Best Sit On Top Kayak Review: Buyer’s Guide

The change over the last two decades is obvious. Kayaks are now at the forefront of water sports. You see them in magazines and on social media, but the real proof of their popularity shows when you get to the water. Doesn’t matter if it’s ocean, lake, or river. Kayaks will be there with paddlers sitting on top. The main distinguishing characteristic of kayaks is how they seat the paddler. Sit inside kayaks have their uses, but sit on top kayaks are the common paddler’s choice. Gain a better understanding and an edge when buying by using the following guide. The best sit on top kayak review section follows the guide and dissects 5 high value models.

Types Of Kayaks – Sit On Top vs Sit Inside Kayaks

To sit on top or to sit inside, that is the question. At least it’s the initial question that begs an answer when deciding upon a kayak. Most people know the sit inside style from watching white water kayaking. Paddlers launch through turbulent waters with nothing but their torso, arms, and head out of the kayak. A flashing encloses their lower half and seals the inside, allowing the paddler to roll without taking on water. The problem is that without the flashing or a quick recovery, a sit inside kayak will swamp.

Most Paddlers Choose Sit On Top Kayaks!

Sit on top kayaks will dunk you in the water if they flip, and even throw you off entirely. Their huge benefit, however, is that they won’t swamp. When a sit on top kayak flips, you simply turn it back over. Many sit on top kayaks have side walls and give the appearance of inside seating. They still have hulls that capture air for buoyancy (and storage). Most sit on top kayaks offer a self draining system that prevents water from collecting.

Besides eliminating the swamp factor, sit on top kayaks offer other benefits. They provide more space for storage, a feature fishermen and adventurous types prefer. Along with storage space must come weight capacity, another area in which sit on top kayaks excel. Stability of sit on top kayaks is inherently better than sit inside models meant to roll. In addition to all of this is a paddler’s line of sight. Sit on top kayaks put your eyes a few feet higher, making a big difference to the perspective of your view.

Top Considerations To Find The Best Sit On Top Kayak

Stability & Design Features Of Sit On Top Kayaks

Once you decide upon a sit on top kayak, stability should be the next concern. The design of the kayak hull determines stability and manufacturer’s describe this feature as a Kayak’s rocker. Quality sit on top kayaks offer primary and secondary stability in their rocker. A kayak with strong primary rocker is hard to tip, but will flip once past the balance point. That’s where secondary stability comes in. It helps keep the kayak from flipping all the way over.


Sit on top kayaks come in hundreds of different designs, and all have a different rocker. Paddlers generally accept 3 different categories of hull design in sit on top kayaks.

  • Flat Hull – Excellent shallow water vessels with good primary stability. Flat hulls offer little to no secondary stability.
  • Round Hull – Watch out for rocks on the bottom, but gain weight capacity and some secondary stability. Better for deeper lakes and deep water ocean adventures.
  • V-Shape Hull – Tour kayaks often use v-shape hulls for their straight tracking and speed in the water. V-shape sit on top kayaks offer the best secondary stability of the three.

Quality Of Manufacturing

A higher focus on quality of manufacturing will drive up the cost of sit on top kayaks, but there’s a couple main differences to be aware of. They involve the method kayak manufacturers use to mold their products. Paddlers save coin by going with models that have welded seams down the middle. These seams wear over time and become a point of issue. The best molds are one piece, though their manufacturing requires a special process.

Type Of Material

Another factor that will affect the price and durability of your sit on top kayak is material makeup. Polyethylene is basic plastic. You’ll find it keeps the cost down, but has limitations when it comes to temperature and durability. Higher quality sit on top kayaks use composite material. These are often proprietary inventions that may include carbon fiber, fiberglass, Kevlar, or other materials.


Two person sit on top kayaks are longer and heavier, two features that improve tracking. Tracking is a kayak’s ability to continue in a straight path despite the force of the paddle pushing water. Kayaks with poor tracking kick out in the rear with each paddle stroke, making navigation difficult.

Weight Capacity

The final consideration when it comes to stability, and a very important one at that, is weight capacity. Kayaks tip easier the closer they get to their maximum weight threshold. Sometimes single paddlers will opt for a two person sit on top kayak. Tandem sit on top kayaks can carry more weight which may be necessary when considering stability.

Accessories & Other Considerations

These choices will depend on each manufacturer. Examples of different accessories show in seats with pockets, carrying handles, and storage space. Bungee straps help secure gear and D-rings provide tie down locations. If it’s a sit on top fishing kayak, it’ll have rod holders and many other accessories.

Some models have skegs on the bottom to help with tracking. Others add foot paddles for hands free traveling. Your final consideration in accessories, however, must concern transportation. Trucks with racks is one answer, and a van may work as well. Trailers and car racks are other options people use to move their kayaks.

How To Choose The Best Sit On Top Kayak

Many paddlers begin their search worrying about budget. This makes the task of finding the best sit on top kayak more difficult than it needs to be. Narrow down your search by your needs first. Price is irrelevant if a kayak doesn’t perform how you want it to. Because of the sheer amount of choices, finding a sit on top kayak within your budget shouldn’t be any trouble. To make the selection process easier, scroll down and inspect the 5 models below. Each sit on top kayak review comes with its own value, and may very well match your needs.

Sit On Top & Tandem Sit On Top Kayak Reviews – Best Of 2017

1. Ocean Kayak Frenzy – Best Portability In A Sit On Top Kayak

If the idea of moving around a heavy cumbersome kayak is unappealing to you, take a look at Ocean Kayak’s Frenzy. With a length of 9 feet, it fits easily in the back of a truck or on top of a car rack. Lifting the yellow sit on top model doesn’t take too much effort either. The Frenzy scales out at a lightweight 43 pounds. Handles in stern, bow, and 2 opposite each other in the middle help with the task of lifting. For such a lightweight model, it’s weight capacity of 275-325 lbs isn’t bad either.

Storage on the Frenzy sit on top kayak is on both the bow with a bungee flat deck, and a bungee well on the stern. There’s a fully adjustable padded seat which includes a backrest, and several rows of rests for your feet. A cup holder is a tiny addition but the rear skid plate is not. A large bonus in durability, the skid plate absorbs impact where it occurs most often and is replaceable once it wears out.

4 scupper holes on the inside floor allow water to drain as it enters the compartment. A small drawback of the Frenzy sit on top kayak is that it doesn’t come with scupper plugs. They are available separately if you want them. Full dimensions of the Frenzy sit on top kayak are 108 inches in length, by 31 inches in width, and 18 of depth. Feedback from the multitude of users is all positive. Reviews strongly suggest purchasing the Frenzy, as long as it meets your needs.

2. Perception Kayak Tribe Sea Spray –   Best Size Options For A 1 Or 2 Person Sit On Top Kayak

Along with solid construction and design, paddlers appreciate the size options of Perception Kayak’s Tribe Sea Spray series. Single persons have 2 size options and the largest model offers dual seating for tandem kayaking. The Tribe Sea Spray starts out with its shortest 9′ 5” x 31.2” x 16.2” model. At 46 pounds, moving the smallest model comes easy. Single paddlers can move up to the 11′ 5” x 30.2” x 16” Tribe Sea Spray. It offers more storage space and better tracking for low angle paddlers. Max weight capacity also increases an additional 25 pounds or so.

With the same blue and white colors and appearance, the longest Tribe Sea Spray sit on top kayak offers enjoyment to tandem paddlers. Work in synchronicity on this 13′ 5” x 33.8” x 17” 2 person kayak. Perception Kayak’s Tribe Sea Spray tandem sit on top kayak weighs 67 pounds. Transportation arrangements by trailer or other means will be in order. It’s well worth the effort for the extra width, depth, and overall stability the two person model brings.

One feature owners remark on are the seats of these sit on top kayaks. Perception Kayaks calls it CSS, their Comfort Seating System. These seats have firm pads and contours on both bottom and backrest. They’re fully adjustable with high backs, and Tribe Sea Spray kayaks provide several slots for your feet to rest. User feedback focuses overwhelmingly on the 9′ 5” sit on top kayak as it’s the most popular purchase. Paddlers with kayaking knowledge agree that Perception Kayak’s Tribe Sea Spray series offers one of the best experiences for beginners and experts alike. Each model steps up in cost as their size increases, but they all provide great performance and durability.

3. Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 – Best Value Sit On Top Kayak For Fishing

It’s no secret by now that the amount of anglers turning to kayaks as their vessel of choice is skyrocketing. As manufacturers scramble to keep up with demand, the popular Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 remains as a top consumer choice. The number 90 signifies the kayaks 9′ length, making it perfect for single occupant anglers. A width of 32” and weight capacity of 300 pounds offer stability for that awkward change of weight while casting.

With a short length, weight of 46 pounds, and 4 handle locations, portability is an advantage. You won’t need a trailer or fancy rack with the Skipjack 90. When it comes to fishing, Vibe Kayaks designs an angler’s paradise. 4 rod holders in prime locations around this sit on top kayak give a fisherman options. If that’s not enough, there’s mounting locations for additional equipment like downriggers or a fish finder.

Storage is always a concern on sit on top fishing kayaks due to the extra gear anglers bring. Of top of the usual items, fishermen must consider tackle. It’s also nice to have a waterproof area for those sensitive items. Vibe Kayaks provides it all in the Skipjack 90. It’s rear bungee storage is perfect for your crate or cooler. There’s a large storage bag on the back of the seat’s backrest, plus middle and front sealed hatches give you that waterproof protection.

Because of the popularity of the Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90, there’s a good amount of user feedback. A true testament of a product’s performance shows when consumers have trouble finding a single complaint. One report tells of the seat straps breaking, an anomaly among the positive reviews.

4. Ocean Kayak Malibu Tandem – Best Value 2 Person Sit On Top Kayak

A couple of fishing buddies might prefer their own kayaks. For recreational purposes, tandem sit on top kayaks offer the enjoyment of working and traveling together. Their design is usually wider, offering better stability. Length, however, is always longer than single person models. Two people paddling a sit on top kayak adds force, and the kayak’s extra length also increases its speed. Ocean Kayak’s Malibu Tandem stretches to a respectable 12 feet in length, 34 inches width, and 20 inches depth.

Three molded seat wells come with the Malibu Tandem though only two padded seats come with the purchase. Couples with a child can opt to add that 3rd smaller seat in the middle if they so desire. Behind the back seat is the smallest space for storage, with the bigger cargo going up front.

At 57 pounds, portability is better than most tandem sit on top models. Ocean Kayaks also designs the Malibu Tandem models to stack dockside. They make the perfect replacement for worn out kayaks or brand new ones on any lake attraction. Another option many paddlers consider when shopping for kayaks is a tandem model for single use. Place one of the two seats in the middle and remove the other. You have a kayak that’s longer than most single models. It’s more stable, offers more room, and weight capacity for gear.

As for drawbacks, weight may be an issue especially is you intend to use it as a one person vessel. Another limitation brought up by one user is its versatility. Though the Malibu Tandem is a good all around kayak, it doesn’t excel at any one thing. You might disagree when you see the cost. The Malibu Tandem sit on top kayak is tough to beat when it comes to budget.

5. Ocean Kayak Scrambler – Best Value 1 Person Sit On Top Kayak

As you can see in the above sit on top kayak reviews, Ocean Kayak manufactures many of the top value models. Out of their 1 person options, none holds better value than the Scrambler. The Ocean Kayak Scrambler is not the cheapest sit on top model, but by no means is it out of a reasonable price range. When you discover all it has to offer, it shows enormous value.

At 11 feet 6.5 inches in length, speed increases over most shorter models. Those paddlers with low angle strokes fare better with tracking on kayaks of this length. 29.5 inches in width is a bit less than many single person sit on top kayaks, but the Scrambler still offers excellent stability. It’ll handle wind chop and ocean swells no problem.

Portability is one disadvantage of the Ocean Kayak Scrambler. Being longer and heavier at 47 pounds than most single kayaks, extra steps in transportation may be in order. The flip side of that extra build is more storage space and weight capacity. Including yourself, you can load between 300 and 350 pounds on the Scrambler. Storage space is small in the rear and large in the front, with both wells offering bungee strap downs.

If you’re willing to splurge for a better product, the Scrambler deserves your attention. Owners rave about every one of its features. Among sit on top kayaks, its stability is top notch and perfect for beginners. Though it does have a bit of additional weight and length, it’s not overly cumbersome. A 6′ 4”, 250 pound man reports plenty of room and stability. That says a lot about a sit on top kayak and shows the true value of the Scrambler.

Conclusion Of The Sit On Top Kayak Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

The beauty and majesty of nature awaits you as travel alone or in tandem on your sit on top kayak. There’s decisions to make before that dream becomes a reality, but they don’t have to be difficult. Gain a better understanding of what sit on top kayaks have to offer and why they are the preferred models. Learn all about their different designs using the best sit on top kayak buyer’s guide. It’ll lead you towards a design suitable to your needs. Instead of wading through hundreds of models, use the sit on top kayak reviews above. Chances are that your best model lies in one those 5 featured kayaks.

Categories Kayak