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Reviewed by our Gear Geeks:

THE BEST SIT ON TOP KAYAKS in 2021

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Our experts at work

We gave our Gear lovers one job:

Test 25 different Sit On Top Kayaks and write reviews of the best.

The result is 11 of the best Sit On Top Kayaks on the market today.

christos nicolaou

Christos Nicolaou

Divemaster and Paddler
Christos is a passionate diver, enthusiastic paddler & amateur SUP racer.

Bradley Axmith boating & sailing editor

Bradley Axmith

Editor at DIVEIN.com
Vikingship building gear enthusiast and waterworld fanatic.

A sit on top kayak offers an affordable kayaking experience for kayakers of any age or level and are perfect as family kayaks or for kayakers looking to challenge their abilities to build up their skills and wade into wilder conditions.

These kayaks are good for some light touring, fishing, fitness or for just getting out on the water and meditate in solitude.

Here at DIVEIN.com, we want to make it easy for you, so we’ve created this list of the best sit on top kayaks in 2020 and guide to help you choose the right one. 

Top 10 Best Sit On Top Kayaks In 2021

See our list of top 10 Sit On Top Kayaks.

Still unsure as to what sit on top kayak to choose? Check out our buying guide to know what to look for when buying a kayak.

This recreational sit on top kayak is excellent for kayakers looking for a comfortable, lightweight, and spacious kayak. The Sun Dolphin Bali is very affordable and is a fantastic option for beginners who want an easy-to-use and accessible kayak to go adventuring in on the weekends.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Sun Dolphin Bali 10’ :
Where to buy:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Sit On Top
  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Material: Fortiflex Polyethylene
  • Weight Capacity: 395 lbs.
  • Weight: 44 lbs.
What we like:
  • The seating area is large and comfortable and has an adjustable padded seat.
  • It is lightweight, making the kayak suitable for travel.
What we don’t like:
  • The kayaks tracking can be unreliable, making it challenging to navigate in harsh conditions.

Designed for small bodies of water like lakes and rivers, the Sun Dolphin Bali is a stable and comfortable sit on top kayak. It’s easy to paddle in this kayak, regardless of your skill level, and it is equipped with a plush comfortable seat. 

The seating area includes adjustable foot braces for additional support. The open tank expands for extra storage if you’re planning a long trip. There are also carrying handles for convenient transportation. 

Ultimately, the Sun Dolphin Bali is an easy to use -and comfortable kayak for kayakers who are new to the sport.   

The Pelican Sentinel is a perfect sit on top model for cruising around lakes and rivers. This kayak is made for comfort and stability and is suitable for kayakers who want a kayak that can offer a little bit more bang for their buck.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Pelican Sentinel 9’5”:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Sit On Top
  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Material: RAM-X with UV finish
  • Weight Capacity: 275 lbs.
  • Weight: 44 lbs.
What we like:
  • The seating area is large, comfortable, and has a floor mat for grip.
  • Convenient handles for transportation.
What we don’t like:
  • Doesn’t come with a paddle.

The perfect sit on top kayak for enjoying a relaxing day at the lake or beach, the Pelican Sentinel offers a well-constructed seating area with an incredibly comfortable seat. The kayak also sports a large, easy access tank storage area with a secure bungee system for bringing along gear and equipment.

The Sentinel is also one of the faster models on this list and is suitable for kayakers with some experience who want to try something new without committing to a different style. The kayak is also beautifully constructed using the RAM-X, a UV resistant Pelican patent material that is exceptionally durable.

The Pelican Sentinel is an excellent recreational sit on top kayak for kayakers who want a better than average kayak perfect for cruising about it.

One of the best and most affordable sit on top flatwater kayaks on the market, the Emotion Spitfire 9 is great for the whole family.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Emotion Spitfire 9’:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Sit On Top
  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Material: Blow-molded Polyethylene
  • Weight Capacity: 350 lbs.
  • Weight: 45 lbs.
What we like:
  • Very stable and secure.
  • Lots of storage for a sit on top.
  • Lightweight and has handles for portability.
What we don’t like:
  • The kayak’s tracking is limited.

The Emotion Spitfire is designed to effortlessly glide on flat water while providing kayakers with a comfortable and spacious kayak to cruise in. This sit on top kayak features a slight rocker that increases maneuverability and a defined keel that maintains the kayak’s limited tracking.

The blow-molded polyethylene construction creates a strong hull that can withstand knocks and blows. Additionally, the Spitfire offers much more storage than your conventional sit on top kayak, with two open storage areas at the nose and tail of the kayak and even a storage hatch just below the seat for convenient access.

In summary, the Emotion Spitfire is the perfect sit on top kayak for kayakers looking for an affordable kayak with some unique features and a reliable hull.

The Lifetime Triton kayak is exceptionally durable and offers an outstanding balance of maneuverability and stability. This recreational sit on top kayak provides a superior level of performance. 

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Lifetime Triton 10’:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Sit On Top
  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Material: High-Density Polyethylene
  • Weight Capacity: 275 lbs.
  • Weight: 48 lbs.
What we like:
  • Offers an excellent level of stability and performance.
  • Integrated skeg for geat tracking.
What we don’t like:
  • Limited storage compared to other kayaks in this category

This sit on top kayak is suitable for all sorts of activities, from exploring and adventuring in coastal bays to fishing in lakes. Additional features include molded footrests, bungee storage straps,  a comfortable adjustable seat pad, and even a bottle holder. 

The Triton boasts an integrated skeg that allows for improved maneuvering for a sit on top kayak. This recreational kayak is well outfitted with all the essentials necessary to have a comfortable, stable, and steady journey while providing an outstanding level of control. 

Finally, the Lifetime Triton is ideal for kayakers looking for a premium level of comfort and a high level of maneuvering and control while on the water.

Perception’s most popular sit on top kayak, the Tribe, is an all-time favorite for kayakers and is brilliant for beginners and advanced kayakers.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Perception Tribe 11’5”:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Sit On Top
  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight Capacity: 350 lbs.
  • Weight: 52 lbs.
What we like:
  • Large storage area and high capacity to bring gear and equipment along.
  • The seating area is spacious and comfortable and has an adjustable padded seat.
  • Offers excellent tracking and maneuverability.
What we don’t like:
  • Heavy.
  • Doesn’t come with plugs.

The Perception Tribe is an extremely versatile recreational sit on top kayak that is comfortable and stable. It also offers a substantial level of maneuverability and control that is even considered to be adequate for choppy coastal conditions.

The Tribe features molded footrests, comfortable padded seats, nose and tail handles as well as front and back toggles. This kayak is robust and durable, and with proper maintenance and storage, it will last you a long time. 

Ultimately, the Perception Tribe is a unique recreational sit on top kayak that is best suited for kayakers who have some experience and are used to kayaking.

This recreational sit on top kayak is super lightweight and is ideal for travelers. It has a uniquely dynamic shape that makes it fast and maneuverable.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Lifetime Lotus 8’:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Sit On Top
  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Material: High-Density Polyethylene
  • Weight Capacity: 250 lbs.
  • Weight: 36.5 lbs.
What we like:
  • It is super lightweight, making the kayak suitable for travel.
  • Stable, supportive, and comfortable.
What we don’t like:
  • The kayak has a very low max weight capacity.
  • No handles for carrying.

The Lifetime Lotus is the lightest and smallest kayak on this list, and one of the most portable sit on top kayaks around. That said, it might be better suited for smaller and lighter kayakers as the max weight capacity is 250 lbs. It also features a unique design that provides increased speed, maneuvering, and control.

This kayak sports a huge bungee storage area at the tail and an integrated dry storage area below the seat. Additionally, it has molded footrests, toggles, and integrated paddle holders at the nose and behind the seat.

Finally, the Lifetime Lotus is a fantastic recreational sit on top kayak that is extremely portable and is best suited for lighter, smaller kayakers and travelers.

The Brooklyn Kayak Co.’s FK184 is one of the coolest sit on top kayaks. It features a beautifully designed hull with molded footrests and two waterproof hatches for storing valuables.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Brooklyn Kayak Co. FK184 9’:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Sit On Top
  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Material: High-Density Polyethylene
  • Weight Capacity: 330 lbs.
  • Weight: 44 lbs.
What we like:
  • Outstanding overall performance for a sit on top kayak.
  • Waterproof storage hatch units.
  • Useful if you want to try out fishing.
What we don’t like:
  • Footrests are very close to the seat.

Designed to be robust and maneuverable, the FK 184 is the perfect sit on top kayak for adventure. It’s very stable and buoyant and makes cruising around lakes a relaxing experience for kayakers.

The FK 184’s top features are its two waterproof storage units, paddle park bungee cords, and rod holder, making it an ideal kayak for fishing. The kayak also features handles and an incredibly comfortable seat that can be adjusted to fit the kayaker.

The Brooklyn Kayak Co.’s FK 184 is an awesome kayak for kayakers looking for the perfect sit on top kayak for cruising about in.

The Lifetime Tioga is a popular sit on top kayak for many experienced kayakers, but a good entry-level model too. It offers exceptional performance and maneuverability in most conditions and a high level of comfort and stability.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Lifetime Tioga 10’:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Sit On Top
  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Material: High-Density Polyethylene
  • Weight Capacity: 275 lbs.
  • Weight: 50 lbs.
What we like:
  • The kayak has substantial storage areas with bungee systems.
  • Waterproof storage hatch under the seat.
  • Super comfortable and spacious.
What we don’t like:
  • The kayak has a very low capacity limit.

This kayak has a fantastic design for a sit on top, and it’s dimensions allow for some speed on flat water. The kayak is very maneuverable, and the tracking is on point. The kayak also has lots of room to move around in, making it comfortable and enjoyable to use. It is also portable and easy to transport thanks to the carry handles at each side. 

The Lifetime Tioga features molded footrests, toggles, and deep hull channels for upgraded tracking performance. The Tioga provides many different areas for storing equipment and a waterproof storage hatch for those valuable items that need to stay dry.

To conclude, the Lifetime Tioga is a fantastic sit on top kayak that will suit most kayakers and allows you to explore lakes, rivers, bays, and coastal areas.

The Perception Hi Life is part sit on top kayak and part stand up paddleboard. With this kayak, you get the best of both worlds, and it provides fun for riders of all ages and levels. It’s versatility is reflected in the higher price.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Perception Hi Life 11’:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Sit On Top
  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight Capacity: 280 lbs.
  • Weight: 55 lbs.
What we like:
  • Both a kayak and a SUP hybrid.
  • Lots of customization options.
  • Built-in cooler for taking along snacks and drinks.
  • Good storage possibilities
  • Aft platform for pets and getting up from the water
What we don’t like:
  • Not the most stable kayak and doesn’t handle waves well.
  • Tracking is moderate at best.

Designed to be part kayak and part stand-up paddleboard, the Perception Hi-Life is an awesome experience for anybody who loves SUP and kayaking. The Hi-Life can be used while sitting and is exceptionally comfortable and stable while in kayak mode. It can also be used while standing up and becomes a lot more maneuverable but loses some stability. 

The Hi-Life is very durable and comfortable. The foam deck padding provides a significant level of comfort and support for paddling, while the upright seat allows you to feel supported while kayaking. The kayak also makes an impression with other kayakers and comes in a flurry of different color options.

Finally, the Perception Hi-Life is a must-have for kayakers who love to paddleboard.

This sit on top kayak is ideal for recreational use by entry-level kayakers and is suitable for being used by several different kayakers. 

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Wilderness Systems Ripper 8’:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Sit On Top
  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight Capacity: 225 lbs.
  • Weight: 39 lbs.
What we like:
  • It is very lightweight and has handles for convenient travel.
  • The seating area is comfortable.
What we don’t like:
  • The kayak has holes that let in water, so you might need to buy plugs if you plan on staying dry.
  • The buoyancy keeps the kayak just above the water level.

The Ripper is one of the shortest and lightest kayaks on this market, making it a best in class in terms of portability and transportation. If you plan to take your kayak traveling with you and only have a small car, this is the kayak for you. 

This kayak features a molded-in design with footrests, handles, toggles, and even some dry storage. The Ripper is the right choice for kayakers who want an affordable and versatile sit on top kayak that provides an adequate level of stability and maneuvering.

Overall, the Wilderness Systems Ripper is a perfect recreational sit on top kayak for travelers and smaller kayakers who don’t mind getting wet.

The Perception Zip is the perfect sit on top kayak for playful adventures exploring lakes and calm coastal bays. It’s a great kayak for the whole family as it is suited for kayakers of any level.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Perception Zip 9’6” :
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Sit On Top
  • Person Capacity: 1
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Weight Capacity: 250 lbs.
  • Weight: 47 lbs.
What we like:
  • Good quality for an affordable price.
  • Stable in most conditions.
  • It is super lightweight, making the kayak suitable for travel.
What we don’t like:
  • The kayak's hull is not the sturdiest making it fragile in harsh conditions.
  • Doesn’t come with a seat.

Offering superior stability to other sit on top kayak designs, the Perception Zip provides an ideal recreational kayak for a range of ages and experience levels. The kayak is designed to be lightweight as well as extremely easy to maneuver in the water.

This kayak features easy-access storage areas and a spacious seating area where you can install a padded seat for maximum comfort while kayaking. The high level of stability offered by the Perception Zip increases the overall safety of this kayak.

Overall, the Perception Zip is a lightweight and easy to maneuver kayak for kayakers of any ability.

Guide to Finding the Best Sit on Top Kayak

Sit on top kayaks are perfect for recreational kayaking as well as for beginners to the sport. Kayaking has been practiced recreationally for around 4000 years and is one of the most popular outdoor water sports. It allows you to get out onto lakes, rivers, and coastal areas in order to explore and adventure into the heart of nature. 

If you’ve decided to get a sit on top kayak as opposed to a sit in kayak (one with a cockpit) then you have done so for specific reasons. Maybe you want to be able to hop out and swim around and be able to get up in it again; perhaps you want to use it for fishing, packing a lot gear and having easy access to it either in front or aft cargo wells; or maybe you want a kayak that is versatile enough to serve all purposes at once.

A sit on top kayak is extremely stable and versatile. While some more experienced kayakers will use them for fishing in the ocean, they don’t withstand waves as well sea kayaks. Sit on top kayaks are best for recreational use on  flat water due to their performance attributes. That said, here are the main factors to consider when purchasing a sit on top kayak.

Quick Kayak Safety

Unless you’ve tried kayaking before, you’re going to need to take some simple to maximize your fun by minimizing the potential mishaps that can happen. Start by having a life vest. Kayaking life vests tend to be smaller so they don’t hinder your paddling movements. It also means they don’t get in the way as much, so get one!

Have a buddy with you when you plan on going out for a while or for a longer tour. That’s especially relevant if the water you’ll be kayaking on isn’t calm. 

If your kayak does tip, you can easily get in it again, especially if it’s a sit on top kayak. Check out this how to re enter a kayak video:

Stay out of the way of motor boats and generally out of typical crossings for other vessels. In the beginning of your kayaking career, it makes sense to stick close to the coast line.

Consider a VHF radio if you’re going far. In the case of an emergency–even if it’s not your own–it makes sense to be able to hail assistance from other boaters or the coast guard. 

Bring something to drink and remember your sunscreen!

Material

The materials used in the construction of sit on top kayaks impact the kayaks performance and durability. In general, the materials used to construct sit on top kayaks are Polyethylene and ABS.

Polyethylene is the most commonly used material for sit on top kayaks and is a favorite of many for a few good reasons. It’s flexible, relatively abrasion-resistant, and affordable. That said, this material is susceptible to UV damage, which means that you have to store it in a dark space with a minimum amount of sunlight. More durable kayaks are made from either high-density polyethylene, dual layer polyethylene or blow-molded polyethylene. 

ABS, or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene is a thermoplastic polymer that is an upgrade from polyethylene in terms of UV protection and has slightly better longevity. It’s also more lightweight and, as expected, more expensive. An example of ABS is the Pelican Sentinel’s RAM-X material.

Length

When choosing the length of the sit on top kayak you’d be most comfortable with, you have to keep the following in mind:

Kayaks with more than 10’ of length are the most efficient when kayaking for speed, while those with less than 10’ in length are the easiest to maneuver and carry in and out of water.

For more speed =  Kayaks more than 10 feet long

For more maneuverability = Kayaks less than 10 feet long

The beam of your kayak is also something you have to consider before purchasing a sea kayak. The beam is the point of any vessel, usually at its mid-point, that is widest. It should be wide enough to withstand the wildest waves and thin enough to maintain the kayak’s speed. 

A beam that is too wide can cause your kayak to tip, meaning that kayaks with an average-sized beam are the safest choice.

Weight Capacity

When choosing what sit on top kayak to invest in, consider the amount of weight it’s able to withstand. This is particularly important if you’re thinking about bringing a lot of gear on board. 

It’s recommended to pick a kayak that has a higher weight capacity so that you don’t end up sinking the kayak when it’s full with equipment. There should be some room left for the boat to properly operate without being overloaded, which means that it has to have at least 20-40 pounds free of load. 

Leave 20-40 pounds free capacity for better operating experience

Storage

Recreational kayakers require space in their sit on top kayaks for equipment, gear, and of course, comfort. In the case of a sit on top, kayak storage is not super important unless your intended use includes fishing–in which case you’ll know exactly what you need. 

Check out our reviews of the best fishing kayaks

It’s best if your kayak has a dry storage space under your seat for easy access to essentials like valuables, water and snacks. Bungee cord systems are also a great option for bringing extra gear by securing it to the hull of the kayak. 

Budget 

Regarding price, some sit on top kayaks will cost more because of the material they’re built from, while others will be more affordable because of the small storage space they provide. You have to decide what features are important to you and what features you can do without. 

Sit on top kayaks can be as cheap as $300 and as expensive as $1500. Keep in mind that you generally get what you pay for with kayaks.

If you already have a sit on top kayak or you just bought one, leave a comment in the comment section below and share your experience with it.

FAQ – Frequently asked questions about sit on top kayaks

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