Sit-On-Top vs. Sit-In Kayak: Which is The Best For You?

While the markets are swarming with a plethora of kayak layouts, fabricated with myriad materials such as metal, vinyl and fiberglass, and boasting an assortment of widths, lengths and shape, they belong to one of two designs; Sit-on-top and sit-in kayaks. A sit-in Kayak is a more traditional option and is the first reflection one envisages about sitting in a kayak. They feature a high rim around the cockpit where you can affix a spray skirt to fasten you into the boat and avert the water from sloshing all over you. There is an opening on top of the angler for the kayaker to climb in and out of the vessel. Sit-on-top kayaks, on the other hand, feature identical hull shapes to their conventional counterparts, but instead of sitting constricted inside the kayak, you perch on a molded-in depression on top! While both the fishing kayak designs have their merits, the one you choose depends on several factors:

Sit on Top Kayak (SOT) Features:

sit on top


  • Sit-on-top kayaks, designed to bear resemblance to surf boards, are versatile anglers crafted with recreational paddlers in mind.
  • They have a wider, flatter hull which augments stability. The self bailing sit-on-Top kayaks are virtually unsinkable. Even if they topple over, you can simply flip them back and if the water seeps inside the cockpit, it instantly drains out through the many scupper holes. You can easily stand up on a SOT kayak, reel in big catches and haul things in and out of the kayak.
  • Sit-on-top’s provide easy access to gear and have abundance of storage options to stash your fishing paraphernalia.
  • The ease of getting in and out of the kayak effortlessly make them great for fishing, surfing, touring, and scuba diving. Feel the wind in your hair and the sun in your face without the feelings of confinement.
  • Sit-on-top’s are generally thinner so they are constructed with fewer materials than SIKs and are easier to ship. This can lower the costs by a hundred dollars or more.
  • SOTs are an excellent choice for nervous peddlers, warm tropic weather and sitting sidesaddle and putting your legs over the side when it gets hot!



  • Sit-on-top kayaks are more cumbersome on the water, as they are designed to be wider to compensate for the paddler’s high center of gravity. This curbs speeds and makes them difficult to paddle.
  • Sit-on-top kayaks have molded tops, providing less space for storing gear. Also, gear can be protected from the elements in a sit-in kayak but is exposed on a sit-on-top model.
  • Since the seat on a SOT is mounted above the hull, it takes up much space when hauling the kayak, specially transporting the vessel on a car roof.
  • Since they are exposed to wave splash and constant drip from the paddle, it makes them unsuitable for manning strong current and uncanny weather.

Sit in Kayaks (SIK) Features:

sit in


  • Sit-in kayaks are apt for more seasoned paddlers who require greater control, tractability and maneuverability over the vessel. They also work well for ardent kayakers who want a long kayaking season, because one can use them in spring and autumn weather as well.
  • The low center of gravity in SIKs make them easier to paddle and much faster than SOTs.
  • SIKs proffer access to the entire hull and are great for storing the fishing paraphernalia without the tie downs. They provide more dry storage to protect your belongings from the environmental elements.
  • The enclosed cockpit protects the paddlers from sprays of water and since there are no drain holes in the bottom of the cockpit, the entire compartment remains dry!



  • They restrict freedom of movement and are difficult to enter or exit.
  • They offer little access to items placed on back deck (back part of kayak) and no access to items in dry storage.
  • If a SIK topples over, recovery poses a dilemma as the angler fills up with water.
  • In sultry weathers, a Sit-in kayak can become suffocating, especially when using a spray skirt.

For more details on the best kayaks, please visit our review page. And, if you want to learn more about basic fishing tips then go here.

One Response

  1. Birdsall Fishing Products December 4, 2015

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