Sit On Top Kayaks: 9 Answers Explained (For Beginners)

If you are new to kayaking and looking for a suitable kayak, you’ve come to a good place. You must have seen the common sit-inside kayaks, in which people put their legs, and only their torso sticks out. 

This article will explain what sit-on-top kayaks are and answer some common questions. We will also tell you whether this type of kayak would be better for you or not. So, let’s get right into it. Shall we?

Sit On Top vs. Sit Inside Kayaks Explained

There are two basic kayak vessels – sit inside and sit on top. Both types come in singles and doubles and hard shells or inflatables. They are mostly similar, but let’s see how they’re different. 

Sit inside kayaks have a closed top and are hollow inside. There’s a cockpit hole on top for the paddler to get their legs inside and sit. You can attach a spray skirt to the cockpit rim to keep water from getting inside. 

Sit on top kayaks have depressions caving into the vessel, and the legs will be exposed when you sit in them. They have scupper holes that drain water out of the kayak. The best part is they are very easy to get in and out of.

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Are Sit On Top Kayaks Comfortable?

Sit on top kayaks are very comfortable; they don’t make you feel restricted or confined. They are great for hot days, nervous paddlers and especially children. You can hop right in and get off whenever you like without much difficulty.

However, you are guaranteed to get splashed all over in these kayaks. If you don’t like getting wet, it might not be for you.

Are Sit On Top Kayaks Good For Rivers?

If you want a sit-on-top kayak for the river, you should get something stable and sturdy that turns quickly. A shorter, day touring or recreational sit-on-top kayak would be ideal for river kayaking because it’ll be easier to maneuver. 

However, short recreational sit-inside kayaks are much more common for river kayaking. They are very easy to control and balance because you can use your knees. 

Are Sit On Top Kayaks Good For The Ocean?

Short, recreational sit-on-top kayaks can be good to use on the ocean. Moreover, they will be easier to get out of if you capsize. They’re very stable, but you will most probably get splashed by lots of water. 

Are Sit On Top Kayaks Safe?

Sit on top kayaks are safe, what you should look for in a kayak that suits your needs. A sit-on-top kayak is great if you don’t mind getting wet. Moreover, they have holes to drain water, so you don’t need to worry about filling up with water and capsizing. 

If you get a good quality sit-on-top kayak, it will likely be reliable, sturdy and very stable. Get yourself a hard-shell kayak if you’re worried about how it will hold when it hits rocks or debris. Inflatable kayaks are best for rivers or oceans with fewer obstacles and calmer waters.

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Why Do Sit On Top Kayaks Have Holes In Them?

The holes in sit-on-top kayaks are called scupper holes. Scupper holes drain water out that has collected inside it. It prevents the kayak from sinking, and the holes will not cause too much water into the kayak either. 

Scupper holes also help keep the kayak lighter, so the paddler sits up off the water. However, if you want to sit closer to the water or paddle in breaking waves/rougher waters, you could close them off. 

Is There A Weight Limit For Sit On Top Kayaks?

Sit on top kayaks usually have a 300-400 lbs weight limit, 100 lbs higher than the general enclosed, sit-inside kayak. They are much more well suited for younger and beginner kayakers. 

Even though they have a higher weight limit than sit-inside kayaks, it’s best to avoid going over it. Since these kayaks are open top, they are more likely to sink if it gets too close to the water’s level.

How Heavy Are Sit On Top Kayaks?

On average, a sit-on-top kayak can weigh from 20 lbs to 90 lbs – some going up to or over 100 lbs. Its weight will depend on your kayak’s material, accessories, and size. You can get some bigger kayaks that weigh less.

If you want a lightweight kayak as a taller person, you should look into lightweight materials such as carbon fiber or inflatable kayaks. 

Is Sit On Top Kayaks More Stable Than Sit In?

Generally, a sit-inside kayak will be more stable than a sit-on-top kayak of the same dimensions. Additionally, sit on top kayaks have lower seats and wider. A wider kayak will also be slower than a narrow, sit-inside kayak. 

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Is Sit On Top Kayaks Better For Fishing?

Sit on top kayaks are a popular preference for fishing. They are wider, allowing you to carry more supplies with you. Additionally, you can move in and out of them very easily, as well as carry your catch!

The best part about them is you can stand easily in them. However, sit-inside kayaks are good if you need to move locations quickly due to their ease of maneuver. 


In conclusion, sit-on-top kayaks are best for younger beginners and nervous kayakers. They are easy to get in and out of, drain water through scupper holes, and they’re ideal for the summer! Sit inside kayaks are better for experienced kayakers and competitors and river tours. 

We hope that we have answered some important questions about sit-on-top kayaks! As well as provide you with some idea on how they compare to sit inside kayaks. Now you can go looking for the ideal kayak for yourself or your kids!

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