sit on top kayaks on a beach

Top 10 Best Sit On Top Kayaks for 2023: Expert Reviews and Buying Guide

Kayaking is a fantastic way to have fun outdoors and experience the beauty of nature. Whether you’re an experienced kayaker or a beginner, finding the perfect kayak can be overwhelming with so many options available.

One popular choice for kayakers is the sit-on-top kayak (SOT kayak). These types of kayaks are known for their stability, ample legroom, and ease of entry and exit. However, with so many models in the market today, it can be difficult to choose which one to buy.

That’s why we’re here to help! We’ve carefully reviewed and compiled a list of the ten best sit-on-top kayaks currently available. In this guide, we’ll take you through each model’s features and benefits so that you can make an informed decision when selecting your own SOT kayak.

As an affiliate partner with Amazon and other retailers, we may earn a commission from any purchases made through our links without any additional cost to you. So let’s dive into our reviews and find your perfect SOT kayak match!

Our Top Picks: Best Sit on Top Kayaks in 2023

sit on top kayaks on a beach


Top 10 Best Sit on Top Kayaks of 2023

Looking for the best sit-on-top kayaks to take your aquatic adventures to the next level? Check out our top picks for 2023!

1. Perception Tribe 9.5

2. Pelican Sentinel

3. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 135T

4. Perception Pescador 10.0

5. Perception Tribe 11.5

6. Intex Excursion Pro Kayak

7. Driftsun Teton 120 Hard Shell Recreational Tandem Kayak

8. Perception Hi Life 11 Convertible SUP/Kayak hybrid

9. Lifetime Lotus 8

10. Old Town Sportsman 106 Powered by Minn Kota Motorized Fishing Kayak

Each of these kayaks has unique features and benefits, so read on to learn more about what sets them apart from the rest.

We’ve done all the research and testing, so you don’t have to – these are the cream of the crop when it comes to sit-on-top kayaks in 2023!

Kayak Reviews

1. Perception Tribe 9.5

Perception Tribe 9.5 | Sit on Top Kayak

The Perception Tribe 9.5 is a top pick for anyone looking for an affordable sit-on-top kayak that doesn’t skimp on performance. With its compact size and lightweight design, this kayak is perfect for beginners who want an easy to maneuver kayak for a day on the water without breaking the bank.

Crafted from high-density polyethylene using rotational molding technology, this model is built to last and can handle up to Class II rapids with ease. Despite its simplicity, the Perception Tribe 9.5 does offer a few key features such as an adjustable seat for added comfort, two deck wells for gear storage, and a small dry hatch in the cockpit.

The boat’s broad, rounded hull provides stability in calm water and agility in moderate river rapids making it ideal for those who love both flat water paddling and whitewater adventures alike. So if you’re looking for a dependable sit on top kayak that won’t cost you an arm and a leg but still performs well, the Perception Tribe 9.5 might be just what you need!

2. The Pelican Sentinel

Pelican Sentinel 100X Sit on Top Kayak

The Pelican Sentinel makes for a great choice when it comes to recreational kayaks. Perfect for those who want something more than just the average, this kayak provides stability and comfort as you cruise around rivers and lakes.

This model is specially constructed with style using RAM-X material, which is a UV-resistant Pelican patent that ensures durability in your investment. It also contains a large tank storage area with an easy access Bungee system, giving you plenty of room to bring along all of your necessary gear and equipment. The kayak has a weight capacity of 275 lbs and weighs in at 44 lbs. Plus, it has a comfortable seating area which allows the user to stay relaxed while paddling away!

Not only is the Pelican Sentinel aesthetically pleasing but it’s also fast – perfect for recreational use.

3. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 135T Tandem Kayak

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 135 | Sit on Top Tandem Fishing Kayak

If you’re in the market for a tandem sit-on-top kayak that offers plenty of legroom and other key features, the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 135T is a strong contender. This kayak has two adjustable seats, two cockpit dry storage hatches, and two deck wells, making it an excellent choice for frequent kayakers who don’t want to feel cramped while out on the water.

At 88 lbs, this kayak isn’t too heavy and has two rigid carry handles that make it easy to transport between your car and the water. Its wide rounded hull provides excellent primary stability in calm conditions, while its long length and slightly V-shaped bow help with tracking through the water.

Overall, if you’re looking for a comfortable yet reliable tandem sit on top kayak with plenty of storage options that won’t weigh you down or cramp your style during long paddles, then consider giving the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 135T a try.

4. Perception Pescador 10.0 Fishing Kayak

Perception Pescador 10 | Sit on Top Fishing Kayak

Looking for a versatile and budget-friendly option that can handle a range of water activities such as fishing? Check out the Perception Pescador 10.0, a great kayak for fishing for both beginners and experienced paddlers.

This kayak offers ample fishing-specific features, including flush-mounted rod holders and YakAttack gear tracks, without sacrificing comfort with its padded seat and adjustable foot braces. Its large rear deckwell and dry hatch in the bow provide plenty of storage options, making it an ideal choice for recreational paddlers who want to pack extra gear.

With its rounded hull, this stable kayak is designed to handle any outdoor adventure you have in mind while also being gentle on your wallet. Discover why the Perception Pescador 10.0 has become a go-to option for those seeking an all-purpose kayak solution!

5. Perception Tribe 11.5

Perception Tribe 11.5 | Sit on Top Kayak

Are you looking for a kayak that you can take on a long journey? Then Perception’s popular sit-on-top: the Tribe 11.5 is one worth considering! It’s excellent for both beginners and experts, providing comfort while keeping you stable in choppy coastal waters.

The durable construction includes molded footrests, comfortable padded seats, nose and tail handles as well as front and back toggles – just some of its great features that make it so easy to use. It has a weight capacity of 350 lbs. and comes with superior tracking and glide capabilities to help you stay afloat even when winds or waves try to knock you off course.

The Tribe 11.5 is suitable for any age group or experience level – making it ideal for day trips or overnighters too! Though there are minor drawbacks such as stern storage well not draining easily, a heavy transport burden, & deck plate cockpit console that sticks; these flaws do not detract from this boat being an exceptional option all around!

6. Intex Excursion Pro Kayak


The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is a great choice if you’re looking for an affordable inflatable kayak. It is designed with durability in mind and has a weight capacity of 400 pounds.

The kayak is made with super tough laminate PVC that makes it highly resistant to damage from abrasion, impact and sunlight. The 3-ply construction also provides extra rigidity and stability due to its high pressure inflation system with spring-loaded valves for easy inflation and fast deflation.

It comes equipped with two removable skegs perfect for deep or shallow waters as well as two floor mounted footrests so you can keep your feet comfortable during those long paddle trips. Plus there are 2 integrated recessed fishing rod holders on board if you prefer taking your time out on the lake or river fishing instead!

The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak also offers plenty of storage space in both bow and stern compartments with stainless steel D rings so you can attach dry bags or other equipment securely while paddling away. There’s even a removable adjustable mounting bracket specifically designed to fit additional accessories like GPS systems, fish finders, swivel fishing rod holders etc., making this kayak incredibly functional no matter what activity. And that’s not all – it also includes 86 inch aluminum oars plus a handy carry bag and repair patch just in case anything happens while out on the water!

Overall we think this sit on kayak packs quite a punch when it comes to functionality at an amazing price point – definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for an adventure without breaking your wallet!

7. Driftsun Teton 120 Hard Shell Recreational Tandem Kayak

If you’re looking for a kayak that has enough space to accommodate everyone in your family, the Driftsun Teton 120 Hard Shell Recreational Tandem Kayak is an excellent choice. With its 12-foot long rugged design and 500 pound weight capacity, this sit on top kayak can fit two paddlers plus a third seat if needed.

This hardshell kayak is constructed from single piece rotomolded UV resistant high density polyethylene for unmatched strength and durability. It also comes with 4 flush mount capped rod holders for fishing trips, 2 mounting points for Scotty accessories, rear tankwell storage with bungee cords and dual watertight storage hatches with inserts.

The extras just keep coming – there are 4 fixed carry handles to make transportation easier; two paddle park holders secure your paddles when not in use; molded center cockpit seat; adjustable EVA padded seats with high back support; (2) Anodized Aluminium Performance kayak paddles and 8 Scupper Plugs that allow water to quickly drain out of self bailing ports.

If you’re after an adventure-ready tandem kayak that will last you years of lake or ocean fun while keeping everyone safe along the way – then definitely check out the Driftsun Teton 120 Hard Shell Recreational Tandem Kayak!

8. Perception Hi Life 11 Convertible SUP/Kayak hybrid

If you’re looking for the best convertible kayak/SUP hybrid, then look no further than the Perception Hi Life 11. This convertible SUP/Kayak hybrid is designed to offer all the fun of both sports in one, perfect for sharing with kids and pets.

The bronze medal winner at this year’s IDEA Awards offers a smooth ride even in flat and slow moving waters like coastal areas. It also has plenty of features that make getting in and out easier – front and rear swim decks with low sides as well as hand grabs. The elevated seat offers great comfort thanks to its supportive design and thick padding throughout, so you won’t have any back pain after riding it for a long time.

Plus, what sets it apart from other models is its built-in cooler under the seat – a convenient spot to keep your favorite drinks or snacks cold while out on an adventure! The Hi Life 11 also works well with Perception’s Convertible Paddle (sold separately), making paddling much easier when transitioning between SUPing and kayaking modes.

All things considered, if you want something that can do both activities just as good as two separate boards would be able to do them separately – this is probably your best bet when shopping around $1000 price range!

9. Lifetime Lotus 8

The Lifetime Lotus 8 Kayak is an excellent choice for traveling kayakers given its lightweight build. Not only is it one of the smallest and lightest kayaks on the market, but its unique design also boasts increased speed, maneuvering, and control compared to other sit-on-top models.

This boat sports a 250 lbs weight capacity, however, it might be best suited for lighter individuals due to its low 36.5 lbs weight rating. There are plenty of storage options included as well such as a large bungee area at the tail and integrated dry storage below the seat coupled with molded footrests, toggles and paddle holders both at the nose and behind the seating area.

In conclusion, this recreational sit on top model is highly transportable given its design plus specs – making it perfect for travelers looking for a lightweight kayak!

10. Old Town Sportsman 106 Powered by Minn Kota Motorized Fishing Kayak

For those who prioritize fishing on their kayaking trips, the Old Town Sportsman 106 Powered by Minn Kota may be the perfect choice. This premium motorized kayak is designed to make long days out on the water as easy and comfortable as possible, especially for overnight fishing trips.

One of the standout features of this kayak is its powerful 45 lb (20.4 kg) thrust 212V saltwater Minn Kota motor, which provides efficient forward propulsion with an easy-to-use powerboat-style throttle. The Sportsman 106 also comes equipped with three flush-mounted rod holders and four accessory mounting tracks, allowing you to fully customize your gear setup.

When it comes to convenience and ease of use, this kayak doesn’t disappoint either. You can use rechargeable batteries with it, allowing you to maintain power for your GPS or fish finder consistently.  Plus, pre-installed hull wiring kits and a universal transducer mount mean that hooking up your fish finder is quick and simple – no drilling into the hull required.

Additional features include ample storage space for all your gear along with a custom tackle box. The Sportsman 106 truly has everything you need for a successful day of fishing on the water.

Guide to Selecting the Best Sit on Top Kayak

Selecting the perfect sit-on-top kayak can be overwhelming, but with a little guidance, you can make an informed decision. There are several factors to consider before making your purchase, including intended use, size and weight capacity, comfort level, storage options, fishing features (if applicable), and overall performance.

Firstly, think about your intended use for the kayak. Do you plan to use it for solo paddling or tandem paddling? Will you need room for camping gear or just a cooler? Consider the size and weight of the kayak as well as its weight capacity.

Next up is comfort – this is especially important if you plan to spend long hours on the water. Look out for seats with proper back support and cushioning. Additionally, check that there’s enough legroom so that you won’t feel cramped or uncomfortable during extended outings.

Storage is also crucial when choosing a sit-on-top kayak. Make sure there’s ample space to store your belongings without them getting wet or damaged by other elements while kayaking.

If fishing is your main reason for buying a sit-on-top kayak then you’ll want one with special features like rod holders and tackle boxes built-in – this will make casting easier and more efficient than ever before!

Lastly, take into account overall performance considerations such as hull design – whether it’s designed primarily for speed or stability and tracking capabilities– how well it stays straight in water. These factors are critical in determining which sit-on-top kayak will work best for your needs!

Intended Use

Before you take the plunge and invest your hard-earned money in a sit-on-top kayak, it’s important to consider what purpose you’ll use it for. Each kayak model is designed with different features, depending on whether you plan to use it for leisurely lake paddles or overnight fishing expeditions.

You’ll want to choose a kayak that fits your specific needs and preferences, so thinking about what activities you’ll be using it for is essential. This will help narrow down your options as you begin shopping around for the perfect fit.

Remember that not all kayaks are created equal – some offer unique features tailored towards fishing enthusiasts while others prioritize comfort and speed. Regardless of what type of kayaker you are, knowing your intended use is crucial in finding a vessel that best suits your needs.

Solo vs. Tandem

When you’re in the market for a sit-on-top kayak, one of the first decisions to make is whether you want to go solo or tandem. Many kayakers choose a solo option due to its flexibility and ease of use. On the other hand, tandems are great for those who want to share their experience with someone else or have limited space and budget for just one boat.

Solo kayaks offer the convenience of being able to paddle whenever and wherever you please without having to coordinate with another person. Tandem kayaks can be paddled alone if needed and are designed to accommodate two people comfortably along with gear storage. Ultimately, your choice between solo or tandem depends on your intended use, available space, budget, and personal preference.

Weight Capacity

When looking for a sit-on-top kayak, one of the most important factors to consider is weight capacity. This measurement will tell you how much load the kayak can handle – but be wary, overloading a boat can significantly hinder performance and safety.

To determine the ideal weight capacity for your needs, take into account not only your own weight but also any potential passengers and gear you may have with you on your trip. It’s best to choose a kayak that provides ample weight capacity, leaving some room for error rather than maxing out its limits.

Remember: safety should always be prioritized over space or convenience when it comes to choosing the right kayak for your water adventures.

Size and Weight

When it comes to choosing a sit on top kayak, one of the important factors to consider is its overall size and weight. As a general rule, smaller kayaks are lighter in weight, but they may not have as much storage space or be able to track as well. If you plan to bring along lots of gear for your adventures or want better tracking capabilities, opting for a longer and slightly heavier kayak might be more appropriate.

Of course, there are other factors that can affect the overall weight and size of a kayak too, such as added features or materials used in construction. Regardless of which option you choose, make sure it’s comfortable enough for you to paddle around in all day long without any discomfort or strain. By taking these factors into account when shopping for your next sit-on-top kayak, you’ll be able to find one that perfectly suits your needs and preferences.


When it comes to selecting the best sit-on-top kayak, one of the most important factors to consider is comfort. After all, you’ll be spending hours sitting in your kayak, so you want to be sure that you’re as comfortable as possible. Look for kayaks with comfortable seating and ample legroom, as well as adjustable foot braces to help you find the perfect position. It’s also worth considering the design of the kayak itself – some models are better suited to certain types of paddling or body shapes, so be sure to take this into account.
Finally, don’t forget to consider any accessories you might need to make your kayaking experience even more comfortable, such as a padded seat or back support. Ultimately, the best kayaks for you will be the ones that offer the right balance of comfort and functionality to suit your need.


Are you planning to set out on a kayaking adventure with lots of gear? You’ll need ample storage space to keep all your equipment organized and accessible. Thankfully, many sit-on-top kayaks come equipped with tank wells – perfect for storing larger items like coolers.

If you want your gear kept dry and secure, however, look no further than kayaks with built-in dry hatches. While these types of boats usually come at a higher price point, the investment will be well worth it when you’re able to store everything safely while keeping it within easy reach. Whatever type of storage option you choose, make sure it meets all your needs before making a final purchase decision.


When it comes to sit on top kayaks, performance is key. But measuring performance isn’t just about one feature or design choice – it’s the sum of the kayak’s parts. That said, there are a few things you can consider when evaluating a kayak’s performance:

Firstly, pay attention to the hull design. The shape and curvature of the hull will determine how well your kayak tracks in the water and handles rougher conditions.

Additionally, weight distribution can have a significant impact on your boat’s overall speed and maneuverability. Having too much weight at either end of the boat can slow you down or make steering more difficult.

Finally, think about any fishing-specific features that might affect your ability to paddle efficiently. Features like rod holders or fish finders can be useful but may also add unnecessary weight or create drag as you move through the water.

By keeping these factors in mind while choosing your sit-on-top kayak, you’ll be able to invest in a vessel that performs well out on the water – whether you’re cruising solo or with friends!

Extra Features for Fishing

For the avid angler, fishing-specific features are a must-have when considering sit-on-top kayaks. While these features can vary from kayak to kayak, certain essentials should be present such as flush-mounted rod holders, tackle box storage areas, and mounting panels for accessories.

Additional beneficial characteristics consist of transducer mounts that can fit all types of fish finders and plenty of storage compartments to secure a fish cooler.  Additionally, high-traction and non-slip deck surfaces are important if you like to stand up frequently while casting your lines.

Check out our other post on essential kayak fishing accessories to make sure you’re fully prepared for your next trip out on the water.

General Pros and Cons of Sit-on-Top Kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks have gained popularity in recent years and have become a favorite of many kayakers including us here at Karen’s Kayaks. One of the main advantages of sit-on-top kayaks is the comfort they offer. Unlike traditional kayaks, these kayaks provide ample room for getting in and out of the kaykak and seating, and enable kayakers to stretch their legs freely. Also, these kind of kayaks tend to offer storage space that is easily accessible. However, one of the main drawbacks of these kayaks is that you could get wet more easily, especially in choppy waters. While there are options that come with tops or covers to keep water out, they tend to be less effective than sit-inside kayaks. Also there’s no sun protection if your legs are exposed, so remember to cover them or use sunscreen. Ultimately, the choice comes down to personal preference, but we recommend sit-on-top kayaks as a viable option for those looking for a comfortable, easily accessible, and stable kayaking experience.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What is a sit-on-top kayak?

A sit-on-top kayak is a type of kayak that features an open cockpit design where the paddler sits on top of the kayak rather than inside.

Q: What is a recreational sit-on-top kayak?

A recreational sit-on-top kayak is a type of kayak designed for easy and comfortable paddling in calm waters. They are great for beginners and are perfect for recreational outings with family and friends.

Q: What makes a sit-on-top kayak one of the best choices?

Sit-on-top kayaks are known for their stability, ease of use, and versatility. They are also great for beginners and are perfect for recreational paddling in calm waters.

Q: How do I choose the best sit-on-top kayak for me?

When choosing a sit-on-top kayak, consider your paddling needs, skill level, and the type of water you’ll be paddling. Look for features such as comfortable seats, adequate storage, and good stability.

Q: What is an ocean kayak?

An ocean kayak is a type of kayak designed for paddling in the ocean. They are typically longer and narrower than recreational kayaks and are designed to handle the choppy waters of the sea.

Q: What is a sit-in kayak?

A sit-in kayak is a type of kayak where the paddler sits inside a cockpit with their legs covered. This design offers more protection from the elements and can be ideal for paddling in cooler weather.

Q: Should I choose a longer kayak or a shorter kayak?

The length of a kayak will depend on your paddling needs and the type of water you’ll be paddling in. Generally, longer kayaks are faster and more efficient in open water, while shorter kayaks are better for maneuvering in narrow rivers or creeks.

Q: Where should I sit in a tandem kayak?

In a tandem kayak, the person with the most experience and skill should sit in the rear of the kayak to provide more control and steering.