, you should be wearing a floatation device like a life jacket. Even the pros still wear them. They may seem uncool and can even be a little uncomfortable, but they can save your life.

If you find they are a little uncomfortable, get yourself a rash vest to take away the issue of friction from the skin.

Once you capsize in cold water and miles from the shore, you’re going to be very happy you have a kayaking jacket to pull you back to the surface. It’s easy to become confused about which way is up in murky water.

What Is the Greatest Sit-on-top Kayak?

There isn’t really a best, only what is best for you. If you have a low budget and simply want to be able to go out on your local lake or marina, then the cheap, no-frills kayak will be everything you need to have a fantastic day out.

If you want all the bells and whistles of the most premium fishing vessel on the market, then forking out a few k for the crème de la crème makes sense. Your avid fishing addiction will justify the money, and you’ll love every little unique feature that’s been thrown in.

The trick is not to overspend before you have to. Start small and figure out what you want, if anything at all.

The Last Word from Me

Kayaking is fantastic and can be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels. There are many kinds of kayaks, and it’s rather exhilarating to note the different features while comparing the sit-in vs. sit-on kayaks.

Grabbing yourself a sea kayak and heading out alone or with some mates to give it a crack will always result in a day full of memories and at least a little more physical strength.

Kayaking is excellent work for the back, chest, and arms. There’s no better way to get in shape and work on your tan at the same time. If you’re huge and worry the kayak is smaller for you, you can look at some of the best kayaks for big guys available on the market.

It’s a no-brainer for anyone who wants to get that beach bod for summer. You can pull up to your next beach dock, looking like a member of Baywatch!

Categories: Kayaking

Leo Gillick

I am Leo Gillick; a snowboarder, wakeboarder, and wordsmith. If I’m not already busy trying out the newest gear or riding the freshest powder, I’m sitting in the nearest cafe writing about it. I’m lucky enough to have been able to find a job that lets me indulge in the things that keep my adrenaline right at the top. Taking the time to share my discoveries of hidden gems, awesome experiences, and my all too common disasters with you is why I love picking up the pen. I know how important every review is to the extreme sports enthusiast, I’ve read my fair share of articles before every little purchase. Ensuring I have the best gear means I can ride the best my body will let me. I can help you make those next decisions.


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