BEST SIT ON TOP KAYAK review – top picks!

best sit on top kayaks

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Looking for best sit on top kayak? here we’ve sorted out. Sit-on-top kayaks, abbreviated as SOT kayaks, they have become so much popular lately. There are different reasons for their rise in popularity, such as the fact that the paddler has easy access on and off the kayak – which is a big deal for some people.

We’re going to delve in further to find out more about sit-on-top kayaks. And we’ll hopefully help you decide whether or not a SOT is the type of kayak for you. And we’ll look at the top pick, the Wilderness Systems Targa 100.

Quick SOT Picks:

Top 12 Best Sit On Top Kayak

Here are our picks of the best models on the market today. Everyone’s needs are different, so plow through the top boats to see which of these many models might suit you best.

1: Perception Hi Life 11.0

  • Length: 11 foot
  • Width: 34 inches
  • Weight: 55 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 280 pounds
Perception Hi Life 11, best sit on top kayak
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The Perception Hi Life 11 is a sit-on-top kayak with a difference. It’s a hybrid. So it combines the best features of a stand up paddle board with a kayak.

This can be a super versatile craft that can be ideal for recreational kayaking, paddle boarding, and fishing. It has excellent primary stability so it can be best suited to flatwater paddling on calm lakes and bays.

Its compact hull length can be great for navigating smaller bodies of water and narrow rivers.

It has decent tracking, with a removable fin that can help you paddle in a straight line.

One of the best things about the Hi Life is the padded deck that offers complete walkability, with traction pads providing grip. The padded seat is elevated for comfort and visibility, and the backrest folds down for convenience. There’s also an underseat cooler recess. But there are no footrests or storage hatches.

There’s storage at the bow with bungees. And the swim-up rear deck can also be used as storage space.

Another great feature is the central gear track that’s great for installing accessories.


  • Hybrid design
  • Adjustable seat
  • Versatile
  • Walkable deck


  • No footrests

2: Wilderness Systems Targa 100 (Best Overall)

  • Length: 10 foot
  • Width: 32 inches
  • Weight: 57 pounds 8 ounces
  • Weight Capacity: 325 pounds
Wilderness Systems Targa 100
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The Wilderness Systems Targa 100 is an incredibly stable sit-on-top kayak offering the ultimate in comfort, space, and convenient features.

The Targa offers easy entry and is designed to be easy to paddle, with a short hull that can be great for maneuvering in small rivers. It’s stable for paddling in coastal waters and lakes, with excellent tracking performance for open water so you can paddle in a straight line. It’s also easy to transport with an integrated roof rack notch for easy loading, but it’s not the lightest for its size.

It has a padded deck for standing (similar to the Hi Life model) and one of the best features of this kayak is the integrated and removable cooler, so you can easily carry your lunch to your favorite waterside picnic spot – something you don’t often find on other sit-on-top kayaks.

There’s hooded storage at the bow and bungees on the rear deck for keeping your dry bags safe.

The seat is built to be comfortable for all-day paddling, with foot braces for great stability and support. There’s even a raised heel rest for when you’re relaxing.


  • Maneuverable
  • Built-in cooler
  • Comfortable
  • Stable hull design


  • Heavy for a small boat

3: Sea Eagle SE 330 or 370 (Best Inflatable)

  • Length: 12 foot 6 inches
  • Width: 34 inches
  • Weight: 33 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 650 pounds
sea eagle se 330 or 370
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The Sea Eagle se 330 or 370 is the best inflatable kayak in terms of portability, ease of use and versatility. This can be ideal for beginners and anyone looking to explore lakes and rivers with Class II rapids or choppy waters.

This is a super lightweight and stable kayak that is rated for up to Class III rapids. It has an integrated skeg for flatwater but it’s not the easiest to paddle straight.

With a huge load capacity, this could be a great choice for kayak camping. It can also hold up to three people – although you may not have much room for camping gear if there are three recreational paddlers on board.

One of the best things about this kayak is that it’s portable. It can fit in the trunk of a small car for easy transportation and it can be stored at home in a closet for convenience.

You’ll find some storage space at the bow and stern, with inflatable spray skirts that can make a good storage platform.


  • Lightweight
  • Easy to transport and store
  • Great for all types of water
  • Ideal for camping


  • Tracking performance is not the best

4: Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL Tandem Kayak (Best Tandem)

  • Length: 13 foot 4 inches
  • Width: 34 inches
  • Weight: 70 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
ocean kayak malibu
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If you’re looking for the best tandem sit-on-top for exploring recreational waters with a paddling partner, the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL could be the perfect boat, with two adjustable seats. It even has room for a child or a dog, so it can be ideal for adventures with the whole family. It can also be paddled solo.

This is a stable kayak that can handle flatwater lakes, slow-moving rivers, and shallow ocean bays. It has a generous capacity, with just the right amount of space to hold gear for a day trip.

There’s bungee rigging at both the bow and the stern to secure your gear and a dry bag to the deck.

It’s a very durable kayak (made from high density polyethylene to prevent UV degradation) with a skid plate to protect the keel. It has overlapping foot wells and comes with two removable padded seats with backrests.

It’s pretty heavy but there are side carry handles to help you and your partner lift it, as well as bow and stern toggle handles.


  • Easy to paddle
  • Stable
  • Durable
  • Room for a child or dog


  • Heavy

5: Perception Pescador 10.0 fishing Kayak

  • Length: 10 ft 6 in
  • Width: 32 inches
  • Weight: 57 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 325 pounds
perception pescador 10
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This offering from Perception tracks well and is stable under moderate conditions as well as for fishing. More suited to light rivers and lakes.

There is a large dry storage compartment on the bow with cover. There’s a large rear tank well with shock cords – and another small covered hatch for added gear storage. There are straps to secure the paddles when not used.

The foot braces can help you stabilize yourself but they’re not the most durable.

The Pescador also has gear tracks for attaching extra accessories and gadgets, such as a fish finder or GPS so it can be a good kayak for fishing.
Check our full review of Perception Pescador fishing Kayak


  • Stable kayak
  • Ample storage space
  • Accessory tracks


  • Foot braces aren’t great

6: Emotion Spitfire Sit-On-Top Kayak 9′ (Budget Choice)

  • Length: 9 ft
  • Width: 31 inches
  • Weight: 45 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 350 pounds
Emotion Spitfire Sit-On-Top Kayak
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Those looking for a sit-on-top at the more bargain end of the scale could consider the Emotion Spitfire 9ft kayak. It’s durable, made from inexpensive plastic materials, and has scupper holes for drainage.

It comes with a padded seat with separate padded backrest and molded footrests. There’s deck space for storage at the stern with a cover to go over the top. There are also molded paddle holders and handles on the side to make carrying around easier.

The biggest problem with this affordable sit on top is that stability & tracking isn’t the best. If you’re just paddling around leisurely on relatively flat waters, you should be fine. But if you’re powering ahead then the tracking issue can increase in intensity.

> In-depth review of the Spitfire


  • Budget kayak
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Ideal for beginners


  • Tracking isn’t the best

7: Old Town Twister

  • Length: 11 foot 3 inches
  • Width: 30 inches
  • Weight: 46 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 275 pounds
The Old Town Twister
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The Old Town Twister can be great for recreational use and ideal for using at the beach, as well as lakes and rivers.

It’s designed to be easy to use and could be a good choice for families with kids or anyone learning to paddle, as it has a spacious, open seating area that can be easy to climb in and out of.

It has a molded seat and footrests and there’s space to bring along a dry bag with the bungee storage deck behind the seat. It also benefits from having a built-in cup holder and a paddle holder to keep your paddle safe if you want to jump on and off for swimming.

This is a stable, lightweight craft that’s also made from durable, abrasion resistant high density polyethylene (UV resistant). It has the added benefit of a skid plate to help protect the keel if it’s dragged along the ground. But there’s no proper seat so it might not be the most comfortable for long trips.


  • Great for beginners
  • Good for beach use and flat water
  • Rear gear storage deck


  • Molded seat only

> Full Old Town Twister review

8: Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 – 2020 review

  • Length: 12 foot 3 inches
  • Width: 30 inches
  • Weight: 63 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 350 pounds
wilderness tarpon 120
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The Tarpon 120 is a 12 foot sit-on-top with a high capacity that could be a good choice for larger paddlers, or if you plan to head out with a lot of gear. It has some great features. But it’s not the cheapest kayak.

There is plenty of room for your gear, with a large storage deck with bungee cords at the stern and a large storage hatch at the bow. There’s a second, smaller storage hatch in the center that can be useful for small accessories or valuables.

The Tarpon has a padded, slightly elevated, fully adjustable seat, which can make longer paddling trips a little more comfortable. While this can be a great craft for a camping trip, it can also be ideal for fishing, with gear tracks along the sides so you can attach fishing rod holders or other fishing accessories.

This yak is built for stability and maneuverability and can be a good choice for a range of water types, from flat water to rivers and oceans. Intermediate paddlers may find this more comfortable and it can offer more speed than some of the shorter, wider boats.


  • Incredibly comfortable seat
  • Great for longer trips
  • Ideal for fishing
  • Excellent storage


  • Not cheap

> More on the Tarpon 120

9: Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

  • Length: 9 ft
  • Width: 31 inches
  • Weight: 44 pounds (shipping weight)
  • Weight Capacity: 325 pounds
ocean kayak frenzy kayak
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The Frenzy is a compact solo kayak and great all-rounder, crafted from high density polyethylene. With a stable hull for surf and calm waters and decent tracking (with its Tri Form hull design), it’s great for beginners.

This versatile sit on top comes with a removable padded seat with back support. It can also be adjusted, which is ideal for those longer paddling sessions. But it’s only 18-inches wide in the cockpit, so it might not be the best kayak for larger paddlers.

At only 43lbs, this 9ft kayak is one of the easier hard-shelled ‘yaks to transport around. It has handle at the bow and stern and on both sides and could fit in the back of most pickups.

There are no dry storage hatches. However, there are two tank wells, front and rear.

> More on the Ocean Frenzy


  • Easy to maneuver
  • Fits in the back of a pickup
  • Great on surf and flatwater
  • Storage deck


  • Narrow seating area

10: Vibe Yellowfin 100

vibe yellowfin 100
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  • Length: 10 foot
  • Width: 32 inches
  • Weight: 57 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 375 pounds


The Vibe Yellowfin is a fishing sit-on-top that is built for stability. With its short, wide hull it can be easy to maneuver, as well as transport, making it a great choice for beginners. Or if you’re looking for a compact, convenient fishing vessel (it has flush mounted holders). But it’s great stability makes it a little slow.

Despite its compact size, it actually has a pretty high capacity, which can be useful if you’re planning to haul heavier fishing gear. But it can be equally handy if you’re a larger paddler.

The mesh fabric seat is designed to be sturdy and can be adjusted. It also allows you to sit higher, giving you improved visibility.

As for gear storage, there’s a storage well at the stern with bungee cords for security and two sealed hatches with bag inserts so you can keep small items safely stored.

Extra features include four rod holders. It also comes with a paddle, meaning you can get out on the water right away.


  • Extremely stable
  • Fishing rod holders
  • Ideal for small rivers and lakes


  • Not the fastest

> Ocean Kayak Frenzy full review

11: Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10-Foot Sit-On Top Kayak

Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10-Foot Sit-On Top Kayak
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  • Weight Capacity: 375 pounds
  • Width: 30 inches
  • Weight: 44 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 250 pounds


This 10 foot kayak outperforms the competition in terms of stability on rivers with moderate currents and the number of storage options it provides.

At the stern of the vessel is some dry storage. There is also a small open storage area with bungees located at the bow of the boat. In addition to that, you will find a “Portable Accessory Carrier.” The PAC is attached to the back of the kayak and floats in the water behind it.

To assist in providing protection for the thighs, the seatback as well as the edges of the cockpit are both padded. A foot brace that is adjustable and a holder for the paddle are both included. However, there is no seat bottom, so it is not designed to be comfortable. If you intend to paddle for long distances, you should consider purchasing additional padding.

Your journey on the water with your Sun Dolphin will be more long-lasting because it is constructed out of high density polyethylene.


  • Portable Accessory Carrier
  • Lightweight kayak
  • Affordable price


  • Not comfortable for long trips

> We reviewed the Bali 10 SS in full

12: Lifetime Manta Tandem Sit On Top Kayak With Paddles And Backrests

  • Length: 10 ft
  • Width: 36 inches
  • Weight: 60 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
Lifetime Manta Tandem Sit On Top Kayak With Paddles And Backrests
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The Lifetime Manta is a kayak that should be considered for inclusion on your final comparison list if you are interested in purchasing a tandem sit-on-top kayak.

This tandem kayak is on the smaller side when compared to others of its kind, so there is less deck space available for two large adults to share in this kayak, which could be an issue if you have long legs.

Standard paddles and backrests are included in the package. It is not a high performance kayak, so the seats can only be expected to be comfortable for paddling for relatively short distances.

There is space enough in the middle seat for a child to sit there. However, this is not the purpose for which it was designed. You could also use it as storage or go paddling by yourself with it. Even though there is not a lot of room for storage, there is a place to put a bottle at each seat.

> Full Lifetime Manta Kayak review here


  • Compact
  • Easy to paddle
  • Two seats
  • Two paddles included


  • Limited storage
  • Not built for comfort

Advantages Of A Sit On Top Kayak, Why Choose One?

As the name suggests, sit-on-tops are designed to be, well, sat on top of! The open cockpit means the paddler is not enclosed.

Easy To Get On And Off

The ease with which one can board and exit a SOT vehicle is one of the primary benefits offered by these vehicles. instead of having to adjust the spray deck that is around your waist by loosening and tightening it. In addition to having to climb into and out of a lowered cockpit, one can simply step onto and off of sit-on-top kayaks, making the process significantly simpler.

The open cockpit makes it much simpler to board and disembark the vessel while it is underway. The fact that sit-on-tops are so simple to enter and exit makes them ideally suited for use in recreational activities like swimming, which is why so many people enjoy doing it.

Less Chance Of Feeling Enclosed & Claustrophobic

This can be a significant issue for certain individuals. The paddler of a sit-on-top boat, which has a cockpit that is open to the air, will likely not feel as constrained as someone who is paddling in an enclosed space. This is frequently made worse by thoughts of turning over and becoming engulfed in the water.

The majority of kayak designs are quite stable, and it takes a fair amount of force to flip most of them over. On the other hand, if you do this, it will not be difficult at all to construct a sit-on-top out of the water in which you were dumped. In point of fact, enclosed cockpits are reasonably safe as well; however, if you do leave your cockpit (and do not perform an Eskimo roll), it will be more difficult for you to get back in (compared to a SOT).

Keep Cool In The Summer

If you are outside on a day when the temperature is high, you will be relieved that you are not confined in a covered cockpit.

When you’re out in the open air, your SOTs will help keep you cool. In order to increase your level of overall safety, it is imperative that you both bring sun protection with you and wear the required life jacket at all times.

Room To Carry More Stuff

Everything you carry will be exposed to the elements, with the possible exception of a small hatch that could protect items from getting wet. This indicates that there are fewer limitations placed on the items that you are permitted to carry. Do you have a tent with you, or a lot of fishing equipment? You won’t have to worry about the size of the gear you want to carry being constrained by an enclosed cockpit.

It’s possible that they can carry more gear than recreational sit-inside kayaks that you can buy.

Disadvantages Of A Sit On Top Kayak

Can Get Cold And Wet

This is yet another major point. And it is going to be different depending on where in the world you are. In point of fact, the weather in your region is probably going to be the most important factor in determining whether or not a SOT is right for you.

SOTs put you in direct contact with the elements of nature. You are going to experience coldness if it is cold outside, particularly if the wind is blowing. And because you’ll be paddling the entire time, you run the risk of accidentally transferring the water from the lake, river, or stream onto your body as you move through the environment. The scupper holes are another possible entry point for water.

It’s possible that you won’t feel too bothered by this if you live somewhere with a hot or warm climate. In point of fact, if it’s extremely hot outside, doing this might be quite enjoyable! However, getting wet isn’t nearly as much fun in climates that are cooler. Just for this one reason, you might want to consider purchasing a sit-inside kayak in light of the information presented above.

On the other hand, there are some amazing waterproof (and dryproof) suits available today, and wearing one of these will help you feel more at ease, even when it is chilly and rainy outside.

> Drip rings can help!

Cannot Eskimo Roll

If you are sitting outside where everyone can see you, then you can forget about doing the Eskimo roll. The thing is, it doesn’t really matter in this context because it isn’t really relevant. Even if they do roll, SOTs have a lower probability of doing so overall. And as we have mentioned previously, even if you do fall off, it is much simpler to scramble back on board one of these.

One thing that ought to be brought to your attention. When trying to paddle quickly, sit-inside kayaks often provide better support for the legs than other types of kayaks. Nevertheless, some of the more recent SOTs give sit-inside models a run for their money!

Because the paddler is positioned lower in the cockpit of a sit-in kayak, they have access to leg support and a lower center of gravity, both of which contribute to increased control. Check kayak design principles


Can sit-on-top kayaks be used in the ocean?

Yes, sit-on-top kayaks can be used in the ocean, but it’s important to choose a kayak with good stability, tracking, and handling capabilities, as well as appropriate safety gear.

Do I need to wear a life jacket when using a sit-on-top kayak?

Yes, it’s important to wear a life jacket when using a sit-on-top kayak, as well as other safety gear such as a whistle and signaling device.

What accessories should I consider for my sit-on-top kayak?

Accessories to consider for a sit-on-top kayak include paddles, life jackets, dry bags, fishing gear, and kayak carts for easier transport.

How do I transport a sit-on-top kayak?

There are a variety of ways to transport a sit-on-top kayak, including using a roof rack or kayak trailer. It’s important to properly secure the kayak to prevent damage during transport.

Are sit-on-top kayaks easier to get in and out of than sit-in kayaks?

 Sit-on-top kayaks are generally easier to get in and out of than sit-in kayaks, especially for beginners or those with limited mobility.

Can I stand up on a sit-on-top kayak?

It’s possible to stand up on a sit-on-top kayak, but it requires good balance and stability. Some kayaks are designed specifically for standing, while others may be less stable.

How do I choose the right size sit-on-top kayak for my body type?

 When choosing a sit-on-top kayak, consider your height, weight, and leg length to ensure a comfortable fit. Most kayaks have weight capacity and size recommendations listed by the manufacturer.

Can I use a sit-on-top kayak for fishing?

Yes, many sit-on-top kayaks are designed specifically for fishing and come with features such as rod holders and storage compartments.

What is the weight capacity of a typical sit-on-top kayak?

The weight capacity of a sit-on-top kayak varies depending on the model, but most can support between 250-500 pounds.

Can sit-on-top kayaks handle rough waters?

Sit-on-top kayaks can handle rough waters, but it’s important to choose a kayak with a stable design and good tracking capabilities.

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