For those who are new to the sport, as well as for advanced paddlers who are looking to be more active and have more room to move about on the water, sit-on-top kayaks offer a new world of kayaking experience that is much less confining than a traditional kayak cockpit.
Instead of settling in the crevices of a carved kayak or canoe, a sit-on-top kayak may feature a full chair with supportive back, or may offer minimal support in the form of a slight depression where you can fit with your legs outstretched. Sit-on-top kayaks make kayaking an option for those with longer limbs or bigger body types, as the confinement of a traditional kayak could make gliding across the water an awkward endeavor.
Sit-on-top kayaks are often looked at as a safer option in kayaking, as the reduced confinement makes it possible to do a self-rescue in the water and eliminates the difficulty of exiting the boat in case of capsize. If the boat tips over, it is easier to get out and resume your paddling excursion—another reason beginners often prefer sit-on-top designs.
What to Look For in a Sit-on-Top Kayak
The length and width of sit-on-top kayaks vary, and the best shape for you will depend on the type of water you plan on kayaking in. Flat waters like lakes and rivers are good for medium sized sit-on-tops, while long and narrow kayaks are going to be much faster and more ideal for racing. Sit-on-top kayaks can be purchased either solo or tandem, depending on your plans for having a partner out on the water with you.
Sit-on-top kayaks feature a similar hull shape to traditional kayaks and can be used in many of the same activities, including fishing, recreation and surfing. However, sit-on-top kayaks are often a great deal cheaper than a sit-inside boat and offer enhanced usability, making them a go-to favorite for beginner paddlers.