When you’re shopping for a sit-on-top kayak, you’re going to find that there are countless options to choose from, which can make trying to figure out which model to choose a pretty daunting task.
In an effort to help you find the right SOT kayak, we’ve taken the liberty of doing the research for you. After hours of research, we’ve narrowed down the options and have compiled a list of what we think are the very best sit-on-top kayaks currently available on the market.
In this guide, you’ll find detailed reviews of our picks for the best sit-on-top kayaks. We’ve also included a handy buyer’s guide, which highlights the key features that you should take into consideration when you’re shopping for a SOT kayak, as well as answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about these vessels.
With the information presented in this guide, you’ll be able to choose the best sit-on-top kayak for your specific needs.
Our Top Picks
If you’re in a rush and don’t have the time to read through all of the detailed information presented in this guide, this section is for you. Below, you’ll find a brief overview of our top picks for the best overall, best premium, and best budget kayaks.
Best Pick: Perception Pescador 12 Sit on Top Kayak
- Your perfect first fishing kayak - Made in USA
- Lawn chair style mesh seat with 2-level seat adjustment and breathable mesh for ultimate all-day comfort and no pain
- Seat can be lowered for relaxed paddling or raised for optimum casting
- Leak-proof one-piece construction with built-in buoyancy for added safety
- Large front and rear open storage for cooler tackle and other gear
Our pick for the best overall sit-on-top kayak is the Perception Pescator 12. The design of this 12 foot long kayak is highly versatile and a great choice for recreational paddling, angling, and exercising. Thanks to the outstanding design, if offers great stability and is easier to get onto and off of; you’ll enjoy a drier ride, too. With a weight capacity of 375 pounds and 12 feet of space, this kayak can accommodate paddlers of all shapes and sizes, as well as their gear.
Premium Pick: Wilderness System ATAK 140 Sit on Top Fishing Kayak
- An advanced tactical angling kayak (a. T. A. K. ) that is compatible with the Helix md motor drive
- Featuring an open design that can be customized to meet the demands of any kayak fisherman and environment
- The deck is highly walkable and stable, yet remains nimble and stealth
- Patented suspension-style seat for all day comfort and performance; High, low and Recline positions allow for great visibility and stability
- Adjustable keepers XL footbraces - large, padded footrests for support and comfort; Easy to adjust locking lever
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line sit-on-top kayak and you have room in your budget to spare, the Wilderness System ATAK 140 is a great choice. An advanced tactical angling kayak (ATAK) that’s compatible with the Helix md motor drive, this kayak is safe, stable, fast, and comfortable. The open design, patented suspension-style seat with high, low, and recline positioning options, and the adjustable padded footrests allow you to customize your ride.
Budget Pick: Perception Zip 9.5 Sit on Top Kayak
- Simplicity and Stability set this sit on top kayak apart from other kayaks on the market - Made in USA
- Molded-in seat and footrests allow for leg adjustments and optimal comfort for a wide range of paddler sizes
- Molded handles are perfectly placed to allow for single person carry
- Large rear open storage area with bungee cord lashes for storing and easy access to gear like coolers, dry bags or fishing crates
- Perfect for lakes, ponds, slow-moving rivers and calm coastal environments
if you’re looking for a sturdy, reliable, safe, and comfortable SOT kayak that won’t break the bank, the Perception Zip 9.5 is a great choice. This simple vessel offers great stability and comfortable. A molded seat and footrests allow paddlers of all sizes to achieve optimal comfort. The molded handles are thoughtfully placed for easy transport.
Sit on Top Kayak Reviews
In this section of our guide, you’ll find more detailed information about our picks for the best sit-on-top kayaks. We shed more light on our top picks for the best overall, best premium, and best budget models, as well as a few other high-quality, reliable, comfortable, and stable sit-on-top kayaks.
Perception Prescator 12 Sit on Top Kayak
The Perception Prescator 12 is our pick for the best overall sit-on-top kayak, and for good reason: it’s thoughtfully designed and packed with features that are sure to make your paddling experience an enjoyable one.
At 12 feet long, it’s larger than most SOT kayaks, which usually measure somewhere around 9 feet long. The added length increases the stability of the vessel, as well as the speed, so you can enjoy a drier ride and get to where you want to go faster. The longer length also means that there’s more storage space for your gear; a front storage compartment with a hinged hatch will keep your gear dry and easy to access, while a larger rear open storage area is the perfect spot to stow a cooler, fishing crate, and any other gear that you don’t mind getting wet.
The adjustable seatback and quick-adjust footrests allow you to achieve the perfect position so that you’ll remain comfortable on your long paddling excursions. Dual molded rod holders provide hands-free storage while you are paddling, and there’s even a molded drink holder. If you want to add any accessories, you can easily to so without drilling holes, thanks to the gear tracks. The one-piece construction with built-in buoyancy is leak-proof and allows for safe, dry, comfortable, and all-around enjoyable adventures.
- Longer length (12 feet) offers increased stability and speed
- 375 pound weight capacity
- Dry and open storage compartments
- Molded rod holders
- Built-in cup holder
- Adjustable seatback and footrests
- One-piece leak-proof construction with built-in buoyance
- Safe and comfortable paddling experience
- Optimized design and construction for easier carrying
Wilderness Systems ATAK 140 Sit on Top Fishing Kayak
If you’re on the market for a top-of-the-line SOT kayak, then you’re definitely going to want to consider the Wilderness Systems ATAK 140. As an advanced tactical angling kayak (ATAK), it’s designed specifically for anglers, though recreational kayakers can certainly enjoy it, too.
The open design can be easily customized to meet the needs of any paddler and environment. The deck is easy to walk and stable, yet it retains its nimbleness and is stealthy, too. The low-profile hull is wind-shedding so that you can go faster and stay on the water longer.
Phase 3 AirPro seating is fully adjustable, features a mesh fabric cover, is ergonomically designed, and allows for increased airflow to provide increased breathability and support, so you’ll remain comfortable the entire time you’re on the water. This kayak offers plenty of storage space, so you can keep all of your gear close at hand.
Anglers can step up their fishing game by mounting a fish finder, battery, and transducer in a removable pod; you can outfit it with an MD Motor Drive, too!
- MD motor drive compatible
- FlexPod OS flexibility
- Phase 3 AirPro adjustable, breathable, and ergonomically designed seating for extreme comfort
- Padded, adjustable footrests
- Large stern accessory mount area
- Center easy-access storage
- Highly walkable and stable stern
- Low-profile, wind-shedding hull
- SlideTrax in the front, middle, and rear of the vessel for easy accessory mounting
Perception Zip 9.5 Sit on Top Kayak
The Perception Zip 9.5 is a budget-friendly sit-on-top kayak that is perfect for beginners and experienced paddlers who don’t want to spend a lot on a stable and safe SOT kayak.
While it isn’t flashy, the basic design offers everything that you need to enjoy your time out on the water. It features a molded seat and footrests that provide plenty of room to adjust your legs so that you can achieve optimal comfort. The perfectly placed molded handles make it easy to carry into and out of the water.
A larger rear open storage area, complete with a bungee cord, provides plenty of space to keep your essentials (coolers, fishing crates, dry bags, etc.) secured to the vessel and easy to access.
The cockpit is spacious and allows for easy to enter and exit, and there’s even a built-in cup holder in the center so that you can keep a beverage close by without having to worry about spilling.
- Simple, yet smart design
- Molded seat and footrests allow for optimal comfort
- Molded handles are perfectly places for single person carry
- Large rear open area with bungee cord and spacious open stern storage
- Built-in cup holder in the center of the vessel
- Stable and sturdy
- Easy to exit and enter
- Affordably priced
Wilderness Systems Ripper Sit on Top Recreational Kayak
The Wilderness Systems Ripper Sit on Top Recreational Kayak measures 8 feet long, making it a compact, yet sturdy and reliable kayak and provides a dependable performance when you’re out on the water.
It features an adjustable seat back and molded-in footrests so you can achieve optimal comfort, no matter your size.
A hatch in the middle of the vessel provides plenty of dry storage space, and a rear storage tank with a bungee is the perfect spot to stow your coolers, fishing crates, and other gear that can get wet.
The front and rear toggle handles, combined with molded-in side handles, allow for easy transport. The bright yellow color is highly visible, too, so you’ll always be seen.
- Compact size and simple design
- Highly stable and comfortable
- Adjustable seat back and molded-in footrests can accommodate paddlers of all sizes
- Hatch in the middle of the vessel provides plenty of dry storage space
- Rear storage tank with bungee for coolers, fish crates, and more
- Front and rear toggle handles and molded-in side handles make for easy transport
- Bright yellow color for high visibility
- Affordably priced
Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler Sit on Top Flatwater Fishing Kayak
The Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler is specifically designed with anglers in mind. This SOT kayak perfectly combines stability and performance with outstanding load capacity so that you can enjoy long fishing sessions out on the water.
A sit-on-top high back outfitting and adjustable sliding foot braces allow for optimal comfort. The pilot rudder system and anchor trolley system lets you stay in control. A front hatch with a dual-density hatch cover and an integrated console with a molded-in cup holder provides plenty of storage space.
An adjustable rod holder and dual paddle hooks, as well as two front and two rear flush mount rod holders are perfect for hands-free storage of your fishing rods. Two rubber handles and drain and scupper plugs round out the features that this smartly designed SOT kayak offers.
Constructed of glass-reinforced plastic , the Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler SOT kayak is lightweight, sturdy, and can get around fast.
- Designed with anglers in mind
- Features five built-in rod holders
- Outfitted with a pilot rudder system
- Integrated console with molded-in cup holder
- High-back SOT outfitting and adjustable sliding foot braces for optimal comfort
- Offers plenty of storage space
- Low-wind and vibration-dampening rubberized V-block and oval pulleys
- Made of glass-reinforced plastic for a lightweight, yet durable and stable design
Perception Hi Five Sit on Top Kids Kayak
If you’re looking for a SOT kayak for a child, the Perception Hi Five Sit on Top Kids Kayak is specifically designed with young paddlers in mind. Because it’s so stable, it offers a hybrid approach to kayaking, as it can be operated while sitting or standing.
The elevated seat and spacious leg area makes sit on paddling comfortable and easy. A large front deck area provides plenty of space for stand-up paddling. A rear swim-up deck makes it easy to climb up onto the vessel, and it can be used for storage – and even as a space for four-legged friends.
A kid hitch and tether system makes it easy for children to attach their vessel to another kayak so they can be towed, and it even comes complete with a bright yellow two piece paddle with smaller blades that is easy for children to operate.
- Specifically designed for young paddlers
- Offers a hybrid approach to paddling; kids can sit or stand while paddling
- The elevated seat makes sit-on paddling comfortable and easy
- A large front deck offers plenty of space for stand-up paddling
- A large rear swim deck allows for easy access and provides plenty of space for storage
- Features a kid hitch and tether system
- Comes with a bright yellow paddle that is easy for small hands to use
- Affordably priced
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit on Top Recreational Kayak
Rounding out our list of the best sit on top kayaks is a model that is designed for two paddlers. The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit on Top Recreational Kayak offers two seats for tandem kayaking.
The Comfort Plus seats offer a four-way adjustable design so that both riders can achieve a custom and comfortable fit. The patented overlapping foot wells offer a place for paddlers to place and brace their feet. The open sit on top hull makes entering and exiting the kayak a cinch, which the molded-in handles and skid plate allow for easy transport.
With a maximum capacity of 425 pounds, it can easily accommodate kayakers of all sizes. The vibrant orange and yellow color makes the vessel highly visible on the water. Plus, there’s a lifetime warranty on the hull, so you can buy with confidence.
- Tandem design offers plenty of space for two kayakers
- Comfort Plus seats can be adjusted four ways so that both paddlers can achieve a custom and comfortable fit
- Patented overlapping foot wells provide a comfortable place and space for both paddlers to put their legs and feet
- Hull is easy to enter and exit
- 425 pound maximum weight capacity
- Hull is backed by a lifetime warranty
Other Best Selling Options
- Compact 9’6” kayak built for the recreational paddler looking for an easy-to-store kayak with reassuring stability and a comfortable seating system
- Comes with our new ExoShell 13L removable storage compartment.
- Made with our patented RAM-X material, an exceptionally durable triple-layer high molecular weight polyethylene, which creates a strong yet conveniently lightweight kayak that comes with a Limited Lifetime on both the deck and hull.
- Weighing only 42 lb. makes this kayak easy to carry and store. Maximum capacity of 275 lb.
- Our unique manufacturing process allows us to add additional flotation in the form of foam blocks between the deck and the hull. These foam blocks make the kayak more rigid and ensure paddler safety.
- Constructed of uv-protected high-density Polyethylene. Multiple footrest positions for different size riders. Stable flat bottom
- Comfortable seat back for long paddling adventures. Stable flat bottom. Easy carry handle
- Front and rear shock cord straps. 6 inch rear storage compartment.
- Front and rear t-handles for easy transport. Deep hull tracking channels
- Stability chine rails. Durable high-density Polyethylene (HDPE) construction
- Sit-on-Top Kayaking's Most Well-Rounded Performer for Larger Paddlers - Made in USA
- Easy open front hatch with latching lid and massive rear tank well offer loads of storage
- Comfort seating system with thick ventilated padding for superior support
- Leak-proof one-piece construction with built-in buoyancy for added safety
- Optimized design and construction make it easier to carry
- Built in Padded CRS + UltraLite Seat. Rear Tankwell with Cargo Net Lacing for Storage. Storage Hatch for Added Storage Beneath the Deck
- Molded-In Paddle Keepers and Side Carry Handles. Molded-In Freedom Footwells for Comfort and Secure Foot Bracing
- Self-Bailing Scupper Holes to Drain Water from the Cockpit and Tankwell. Front and Rear Handles for Easy Transport
- Hull Design Provides Ultra Stability and Great Tracking. UV-Protected High-Density Polyethylene Construction
- Lightweight 45 lb. Design
- Kayak Paddle included. Hull design provides ultra stability and great tracking
- Multiple footrest positions for different size Paddlers. Includes hard adjustable backrest
- Scupper holes drain Cockpit area. Molded Paddle cradle. Easy carry handle
- Tank well storage with bungee cord lacing to secure loose items. Durable high-density Polyethylene (HDPE) construction
- Lightweight 38 lb. Design. 5-Year limited warranty. UV-Protected - will Not fade, crack, or peel
Sit on Top Kayaks Buyer’s Guide
There’s nothing better than getting out on the open water, breathing in the fresh air, and taking in the beauty of nature while paddling in a kayak. But a standard sit-in kayak can be a bit constricting and frankly, uncomfortable. If you want to make the most of your paddling experience, a sit-on-top kayak is a much better way to go.
As the name suggests, a sit-on-top kayaks (SOT), is designed to allow you to sit on top of the vessel’s deck. Unlike a traditional sit-in kayak, a SOT lacks an enclosed cockpit, or an “inside”; instead, all components, such as the seat back and the footwells, are attached to the deck of the kayak.
Therefore, when you’re paddling on a SOT, you aren’t positioned inside the kayak or below the water level, but rather you are positioned on the top of the vessel and above the surface of the water. A SOT kayak offers many benefits that are appealing to both novice and experienced paddlers alike. Since you sit on top of the vessel, you won’t feel as if you are trapped in the event that you capsize, and in the event that you do capsize, entering the kayak is a lot easier.
A higher center of gravity is another notable advantage of a SOT kayak, and because they’re generally wider than traditional sit-inside kayaks, they offer more stability. Because the hulls are totally enclosed, SOT kayaks can’t sink, and if they do capsize, the water will automatically drain out of cockpit via self-bailing scupper holes, which means you won’t have to tote a bilge pump around.
Lastly, thanks to the open design, you’ll be able to move more freely while you’re paddling, which means your experience will be a lot more comfortable.
Whether you’re planning on paddling for exercise, you intend on fishing, or you just want to enjoy a fun water activity, a SOT kayak is a great choice. It goes without saying that you’re going to want to purchase the best vessel possible so that you can enjoy your experience to the fullest.
Now that you’ve read through our list of the best sit-on-top kayaks, you’re probably wondering how to decide which one to choose. In this section, we’ve highlighted some of the most important factors that you should take into consideration when you’re shopping for a SOT kayak.
By taking the following factors into consideration, you should be able to select the right kayak to meet your specific needs.
When selecting a SOT kayak, the length of the vessel is extremely important, as the length affects the movement of the vessel. SOT kayaks range in size from around 6 feet to 14 feet.
Shorter models are more agile and well-suited for applications where nimbleness is important, such as whitewater rafting, while models are better suited for straight paddling and offer more stability and storage space, too.
When selecting the size, consider how and where you intend on using your SOT kayak.
The materials SOT kayaks are made of are very important, as they play a part in determining the weight and stability of the vessel, as well as the price. Two of the most common materials include:
- Polyethylene. This material is inexpensive and durable; however, it’s rather heavy and is susceptible to UV damage
- ABS. ABS is efficient, durable, and lighter weight than polyethylene. It’s also more UV resistant; however, it does cost a bit more.
The seat, footrests, and the amount of space that is offered for the legs all impact the comfort of the vessel. It goes without saying that you want to be as comfortable as possible when you’re paddling, and seats and footrests that can be adjusted tend to offer the most comfort; however, molded seats can be comfortable, too, but you may want to consider adding some padding for those longer paddling sessions.
You want to be sure that the SOT kayak will be able to support the weight that you intend on having it carry. Take your own weight into consideration, as well as the weight of any gear you’ll be stowing on it and look for a sit-on-top kayak that is designed to support that weight.
Storage space is another important factor that you’re going to want to consider. You want to be sure that you have room to safely and securely stow your gear. Some kayaks feature dry storage space with hatched lids and open storage space for coolers and fish crates.
Consider what type of gear you will bring on-board the vessel to determine what type of storage space you’ll need.
Many SOT kayaks are outfitted with additional features. Examples include built-in fishing rod holders, built-in cup holders, paddle rests, and tracks to that you can easily add extra on-board accessories.
Keep in mind that included features usually drive up the price of a kayak, so the more features the vessel you choose offers, the more expensive it will likely be.
Lastly, you should take the cost of the sit-on-top kayak into consideration before you start shopping. As you can see from the models on our list, the prices for these vessels can vary widely, with some costing a couple of hundred bucks and some costing upwards of $1,000 or more.
As mentioned, typically, the more features a SOT kayak offers, the more expensive it will likely be. The materials that the kayak is constructed out of, as well as the size of the boat, will also impact the cost. Make sure you consider how much you want to spend before you start shopping so that you can set a budget and stick to it.
SOT Kayak FAQs
In this section, we answers some of the most frequently asked questions about SOT kayaks.
Are sit-on-top kayaks stable?
Yes, they are actually even more stable than sit-in kayaks because they have a wider hull and a better center of gravity.
Is it easy to get onto a SOT kayak?
Getting onto a SOT kayak can seem tricky at first, but once you master it, it’s a cinch. Make sure you enter in knee-deep water and grab both sides as you move yourself into position.
Do you get wet on a SOT kayak?
Yes, you’ll likely get wetter on a SOT kayak than you would on a sit-in kayak. Because of the open design, more splashing is bound to occur, and that water is bound to land on you. Just make sure you dress appropriately.
Can you carry a SOT kayak on your own?
Yes. The best way to carry a SOT kayak on your own is over your shoulder. Stand on the side of the vessel, kneel down, and then grab the handle and pull it up on your thighs, grab the other handle, and rotate the boat onto your shoulder.
A sit-on-top kayak is great for fishing, exercise, and recreation. With the information presented in this handy guide, you should have no trouble selecting the right SOT kayak to suit your specific needs.
Whether you choose one of the models that we featured on our list or you opt for a different model, make sure that you take the factors that were highlighted in our buyer’s guide when you’re shopping so that you can choose the right vessel for your needs.